— According to Colossians 4:2-4
We can all remember asking ourselves, “am I doing this right?” The question quickly surfaces when we’re unsure about our own performance, and it doesn’t have to be in response to a new task, things that we’ve been doing for a long time can still cause us to ask this question.
When there’s no clear precedent or instruction manual – such as in parenting or being a good spouse – the question is even more loaded.
It’s not uncommon for us to doubt ourselves when there’s no obvious gauge to measure how well we’re doing. And we can even do it when it comes to our faith, asking: Am I a good Christian? Am I pursuing the right path? Is God happy with me?
Even though our lives are unique, the Bible provides us with that guidance that is so often missing in other areas of our lives. And thankfully, God’s instruction doesn’t stop there. Talking to God and listening out for His voice through prayer is another way that we can come to understand how biblical guidelines apply to our current situations.
But how do we know that we’re “doing it right?”
If you have a healthy attitude towards prayer, then you’ll probably already recognise the following as integral to your approach. Whether you’re familiar with them or not, it’s worth reminding yourself why they’re so important, what the Bible says about them, and how you can incorporate them into your prayer life.
Colossians 4:2-4 says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
Taking these verses as our guide, here are three things you can incorporate into your prayer life.
What we are devoted to is revealed by the time that we spend doing it, how often we do it and how sincere we are about it.
How does your prayer measure up when cross-checked in terms of the “love, loyalty and enthusiasm” necessary for devotion? Do you have lots of good intentions to pray but find it slips down your to-do list? Scheduling prayers around mealtimes, setting reminders on your phone, and finding prayer partners can all help to increase your devotion to prayer.
When things go wrong, we can find ourselves rushing into prayer. But ask yourself, how much of my prayer life is devoted to giving thanks?
Why not devote regular prayers solely to thanking God for the blessings that you’ve received each day or week? This way you can avoid them being an add-on or obligatory precursor to your petitions. Psalms are a great aid for prayers of thanks, particularly when you’re in a tough season.
Praying for others
In the above verse, Paul asks for specific prayers to help him proclaim news of Jesus and Paul emphasizes the power of prayer in making him an effective witness in sharing the Gospel. It’s interesting to note that he doesn’t ask them to pray that he might be freed from his chains but instead that his message will be heard and received by others.
And it’s always worth considering: What do your friends, family, congregation and people in your community need prayer for? Asking frequently opens up a channel of communication and situates prayer as a constant feature of not just our relationship with God, but our relationships with one another.
Alannah Francis, Christian Today, May 19, 2016