2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 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. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 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)
Paul provides final instructions to the Colossian church (and to us) before offering a few personal closing remarks to end his letter.
Paul covers two topics as he wraps up his notes: prayer and proclamation of the Gospel.
Note that Paul starts with prayer, then talks about the proclamation of the Gospel. We must focus on “being” before we can engage in “doing”. We must be “Mary” before we can be “Martha” (Luke 10:38-42). Devotion to the Lord must always precede our duty for the Lord.
So what does Paul say about prayer? First of all, Paul tells us to devote ourselves to prayer. The word Paul uses for “devote” means to put our strength, our power into our prayers, to persevere when we pray. Prayer is not a reciting of words, but a pouring out of our heart before God. When we pray, we are coming before the Lord and asking His help with life. We are admitting our helplessness and inviting Him to have His way in our life, knowing that His way is better than our way.
As we learn to pray with devotion, we develop a deeper desire for the Lord. Our longing is for Him and Him alone. The desires of this world fade into the background as we seek His face and companionship.
David gives us a tremendous word picture of what it means to have a deep desire for the Lord:
1 You, God, are my God,
earnestly I seek you;
I thirst for you,
my whole being longs for you,
in a dry and parched land
where there is no water.
(Psalm 63:1 NIV)
Paul also tells us to be watchful and thankful as we pray.
What does Paul mean by being “watchful”? It means to be awake and engaged as we pray. Have you ever fallen asleep during your prayer time? The disciples did (Matthew 26:41) even after Jesus instructed them otherwise.
Paul adds the repeating theme of thankfulness during prayer time to all the other reminders he gave previously. Without thankfulness, our prayer life gravitates toward selfish wish-fulfillment rather than gratitude for all God has done in us and for us.
Paul then moves on to request prayer for himself and his companions. Notice that Paul does not pray for release from captivity. Instead, he prays for opportunities to minister where he is, regardless of his circumstances – even if his circumstances include being a political prisoner in chains.
Paul believed in blooming wherever God planted him. Do we have that same resolve and spirit for the Lord? What is holding us back from doing the same?
In verses 5 and 6, Paul moves on to remind us about our proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul focuses on our conduct and our conversations as the key factors in engaging others with the Gospel.
Paul reminds us to be wise in our conduct before others, as the Lord provides us many opportunities to interact with those who don’t know the Lord. May our conduct never be a deterrent to someone seeing Christ in us and desiring what the Lord has done in our lives in theirs also.
Paul assumes that our conduct provides opportunities to have conversations with others. He then proceeds to remind us that our words, as well as our conduct, must reflect Christ. How do we do this? Paul says our words must always be full of grace, as if seasoned by salt, to bring out the full flavor of Christ. We are not to beat others over the head with our Bibles; instead, we must use God’s Word for healing, for comfort, for gentle transformation to be more Christ-like. This begins with using Scripture as our own mirror to see our brokenness and His perfect healing and reconciliation that we can humbly share with others.
Lord, may we live out Paul’s final reminders to us to pray, and to proclaim what You have done for us as we walk with You the rest of our days.