This weekend I got to watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls. A crazy Russian lady wants to control the minds of 1950s Western society and turn them into communists without anyone even knowing its happening. Classic Indiana Jones, am I right?
But it got me thinking about this part in Colossians 4, where Paul writes:
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving.”
It’s short. It’s to the point. And it just seems so…uninteresting.
Do you get all geeked up about “prayer services” or “prayer commitments”? I don’t. I’d rather watch Indiana Jones again. I think that prayer has been lost in translation over the centuries. Because in the verse above, Paul isn’t saying “Hey guys, be good about talking to God.” The words mean so much more than what I saw at first glance. “Devote” and “keeping alert” have the connotation of urgency. Prayer is not, then, just a solemn salutation.
Paul doesn’t tell the people in Colossae to be good and religious and bow your head and close your eyes so he can say, “I see that hand.”
He is pleading with them (and me) to see the urgency of prayer. Later in the chapter he tells of how Epaphras has been “laboring” for them in terminology that suggests intense competition or battle! Prayer is where we fight. Prayer is how we fight.
We pray all the time because we are at war.
As youth workers, we are the shepherd and the sergeant. We care for the flock and do our best to protect it, but we also lead it and train it and engage with it in battle. For Paul, Epaphras exemplified this idea. “He always prays earnestly for you, asking God to make you strong and perfect, fully confident that you are following the whole will of God” (Col. 4:12, NLT). What might happen if we devote ourselves to prayer for our students? What might happen if we become their Epaphras?
Sean Kahlich is the minister to students at Ridgecrest Baptist Church. firstname.lastname@example.org