Study Notes

Colossians 4:2-4


With chapter four, verse two, Paul's letter to the Colossians begins to close with some final exhortations.

4:2 Devoted To Prayer

The word translated "devote" here is "to be continually persevering, to be steadfastly adherent, to give constant attention." It is very much like the command he gave the Thessalonians, when he said to...

1Ths. 5:17 pray without ceasing

Devote yourselves to prayer. Pray without ceasing. Simple commands, easily understandable, yet so rarely applied. Why is it that so many Christians pray so little? Why is it that in most churches, the prayer meetings are the least attended? Why is it that devoting ourselves to prayer is such a simple directive, yet so difficult to apply?

If you consider this question and answer honestly, you'd probably come up with something like:

- "I don't know how to pray - I never know what to say."

- "I'm intimidated to talk to God because I'm always aware of how bad I've been. I feel like a hypocrite when I pray, because I know how wicked my heart really is."

- "Why should I? After all, I don't think prayer really does anything - what good is it?"

Just about every excuse I've ever heard for not praying can be categorized into three groups: 1) The person doesn't know how to pray; 2) The person feels too sinful to pray; 3) The person doesn't understand the benefit of prayer.

1) How To Pray

The first category is those who don't know how to pray. You know what? If you can talk to other people, you can talk to God. There is no special voice, no particular manner of speech, no certain words that must be spoken in prayer. It is you talking to God, plain and simple.

Now, as you grow in your relationship with God and understanding of God, you will find that your prayers will progressively change over time. Children very often pray, "Jesus, thank You for this day," because that's about all they recognize that God has done. As you grow, and you begin to realize His intervention in your life, and recognize the vastness of His forgiving power to forgive a rotten sinner like you or me, you have more to talk to Him about than the weather!

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray, He gave them what has been dubbed, "The Lord's Prayer." In this prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), Jesus taught us to be reverent when we speak to God, for He is all-powerful and holy. He taught us to be focused on God's kingdom and God's will. He taught us to ask for what we need materially, to ask for forgiveness spiritually, and to ask for the ability to resist temptation daily.

2) Too Sinful To Pray?

A lot of people don't pray because of this, which is category number two: "I haven't resisted temptation, so I feel too sinful to pray."

Jesus told a parable about two guys who went to the temple to pray. One of them was a tax-gatherer. Of him He said,

Luke 18:13-14 "...The tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!' I tell you, this man went down to his house justified ... for ... he who humbles himself shall be exalted."

God has not reserved prayer for those who are righteous, perfect, and sinless. As a matter of fact, the Bible says,

1John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If you're always feeling condemned, then simply confess your sin to God when you begin to pray. Then, in the same breath, receive the cleansing and forgiveness that He has given you. You are not condemned, but forgiven, and now you're free to go on about your prayer without that hanging over your head.

3) The Benefits Of Prayer

Thirdly, there are benefits to prayer:

- People can be healed when we pray for them. The first time the word prayer is mentioned in the Bible, it is regarding healing (Gen. 20).

- Prayer can bring deliverance from difficulties (Gen. 32:11; Num. 11:2; etc.)

- Our needs and even our wants can be met by the Lord when we pray (1Sam 1:27; Matt. 21:22; etc.)

Also, something that most people don't consider: The time you spend in prayer is an investment. God will pay you for every minute you spend praying! That might sound really strange, but remember what Jesus taught about prayer:

Matt. 6:5-6 "And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.

When you pray, you will be rewarded, it's a simple as that!

So we can see why it is so important to devote ourselves to prayer, to always be praying, and not avoiding it for any reason.

Thanksgiving In Prayer

There is another aspect to prayer which is vital: that is making sure that we're giving thanks, that we have an attitude of thanksgiving. Some people get so wrapped up with, "God heal ME, God help ME, God provide for ME," that they never say, "God thank YOU!"

This was Daniel's practice:

Dan. 6:10 ...kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God...

Thankfulness is vital. Thank God for Who He is, and what He has done. And thank Him for the Christians you know. Paul's letters are full of statements letting us know that he was always thanking God when he prayed for others.

But the tough thing is that it wasn't just the Christians Paul prayed and gave thanks for. It was EVERYONE. He encouraged young Pastor Timothy to adopt the same practice:

1Tim. 2:1-4 ...I urge that entreaties {and} prayers, petitions {and} thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

Now you've got to make sure that you don't go down the wrong path with thanksgiving. After all, you might end up praying like the Pharisee, who prayed,

Luke 18:11 "...God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer."

So, we don't pray thanks that we're not like other people. We pray thanks for other people.

We've already talked about the benefits of prayer being healing, deliverance, needs and wants met, and reward. But when we include thanksgiving in our prayers, there is an additional benefit for us:

Phil. 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

When we make sure to include thanksgiving in our prayers, the peace of God comes over us, giving us freedom from anxiety in the midst of terrible trials.

4:3-4 Praying For Preachers

Lastly this morning is the exhortation to pray for preachers. I cannot communicate to you how much I need your prayers. You see, apart from the Spirit of God, I am a brain-dead ex-drug addict with no ability to teach or say anything of value. You may or may not believe that, but I know it to be true. I can't do anything apart from Christ, and the devil works overtime to mess up my life, to make me sin, to keep me from preaching the Word to you. So please pray for me. Paul told the Ephesians,

Eph. 6:19-20 ...Pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in {proclaiming} it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

Pray for me to be bold, because I can be too intimidated to share the gospel. Pray for me to have the right words, so that the Holy Spirit can speak through me to the people who come here, so desperately needing to know the truth of salvation, and for those who God wants to speak to you.

Please make a habit of praying for me. Maybe when you sit down to your meals as a family, thank God for the food, and then say, "Lord, please bless Calvary Chapel and please bless Pastor Ron."

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