I love going on night time drives with my best friends. There’s something strangely peaceful about an open road, littered with the lights of an occasional street lamp or passing vehicle. Our conversations often ebb and flow between belly laughs and comfortable silence.
There are those people in my life, and I expect many of our lives, that we find that magic with; the ease of endless conversation mixed with moments of quiet that no one finds the need to fill with words. For me, there’s a sense of comfort that comes with knowing that I am in the presence of a friend who is ready to pick up right where we left off, even after a few minutes of silence.
Paul gives one last piece of advice to close out his letter to the Colossians. Spoiler alert, he centers that advice around prayer. Now I don’t know about you, but when I think of prayer, the first things I usually picture are either saying a quick prayer before eating, when I’m in trouble, or right before bed. But after all that Paul has covered so far in this letter- from reconciliation, to transformed lives, to putting to death old selves and practices- could there be something deeper about prayer that he wants to invite us into?
Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should. Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
Questions to Consider
- What does it mean to keep alert in prayer with thanksgiving (v. 2)? Would you describe yourself as someone who is devoted to prayer? What does it mean to be devoted to prayer? Is Paul asking us to always be talking to Jesus?
- Why does Paul ask the Colossians to conduct themselves wisely specifically towards outsiders? Who does he consider the outsiders? Where does this wisdom come from?
- What does it mean to have our speech be “seasoned with salt” (v. 6)? Would you describe your speech this way?
So far, Paul has covered a lot in his letter to the Colossians. We started with talking about God’s reconciling power through Jesus as our peacemaker. We were challenged to let God transform our hearts to lead us to acts of reconciliation in the world and in our relationships with one another. In this transformation work, we’ve been asked to put to death our old self and practices, and put on a new self with Christ.
Living a transformed and new life in Jesus is not easy. If I’m going to be honest, sometimes it feels more comfortable to live by my own rules and do what I want to do. The call to be compassionate, humble, patient, loving, and forgiving (and so much more!) all the time frankly sounds exhausting, and almost impossible. And I think Paul recognizes that. If we were to try to live into this transformed life by our own willpower, it would probably be impossible.
So how do we do this? In his last exhortation to the Colossians, Paul says to devote yourselves in prayer. He asks us to be in constant communication with Jesus, to let Him guide us in all that we do, even in how we talk to one another. But let’s be real, how many of us pray as if we’re checking in with God and updating him on some circumstance in our life? Are you telling me that Paul wants me to be talking to Jesus 24/7?
I think Paul is inviting us into something completely different than either of those. Perhaps we should treat our prayer lives more like a long drive, sitting with Jesus in our belly laughs, our joys, our sorrows, our frustration, and our silence. One where we know that Jesus is present with us at all times, in all places, and that we simply need to turn ourselves towards him and pick up where we left off. Let your prayer life be one that is in one moment filled with a stream of honest thoughts and feelings, and in the next moment one that is quiet and ready to hear from the voice of God. Let your prayer life be infused into the daily rhythms of your life, and allow Jesus to transform you.