Devotional: March 30, 2021
Pray diligently. Stay alert, with your eyes wide open in gratitude. Don’t forget to pray for us, that God will open doors for telling the mystery of Christ, even while I’m locked up in this jail. Pray that every time I open my mouth, I’ll be able to make Christ plain as day to them.
I’m signing off in my own handwriting—Paul. Remember to pray for me in this jail. Grace be with you.
Colossians 4: 2-4, 18 The Message
When many people picture the Apostle Paul, they see him walking, preaching to a crowd, or aboard a ship, as he logged thousands of miles on at least three different missionary journeys. We recall his dramatic conversion on the Road to Dasmascus. Yet because of his fervent Christian faith and his tireless evangelism, Paul was often subject to persecution. Sometimes, he was even imprisoned.
He writes this letter to the church at Colossae from prison. It is not the only letter which he wrote from prison, as there are at least two other letters he penned from behind bars. In my pastoral library, I have one commentary which attempts to find a common thread in these letters, collectively known as “Paul’s prison epistles.”
As Paul is concluding this letter, he pleads with the Colossians to remember him in prayer, along with others imprisoned with him. He does this not once, but twice in these verses. Paul’s plea to be remembered in prayer is a good reminder for us.
In our country right now, people are not imprisoned for preaching their beliefs. The founders of our country guaranteed freedom of speech, within certain understandable limits. (You cannot yell, “fire” in a crowded theater, etc.). It is true that sometimes we are stunned by things that are said. Yet in other countries, freedom of speech does not exist, or is much more tightly controlled. Although we don't often hear their pleas, the need to pray for others who are spreading the gospel around the world never ceases.
Paul was literally behind bars. Yet in our lives, we might feel cornered in certain situations, like we cannot escape. Sometimes a work environment makes one feel helpless or controlled. The pandemic made many feel as though they were imprisoned. Others are in unhealthy relationships, where they need to seek help, and possibly a way out of a situation. At some point, many of us have felt cornered or even imprisoned by life situations, often with few immediate options.
When a situation like this might arise in one's life, what is our first reaction? Is it to pray? In almost every situation, we can pray. Taking a moment to breathe, and ask God for help, protection, wisdom, or guidance may be just what we may need at a given moment. One way we can train ourselves to pray is to do so when we are not in a moment of crisis.
When we wrap our lives in daily prayer, it becomes a routine. Good and healthy routines are so important to our well-being. Prayer is one such routine. Do you intentionally carve out times in your daily schedule to pray? Paul felt that prayer was so important that he asked for it twice! When you are facing a difficult situation, do you ask others to pray for you, or with you? Or do you let your pride get in the way of admitting you need prayer? If Paul was able to write an open letter asking for prayer, shouldn’t this be a lesson to us? We need to reach out to others for prayer, especially when we God’s comfort and His healing touch.
All around the world, there are people who cannot reach out and ask others for prayer. Therefore, let us offer an open prayer for those who are unjustly in prison. Perhaps in our neighborhoods, there are people in unhealthy, and even abusive relationships. Let us pray for those caught up in such imprisoning relationship. Even when we pray for those we do not know, those prayers are still heard by our Lord.
If you are not yet praying regularly, it is never too late to begin. Open your heart, and ask God for guidance. The scriptures are full of prayers, which can be examples for how to pray. Pray for those you love, those who need prayer, and for those in our hurting world whom you will most likely never meet. Prayer can become second nature to us, so that when we come to a time or turmoil, we immediately turn to the Lord. God will hear you in your moment of crisis, even with your prayer then is simple and quick. God will hear you.
Remember that God wants to celebrate with you. Although we often turn to God when we are in need, do not forget to thank Him for answered prayers. The Almighty welcome prayers of thanksgiving and praise. He wants to hear about the moments that make our hearts leap.
Every Sunday, we pray the Lord’s prayer in unison. Yet that prayer may also be prayed individually. Today, pray it once more, allowing yourself the time to focus on this prayer. The Lord’s prayer is a wonderful guide for all of us, whenever we pray.
The Lord’s Prayer
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name,
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread, and
Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.