Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving
Do you wonder why Paul has to tell the church (us) to continue earnestly in prayer? Why do we have to be vigilant?
Jesus even had to explain that we always should pray and not give up because even an unjust judge will give into persistence. (Luke 18:1-8)
Firstly, all of the things requested of us in previous chapters (loving one another, submitting to authority, being just to one another, etc.) can only happen by a supernatural enabling by the Holy Spirit. That only comes by prayer. It’s very important that we rely on Him even to obey.
“…for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’” Acts 17:28
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13
Secondly, we need to be thankful. Thankfulness is a key part of our relationship with Christ and helps our perspective remain true.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7
If we know in our minds that we need to rely upon Him, then why do we fail in practice? This is the vigilance that is lacking. We need to be aware.
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
We are quick to give up. I believe it’s because we question our worthiness, waiver in our faith, and get discouraged.
Questioning the Right
It’s hard to be persistent if you question whether or not you have a right to your request. But we know that since the veil was torn top to bottom at the death on the cross, all men and women who accept Jesus have the right to be in the Holy of Holies.
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1
Being called a child of God gives us the rights and privileges of a child of the King. The books of Ephesians and Galatians teach about our adoption into this family – a family of rights. A family with an inheritance.
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
When do you need grace? When you’re in need.
When are you afraid to enter? When you need grace.
We can go into prayer at any time.
Lack of Belief
Our only work is to believe. We also know that He rewards those who believe. Logically, this concludes that to not believe is a sin.
“Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:28-29
“But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6
I almost didn’t write this in fear I’d offend my audience. But you do the homework, be objective, and take out the logical conclusion. I don’t think most Christians sin overtly. I think we sin by omission.
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” James 1:5-8
Discouragement and despair are difficult to navigate. They both undermine our mental sobriety and clarity of thought. This is a driving factor of why I appreciate the Psalms, especially the ones from David.
In many of the Psalms, there is a recognition of the human emotion and then a turning point where the writer praises God. These are great portions of scripture to pray. Yes, you can use God’s word for prayer if you cannot think of your own.
I went through a very troubled time where I cried and prayed Psalm 42 for three days. Of course, God got me (us) through our situation. He has never let me down.
Specifically, I’ve prayed Psalm 42:5 over myself many times.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.” Psalm 42:5
No matter your cause, remember He is Faithful.
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
And one last encouragement from Hebrews:
“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:19-25
Questions for Further Thought:
- What is your impression of this passage?
- What is your view of prayer?
- Further Study: I encourage you to look up the following verses from which the text is based.
- Luke 18:1
- Matthew 27:50-54
- Psalm 5
- Psalm 42
- Psalm 37