Colossians 4:2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
A major advantage to reading the Bible in more than one language is the different nuances that come out. Where the NIV says “Devote yourselves to prayer,” the Japanese here says, “Pray without giving up.” The “giving up” here is the same phrase used in Isaiah 40:31 where the English says, “run and not grow weary.” To be honest, we get tired of praying, especially for the same things. Most often that’s from a lack of faith. When we don’t see the results we’re looking for immediately, we just give up. Jesus spoke to that directly in Luke 18:1-8, and Luke starts out his narration by saying, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” (Luke 18:1) Prayer is a mystery, because why should the Creator of the universe listen to us anyway? However, the Bible and experience both tell us clearly that He does listen, so we must never think otherwise. There are many kinds of prayer, but all of them, to be valid, have to be directed toward God in sincerity, or we’re just talking to ourselves. The interesting thing is, even then God is listening. I’ve had Him answer me very distinctly when I wasn’t praying consciously, but just thinking something. When God listens to us that closely, we have all the more reason to pray and not give up.
This could hardly be more applicable to me. After 35 years of ministry with few visible results, the temptation to give up is very real. At the same time, God has been doing some remarkable things recently, with the potential for many more. I am not to abdicate my responsibility or the authority I have been given in the name of Jesus, but rather exercise that authority to fulfill my responsibilities with joy, giving back to God all that He has placed in my hands. That means praying with faith and anticipation, expecting God to do something in keeping with His character even if it isn’t what I ask from my decidedly limited perspective.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the early morning prayer meeting that came in the middle of my writing this, with several of the participants in the conference gathering to focus on You outside in nature in the predawn darkness. Thank You for having me proclaim the Lordship of Jesus Christ over the wind and the waves when I walked down to the beach. Thank You for Your power that is infinitely greater than we can imagine. Help me keep my focus on You and walk that fine line between faith and presumption, not being passive or “entitled,” but trusting You completely, with full participation in what You are doing, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!