There is so much that I love about scripture. I love that the Word of God is truly living and active (Hebrews 4:12) and able to be accurately applied to our lives in the here and now. I also love, however, that is was written at a certain point in history. Because of its history, each passage carries with it a rich legacy and story that transcends the very words on the page.
Our journey through Colossians, for instance, was written by Paul to the church in Colossae in about 60 AD. Paul was imprisoned in Rome and was writing to correct, rebuke, and encourage (2 Timothy 4:2) his churches all throughout Asia Minor (present-day Turkey). There was an actual group of believers that needed direction and encouragement from their pastor, brother, and mentor, the apostle Paul. Amazingly, his advice is still applicable today.
As my fellow hopers have already shared this week, the church in Colossae had been the target of heretical attack that Paul wanted to warn them about (Chapter 2). Paul offered some guidance as to how they should navigate these heresies as lovers of the one true God, Christ Jesus, starting in Chapter 3. His “rules for holy living” continue into Chapter 4 and this is where I will accompany our Colossae sojourn.
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Colossians 4: 2-6 (NIV)
Are you devoted to prayer?
Can you say that you pray diligently, being watchful and thankful?
I shared in a post last fall that I am a self-proclaimed addict – to prayer that is! As a woman committed to prayer, having actual conversations with the Author and Perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2), I still have so much more to learn. In fact, even since my post in November, I have recently learned more that I am blessed to share with you today…
I was just in Cyprus. Go ahead, take a minute to find it on a map (I had to). Yep, Cyprus. I was there with over 100 Christian women who serve in some capacity of ministry all over the world. The week was beyond what I needed for my own refreshment, encouragement, and renewal. But the teaching sessions were what took the cake for me. What was our theme for the week? PRAYER.
As we peeled apart “The Lord’s Prayer”, verse by verse, I took notes as fast as my faithful pen would allow. Follow along with me here in Matthew 6:9-13, NASB:
Our Father who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Here we are invited to open our prayers from a personal, connected point of view – addressing God as our Father.
We also see it encouraged that we declare all that He is and all that He claims to be – Hallowed, Holy.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Here, inside of our connected and personal conversation with our Holy Father, we are to posture ourselves in submission to Him.
We heard a similar message in Paul’s compelling instructions from Colossians: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” And let us lean in as Paul continues, “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
Paul is in chains, imprisoned for the gospel, and yet he remains a faithful bearer of God’s message. His unrelenting heart’s desire is to be where God would have him and to surrender to His will alone.
In our everyday lives, do we bow to Him alone and invite His will to be done, His kingdom to come?
Friends, I know I still have some work to do in this area.
Give us this day our daily bread.
I have found myself lingering in this verse ever since our move here to Africa – where MANY of my friends do not know where their next meal will come from, nor their children’s next meal. As we pray to the Lord as our provider, we are invited into a posture of divine humility. We are also submitting once again to His will – His kingdom to be done. In our humble submission to Jehovah Jireh, we are declaring that He indeed is enough. And so we must ask ourselves, is God enough?
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
This verse brought me back yet again to Paul’s letter to the Colossae church. Let us reread Colossians 4: 5-6 together:
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
In the LORD’s prayer, Jesus reminds us that we are forgiven. It is finished – forevermore! From that place of freedom, we are called to become living channels of His forgiveness. Remember what Paul just shared in Chapter 3, verse 13?
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the LORD forgave you.”
As we reflect on all that we ourselves have been forgiven of, we are compelled to approach each and every outsider with abundant grace. Oh friends, what a privilege we have been given to “make the most of every opportunity.” We are being invited into the Great High Priest’s ministry of reconciliation.
My opportunities and sphere of influence will absolutely look different than yours and that is okay. You are you and I am not, so they are intended to be different! In our uniquely crafted, God-ordained conversations, however, we are called to be faithful. Let us both allow for the joy of our undeserved forgiveness to illuminate every syllable we speak as we offer those we meet the truth of our Father God alone, amen?!
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
Paul was in prison for his commitment to the LORD’s work. Maybe that is part of your story too, maybe not. Regardless of circumstance, we need Jesus. His kingdom, His power, and His glory alone are leading us Home. May we continue to pray for one another, diligently, and keep our eyes fixed on these words of encouragement from our faithful brother, Paul:
“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 3: 13-14