Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Colossians 4:2
When the boys were growing up, we would let them take turns saying grace at dinner. The prayers were always brief. After thanking God for the food, they would typically end with a request for themselves -- "Let us win our football game on Sunday." While not Our Father, I admired their simplicity and honesty.
In today’s verse, we hear Paul’s invitation to be devoted to prayer. To pray faithfully -- not only with to pray with faith but regularly; devoting ourselves. Among all our spiritual disciplines, prayer is primary. When we read scripture, meditate, and fast, it is all done prayerfully.
Our prayer serves many purposes, but most importantly, it establishes necessary one-on-one time with God. Prayers can be aloud or silent but always honest and forthright. Jesus, our intercessor, wants to hear it all; those things we are thankful for and the things causing us distress. We pray not only for ourselves but for others. Who needs healing? Who has not yet heard the good news of Jesus? We pray for God's kingdom on earth and that his will is done. Where are there abuses of justice? Where are the homeless, hungry, and the prisoner? Our prayer is not just talking but listening. What will Christ have us do?
Not only do we pray individually, but we pray together as a body of Christ. There is power in our communal prayers as we come together in unity showing support for each other. There is encouragement found in coming together. It strengthens us in our personal prayer life and teaches us how to pray. It creates a sense of urgency and expectancy.
God, we give you thanks for every good gift. We praise you for all that you are, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We raise before you those individual things heavy in our hearts and the needs of the many. We pray for healing for the sick. We pray for those who do not yet have a relationship with you. We pray for our world that it may come to be your kingdom on earth. Speak to us, for we are listening. Help us to hear your voice clearly and give us the strength to act boldly in what you ask us to do. In your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.