Saturday, March 12, 2011

Continue In Prayer!

In Colossians 4:2 Paul exhorts the Colossian church to “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.”
The word “continue” implies that the Colossians are already praying. Paul doesn’t exhort them to start praying. He asks them to “continue” in prayer. Jesus expected every healthy believer to be about prayer. For example, Jesus said “and when you pray,” (Matt 6) not “if you pray.” Paul expects the Colossians to be like the early church after Pentecost. Luke tell us that they “devoted themselves…to prayer” (Acts 2:42). Paul expects the Colossians to be a people of prayer. Prayer is not optional.

We should pray because we are needy. Jesus was the only perfect person. He was God. He was the only person who didn’t need to pray. But, that is not what we find. He rose early to pray. (Mark 1:35) "35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." He even spent whole nights in prayer. (Luke 6:12) "12 In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God."

Paul saw prayer the same way. Notice how he begins his letter to the Colossians. "And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Col. 1:9). This letter closes with a snapshot of Epaphras imitating Jesus and Paul in this important matter of continuing in prayer. "Epaphras…greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers" (Col. 4:12).

Paul also exhorts the Colossians to continue steadfastly in Prayer. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” Webster defines “Steadfastness” as “firmly fixed in place. Not subject to change. Firm in belief, determination or adherence.” In other words, one who prays steadfastly starts and never gives up. For example, I have been praying for the salvation of certain relatives for over twenty years. It hasn’t happened yet, but I will not give up until I or they are dead.

I prayed for a mate for my oldest daughters for 36 years. Eventually God was faithful. I have been praying for revival for over 20 years, and I have not given up. Please join me.

I have been praying to overcome certain weaknesses for 40 years and am still working on them. I haven’t given up. Jesus’ story of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1ff) encourages me. She went to the judge for justice, but because she was a poor widow he ignored her. She didn’t give up. She pestered him continually night and day until he finally gave in. Here is Jesus conclusion. "And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? 8 I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7-8).

Let us turn to God in prayer.

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