Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the Word to declare the mystery of Christ…and make it clear as I ought to speak.
This text gives five guidelines for prayer that we need to hear just now.
First, “Continue steadfastly in prayer.” Please don’t give up the diligence that you showed during prayer week. There is so much power to be had in persevering prayer. Don’t forget the “importunate friend” of Luke 11:8 and don’t forget the parable Jesus told to the effect that “we ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1-8). Perseverance is the great test of genuineness in the Christian life. I praise God that some of you have persevered in prayer 60, 70 or 80 years! O let us be a praying church, and let 1982 be saturated with prayers to the Lord of harvest. Won’t it be great to say in the end, “I have finished the race, I have kept the faith”?
Second, “Be watchful in your prayers.” This means, be alert! Be mentally awake! Paul probably learned this from the story of what happened in Gethsemane. Jesus asked the disciples to pray, but found them sleeping. So he said to Peter, “Could you not watch one hour? Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation” (Mark 14:37f). We must be on the watch as we pray—on the watch against a wandering mind, against vain repetitions, against trite and meaningless expressions, against limited, selfish desires. And we should also watch for what is good. We should especially be alert to God’s guidance of our prayers in Scripture. It is God who works in us to will our prayers but we always experience this divine enablement as our own resolve and decision.
Third, we are to be thankful in all our prayers. The stories I have heard of what God is doing in so many of your lives through renewed prayer are amazing. They have really stirred me up to press on in prayer with thanksgiving. Keep telling me and sharing with others these good things. God will make this a harvest year if we press on in prayer with the joy of thankfulness.
Fourth, pray for me that a door be opened for the Word. In two senses: 1) that there be open receptive hearts in church from week to week; 2) that my neighbors will be open to the gospel as I share it. “The Lord opened Lydia’s heart to give heed to the word” (Acts 16:14). That is what I want to happen Sundays and during the week. Pray for me.
Fifth, pray for me that I may make the mystery of Christ clear. “Great is the mystery of our religion” (1 Timothy 3:16). And O what a calling to proclaim it! I love the preaching office! But it is above me. Please pray that I understand the mystery of Christ. Pray that I choose needful texts. Pray that I preach in the power of the Spirit. Pray that I speak the truth in love. O please pray for me. Without Christ I can do nothing.
You are in my prayers too!