Colossians 4:12 "Epaphras, who is one of you, a bondservant of Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God"
Last month I studied the book of Colossians, mainly because I felt like it was a book I wasn't too familiar with. So I took bite size chunks (a few verses a day) and attempted to meditate over them. A good friend of mine from Church back in Melbourne said to me she doesn't stop reading the Bible daily until she feels God speak to her. I think this way of studying the Bible is really great, as it means you're actively engaging your heart and mind with the Holy Spirit. I don't know about you, but especially when I'm reading some of the epistles it doesn't take more than 1 or 2 verses for my conscience to go "twang", or whatever sound your conscience makes when God convicts you of something.
Anyway, if I'm honest, the above verse is one of those at the end of Paul's letters that I normally skip over. But the idea of "labouring fervently" in prayer really jumped out at me. I quite like the NIV version, which says "always wrestling" - giving prayer a wonderful image of activity and vitality.
I found this verse convicting as I find I'm so often passive in my prayers to God. Getting distracted, or not really thinking about who I am praying to. I feel sometimes my prayers are cemented in a feeling of When you get time God would you mind? Or I know you're busy but if you can... Even though God has been so amazing in answering prayers in the past, I still fall into this pit of laziness and unbelief.
Luke and I try and pray every day, normally in the evenings. This was not of our own inspiration but came from a dear older couple that we met at Church in Taiwan. They said the best piece of advice they could give us before we got married was to pray together every day, joined as one before God. It really has been such a blessing to Luke and I. And plus it means we never go to sleep angry, because in case you haven't noticed it's really hard to pray with someone while you're angry with them.
However, lately it seems to be the last thing we do before we turn off the light and go to sleep. Snuggled up under the nice warm blankets after a long day, I drift off to sleep more often than I'd like to admit. The other day Luke said he felt that we should really try to pray earlier in the evening to avoid this. As he so accurately put it, "How would you feel if you the person you were talking to fell asleep?" Twang! goes the conscience again.
Why do I tend to treat God worse than any other human being? Why are my prayers so irreverently offered, or worse yet not prayed at all, often due to being too busy? I like the quote I heard once that goes, "Too busy not to pray." Someone also once said that our prayer life when we are praying alone, and no one is watching, is the best way to judge how our walk with God is going. A spiritual-o-meter if you like.Which reminds me of Jesus' words in Matthew 6:6,
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Not only this, but how fervently do I pray for things? Do I wrestle in prayer for things? After all, God sees our heart, and He knows what we really want even if our lips say otherwise.
I also love the last piece of this verse: "...that you may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God". What an awesome prayer to pray over someone, or pray for: that God would help you to stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.