(The picture is of Gethsemani Abbey, a Trappist monastery, and home of Thomas Merton until his death in 1968.)
Read Colossians 4: 2-18
Colossians has been a "big picture" letter -- dealing with the church as the body of Christ and with the cosmic scope of Christ's redeeming work. In these closing verses Paul becomes pragmatic and personal.
Paul speaks of three elements of prayer, not intending to give a full treatment, but to highlight fundamental practicalities: the necessity of alertness, the importance of thanksgiving, and prayer's participation in the work of the gospel.
Alert prayer enables us to see through the deceptive values of the old order. It heightens our perception of reality and keeps us grounded there.
The presence or absence of thanksgiving functions as a test of whether a person has understood that the gospel is a matter of grace, an undeserved gift. Thankful prayer is not a way of ignoring life's problems and pain, but it allows us to place those things in their true context.
Prayer, for the Colossians, focuses on the missionaries and their message, thus participating in their work on behalf of the gospel. It is expected that the church's prayer will open opportunities for the proclamation and spread of the gospel.
In verse 3, Paul asks his readers to "pray for us." In verses 7-17 we discover how many people are included in that "us." In addition to names that we do not encounter elsewhere, we also find Mark, Barnabas, Onesimus, and Luke.
Paul was part of a gifted, devoted team in his service to Christ. Who is a part of your team? Are you trying to be a Christian by yourself? Jesus had twelve disciples. Paul had companions on every journey. What makes us think that we can do it alone?