Continue in Prayer

Col 4:2-4


Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 3 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, 4 that I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak. NKJV


Paul comes now to the close of the letter. And as he does, he once again encourages them to pray. And as they pray for themselves, he encourages them to pray for him and his ministry.


But is prayer really all that it is cracked up to be. I mean, haven’t we prayed for things that just never happen. As a matter of fact, one of the things I hear Christians admitting that they are lax in their prayers. How does this passage address all of this. Paul does not give us the why or the wherefores but rather simply states what they ought to do. We are to enter into prayer and worship when we feel like it and when we don’t. We do not allow our children to take a bath only when they feel like it. Nor do we allow them to brush their teen only if they like it. Prayer and worship is a responsibility that every person has to God. And we will all be held accountable for how we handle it.


But there are many good reasons for praying and for worshiping. So let us look at all of this as we discover the importance of prayer in the life of the believer.

 

I.         Paul says they should Continue in Prayer

            A.        Earnestly

                        1.         Jesus taught about continuing in prayer. Luke 18:1-5 Then He spoke a parable to them, that men always ought to pray and not lose heart, 2 saying: "There was in a certain city a judge who did not fear God nor regard man. 3 Now there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying,'Get justice for me from my adversary.' 4 And he would not for a while; but afterward he said within himself, 'Though I do not fear God nor regard man, 5 yet because this widow troubles me I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.'" NKJV

                                    a.         How long should we pray, until we have our answer.

                                    b.         If we do not pray, we will lose heart and give up.

                                    c.         Jesus is not teaching that the Lord is like the unjust judge but that we must be like the widow and always continue in prayer.

                                    d.          He tells them to persevere in prayer. Even for the best of us, there come times when prayer seems to be unavailing and to penetrate no farther than the walls of the room in which we pray. At such a time the remedy is not to stop but to go on praying; for in the man who prays spiritual dryness cannot last. Barclay

                        2.         Phil 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. NKJV

                                    a.         Don’t worry about anything but pray in everything someone has translated this passage.

                                    b.         Paul does not promise that God will give us what we pray for but he does promise that, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

                        3.         Col 1:9 we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, NKJV

                                    a.         Paul is not saying that he prayed for them 24 hours a day.

                                    b.         Rather he is saying that he had regular times of prayer every day.

                                    c.         And that in all of those regular times of prayer that he would always lift them up to the Lord in prayer.

                                    d.         We too should have times of prayer.

                                    e.         We too should not neglect those times but use them to lift others to the throne of grace, as others pray for us.

                        4.         Col 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. NKJV

                                    a.         Later on he give them Epaphras as an example of how they should pray.

                                    b.         Epaphras is “always laboring fervently for them in prayers.”

                                    c.         Instead of Epaphras fretting over things he had not control over, he instead took them to the only One who could do something.

                        5.         1 Thess 5:16-18 16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. NKJV

                                    a.         Once again in this passage Paul tells them to “pray without ceasing.”

                                    b.         Barnes in his commentray says, “That is, we must not neglect regular stated seasons of prayer; we must seize on occasions of remarkable providences--as afflictions or signal blessings--to seek God in prayer; we must always maintain a spirit of prayer, or be in a proper frame to lift up our hearts to God for his blessing, and we must not grow weary though our prayer seems not to be answered.”

            B.        Vigilant

                        1.         If we were talking to someone and we fell asleep we would be so embarrassed, but we are not nearly as carful when we speak to God.

                        2.         Jesus warned the disciples to be watchful in time of prayer.

                                    a.         Matt 26:38-41 38 Then He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watch with Me." 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, "O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will." 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "What! Could you not watch with Me one hour? 41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." NKJV

                                    b.         Notice Jesus here chides them for not being able to stay awake for an hour.

                                    c.         Boy does that seem like a long time to pray to you, it does to me.

                        3.         Jesus also told his disciples to not give up in prayer even after months and years.

                                    a.         Mark 13:33-37 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch . 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming — in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning — 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch !" NKJV

                                    b.         Every Baptist Church used to have a Wednesday evening prayer time as well as a service on Sunday evenings..

