25 October 2014

“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.” (v. 2)


Devoted, alert and thankful are not the words or attitudes that would come easily to most of us while sitting in a prison, however these are the words that Paul used from his cell in Rome. I remember years ago as a very young father-to-be reading a book on having babies. Instructions to the woman in labour seemed odd to me - 'keep breathing and keep your eyes open'. One seemed rather obvious the other slightly pointless. I wasn't in labour though! I'm not sure how helpful this advice was - but the 'keep your eyes open' has stayed with me. It meant, I think, 'don't get lost in your pain'. I've neither been in prison or in labour - but I do know what it is like to be self-absorbed in times of unhappiness or discomfort.

Hard though it may seem to be, Paul suggests we 'keep our eyes open'. First to God - to devote yourselves to prayer, reaching out to the otherness of God, but also to the world. Don't get lost in your self but be alert and, most strangely and hardest, "with thanksgiving". I've not right at all to speak to people who are in pain, or in prison. But in my own way I sense the Paul's encouragement and challenge to the Colossians, as from his prison cell he was able to share with them how he coped, and how they might!

To Ponder

  • Thankfulness can be so hard; perhaps it is most helpful when it is hardest to do. What is your experience of thankfulness especially when it seems most difficult?
  • Perhaps courage isn't the absence of fear but what afraid people do with their eyes wide open. How do you experience or live out a life of courage?

Bible notes author: 
The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

  • Sign up for e-newslettersKeep in touch with what interests you