November 4 – Prison Letters – Missional Praying

Read Colossians 4:2-6

Have you ever felt like Peter, James, and John in the Garden of Gethsemane?  Do you remember their story?  In realization of the full weight of what would transpire on the cross, Jesus invited these three to go with Him and to pray in this, His hour of agony.  What a privilege! Unfortunately, these three were unable to stay awake.  What a shame!

Focused prayer is not easy!  Distraction and even drowsiness can prevent us from participating fruitfully in this important Christian discipline.  From the terminology used by Paul in today’s devotional text, it seems that he also knew this full well!  He invites his readers to…

  1. Be devoted to prayer- There are certain things in life that are easy and that come natural.  Other things require discipline, commitment, and devotion.  Prayer sometimes belongs to the latter group.
  2. Be watchful and thankful- The New American Standard translates this as “keeping alert in [prayer] with an attitude of thanksgiving.”  The apparent answer to the disciples’ inability to stay awake and “watch” and the means by which we will stay focused and undistracted is thanksgiving.

Prayer was the important first focus of the apostle Paul in these few verses.  He invited the Colossian believers to pray for him as a Jesus ambassador.  Though he was in a prison cell, he saw himself as one who was to represent Jesus.  He wanted the opportunity, boldness, and clarity that God could provide.  Are you committed to praying for those who represent Jesus to people you may never meet?

But there was a second aspect of this instruction that was more directly related to the Colossians and their outreach.  Like us, they had contact with those who were “outsiders.”  These are people who have yet to embrace the person and the gospel of Christ.  Every Christ follower is a “missionary” regardless of vocation.  Each of us is to be characterized by compassionate acts and grace-filled speech.  Will those characterize you today?

Will you pause and pray now that God would use missionaries that Grace supports like the Triplehorn’s, Hobert’s, Plaster’s, Farley’s, and Kane’s?  Will you also pray that your words and actions impact those around you towards a relationship with Jesus?

Steve Kern

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