Series: Jesus Manifesto
Message: Getting a Little Help from My Friends
Preacher: J. Murdock
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Zan Long
Live Adventure: Zan Long
Live Beyond: J. Murdock
Live Purpose: Lydia Svoboda
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Colossians 4:2-4:18 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I know you probably thought that last week covered the hard, controversial section of Colossians. Surely we will have an easy ride home from this point onward, especially since Paul has the habit of thanking people at the end of his letters. We might be tempted to wonder whether there will be anything of consequence in the reading this week. What will be able to apply to our lives? Clearly, we should all share our thankfulness more often to those around us, letting those we encounter know we appreciate their fine qualities. As important an objective as that is, Paul does not switch tracks to his final greetings without first returning to a thread he raises in other letters too, a thread the other apostles also used, sharing their memories of the wisdom from Jesus in this crucial area—prayer.
Prayer is without a doubt one of the greatest blessings and mysteries humans can experience. It is one of the spiritual disciplines of faith development that every single person should connect to God through. Yet it is fraught with confusion, guilt, despair, and sometimes utter rejection. It is mocked, ignored, belittled, and often seen as the very last resort. Our brother Paul opens this letter (Colossians 1:3-14) with prayer and he cannot consider ending without prayer in Colossians 4:2-3. He understands that prayer is not easy and it is the space within which complex matters are processed with God, as Epaphras has been “struggling” on their behalf (Colossians 4:12). This is why in one of Paul’s other letters (Romans 8:26-27), he shares that the “Searcher of hearts,” that is, the Holy Spirit, is the one who helps us unwravel our prayers. He writes:
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Recalibrate: When was the last time you prayed and found a complex thought become clear?
Respond: Thank Jesus in your next prayer for hearing you before you speak.
Research: Read The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson.
Remember: “Continue praying and keep alert. And when you pray, always thank God” (Colossians 4:2, ICB).
Japhet De Oliveira is administrative director for the Center for Mission and Culture at Adventist Health in Roseville, California.
If you and your little one are regular readers of Daily Walk, you will know that at least once a week I ask you to go for a walk with your child. Today is no different. Paul in the Words to Remember encourages us to continue praying and keep alert. And, when we pray, to always thank God (Colossians 4:2). Continue to walk and pray together with your child, holding their hand and showing them their world through the eyes of a thankful heart.
The Words to Remember this week are, “Continue praying and keep alert. And when you pray, always thank God” (Colossians 4:2, ICB). What are you thankful for—and are you talking with God about it? As you go about your day, take time to say “thank you.” Thank your parents, your friends, your family, your teachers—and most of all, thank God. Paul has encouraged us all the way through the book of Colossians always to talk to God and always to be thankful. Let’s get really good at this. I know I’m going to need help, so if you can pray for me and then I will pray for you that together we can be thankful.
When I was your age, I decided one summer that I was going to make it a habit to clean my room (and I mean clean) every morning when I woke up. Since school was on break and I didn’t have anywhere else to be, out of nowhere I took up the skill of homemaking. I know—strange choice for a twelve-year-old! But there was just something about having everything in place that made me feel like I was more at peace with the room I lived in. So there I was, each and every day, happily making my bed, joyfully vacuuming the floor, faithfully tidying up my closet, and cheerfully putting away anything that was out of place. Cleaning not only became a devotional habit that put me into a better headspace, but my attitude shifted when I started doing this all for myself rather than doing it because my mom told me I had to, or assigned the task as a punishment. Now that it was my choice, I wasn’t only not mad about it, but I was doing it with a sense of enjoyment!
In Colossians 4:2, Paul calls us to a different devotion: prayer. While not the same as cleaning, there are some similarities between what Paul is asking us to do and why we do it in the first place. Paul writes, “devote yourself to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” Paul is saying that we should not just pray, but pray regularly with a sense of gratitude. There is a lot to be thankful for in this world, so why not give thanks to the God who gave it all to us in the first place? And remember, Paul is writing this from prison! So if he can be thankful all the time, what is our excuse?
What is something you’re devoted to doing all the time? How were you able to transform it from a boring chore to something you enjoy? How can you use what you’ve learned from that and modify it so you’re just as devoted to prayer?
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2). It is so important, if you want a relationship with God, to talk to Him. You do that through prayer, and prayer can be done through every moment of every day. Talk to Him constantly, and by doing so, you will find yourself thankful because He never fails to give countless reasons to be joyful and utterly grateful.
Zan Long is GRC director for faith development for ages 0-17. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and serves at her local church in nearby Kellyville.
J. Murdock is associate pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, where he focuses on youth and young adult ministry.
Lydia Svoboda is a junior theology major at Union College in Lincoln, Nebraska.