Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (Colossians 4:2)

These concise words are power packed with meaning. Prayer, the divinely bestowed capacity for us mere mortals to connect with Father God, is an incredible privilege and should not be undervalued. Sadly, we do that too often – undervalue it – and this leads to wasted opportunities as well as lethargic spiritual lives. 

Three thoughts are included in this short verse:

1. Be earnest in prayer

The different translations use different phrases: devote yourselves to prayer, continue steadfastly in prayer, continue earnestly in prayer, never give up praying. The thought is clearly made here to stress that prayer is to be pursued passionately and sincerely. Prayer is not mere wishful thinking, or “wafting wants upward” as some imagine it to be. 

Prayer is not given more power merely based on how many people say that they will pray. Deesis, the Greek word used for “supplication” in Ephesians 6:18, means an urgent request. Prayer is answered by God according to our earnestness, sincerity, faith, and our sense of urgency about the matter. To be earnest in prayer requires not only faith in God but also the mind of Christ that enables us to see things from His perspective and not our own.

2. Be watchful  

Along this same line of thought, the word “watchful,” or gregorio in Greek, means to be alert and awake. This word occurs in Matthew 26:38, when Christ told the disciples, “keep watch with me.” The Christian is to be concerned about the things of the Lord and be aware of the ways of the Lord and, to the degree possible, of the timing of the Lord. Walking in the Spirit and in knowledge of God’s Word are the key ingredients to have this capacity. 

3. Be thankful

Eucharista is the word in Greek, and it means to express gratitude. In English gratitude is an attitude, and thanksgiving is the expression of that attitude. Here the apostle went directly to the expression, but he would assume that the attitude was held in the heart first. Otherwise, thanksgiving is merely empty rhetoric to God. 

But it is important to express gratitude, for it helps us to keep things in perspective. We often complain about little things, rather than give thanks for the greater things. If someone says an unkind word to us, we become angry, morose, and perhaps embittered, all the while ignoring the greater uplifting truths of God’s love toward us. 

Complaining people are weak servants of God. They do not amount to much or accomplish much. Thankful and grateful people are useful and always looking forward to how God will bless them and others more. Be grateful for the Lord is good and His love endures forever! 

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the LORD is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations. (Psalm 100:4-5 ESV)

Questions:

  1. What are the most common excuses you make for not praying more?
  2. We are to pray according to God’s will. What facts can you identify that is God’s will in your situation today? For example, it is God’s will that we be grateful. What else?
  3. Praying believers are watchful believers. What are you watching for in God’s will today? 
  4. Do you expect God to answer your prayer? Why or why not?

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