"Continue steadfastly in prayer, being vigilant in it
with thanksgiving; meanwhile, praying also for us, that God would open to us a
door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in
chains, that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak,"
Col. 4:2-4 (NKJ).
It is not unexpected that the apostle Paul would urge Christians in Colossae
to pray, and to "continue steadfastly in prayer." They were people who had
been buried with Christ in baptism (see Col. 2:12), and "raised with Christ,"
to seek those things which are above (see Col. 3:1).
Such people enjoy the benefit of praying to God. Those who abide in Christ are
able to speak to God through Him, for forgiveness, to express praise and
gratitude and to ask for help. No surprise, therefore, that Paul would urge
them to participate in this great benefit. In another place he said, "pray
without ceasing," (1 Thess. 5:17).
Paul goes further telling them to be "vigilant" in prayer, "with
thanksgiving." The idea of vigilance involves awareness, being on the alert;
the older versions may use the word "watchful." This is not exclusively a
reference to physical vision (though it may involve physical vision). This is
more about one's awareness. Are you aware of all that should be included in
prayer? Are you alert to your needs and the needs of others when you pray?
And, do you always include "thanksgiving?" I fear our prayers sometimes may
tend to demand and ask, more than praise and thank. We ought to be vigilant in
our prayers. Before prayer - during prayer - after prayer, our mind should be
aware of God's care for us and our need to speak to Him and accept His
What may be unexpected in this passage is, Paul asks the Colossians to pray
for him and his co-workers: "praying also for us." There may be some
perception that the apostles had such privilege and status, they somehow stood
above the needs of others. That would be incorrect. The apostles were men of
like passions as other Christians. While they were designated communicators of
the Lord's will (inspired and gifted for the tasks), they had no special
spiritual elevation. They were tempted, capable of weakness and fatigue and
faced the challenges we all face, doing what is right here on the earth. They
needed the prayers of the saints! Do you pray for gospel preachers? They need
Here's what Paul specified about his need: "that God would open to us a door
for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,
that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak." This is an interest in
opportunity. Paul wanted to have open doors, through which the gospel would be
delivered. He believed God would respond to the prayers of the saints and act
in His wise providence to open those doors. Based on this, we ought to
understand - the work of preaching is more than just the delivery of
information by humans (which may involve travel, etc.). God has a hand in the
process. God is able to open doors and His people should petition Him for the
success of gospel preached, evidenced in changed hearts and lives.
But observe further this meaningful phrase: "as I ought to speak." Paul wanted
them to pray to God that he would speak effectively. In addition to content,
Paul wanted God's help in delivery. It is one thing to give the facts as they
are. It is another to give them in good order, with appropriate passion and
with challenge to the hearer to act. Paul had an interests in everything about
the process of preaching. He wanted God's help to open the door, and he wanted
God's help in effectively delivering the gospel.
Everything in this passage highlights the value of prayer in association with
preaching the gospel. If we ask God to help us in various earth-limited
endeavors, how much more should we ask Him to guide and direct our efforts to
get the gospel into the doors around the world.
By Warren E. Berkley
From Expository Files 15.7; July 2008