“Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 4:2)
Prayer is our primary communication channel to God. It is a vital component of our relationship with Him, and we are to be devoted to it at all times.
With the repercussions of sin and the state of this fallen world rearing their collective ugly head for the world to see in 2020, believers should be praying for their countries, communities, families, friends and foes alike, and the universal body of Christ more now than ever before. Now is neither the time to be outwardly silent, nor spiritually silent.
This post isn’t about the social action you need to take (see link at bottom), but the spiritual one. In terms of prayer, my personal experience and what we see reflected throughout the Bible, is that people tend to cry out to God more than usual in times of unrest and trouble. Even those who don’t typically pray or aren’t even sure whether they actually believe in God or not, will pray in search of answers or any sliver of hope.
Maybe that’s one of the problems. If I’m honest with myself, I pray much more proactively about what’s immediately in front of me and impacting the small bubble I live in, than I do for the broader community and world at large. In other words, it’s often “out of sight, out of mind”. Yet the Apostle Paul instructed the church at Colossae (and all believers) that this is not the way.
- “Continue steadfastly in prayer…” (ESV, ASV)
- “Be devoted to prayer…” (LEB)
- “Devote yourselves to prayer…” (NIV, NLT, HCSB, NASB)
- “Continue earnestly in prayer…” (NKJV)
- “Continue in prayer…” (KJV)
Different translations all say the same thing– that as believers we are to be continually devoted to steadfast and earnest prayer. We are often reactive in our prayers, while Paul is instructing the church to be proactive, that we may proclaim the Good News to a world in desperate need of hope and healing. We are to be wise and thoughtful in the way we treat others, and make the most of every opportunity we have (v5).
There are so many things happening around us at any given point in time that it wouldn’t be realistic for all of us to pray for every individual person and every individual circumstance repeatedly. But as Paul instructs, we can center our prayers on the Gospel being advanced, and that we as His followers may ourselves proclaim it with clarity, wisdom, and grace (v3-6).
To truly care about your nation, your community, and your fellow human being, is to not only care for their earthly well-being, but to care that they would come to know Christ. It should not only be a prayer for the downtrodden or those who tend to agree with us, but should also be a prayer for our enemies– those who do us wrong, hate us, and persecute us (Mt. 5, Luke 6). No one ever said it would be easy; but as we come to know and reflect Jesus, our hearts will be transformed, which in turn will transform the world we live in.
My hope for each of us is that we would have a surrendered heart that is dependent on God and actively engaged in prayer at all times. During times like this it’s hard to even know what exactly to pray for sometimes, but we can find solace in Romans 8 that assures us:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (Romans 8:26-27)
He knows your heart. He knows the desires you have and the burdens you carry. He knows what brings you joy and what brings you pain. He knows what’s important to you and what keeps you up at night. And since He knows your heart, we can pray for the power of the Gospel to set forth in both the things we’re aware of and those we’re not. The key is that we must be praying, even when we’re at a loss for words.
In Luke 18, Jesus reminds His disciples through the parable of the persistent widow, that they ought to always seek God through prayer and not give up. As followers of Christ, we are to do the same.
Our world is reeling from the pandemic, racial injustice, riots, violence, oppression, financial collapse, natural disasters, and other painful conditions too far in number to list. Just as we can no longer afford to be silent against sin in the world, we likewise cannot afford to be silent in our prayer lives.
Brothers and sisters, choose today not to remain silent. Devote yourselves to prayer, then step out in obedience and faith to take a stand against sin and injustice, knowing that God listens and moves through our sincere prayer and actionable love towards others.
The world needs your voice right now, in more ways than one.
What You Can Do: A Response to George Floyd and Racial Injustice
Click here for more thoughts on prayer.