Summary: * Personal Prayer: Speaking to God about others (verses 2-4) * Public Proclamation: Speaking to others about God (verses 5-6)
Everyone a Missionary
[Mission Impossible Theme Song]
Mission: Impossible began as a television series in the late 60’s that chronicled the missions of a team of secret agents known as the Impossible Missions Force (IMF). A hallmark of the series shows the team leader receiving his instructions on a tape: “Your mission, Jim, should you decide to accept it, is... As usual, should you or any member of your I.M. Force be captured or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your existence. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds. Good luck, Jim.”
We’re beginning a series today called “Mission Possible.” God has called each of us to join Him in mission. This mission, should we choose to accept it, is both clear and compelling. At the same time, it is challenging. With His help however, the achievement of this mission is possible.
This morning we’re going to camp in a passage that gives some practical ways that we can be involved in intercession and evangelism. Please turn in your Bibles to Colossians 4:2-6
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
This text falls naturally into two parts.
* Personal Prayer: Speaking to God about others (verses 2-4)
* Public Proclamation: Speaking to others about God (verses 5-6)
Prayer: Speaking to God About Others
Let’s look first at how to speak to God about others. Verse 2 answers the question, “How do we pray?” We discover three helpful guidelines in this verse: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
1. Pray with faithfulness. The word, “devote” means to “adhere firmly to.” It implies unrelenting persistence and is the opposite of “hit and miss.” It brings back to mind how steadfast the early church was in Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” In Luke 18:1, The Parable of the Persistent Widow, Jesus told his “disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Paul is saying, “Always be ready to break into prayer, and do it instantaneously, at all times.” That’s precisely the admonition in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 where we’re exhorted to “pray continually.”
2. Pray with watchfulness. Verse 2 continues by saying that we’re to be “watchful” or awake when we pray. Paul told the believers in 1 Thessalonians 5:6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober.
to not go asleep but to instead be “alert and self-controlled” as the time approaches for the Lord’s return.
There is a story about an individual who visited the gorgeous gardens of a villa in Italy: “I arrived at the villa on the banks of Lake Como…A gardener opened the gate and conducted me through the exquisite garden. ‘How long have you been here?’ I asked. The gardener replied, ‘Twenty-five years.’ ‘How often has the owner been to see the estate?’ ‘Four times.’ ‘When did he come last?’ ‘Twelve years ago.’ The visitor asked, ‘He writes you, I suppose.’ ‘Never,’ the gardener said. ‘Who comes to look after things?’ ‘I’m left pretty much alone.’ The visitor pressed on, ‘Yet you keep the garden so spick and span that one would think you were expecting the owner tomorrow.’ ‘Today, sir, today,” said the gardener.”
3. Pray with thankfulness. We should never pray without thinking of at least one thing to thank God for because gratitude is a stimulus to prayer. God’s given us so many things, hasn’t He? We can thank Him for His presence, His provision, His pardon, His promises, and for His purposes.
Verse 2 asks the question, “How do we pray?” Verses 3-4 pose another question, “What do we say when we pray?” Let’s take a look: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” There are at least two things we should say when we pray.
* Ask for opportunities. It’s amazing that while Paul is under house arrest he doesn’t ask for prayers for his release, or for better food, or anything else like that. He simply wants an open door for the gospel message. In Scripture, a door is an opportunity, or ability. In 1 Corinthians 16:9 Paul says, “a great door for effective work has opened to me.” God has given us some open doors right now in this community. We’re having a float in the parade and handing out water to thirsty people – what a practical way to love and serve our community. Let’s pray that Jesus opens some more doors!