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REDEEMING THE TIME: Praying and Sharing



Colossians 4:2–6

[2] Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. [3] At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—[4] that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. [5] Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. [6] Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

May God allow us to meditate on these Scriptures! As John Piper said, Life Is Short. Eternity Is Long. Live Like It.

The Apostle Paul calls the Church at Colossae, and all believers by implication, to look up and look out. In verse five, the Greek word used for “making the best use of” (exagorazó) means “to gain something, especially advantage or opportunity, make the most of.[1] The following Greek word used for “time” here is (καιρὸν) which means “a moment or period as especially appropriate the right, proper, favorable time...at the right time.”[2] The word picture is of a commercial marketplace with whereby Paul urged believers to wisely be the best stewards of the time allotted. New Testament scholar Peter T. Obrien comments on this word usage saying that it, “denotes an intensive activity, a buying which exhausts the possibilities available.”[3] William Hendricksen also has written, “The sense then would be ‘Do not just sit there and wait for opportunity to fall into your lap, but go after it. Yes, buy it.’ ‘Buy up the entire stock of opportunity’ (Moule, op. cit., p. 134).”[4]

We have great two great opportunities before us each and every day: steadfastly seek God in prayer and speak of Christ clearly through the Word!

STEADFASTLY SEEK GOD IN PRAYER


There are two noteworthy implications from this text concerning prayer. First, we are to be watchful in prayer, that is expectant like the widow mentioned in Luke’s gospel. “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). So expectant that it should be done with thanksgiving. Second, we ought to pray for missionaries, gospel workers, and our own personal witness opportunities. God is the chief worker; therefore, we are to pray that God may open a door for the word of the gospel. He alone is sovereign in salvation (Psalm 3:8; Romans 9) and the one to whom we call out for rescue. As James Packer has written:


I do not intend to spend any time at all proving to you the general truth that God is sovereign in his world. There is no need; for I know that, if you are a Christian, you believe this already. How do I know that? Because I know that, if you are a Christian, you pray; and the recognition of God’s sovereignty is the basis of your prayers. In prayer, you ask for things and give thanks for things. Why? Because you recognize that God is the author and source of all the good that you have had already, and all the good that you hope for in the future. This is the fundamental philosophy of Christian prayer. The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force God’s hand, but a humble acknowledgement of helplessness and dependence. When we are on our knees, we know that it is not we who control the world; it is not in our power, therefore, to supply our needs by our own independent efforts; every good thing that we desire for ourselves and for others must be sought from God, and will come, if it comes at all, as a gift from his hands.”[5]


SPEAK OF CHRIST CLEARLY THROUGH HIS WORD.


Oswald Chambers wrote in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest for October 17 entitled “Greater Works”, “Prayer does not fit us for the greater works; prayer is the greater work.” Prayer is essential as issued by the current imperative given by Paul in verse 2 to “continue steadfastly in prayer.” However, the work is the word of God, which prayer wields. Paul is praying for the work, namely the word to take effect. As Paul stated elsewhere, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). The gospel and only through the gospel is salvation for the world (Romans 10:14). But as Paul interlinked prayer and word, we must take wise counsel and redeem the time. As we say with Paul, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16). I leave you with these words written by Richard Baxter.


Our whole work must be carried on under a deep sense of our own insufficiency and of our entire dependence on Christ. We must go for light, and life, and strength to him who sends us on the work. And when we feel our own faith weak, and our hearts dull, and unsuitable to so great a work as we have to do, we must have recourse to him, and say, ‘Lord, wilt thou send me with such an unbelieving heart to persuade others to believe? Must I daily plead with sinners about everlasting life and everlasting death, and have no more belief or feeling of these weighty things myself? O, send me not naked and unprovided to the work; but, as thou commandest me to do it, furnish me with a spirit suitable thereto.’ Prayer must carry on our work as well as preaching: he preacheth not heartily to his people that prayeth not earnestly for them.[6]

[1] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 343. [2] William Arndt et al., A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000), 497. [3] Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 44, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 241. [4] William Hendriksen and Simon J. Kistemaker, Exposition of Colossians and Philemon, vol. 6, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1953–2001), 183. [5] J.I. Packer, Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God (Downers Grove, IL: 2008), 1. [6] Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor (East Peoria, IL: Banner of Truth, 1981), 122.

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