By Adam Prusel
We live in an interesting time. If you include both our actual talking and our posts to various social media platforms, we are speaking constantly. And not only do we speak constantly, but we also allow our time to be filled with a constant stream of information that floods to us from our mobile devices, computers and televisions. And in the midst of this constant speaking and constant information intake…in the midst of our busy, worried and hurried lives, God gives us an extraordinary invitation. He invites us to pray.
Colossians 4:2 says: “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” This is one of my favorite verses. And that isn’t because I excel in obeying it. Quite the opposite. It’s because of the extraordinary privilege of prayer that it invites me to. The word Paul uses for “continue steadfastly” is a really cool word. Most other English versions translate it “be devoted to”. Both are wholly accurate, but (I think) fail to fully convey the beauty of the text. When you check out different Greek Lexicons (as I’m sure you often do ;-)), you see various definitions for the word. You see, “to continue to do something with intense effort,” “be devoted to,” or “persist obstinately in.” So, the idea being conveyed here is one of both intensity and persistence. The picture I’ve thought of this week is that of a dog with a bone. Have you ever tried to wrestle a bone away from a pit bull? That’s the kind of “devotion” we’re commanded to have regarding prayer. It’s a devotion that involves both intensity and persistence.
I don’t know about you, but that’s challenging to me. When I examine my own prayer life, I long for it to be increasingly characterized by both intensity and persistence. I long for it to be characterized by mental alertness and thanksgiving. I long for the content of my prayers to increasingly include asking God to open doors for the message of the Gospel, and for that message to be declared clearly. And here we arrive at the catch-22 of moving towards an amazing prayer life: people of prayer got that way by being people of prayer. In other words, the way we become actually devoted to prayer is by practicing devotion to prayer. Literally.
So, the question for you and I isn’t so much to what degree we are actually “devoted to prayer.” It’s really about how much we are practicing prayer. So, what about you? How’s your prayer life? No matter. You need not fret about what your prayer life was. In the Gospel, we are forgiven all…and we are invited to always be growing in love towards God. So let’s get practicing, and maybe, God willing, we will each wake up one day realizing that somewhere along the way we became actually devoted to prayer.
2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.