By Caleb Faires
We recently acquired a second dog, and I’ve been on puppy duty in the mornings. This dog is a Great Dane, which means she’s a rather big puppy. She likes to get up at 4:30 in the morning and chase the cat through the house, barge through doors to wake the children, or chew on things she’s not supposed to, like the kitchen table. I remember a time not so long ago, when I could wake just before sunrise, get a cup of coffee, read the psalms, and pray—uninterrupted.
When things get hectic, it’s easy to blame the circumstances of the day for disruptions to our prayer lives. But of course, there are always ready excuses if we’re looking for them. I can blame my pets, my children, the load of work that awaits me at the office today, or my exhaustion from the day before. But regardless, Scripture exhorts us not only to pray, but to be devoted to prayer. This is why Paul writes: “Devote yourselves to prayer, stay alert in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). He then urges the Colossians to ask God to bless his ministry, offers several exhortations on Christian living, and issues a series of personal greetings.
I am struck, here, by Paul’s list of friends in ministry. First, is Tychicus, a faithful encourager of the flock, as well as a friend and advocate for Onesimus (Ephesians 6:21–22; Philemon 1:9–10,17). Onesimus was once an unbelieving runaway slave, before becoming Paul’s faithful and dearly loved brother in the faith (Philemon 1). Aristarchus was a missionary companion and shared in Paul’s imprisonment (Colossians 4:10). John Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, was once an unreliable missionary who abandoned Paul halfway through a missionary journey; however, he went on to become a trusted fellow worker with Paul (v.10). Jesus, who is called Justus, was a Jewish convert who aided in Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles (v.11). In addition, Paul warmly greets Epaphras, the prayer warrior, Luke, the physician and gospel writer, and Demas, who shared in Paul’s first imprisonment (vv.12–14).
What strikes me about this list is the testimony it is to the overflow of God’s grace. These men, each a comfort to Paul, were all shaped by grace, transformed by prayer, and now stood as ebenezers of thanksgiving.
Why are we to devote ourselves to prayer and thanksgiving? Because every gift of heaven is of the grace of the Father (James 1:17). He fulfills the desires of all who call on Him (Psalm 145:19). There is no excuse to not pray. If we truly glimpse the wonder of His grace in our lives, and hunger for more, there will not be enough Great Dane puppies, full inboxes, unfinished baseboards, or late-night exhaustion to keep us from running to the mercy seat, where He hears us. The fullness of our fellowship with God, and the richness of fellowship with our fellow believers is inextricably tied to our devotion to prayer and thanksgiving. With Paul, I pray, “Grace be with you.” And I hope that you also will pray for me, as we each partake in the good work of the kingdom.