Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.
Colossians 4:2-4 (NIV)
Read: Colossians 4
Consider: Although Paul had not visited Colossae (see 2:1) this did not stop him praying for the Colossian believers, nor did it stop him asking them to pray for him. Paul asks the Colossians to pray for two things: (1) that God may open a door for the gospel message to spread and, (2) that he might proclaim the message clearly. Has God given you a burden and passion for sharing the gospel with others? If so, don’t be afraid to ask your Christian friends to pray for these two things for you and your ministry – an open door and clarity of speaking.
Paul also encourages the Colossians to use every opportunity to share the gospel with others, but always to do so with wisdom. He says: Be wise in the way you act towards outsiders; make the most of every opportunity (4:5). This is a clear warning against the kind of evangelism that almost browbeats an individual into submission. Paul wants the believers to act wisely, but still to make the most of every opportunity.
In Colossians 4:6 Paul says: Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. This contrasts with what he says in chapter 3:8 where he tells them to get rid of ‘… filthy language from your lips’. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians can help us to understand what he is saying. In Ephesians 5:4 he tells the believers: Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. As Christians we should be known by our conversation reflecting what we believe.
In this passage (Colossians 4), I particularly like the description Paul gives of one of his fellow workers. He describes him in this way: Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greeting. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and self assured. While we know very little about Epaphras (he is only mentioned twice in Colossians and once in Philemon), it is a wonderful indication of his character that he was ‘ … always wrestling in prayer …’ for the Colossian believers.
What does the term ‘… wrestling in prayer …’ conjure up in your mind? To me it speaks of finding prayer difficult, yet being willing to continue. Also praying for something over a lengthy time period, not giving up. It can even mean praying against the odds, when all the signs are contrary and still believing that God is faithful. It also speaks to me of the spiritual battle in which we are all engaged.
The encouragement from Colossians 4 is for us to devote ourselves to prayer, even when it is difficult and God might appear to be slow in answering.
Pray: Father, give us a heart-felt concern for others that is willing to wrestle in prayer for them. We pray for those involved in full-time ministry that you would open a door for the sharing of the gospel and that the message they share may be clear and scriptural. Amen