For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.
Paul knows that the Colossian Christians are living in a dangerous world. A seething volcano of false teaching has begun to erupt and engulf them, threatening to destroy the simplicity of the faith that is producing such beauty and liberty in their lives. Paul is in Rome, a prisoner in chains, and unable to travel to Colossae, a thousand miles east, to help them. There is nothing he can do physically for them. But spiritually, he is a powerful prayer warrior who can create in their midst a tremendous opportunity to know truth that will free them and enable them to withstand the assault of false teaching. That, then, is what he is doing: he is praying for them.
The striking thing about this prayer is the very first sentence of it: For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you… This was a continuing prayer. As far as we know, Paul had never been to Colossae. Apart from one or two among them, he did not personally know these believers. And yet he prays continually for them. When we come to statements like this in Scripture it is quite fair to ask, when did he do this? Day and night he is chained to a Roman guard, he never has a moment to himself. Awake or asleep, he is bound to his jailer. Furthermore, when he is awake, his friends are dropping by to see him to seek his counsel and instruction. He even ministers to the Roman guards, many of whom came to Christ, as we learn in the letter to the Philippians. He is busy writing letters, too, so when did he find time to pray for the Colossians?
The answer lies in having an ongoing life of prayer. This refers to quiet, whispered prayers and praises that flow from our hearts all day long. We use interruptions, people or events that break in unexpectedly upon our day, as calls to specific prayer. Most of us use mealtime to think of God and to voice our thanks to him. But more than food can call us to prayer. We can even use the newspaper or the television set in the same way. As world decision-makers are pictured before our eyes we can breathe a quiet prayer for them by name. We can read a newspaper prayerfully, whispering back to God our intercessions for those in need, about whom we are reading. When we run across someone, even in an impolite way, tripping us on the bus, jabbing us with an umbrella, dodging in front of us in traffic, God may be calling that particular individual to our attention in order to inspire prayer for him.
Have you ever prayed for people who cut in front of you in traffic, asking God to bless them, not blast them? That is what this is suggesting: that continual prayer arises constantly as a reaction to what you are going through. I am sure this explains the apostle’s words here. Through the day he would think of the Colossians; how they were doing and what was threatening them, and he would breathe a prayer for them. This is what he means when he says, we have not stopped praying for you. We can pray for each other in the same wonderful way.
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Lord, teach me the secret of ongoing prayer. Help me to see every event and every person in my life as an invitation to pray.
Is communication with our Father becoming a spontaneous response to all of life? Are we faithful prayer-responders to the plethora of need continually surrounding us?