“2 Continue stedfastly in prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving;”
Paul has been discussing interpersonal relationships in our assemblies, in our families, and within the workplace. Now he’s giving instruction regarding prayer. Within the context, we need to be praying for one another in all three of these areas, as well as for the unsaved to come to faith in Christ (Col 4:3-6).
“Continue steadfastly” (Gr. proskartereo – 4342)
To be constantly diligent, continuously and earnestly devoted to.
The two most important aspects of the Christian life, is the diligent study of God’s Word, and the diligent practice of prayer. God speaks to us through His Word, and we speak to Him through prayer. It’s the Holy Spirit who empowers both. That is our strength. That is our life. It’s not possible to have a right relationship with the Lord if we’re not earnestly devoted to these two things.
Furthermore, we need the prayers of each other as Christians. The temptations of sin is strong. The enticements of this world is strong. Our will is weak. The challenges of life are great. We NEED the prayers of others to enable us to walk in victory in all of these areas. God has not designed the Christian life to be lived on an island, in total dependence upon our own prayers. We need, and should ask for, and depend on, the prayers of other Christians who walk with God.
Every church should be a place where the Word of God is taught faithfully and in depth, and where there is a weekly, ongoing corporate prayer ministry. These should be the two priorities in every local assembly. Every pastor should be teaching God’s Word expositionally, and every Christian should be involved in the regular gatherings of prayer for one another, and for the ministries of the church. If there’s a situation that doesn’t allow someone to attend the prayer meetings, then they should be faithful in personal prayer, where they’re praying regularly for others and for the ministries of their church.
Every church should provide a weekly list of people and things to pray for. This way our prayers are specific, addressing specific needs. Not only does it provide a guide for Christians to go by, but it also gets a lot of people praying for the same things. There’s power in that.
“keeping alert in it”
We need to be alert about what’s going on around us, being alert to the needs of others so that we can be praying for those things. Again, this includes our families, our churches, our workplace, and the unsaved.
We have to keep in mind that as we walk in the Spirit, He will be leading us and placing us in situations where He wants to use us and minister to others. There is no greater ministry than prayer. There is no greater need than the prayers of others. We may not be gifted for a lot of things, but we can all pray. We should begin each day asking that God would bring people into our lives that we can pray for and serve in some way.
Our prayers should not be all about asking, but much time should be given to simply thanking the Lord for all that He has done for us. Our prayer lives should be characterized by sincere worship, praise, and thanksgiving. In doing so, we are giving glory to God. It’s a means of demonstrating our total reliance upon Him as our God.
“3 praying at the same time for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains;”
“praying at the same time for us also”
There has never been a greater servant of the Lord than the Apostle Paul. There has never been anyone that had a closer relationship with the Lord than Paul. Yet, he desired and relied upon the prayers of others. No matter who we are or how close we are to Christ, we all need and should depend on the prayers of others.
Paul was asking for prayer not just for himself, but for “us.” To get an idea of who he was referring to, read the rest of this chapter (Col 4:7-14). Paul’s life was never about himself, but lived for the benefit of others, especially as it related to spiritual matters.
“for which I am also in chains”
Paul was so faithful in teaching the Word of God, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, that he ended up in prison for it. But that didn’t matter to him. He had a calling from God, and he was going to fulfill it no matter what it cost him. Obedience to God, and the spiritual well-being of others is all that mattered to him.
“that God may open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ”
The salvation of others should be a major concern to all of us as followers of Christ. That includes family members, friends, co-workers, acquaintances, and even strangers. We should begin each day asking that God would open a door for us to share the love and message of Christ with someone. It’s easy to get so busy with the things that are going on during the day, that we let down and forget what we’re in this world for, and that’s to make an eternal difference in people’s lives.
Regardless of how busy we get, we need to learn the discipline and practice of being alert to the people that we come in contact with, because it could be a Divine appointment. However, if we’re too focused on other things, we could easily miss it. This is what walking in the Spirit is all about. One has to wonder how many wonderful opportunities we’ve missed because we had our mind on other things, and not in tune with the Spirit of God.
An “open door for the Word,” also involves the teaching of God’s Word, as well. Not everyone has been given that gift, but for those who do have it, they should be faithful to use it to its full potential. Pastors and Bible teachers need to take this gifting and calling seriously, and teach the Word of God with a passion, and not to compromise by teaching fluff. To teach the Word of God the way it was meant to be taught, takes a lot of study and preparation. Pastors aren’t doing their people any favors teaching them shallow, devotional type messages. We must dig to get to the treasures of God’s Word. It’s below the surface that we find the golden nuggets of truth.
Not everyone is qualified to be a pastor, and not everyone is called to it, but if God has given the gift of teaching, then we need to pray for and seek ways to use that gift. Some of the primary opportunities to teach is in a small groups, Sunday School, fill-in for the pastor when he’s gone, internet websites, and at home. However the Lord leads, the important thing is that we are faithfully teaching His Word for all its worth.
The reason why God must “open a door for the Word,” is because we are in the midst of spiritual warfare (Eph 6:10-20). We live in a world of darkness and and blindness and deception. We live in a world that is opposed, oftentimes violently opposed, to the Christian message. We need the Holy Spirit to work on our behalf to deal with all that stands against the truth, to work in people’s hearts and lives and situations. We need the Holy Spirit to prepare the way for us, and to deal with all those things that we are powerless to deal with ourselves.
Note: For further discussion about this spiritual warfare, read my commentaries on Ephesians 6:10-20 on this website.
“4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”
“manifest” (Gr. phaneroo – 5319)
To reveal, to make clear, to make visible, to give light to, to cause to be seen, to make known what has been hidden or unknown.
Whether it be teaching the Word of God to Christians, or sharing the gospel of Christ to the unsaved, we’re to present it in a manner that is clear to the listener. Of course, only the Holy Spirit can open a person’s eyes to the truth; He is the true teacher. But we too have a responsibility to present God’s Word in a way that is clearly understood by those who hear. That requires a lot of study and preparation. We must be willing to devote the time needed in order to teach the truth in a way that people can both understand and relate to.
I think it’s a shame, and irresponsible, when a pastor devotes little time to studying the Bible, and then comes to church and gives a 25 minute devotional. What an opportunity lost! Sunday morning only comes along once a week, and so pastors should take full advantage of the opportunity that God has given. By the time a person leaves the service, they should be filled to the full with the exposition and application of the Word of God. Twenty or thirty minute topical sermonettes don’t really make the grade.
Where I have been personally benefited the most, was when I have been in churches where my pastor devoted much time in study and preparation, and presented verse by verse exposition of God’s Word. The messages by the pastors I’m thinking of, lasted between 45 and 60 minutes regularly, and I loved every minute of it! I walked away fed and enriched and spoken to. I felt like I had really been to church. God honors and blesses such painstaking effort, because that is how they “ought to speak.”
It’s been my experience that diligent pastors like that are very rare these days. How much God’s people are missing out on! The practice today is “felt-needs,” pick and choose type of topical series messages. That’s where the pastor chooses a topic, and then finds verses that support his points, regardless of whether it’s the actual meaning of those verses within the context of those passages. Thats simply irresponsible. There needs to be a return to in-depth, verse by verse teaching of God’s Word. I believe the absence of such teaching is producing immature, worldly Christians.