Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Translation is an interesting thing. Often a variety of translations can be entirely justified from exactly the same original. Here, the Japanese says, “Be relentless in prayer.” That carries a slightly different feeling than “Devote yourselves to prayer,” but both seem quite applicable to the subject of prayer. Too often we take prayer lightly, even casually, and don’t stick with it. That’s not a good idea! Recently the expression, “thoughts and prayers” has become common, at least in public news reports, in relation to tragic situations, and that has been ridiculed by some who don’t have faith. To be honest, “sending warm thoughts” has always seemed pretty futile, because it is man-centered. It is when our thoughts are directed to the One who has all power and is defined by love (1 John 4:8) that they make a difference. Prayer, on the other hand, can be incredibly powerful. In my childhood we could pick up the AM broadcasts of the Far East Network from the Itazuke Air Force Base where I and my siblings went to school. It seems unthinkable in the political climate of today, but there was a program sponsored by the Catholics that had the tag line, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” That is an extremely accurate statement! Paul was acutely aware of the value of prayer, which is why he often asked for prayer, as he does right after this statement, and he mentions his prayers for others. Prayer remains a mystery, because why would the omnipotent Creator listen to such as we are? However, there is a huge mountain of evidence that He does listen, proving that He is indeed love, and that somehow our prayers make a difference. We make a huge mistake when we take prayer lightly, or indeed when we make it humanistic with “thoughts and prayers.” That expression is valid only when our thoughts prompt us to pray, because it is the prayers that matter.
As I have written many times, I was raised in a home where prayer was as natural as breathing. That was an incredible blessing, but it carried the danger of familiarity breeding contempt. Even with that background, sometimes I don’t think to pray! I indeed need to be relentless in prayer, alert to what is happening and filled with gratitude toward my gracious Father to whom I pray. I am to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my prayers, because there is literally no end to things that would benefit from prayer, and God assigns different people to different things. I’m not to feel guilty for “I didn’t pray about that,” but as Paul says here, I am to be alert and relentless so that my prayers may be useful to God in establishing His rule and reign, for His glory.
Father, thank You for this clear reminder. Thank You that You continue to grow me in prayer, so that I may be a relentless warrior indeed in Your army. May my prayers be fully in line with Your will in every detail, so that I may be an effective servant bearing abundant fruit for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!