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October 24, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”—Colossians 4:2 (NASB)
There’s a distinct chiastic structure in Paul’s letter to the Colossians which ought not to be missed; for on either side, prayer is punctuated.
At the head of this letter, Paul greets the church with his characteristic wishes of grace and peace. Quickly, he transitions to prayer, assuring the church of his petitions for them (Colossians 1:9–12). Concluding his letter, Paul circles back and provides a three-fold model for prayer to help set the stage for our quiet times with the Lord (Colossians 4:2). Taken together, Paul’s instruction for prayer provide us the cannons with which we barrage heaven’s door.
Look again at today’s verse. The words in this three-fold model should be examined if they’re to be lived out in our prayer life. For example, “devote” isn’t a passive mindset. Strong’s defines it as unremitting care, meaning we never relax—we pray steadfastly. This steadfast prayer brings to mind David’s words: “I give myself to prayer” (Psalm 109:4 ESV). David gave himself because it was vital for him to connect with God. It’s been said that if God’s Word is our daily bread, then prayer is our oxygen.
And what does it mean to keep alert? It could include staying awake (I admit I’ve drifted off to distraction or to sleep while praying). But better stated, it means to give strict attention, to watch. It reminds me of a traffic cop standing in the middle of an intersection controlling vehicles. If that officer averted his attention, you can imagine the chaos! Prayer keeps our focus on God, deriving all we need from Him. Devotion to prayer ensures we or those we pray for are not overcome.
Finally, pray with an attitude of thanksgiving. Not just for what God has done, but for what you trust He will do. Because God’s plans are good and His ways are righteous, our prayers should reflect gratitude, trust, and stand as an act of worship.
The bookends of prayer binding this letter reveal God’s desire for us to stay in close communion with Him. This instruction and calling for prayer was not just Paul’s revelation from the Holy Spirit, but it was exemplified through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. As Charles Spurgeon wrote, “If ever one of woman born might have lived without prayer, it was our spotless, perfect Lord, and yet none was ever so much in supplication as He!” He then adds, “Fervent prayer, like a cannon planted at the gates of heaven, makes them fly open."
DIG: What does this three-model prayer mean in your prayer life?
DISCOVER: How are you keeping yourself alert?
DO: As you pray, keep Paul’s words in Colossians 1:9-12 in mind and keep 4:2 in your heart throughout the day. Pray for our brothers and sisters, pastors, and their families.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.