Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;
Having shown how Christianity elevates the household, Paul next encourages the Colossians to prayerful and sympathetic lives. They shall find themselves in contact with others in the walks of public service, and they are to go forth to meet others prayerfully, sympathetically, graciously. Public life can only be properly, utilized when based upon constant prayerfulness.
I. CONSIDER WHAT CONSTANT PRAYER IS. (Ver. 2.) It is lingering at the source of inspiration that our souls may be fitted for their public work. It is the attitude of felt dependence upon God - the confession that without his grace we can do nothing. It is the abnegation of self confidence and the prostration of the soul before the Lord. It is the secret of public power. Hence Paul exhorts the Colossians to be always prayerful, and to be grateful as they prayed. If they have the sense of obligation implied by thanksgiving and a sense of need expressed by prayer, they shall be fitted for public work. Prayerless and thankless souls only miss and mar the opportunities of usefulness afforded them.
II. THEY MUST PRAY FOR OTHERS AS WELL AS THEMSELVES, ESPECIALLY FOR THE IMPRISONED PREACHER. (Vers. 3, 4.) Intercession will be a large part of enlightened prayer. It is so in the Lord's Prayer. For prayer makes us unselfish. We only seek the supply of personal need that we may be public benefactors. Hence we recognize at once the privilege and duty of intercession. All men need our prayers. Kings and those in authority, as well as those in more private stations, need our intercession. But among all the subjects of our intercession, none deserve better from their fellows than the preachers of the gospel. They are the most important and influential persons in the world. And their utterance is of more moment than that of statesmen or of kings. Hence, when Paul asks an interest in the intercessions of the Colossians, it is that he may be enabled to speak the mystery of Christ with increasing boldness, and may have a door of utterance opened widely to him. The most important message for mankind is the gospel. The intercessions of saints should largely be that preachers may be delivered from all limitations in the utterance of their message, and may issue from every "imprisonment" into the large liberty and impassioned utterance of the gospel.
III. THEY ARE TO EMBRACE THEIR OPPORTUNITY OF USEFULNESS WISELY. (Ver. 5.) Prayer and intercession will greatly help in this respect. It is when we enter upon our opportunity with the sense of the overshadowing presence; it is when we believe that God is with us and with all our fellow workers, for whom we have interceded, that we can hopefully embrace the opportunity. How many chances, to use the world's term, have we lost just through deficiency in prayer I We have been like the disciples in the valley, helpless before the lunatic child because prayerless before the opportunity came; whereas, had we been transfigured with our Master on the mount, we should have had no difficulty in improving our opportunity and being most helpful unto others.
IV. ABOVE ALL THINGS THEY ARE TO CULTIVATE A GRACIOUS CONVERSATION. (Ver. 6.) The filthiness of the conversation in heathen lands is beyond conception. The ear is more rudely assailed than even the eye. Hence the necessity of rousing converts to a gracious conversation. When the oaths and impurity and maledictions, not to speak of the idle words of heathenism, are given up, and in their stead considerate, kindly, gracious words always spoken, then the world wonders at the change and is impressed and improved by it. In other words, the Colossians are to speak out of hearts steeped in prayer and filled with the Spirit. If we would take up and practise this idea, that we ought to speak and live as inspired men, the world would soon surrender to the claim of Christianity. Alas! the saints are often anything but inspired in their conversation, and it is no wonder that the world is not much moved by them. Until we realize our responsibility in this matter more, the kingdom of God cannot be much hastened. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;