2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison, 4 so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak. 5 Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
I love the idea that prayer is something we do throughout the day, because all of our lives are lived under the gaze of God, and He is with us wherever we go. God is not limited to our “spiritual activities” like Bible Study and going to church.
There’s a great old book by Brother Lawrence that captures this idea called “Practicing the Presence of God.” He discovered a deep communion he could have with the Lord in the midst of cleaning the pots and pans in his monastery.
Nevertheless, I think our passage today reminds us there are devoted times of prayer. I get this from Paul’s instructions to be watchful and alert in prayer. I think it profits our lives if we have devoted times given to prayer, such as during morning devotionals, or other times set aside.
What do we learn about prayer from this passage that can benefit us? Staying alert in prayer reminds me that we have an Adversary, and that prayer is a part of spiritual warfare. I heard one pastor say that “you will never understand what prayer is for, until you realize that life is war.”
You know that, don’t you? Consider your day, or perhaps your past week. Doesn’t life feel like a battle? The Bible tells us that it is! So don’t be surprised. The forces of good and evil are at war all around us (See Ephesians 6:10-20). While alert in prayer, we pray with thanksgiving. I have found that praise and thanksgiving are one of the best ways to change my perspective from being earthly-minded, to becoming God-centered.
How does our passage further illuminate what may be the content of our prayers? Paul requests prayer for an open door of ministry so that the message of Christ may advance. How often do our prayers reflect this? This may include praying for our church, praying for those you know engaged in active ministry or missions, or even praying that God would open a door for you to speak to others about Jesus.
All this talking means that we can pray about our speech. In discussions with those outside the faith, we can pray for wisdom and the ability for our speech to be gracious, knowing how we should answer and converse with unbelievers.
- How can you be alert in prayer? Read over Ephesians 6:10-20 to gain a better understanding of the spiritual warfare you are in.
- Paul instructs us to pray with thanksgiving. For what in your life can you express gratitude to God right now? What are your blessings: spiritual, relational, physical, or circumstantial?
- We are instructed to pray for an open door for the good news of Jesus to be proclaimed. How can you pray for our church in this way? What about missionaries or others engaged in ministry and evangelism? How about your own opportunities to share Jesus with someone?
- How can you pray for your speech and the way you talk to others, especially those outside the faith? Pray for gracious words. Pray that you may be able to respond in a way that honors Christ.