Do you ever stop and think that evil has the upper hand and become discouraged? There is nothing new under the sun because that’s exactly how the Christians in Colossae felt. What was Paul’s prescription for them? “Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.” (Col. 4:2) The apostle has two things to say about prayer. The first is: “Keep at it” — “continue steadfastly in prayer (ESV).” The reason, obviously, is that prayer is essential to your Christian life. Prayer is dependence on God, and that is the name of the game! If you don’t pray, then you are not expressing any dependence on Him at all.
The Greek word the apostle chooses for steadfastly means “to be ready at all times.” Paul is saying. “Be ready to break into prayer — in your thought life — instantaneously, at all times, because that is the way we ought to live.” Be ready for prayer, so that you won’t need an introduction when some demand suddenly comes upon you and you realize you need God. “Keep at it,” he says, “and keep wide awake while you are keeping at it” — “Be watchful.” That is, “Don’t go to sleep. Be alert for opportunities to pray.”
Remember what Jesus said to Peter in the Garden of Gethsemane: “Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation” (Matthew 26:41), with the clear implication that if Peter had observed the demand to watch and pray in that hour, he would not have denied his Lord in the next hour. Prayer is a way of drawing on God’s strength to meet the pressures which are pressing upon you, with temptation inherent in every one.
This is Paul’s word: “Keep awake.” But in that very practical way the apostle has, he tells you how to do it: “being watchful in it with thanksgiving” — by means of thanksgiving. If, when you pray, you practice giving thanks to God for what He has given you, you will be much more alert and awake while you pray. And also, if you practice thanksgiving — as the Scriptures say, “In everything give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) — you will discover that there are opportunities for prayer and thanksgiving in almost every situation you enter.
Yesterday I saw the most glorious sunrise in my rearview mirror while driving to work. The bold colors brushed across the sky reminded me that the Lord had given me a new day, and along with it new mercies and grace — that I completely do not deserve. I wished I could have taken the time to turn around and take a picture of the glorious sky (which I couldn’t do), but I did thank Him (while driving) for His glorious reminder of His grace and mercy. I thanked Him for the opportunity to walk in the steps He planned for me long ago. And I thanked Him for the reminder to focus on Him and what He is doing, not focus on what the “world” is doing. “They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” (Ps. 112:7) No matter what is going on around us, “in everything give thanks”.
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