- If you were in prison for proclaiming the gospel, what would be at the top of your prayer list?
- If you were separated from many of your close friends for situations beyond your control, what would you say to them if you sent them a message?
- If you had only 140-characters or less to wrap up a post, what would you write?
An Important Prayer
In the first century AD, a Christ-follower named Paul had been placed in prison for boldly proclaiming that Jesus is Lord. His message offended the religious leaders and political leaders of his day. His message called for people to turn away from their sin and believe in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, trusting in Him as the Lord and Savior of their lives.
So when Paul encouraged his friends to pray, what did he say to them?
Colossians 4:2-6 (HCSB)
2 Devote yourselves to prayer; stay alert in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us that God may open a door to us for the message, to speak the mystery of the Messiah, for which I am in prison, 4 so that I may reveal it as I am required to speak. 5 Act wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Your speech should always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person.
Paul encouraged them to be devoted to prayer (v2), alert in prayer (v2), and thankful in prayer (v2). And he asked them to pray for him. He did not ask them to pray for him to be released from prison but rather for them to pray for God to open the door for him to share the gospel more – the very thing that had landed him in jail!
Then, he encouraged them to make the most of the their time, acting wisely toward those who are without faith in Jesus Christ. And he reminded them to have Christ-honoring language, full of the grace of God, realizing that words have power to lead people toward Christ or away from Him.
So what about you? Do you ever ask people to pray for you? If so, do you ask them to pray for you to have open doors to share the gospel? If you don’t, you should.
It’s that important.
This week, ask someone to pray for you to have open doors to share the good news of Jesus Christ. Then, when God opens the door, open your mouth to share good news.
Because he was locked in prison for sharing the gospel, and because travel was so much more difficult in the first century than it is today, Paul was unable to see some of his good friends from the city of Colossae. He sent an enouraging message to them, mentioning specific people by name. You may not know all of these names, but you can be sure of this: these people were important to the Lord and to Paul.
Colossians 4:7-17 (HCSB)
7 Tychicus, our dearly loved brother, faithful servant, and fellow slave in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and so that he may encourage your hearts. 9 He is with Onesimus, a faithful and dearly loved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here. 10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, greets you, as does Mark, Barnabas’s cousin (concerning whom you have received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and so does Jesus who is called Justus. These alone of the circumcision are my coworkers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a slave of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always contending for you in his prayers, so that you can stand mature and fully assured in everything God wills. 13 For I testify about him that he works hard for you, for those in Laodicea, and for those in Hierapolis. 14 Luke, the dearly loved physician, and Demas greet you. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her home. 16 When this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And tell Archippus, “Pay attention to the ministry you have received in the Lord, so that you can accomplish it.”
I am sure that this letter from Paul was a huge encouragement to his friends.
You may want to take a few minutes to send a few messages to your friends who are Christ-followers. You never know when the Lord might use your words at just the right time to encourage them in their faith.
It’s that important.
We all need each other. Let the Lord use your words to encourage someone in Christ today.
As Paul wraps up his letter, he signs his autograph to the letter (v18). He had a scribe to write the letter for him as he dictated it, due most likely to his inability to see well. He had experienced temporary blindness at one point in his life. Then, he asks them to remember his imprisonment and to remember that God’s grace was with them.
When we remember Paul’s imprisonment, we remember those who are being persecuted for their faith all over the world today. And we are reminded that God’s grace is with them. We pray for them. We pray that wherever they are the good news of Christ will spread, just like it did in Paul’s day.
Here is Paul’s 82-character first-century “tweet” to wrap up his letter.
Colossians 4:18 (HCSB)
18 This greeting is in my own hand—Paul. Remember my imprisonment. Grace be with you.
Take some time today to make a brief post about some important things. Pick your favorite media: write it, sing it, paint it, play it, rap it…
It’s that important.