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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 28 - Colossians 4:2-4 - Prayer, Watchfulness, and Thanksgiving Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




Prayer, Watchfulness, And Thanksgiving.


     "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; withal praying also for us, that Cod would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds; that may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."-Colossians 4:2,3,4.



     This is the summing up of the epistle, and should begin a new chapter. It is an exhortation addressed not to masters only (as our division indicates), but to the whole Church. It is to prayer that the apostle calls the whole body of saints; in every epistle concluding with an earnest summons to prayer-'pray without ceasing.' How loudly should this summons sound in our ears! Is prayer less needful now? Is the kingdom won with less conflict? Are divine blessings more easily obtained? Do we not require now to open our mouths so wide as the saints of other days? Nay, ought not the cry to be louder? Ought not the pleading to be more earnest? Ought not the warfare to be more strenuous and unslackening?

     The description of the prayer to which he here urges us is as follows:-(1.) Persevering. (2.) Watchful. (3.) Thankful. (4.) Unselfish.

     I. Persevering.-Prayer is not for propitiating God; yet none the less on that account is it to be earnest, continual, persevering. It is not to make God willing, yet it is to be importunate. 'Continue in prayer;' literally, 'persevere vigorously in prayer.' It is not to be cold. It is not to be unbelieving. It is not to be occasional; by fits and starts; when we are in the mood. It is to be continuous, unwearied, unflagging. We are not to despair or get disheartened, but to hold on.

     II. Watchful.-No part of a saint's life is to be sleepy; least of all his prayers and praises. Our eyes are to be wide open that we may always see-(1) that heaven to which we are sending up our prayers; (2) ourselves, that we may fully know our wants, and pray accordingly; (3) the world around, with its innumerable objects for prayer; (4) the Church of God, near and far off, for which we ought to be continually interceding. Let us pray and watch; let us watch and pray; let us be vigilant, sober, self-denied; eyes and ears ever open, hearts ever awake and enlarged; like pilots on a stormy sea, where it would be destruction to slumber for an hour. Routine prayers are not watchful prayers. Random prayers are not watchful prayers. Half hearted prayers are not watchful prayers. The end of all things is at hand, let us therefore be sober and watch unto prayer. Watch! for we know not when the Master cometh.

     III. Thankful.-With every petition let us mingle thankfulness. In everything give thanks. Our causes for this are innumerable. We are to be thankful-(1) that we have a prayer-hearing God to go to; (2) that we have wide and free access to His throne; (3) that we are upon praying ground, not in the regions of despair; (4) that we have got so many answers to prayer; (5) that we have obtained so many blessings unasked; (6) that everything we need we may ask for. What thankfulness should fill us! Should we not be continually praising and thanking? Yes, truly, we should be thankful men! Men of praise; men of song; of thankful lips; thankful hands and feet; thankful deeds; thankful lives. As men of prayer we should be thankful. Not to intermingle thankfulness with prayer is sad ingratitude. Thankless prayers! How mean, how base, how ungenerous! Can we expect answers to such greedy cries; cries of mere selfishness, like those of the beasts of the field? Oh, brethren, beware of thankless prayers! Nothing so likely to shut heaven, and check the liberality of God.

     IV. Unselfish.-It was not for themselves, but for him and for the success of his work, that Paul would have them pray. He prayed for them, and he would have them pray for him; so that, by this mutual intercession, this interchange of supplication, blessing might be obtained for all. Direct prayer for one's self is not always the best way to obtain blessing. It is in helping others that we are helped; in watering we are watered; in blessing we are blessed. Our prayers should be wide, generous, all-embracing; beyond self, beyond our family, our Church, our town, our land. Let us beware of narrow-minded, narrow-hearted, selfish prayers, revolving round one point, and that, self. Let us mark the apostle's exhortation here, and pray-

     (1.) For ministers.-He puts himself first here, not because he would confine them to that order, but because he would thus draw them away from self, to Him who was the channel of blessing to them. The order is of no consequence, only let us get away from self. Open the lips of ministers!  Open doors and hearts!

     (2.) For the gospel.-Let this gospel go forth in power. Let us impel it by our prayers. God has so ordered it that our prayers are needed for this end. The 'mystery of Christ' ('secrets of Christ,' now made manifest) is a glorious mystery; but God has made its success in a measure dependent on our prayers. Let us plead for its forth going in power.

     (3.) For the Church.-It was for this that Christ so specially pleaded; let us enter into His mind respecting it. Let us plead-(1) for its unity (2) for its holiness; (3) for its peace; (4) for its enlargement; (5) for its discharge of its duties and functions; (6) for its being filled with the Spirit, and so made to tell upon the world in the ingathering of thousands. Let the Church's light shine, and it will attract; let it not be dim, but bright.

     Let us plead for the Church Universal. In so doing, not only is the bond of love maintained, but reciprocal blessing comes. We get the benefit of their prayers, and they of ours. We help to fill the great cistern; and the waters of that cistern, in overflowing, find their way to us. In praying we are prayed for; in watering we are watered; in blessing we are blest.