Do I pray like I mean it? With fervency, with expectation, with contrition, with gratitude and adoration for my awesome God?
We’re studying the book Colossians at our Tuesday night Bible study. This week’s passage was Colossians 4:2-6. Verses 2 and 3 say,
“Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; 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…”
Continue earnestly…There is an assumption that I am already praying, and it should be characterized by deep sincerity and seriousness. I’m told to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and Romans 12:12 reminds me to be “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer.”
Being vigilant…I must be attentive, watchful and alert. “Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) Oh, how true.
With thanksgiving…Prayer is not just a shopping list of things I want. It is praise and thanksgiving to the One who gives all good gifts and is only good. “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,” (Hebrews 13:15)
Praying also for us…I am to intercede for others. Believe it or not, it’s not all about me. “Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men” (1 Timothy 2:1) “And pray for one another… The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16) And later in Colossians, we’re told that Epaphras was “…always labouring fervently for [them] in prayers” (verse 12)
That God would open to us a door for the word…I am to be praying for opportunities to share the good news with others, to encourage and exhort others. Praying for God to allow my path to cross with individuals for His glory: divine appointments, as it were. Ephesians 6:19 says: “…and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel”
Ephesians 6:18 reiterates much the same idea: “praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” Prayer is a privilege and an obligation. A privilege in the respect that we have instant access to the God of the universe who wants us to come to Him with our needs, Who wants to answer us. An obligation in that we are told to do it. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (~ 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
The topic of prayer has been a recurring one for me. Last year, I read a book by Jim Cymbala called Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. It was challenging and inspiring. One of the things he said reminded me that prayer must be an integral part of my life: “Prayer is the source of the Christian life, a Christian’s lifeline.” I took copious amounts of notes as I read.
We watched War Room recently, as well. Also very stirring and convicting. If you have not already viewed this movie, I would highly recommend doing so. Miss Clara challenges a woman to establish a “war room” and a battle plan of prayer for her family. As Elizabeth tries to fight for her family, she understands the truth of Miss Clara’s wisdom: victories don’t come by accident.
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. ~ Matthew 6:6-8
Now we understand that we don’t have to go in a closet or in a room all by ourselves. It is a state of our being: focused wholly on Him, on communion with Him. We know we are to come to Him, day and night, with our requests and He will hear us. What a mystery prayer is. He already knows our needs, but He still wants us to bring our needs to Him. Communication, it’s part of being in a relationship. According to 1 John 5:14-15, we can have “confidence…in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” He always answers us according to His will: “yes, no, or wait.” James 1:6 encourages us to “ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.”
When my carb-loving boy was quite little, he cried as I tucked him in one night. He had a stuffie that he always cuddled in bed. It was nowhere to be found. I hugged him and said the very best thing we can do is ask God to help him to rest without Teddy for the night, and that Teddy might be found quickly. He agreed, we prayed, and I kissed him goodnight. The next day, we were in the kitchen and as the kids played, something got tossed on top of the bookcase. As I reached up to get it, lo and behold…Teddy! It was no coincidence of events that lead us to discover Teddy’s hiding place. My cl boy’s face lit up and he exclaimed, “God answered my prayer!” Yes, He did. God used a missing stuffie to provide an opportunity to share His love for a little boy and teach us all a valuable lesson.
God answers prayer. I need to pray like I mean it.