9 March 2018

Hello. It’s Friday – the weekend is nearly here! We pray that God has been speaking to you this week through the podcast as we look at the Bible together. If you’ve been finding these reflections helpful, why not tell a friend about them?

REFLECTION

This week, we’ve been digging into Colossians. On Monday, we were reminded that as we look to Jesus we remember that he calls us to live a different life, a better life, a changed life. A life that it’s only possible to live through his resurrection power. Over the past couple of days, we’ve been looking at some of the hallmarks of the new life we have in Christ. On Wednesday, we focused on the word ‘love’; yesterday was centred around our ‘relationships’. Today, it’s prayer.

Today’s passage is Colossians 4:2-9. Here’s verse 2 (taken from the ESV version):

‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving’.

We’ve just had a prayer day here at STC. Lots of our church family gathered here over the the course of the day; many were also praying online. These are really great days. It’s such a powerful thing when we gather as a whole church community to pray and to worship. Why? Because it’s the church doing what it’s called to do…and that’s to pray. That is one of the central hallmarks of the new life we find in Christ and it’s right at the heart of the communities we are seeking to build here at STC.

We see in today’s passage, which you can hear read in full at the end, that this is nothing new. It was right at the heart of the early church, these households of faith. Paul instructs the believers to: ‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving’.

If prayer is something that’s important for both our own personal walk with God and right at the heart of our church communities, then today’s passage starts to give us an idea of what prayer should look like.

Paul writes ‘continue steadfastly’ in prayer. Our prayer life is to be constant.

One of the most powerful things about the prayer day we’ve just had is that whether it was a handful of folk or a crowd of 150 that gathered throughout the day– someone was praying! It was constant prayer.

A few years ago, I was part of STC College, our discipleship year here, and one of the most important things I learned during that year was how to pray, and in particular the discipline of prayer. We prayed with the staff team at 9am and 3pm. We prayed before lunch. And often we prayed during sessions. I’d only been a Christian a couple of years and I couldn’t get over how much praying we were doing. Sometimes I felt like it; sometimes I didn’t. Sometimes I felt in the zone; other times I was thinking about which sandwich I’d be having for lunch (in fact I often did that).. But, regardless of how I felt, we prayed. And I carried that over in to my life outside the college. As a teacher, I found myself offering up prayers throughout the day – for children, for the lesson I had coming up, for a staff member who was struggling.

So, Paul is saying here that prayer is something we have to persevere in. It’s something we have to keep pressing into. That’s why prayer in community is so important. Sometimes we’ll feel like it; other times we won’t. Sometimes we’ll feel like everything is just in the right place and we’re in the zone and ready to go; other times we’ll feel like we’d rather do anything else. But as we gather together, regardless of how we feel, we spur one another on to pray. We help each other stand firm in prayer, remembering that our God is faithful.

‘Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving’.

Thankfulness is something we’ve heard lots about recently on the podcast. Mick shared a great thought on this last week – do check it out. Our prayer is to be thankful. Thanksgiving is so important when we pray. We often start our collective times of prayer here at STC with giving thanks. Because as we do so, we realise it’s not about us – it’s about Him. We remember that Jesus is Lord. That in Him we have found a better way to live. And that enables us to continue to press into prayer. Yes for ourselves, but for our families, friends, schoolmates, colleagues, so that they might experience this new life in Christ too!

PRAYER

Jesus, thank you for the gift of prayer. Thank you that you taught us how to pray. We say these words together now:

Our Father in heaven
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
Amen.

READING: COLOSSIANS 4:2-9 (ESV)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison — that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom towards outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.