Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;Colossians 4:2(NASB)
In our Christian life, we are entreated to continue steadfastly in prayer, to pray continuously, to present our needs before our heavenly Provider, to lift up others to the eternal throne of grace and to bend our ear to His gentle promptings. This is proposed by Paul as a duty and responsibility, and yet it is the greatest privilege given to the believer - to come before the throne of grace with petitions, prayers and pleas for our fellow-man and our brothers and sisters in Christ.
The curtain between man and God has been torn, and we are called upon to enter the holy place, We are to bring, in our hands, the needs of others, together with our grateful thanks, and to offer them in humble reverence before the feet of our Father in heaven.
Paul was a man who devoted himself to pray for the saints and to continue steadfastly in prayer. In this verse, he calls the believers in Colossae to become prayer warriors, "devote yourselves to prayer..." he writes, "keeping alert in prayer, with an attitude of thanksgiving".
Devotion to prayer meant to continue steadfastly in prayer by coming to the throne of grace for mercy to find help in times of need. We are to persevere in prayer... to commit to pray and not to give up, especially when the answer seems a long time in coming. We are to persist in prayer, even when faced with mounting difficulties and discouragements, and we are to pray daily - to pray without ceasing and to take up our cross, and saturate it in prayer.
Prayer is to become as regular as breathing, but too often prayer is the first Christian 'duty' to be dropped, when life starts to close-in on us, or time seems to be at a premium. Often, an irregular prayer life is the first slippery step on the downward path to complacency, carnality and an ineffective Christian witness.
Prayer is the means to maintain unbroken fellowship with our heavenly Father and unless we develop persistence in prayer and devote ourselves to praying, we are in danger of becoming lazy, disinterested and compromised in our faith. Devotion to prayer is to ensure that every piece of our spiritual armour has been prayerfully strapped on. In Ephesians, Paul calls us to "Pray always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and stay alert in prayer, with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints."
Prayer is not sitting for a few minutes with hands folded and eye shut tight. Prayer is the tool we have been given to prepare us for the work God has called us to do and to ensure that we are well-prepared when faced with a crisis. Prayer is not meant to be saved for a rainy day or only used in an emergency. Prayer is our life-line to the Lord and we should develop an attitude of ceaseless prayer.
Continuous, ceaseless, prayer is not, being engaged in a prayer closet 24/7, but is developing a habit of prayer. It is initiating a mindset of prayer.. of keeping the lines of communication to the heavenly throne-room open and clean, as we walk in spirit and truth and abide in Christ, moment by moment.
During Christ's ordeal in Gethsemane, a number of the disciples fell asleep when their prayer support would have been so welcome, and they had to be admonished to "watch and prayer - that ye enter not into temptation". We live in fallen bodies with an inherent sin nature and hindering the prayer-life of the saints is a top priority for the enemy of our soul. "Keep alert in prayer" we are all charged, "Watch and pray, with an attitude of thanksgiving"
Throughout this epistle, we are challenged to pray "with thanksgiving". Paul opened his letter to the Colossians by telling them. "I give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you", and later he gave thanks to the Father for their great salvation and inheritance of the saints in the light. In chapter 2 we read the saints were "firmly rooted and being built up in Him and established in your faith - just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude and thanksgiving."
In chapter 3 Paul exhorts the Colossians; "whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." and here in chapter 4 we are instructed to "Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving."
Prayer is warmed by worship; petitions are perfected by praise; promises are claimed through a grateful heart and intercessions are offered in the solemn acknowledgement that we have an audience with the King of kings and Lord of lords. Prayer should not be the quick after-thought of a busy believer, but an attitude that permeates one's whole life.
Prayer should be the in-breathing of our Lord into the inner core of our being and prayer should be the out-breathing of our utter devotion to our Saviour and Lord. Let us remember that when the prayers of the saints are offered to the Lord in steadfast faith, combined with grateful thanks and a trusting heart, we have the authority of heaven, behind all that we carry to the throne of grace - through His nail-pierced feet.
Heavenly Father, we bless You for Your grace and mercy to us. Thank You that I have the right to lay at Your feet my own needs and those of others. Increase my understanding of the great privilege of prayer, that has been granted to me and all Your children, and I pray that I increasingly devote my life to You in prayer, praise, and grateful thanks in Jesus' name - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.