Summary: We can promote the gospel by our prayers, our lives, and our words.
WHAT CAN I DO TO PROMOTE THE GOSPEL?
This passage talks about the two spiritual disciplines that Christians have the most guilt about: prayer and witnessing. Most of us struggle to faithfully pray and witness. My purpose today is not to make you feel guiltier. My purpose is to encourage you.
I want to talk to you today about what you and I can do to promote the gospel. The answer: We can promote the gospel through our prayers, our lives, and our words.
How should I pray?
1. Pray PERSISTENTLY
“Devote yourselves to prayer” (v. 2). Paul is talking about unrelenting persistence. Persistent prayer is difficult. Paul compares it to wrestling: “He is always wrestling in prayer for you” (v. 12).
“They all joined together constantly in prayer” (Acts 1:14).
“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42).
“Be…faithful in prayer” (Rom. 12:12).
David Garland writes, “If Christians prayed with the same zeal that some people manifest to keep themselves physically fit for a longer and healthier life, they might see different results in the life and witness of their church” (p. 283).
S. D. Gordon wrote, “The greatest thing anyone can do for God and man is pray. It is not the only thing, but it is the chief things. The great people of earth are the people who pray. I do not mean those who talk about prayer; nor those who say they believe in prayer; nor yet those who can explain about prayer; but I mean those people who take time to pray” (Quiet Talks on Prayer).
An old hymns says,
And Satan trembles when he sees
The weakest saint upon his knees.
2. Pray ALERTLY
“Being watchful” (v. 2; “keeping alert” NASB). Paul is probably talking about prayer as weapon against temptation. Publicly falling into sin destroys our ability to effectively witness (example: Ted Haggard).
“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
“Then [Jesus] returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. ‘Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?’ he asked Peter. ‘Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak’” (Matt. 26:40-41). Earlier that night, Peter had said, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (v. 33). Peter was overconfident. He considered himself to be the most faithful follower of Christ. But Jesus told him, “I tell you the truth…this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times” (v. 34).
Some Christians may look at Ted Haggard and say, “That could never happen to me!” “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” (1 Cor. 10:12).
Example: Demas (see v. 14)
“Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica” (2 Tim. 4:9-10a).
How many times have you heard the excuse “I don’t want to have anything to do with the church because there are so many hypocrites in it”?
3. Pray for OPPORTUNITIES
“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” (v. 3).
Be prepared for God to answer in unexpected ways. If we were in prison like Paul, we would probably ask people to pray for our freedom. But Paul requested that the Colossians pray for open doors (opportunities) to share the gospel. And God opened doors while he was in prison.
“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged to speak the word of God more courageously and fearlessly” (Phil. 1:14). “All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22).
Also, while Paul was in prison, he was able to write Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.
We should pray that God would give us and others opportunities to share the gospel with others. (Of course, we need to take advantage of our opportunities.)
4. Pray for CLARITY
“Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should” (v. 4). Boldness is needed for clarity. There is always the temptation to water down the “bad news” side of the gospel.
The Roman’s Road to Salvation:
(1) Every person is a sinner (Romans 6:23).