2Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
It is the nature of a Christian to pray. As we have seen in Colossians, the identity of a believer has been so adjusted and transformed that they are no longer the same as they were before Christ. The practices and normative behavior that held believers captive are no longer the dominating reality. That nature that was solely given to sin has now been enslaved to righteousness (Romans 6:18). Rather, they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit and given a new nature that is in a constant state of being renewed and conformed to the image of Christ (Col 3:10). Along with the new nature and a progressively growing identity in Christ, Christians also have a unique connection to God. Consider for a moment the connection of a created being to the One true God who has created all things. This God does not have to lend His ear to His creation. He has no responsibility to allow a created being to engage with Him. Yet, He so deeply loves His own that He has made a sure connection to them. A connection that cannot be removed or taken from His people. There is nothing that can sever the connection of prayer from the believer to the very ear of God. The God of the universe engages with the lowly of creation, listening to them. When we lose sight of this great truth, our prayers will cease. When we forget the gravity and power of prayer, we will fail to exercise prayer in our lives. When we remember the great privilege of prayer we are inspired to pray all the more.
Paul’s admonition to the Colossian believers to “continue steadfastly in prayer” is an exhortation that could better be rendered, “steadfastly pray.” The Christian is to be faithful in consistent prayer. The connection between Christians and their God should be such a joyous occasion that the remaining steadfast in prayer is natural and a delight. Too often in the modern western church, self-professing Christians find it relatively impossible to maintain a consistent prayer life. So difficult a task for the average American Christian that our churches have books, work through campaigns, and even provide special classes for those who struggle to pray. Yet, prayer is to be as breathing for the Christian. As an infant learns to cry to their parent for milk, so a Christian prays. It is second nature for a believer to cry out to God. Still, because of our own weakness, Paul exhorts the believer to steadfastly pray!
How are Christians supposed to pray? By “being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” The term “watchful” means “To watch and refrain from sleep.” This term bears with it the idea that the one who is watchful is striving to stay alert and aware amidst an environment that is tempting them to close their eyes and sleep. A Christian who has fallen asleep or given into sloth is useless in the Kingdom of God. They have shut their eyes to the leading of the Lord and as a result will not be effective. “Wake yourself, wake yourself, stand up, o Jerusalem,” cries the prophet Isaiah. In Romans 13:11 Paul reminds the faithful, “that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep.” In Revelation 3:2, Jesus urges the church at Sardis to “wake up, and strengthen what remains!” Believers must strive to stay alert, praying for what God has directed. These prayers are offered with gratitude. It is a wonder to consider how a person could examine the world around them and remain watchful in prayer while simultaneously being grateful. When one examines the world around and seeks to be watchful, the troubles of the world will inevitably weigh the observer down. However, Paul admonishes us to pray with thanksgiving. Thanksgiving for what? For the truth that God has not left the world. For the truth that God is present and active. For the truth that Jesus Christ the righteous has laid His life so that you might live free of sin and death. Further, gratitude stems from understanding God’s providence and sovereignty in all things. When a believer understands God’s sovereign provision and work in the world, they can rest in the confidence that God is working all things in His control according to His plan. We pray in gratitude because God is God and He is our God.