                                    c.         No I know that we have just as much to pray about as those prior Baptists.

                                    d.         And I think that we are just as concerned about our family and friends as they were.

                                    e.         And I know that the Lord’s return is nearer now than ever before.

                        4.         Maybe Jesus struck the heart of the matter in this passage.

                                    a.         Luke 21:34-36 "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. 35 For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man." NKJV

                                    b.         We are just to busy. We are so concerned about the chairs on the deck of the Titanic, we have missed the fact that it is sinking.

                                    c.         The return of Jesus is just as sure as tomorrow’s sunrise, so we need to watch and pray, Jesus said so.

                        5.         1 Peter 4:7 But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be serious and watchful in your prayers. NKJV

                                    a.         Peter also say this.

                                    b.         We are so smug in our secure place that we have no idea that Jesus could return at any time.

                                    c.         If we did we would as Peter says, “Be serious and watchful in our prayers.”

            C.        With Thanksgiving

                        1.         We have dealt with this several times in this book but we want to look at just a few verses to see the importance thanksgiving has in the scripture.

                        2.         Psalms 69:30 I will praise the name of God with a song, And will magnify Him with thanksgiving. NKJV

                        3.         Psalms 95:2 Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms. NKJV

                        4.         Psalms 100:4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. NKJV

                        5.         Psalms 147:7 Sing to the Lord with thanksgiving; Sing praises on the harp to our God, NKJV

                        6.         Philippians 4:6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; NKJV

                        7.         Ephesians 5:20 giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, NKJV

                        8.         Colossians 1:3 Whenever we pray for you we always begin by giving thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Living Bible

                        9.         Hebrews 13:15 Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. NKJV

II.        Pray for the Spread of the Gospel

            A.        Paul asks their prayers for himself. We must note carefully exactly what it is for which Paul asks. He asks their prayer not so much for himself as for his work. There were many things for which Paul might have asked them to pray--release from prison, a successful outcome to his coming trial, a little rest and peace at the last. But he asks them to pray only that there may be given to him strength and opportunity to do the work which God had sent him into the world to do. When we pray for ourselves and for others, we should not ask release from any task, but rather strength to complete the task which has been given us to do. Prayer should always be for power and seldom for release; for not release but conquest must be the keynote of the Christian life. Barclay

            B.        Open a door for the word

                        1.         Paul desires prayer not for himself but the success of the Gospel, his ministry.

                        2.         He realizes that Satan has blinded the eyes of those who do not understand the Gospel and only God can open their eyes.

                        3.         As Paul had experienced in Corinth.

                                    a.         Acts 18:9-10 Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. KJV

                        4.         As Jesus told the church in Philadelphia.

                                    a.         Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door , and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name. KJV

            C.        To speak the mystery of Christ

                        1.         It was a mystery to both the Jews and the Gentiles.

                        2.         To the Jews that the Messiah could come to die.

                        3.         To the Gentiles that God could die in man’s place.

            D.        That it might be made manifest

                        1.         Paul here ask for them to pray that the message might be understood.

                        2.         For you see it is not a matter of intellect for then all the intellectuals would be saved.

                        3.         Rather it is God’s give to open the eyes of the blind that they might see the glorious gospel of salvation for themselves.

Paul’s admonition is not just for the Colossians. It is for us today as well. We are to be earnest in our prayers and never stop. We are to even be vigilant in our prayers.

God help us to see that prayer is indispensable to the Christian life and experience.


NT:4342

proskartereo (pros-kar-ter-eh'-o); from NT:4314 and NT:2594; to be earnest towards, i.e. (to a thing) to persevere, be constantly diligent, or (in a place) to attend assiduously all the exercises, or (to a person) to adhere closely to (as a servitor):

(Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. Copyright © 1994, 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. and International Bible Translators, Inc.)

 

John Gill

as this of prayer to God is, for such prayer is intended; for though the object is not expressed here, he is in the following verse, and the Mediator Christ is supposed, and also the Holy Spirit, whose assistance is necessary to it.

