“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison– that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak” (Colossians 4:3-4). 

Before we start thinking that in the previous verse (4:2) Paul is seeing prayer only as a tool to have our personal wants and needs met, he now gives us a great priority in our praying; for the gospel to be spread. A dear friend of mine and faithful follower of Jesus once told me, “I don’t really get it but when I pray amazing things happen. When I don’t, nothing does!” Not being able to completely understand and certainly not adequately explain the nuances of the compatibility of divine sovereignty and human responsibility, I will leave this text as is. Paul calls each of us to pray for open doors for the God’s word and clarity in declaring the message of Christ our Savior. Which causes me to wonder: When was the last time we have done this? And when was the last time we heard a public prayer that was a cry to God for the advancement of the gospel message in powerful clarity? 

In language we can all identify with, it was not uncommon for Paul to describe opportunities to share Christ as an “open door” (see Acts 14:27; 1 Corinthians 16:8-9; 2 Corinthians 2:12). Being that these opportunities are precious, Paul says we should beseech God that the doors of evangelism be open wide. One of the great purposes in prayer is the privilege of looking to God for the spread of His kingdom. Jesus, in the model prayer, said to His Father, “Your kingdom come” (Matthew 6:10). In His divine plan God has decreed that our prayers would be instrumental in reaching a lost world with the message of Jesus’ redemption and hope. This is why we see Paul asking for the church to lift its voice to their Lord and ask that He grant His sovereign leadership in the proclamation of the mystery of Christ and the empowerment of His messengers (see 2 Corinthians 1:11). 

Paul also sees prayer as necessary given the spread of the gospel and the preaching of the true message of salvation in Christ have obstacles. Paul is in chains because of his mission of hope. He knew prayer helps to fortify us as we swim against the broad, strong current of a culture that is destruction-bound (see Matthew 7:13-14). There is conflict and resistance in our crusade to proclaim the name of Jesus because, “…the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18). This why Paul here describes the message we share, the good news of Jesus as, “the mystery of Christ.” Those who are spiritually blind, deaf, and dead in their trespasses and sins naturally erect barriers to the message of the gospel. Our prayers are involved in unleashing the power of God in overcoming these challenges. 

But Paul doesn’t want our prayers to open doors for just any kind of word being spoken about Jesus. It is not a false gospel that we should pray to be spread. Paul wants the mystery of Christ to be clearly and rightly proclaimed. In our contemporary Christian culture we hear and see many things called “the gospel.” But much of it is false, misleading, and deceptive. With the goal of increasing their own followers, many distort the pure truth of God’s message of salvation into an ethnocentric, therapeutic, and carnal journey of self-discovery and self-enrichment. But following Jesus is about dying to self, bearing the cross, sacrificing, loving indiscriminately, and serving selflessly. It is about treasuring Him above all things. This is the type of gospel Paul wants our prayers to plead for; one of clarity, power, and biblical truth. 

Again, I do not totally understand why God has chosen to use our prayers in His sovereign act of grace in saving sinners. I do know that, in the end, His redemptive work is accomplished by His own power alone and due to no merit or effort on our part (see John 1:12-13). Yet we are called to pray for open doors for the spread of the gospel in clarity and truth.  Based upon His word, we are to be just as persistent, watchful, and thankful in our prayers for Christ-exalting evangelism as we are for our own personal needs and wants (see Colossians 4:2).

Is this our prayer? How often do we passionately plead with God that His clear message of the gospel be proclaimed and doors be opened for His truth? I know for me, it’s high time that evangelism be put at the top of my prayer list, that I pray for the lost to receive the message and it be confirmed in them by the Holy Spirit. It’s also time I pray more often for those whose “beautiful feet” share this greatest of all messages (Romans 10:15). May we also pray that God would use us as well, that we be His faithful instruments in the expanse of His kingdom and the calling of the Great Commission (see Matthew 28: 18-20). That as we go doors will be opened. And that our going will be saturated in His authority, presence, and power.

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