In Colossians 4, we see that Christ is over ministry. In verses 2-6, Paul gives the believers instructions for how their ministry ought to begin, which is with prayer.
In our prayer lives, we might be tempted to try to use God like a vending machine – going to Him only when we want something. But is that what prayer is supposed to be like? Let’s take a look!
The Westminster Catechism defines like this: “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, for things agreeable to his will, in the name of Christ, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of his mercies.”
Here is another way you could define prayer: “Prayer is God-consciousness for the purpose of intimacy and alignment with Him.”
Prayer helps us to align ourselves with God and helps us to consider how He might be working through difficult situations that we see on earth. We should not only pray for our own desires, but we should also be praying for God to align us with Himself and allow us to see things the way He does.
Colossians 4:2 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving…” (NASB) Let’s dig a little deeper into each of these phrases…
The word “devote” used here means to “be strong.” It encourages a closeness with God. Just as we would with our other relationships, we should be connecting with God on a regular basis.
One way to maintain connection with God is to create a framework for prayer. For example, you could set aside time every day to pray. Once a week, you could set aside a little more time (an hour, for example). Then, every few months, you could “get away” and devote a day or two to connecting with the Lord.
To fulfill the keeping alert part of this passage, we might need to limit distractions. We might need to take our eyes off our phones and give our minds a chance to rest. 2 Corinthians 4:18 tells us “Fix your eyes, not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporal, but what is unseen is eternal.”
If we spend our time focused solely on the things we can see, we will miss out on what God might be doing in the world around us. When we fix our eyes on eternal things, we are able to stay alert.
If we aren’t careful, we can sometimes approach prayer with a sense of entitlement. We tell God that we’ll do something for Him and we expect that He will do something for us. Then, when things don’t turn out as we plan, we can get angry. This is not an attitude of thanksgiving.
It’s not that we shouldn’t ask God for things. We should ask! But we should not be primarily concerned with our own desires and comforts. Instead, we should be devoted to prayer and submitting to His will. We should also be thankful, even when we don’t get what we ask for immediately.
Colossians 4 continues with a reminder to pray beyond ourselves. Verse 3 says, “At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.”
We should be praying for others and that God would continue to open doors for the gospel to be spread. These “open doors” might not always look how we’d expect them to. But, if we can keep our eyes fixed on what is unseen, we can see that God works through situations that we might think are otherwise hopeless.
The last part of our passage today discusses our conduct. It says, “Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:5-6)
There are many people who call themselves “Christians” who do not conduct themselves like followers of Christ. As a result, there are many people who reject Christianity because they don’t like how they see Christians act. We must be careful to conduct ourselves like committed followers of Christ, so that we are not responsible for turning people away.
When we are regularly connecting with God in prayer, we learn how to season our speech with “salt.” Seasoning our speech with salt means speaking the truth gently and with love. If we seek His guidance, God will direct us on when to say things and how to say them in a way that they are heard well.
As mentioned before, if we want to be intentional with our prayer lives, we may need to set up frameworks. This might look like praying daily for a few minutes and devoting extra time to prayer once per week. Then, once every few months, we might devote a full day or weekend to spending time with the Lord. It is also helpful to find a specific place to pray where we can be undistracted and focused on Him.
*This blog post was adapted from Pastor Bobby’s sermon on 5/15/2022. You can find the sermon video below.
Mandy manages CFC’s social media presence. She started attending CFC in 2016 after God led her to visit the church with her husband, Ben. Mandy also serves on the Writing and Research Team for the Women’s Ministry and as a preschool teacher for Community Kids. She is grateful for the opportunity to combine her love of content creation with her desire to serve the Lord. Mandy lives in Lancaster with Ben and their three girls: Elyse, Evelyn, and Ella.