The things exhorted to, and required in prayer, are,

 first, as in this clause, continuance in it,

which does not mean that men should be always formally praying to God; nor can it be thought that saints are always in praying frames of soul, though such are always desirable;

but it intends frequency and constancy in prayer, in opposition to an entire restraint and omission of it, and to a performance of it but now and then, or very rarely;

 

for though Christians are not, as the Jews were, bound to certain stated hours of prayer, so many times in a day,

yet a day should not pass without prayer to God;

for their daily cases call for it;

their lives,

their health,

their daily bread,

and all their temporal enjoyments,

which depend on

his daily goodness,

 providence, and

power;

their spiritual affairs,

the renewing of the inward man day by day,

fresh supplies of grace for new service;

their daily trials and afflictions,

their continued enemies,

sin,

Satan, and

the world,

 all fully show the necessity of daily prayer: besides,

God does not always immediately answer the prayers of his people,

 he will be sought unto time after time,

even for a blessing he intends to give; and

therefore the saints should not be discouraged,

 but continue in prayer till they receive the mercy, and

their importunity is a means of enjoying it,

as in the case of the poor widow; and

which is an encouraging reason why men should pray always, and not faint.

Add to this, that constant prayer is a means of keeping up

a spiritual acquaintance,

 intercourse,

and familiarity with God,

and of the soul alive in the vigorous exercise of the graces of the Spirit,

and of preserving the saints from temptations and sin;

for, generally speaking, restraining prayer before God, and casting off his fear, go together.

The next things requisite in prayer are watchfulness and thankfulness:

and watch in the same with thanksgiving. There is not only a watchfulness unto it, previous to a man’s entrance on it, as in #Eph 6:18 1Pe 4:7 but a watchfulness in it, which is opposed both to sleepiness of body, and to coldness and indifference of mind, to all careless airs and negligent manner of performing it; and designs an intenseness of mind, an application of thought, and fervency of devotion, and affection in it. It lies in a concern, that the heart be lift up, with the hands to God; in a care, that what is asked is according to the will of God, and that the whole be performed in sincerity, faith, and fear. This is what the Jews call hlpt Nwye, "the attention of prayer" {f}, and blh tnwk, "the intention of the heart"; and which, they say {g}, is the root of prayer, the main and principal thing in it; and that every prayer which is not with intention, is no prayer {h}; and which, they observe, lies in this, that a man turns his heart from all (other) thoughts, and seems to himself as if he stood before the divine Majesty. To this

thanksgiving must be added; see #Php 4:6 for this is well pleasing to God; and the contrary, an ungrateful spirit, is highly resented by him. Besides, a believer has always mercies to bless God for, as well as favours to ask at his hands; nor is he ever in such a situation, either in temporals or spirituals, but he has something to bless God for. Moreover, how should it be expected that a person should succeed in a present request, who is not thankful for a former kindness?

Albert Barnes

In every temptation and spiritual conflict we are to pray.

But in every thing. Everything in reference to the supply of your wants, and the wants of your families; everything in respect to afflictions, embarrassments, and trials: and everything relating to your spiritual condition. There ia nothing which pertains to body, mind, estate, friends, conflicts, losses, trials, hopes, fears, in reference to which we may not go and spread it all out before the Lord.

 

The power of constant prayer (C. H. Spurgeon)

The power of constant prayer: -- Some time ago, on the coast of the Isle of Wight, a woman thought she heard, in the midst of the howling tempest, the voice of a man. She listened; it was repeated; she strained her ear again, and she caught, amid the crack of the blast and the thundering of the winds, another cry for help. She ran at once to the beachmen, who launched their boat, and some three poor mariners who were clinging to the mast were saved. Had that cry been but once, and not again, either she might have doubted as to whether she had heard it at all, or else she would have drawn the melancholy conclusion that they had been swept into the watery waste, and that help would have come too late. So when a man prays but once, either we may think that he cries not at all, or else that his desires are swallowed up in the wild waste of his sins, and he himself is sucked down into the vortex of destruction. (C. H. Spurgeon.) (from The Biblical Illustrator Copyright (c) 2002 AGES and Biblesoft, Inc.)