Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving….
— Colossians 4:2
Have you ever gone through a period in your life when you were tempted to give up on something you were praying for because the answer seemed too long in coming?
The truth is, we’ve all experienced times when we prayed in faith, but the answer to our prayers seemed to come far too slowly. In fact, this situation is so common that my wife and I receive thousands of letters from our television viewers, who ask questions such as:
*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]
- How long should I continue believing God for the answer to my prayer to come to pass in my life?
- Should I just give up hope that my answer will ever come?
- Is there anything special I should be doing while I am waiting for God to answer my prayer request?
- What attitude should I maintain while I continue to wait for my answer?
These questions are all very applicable to our spiritual walk, so let’s see what the Bible has to say about how we should respond when the answers to our prayers are delayed. In Colossians 4:2, the apostle Paul outlined the kind of attitude we must maintain as we wait for the answers to our prayers. He wrote, “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving….”
Let’s examine several key words in this very important verse. First, Paul began by saying, “Continue in prayer….” This word “continue” is translated from the Greek word proskartereo, which is a compound of the words pros and kartereo. The word pros is the preposition to or toward, and it carries the idea of close, up-front, intimate contact with someone else. A good example of this word pros is found in Ephesians 6:12, where it is used to describe our close contact with unseen, demonic spirits that have been marshaled against us. The second word kartereo means to be strong, to be stout, to bear up, to have fortitude, or to be steadfast. Typically, it carries the idea of something that is strong, robust, tough, solid, or heavy duty.
When these two words are compounded, as they are in Colossians 4:2, the new word depicts a strong, solid, “never-give-up type” of leaning toward an object. It pictures a person who wants something so fiercely that he is leaning forward toward that object — pressing toward it, devoted to the goal of obtaining it, and busily engaged in activities that will bring the object of his desire to him.
Thus, by using the word proskartereo, Paul was emphatically urging us to do three things as we wait for God to answer our prayers:
- Stay forward-directed and focused in prayer.
- Keep pressing into the Spirit.
- Resolutely refuse to give up until we have obtained that for which we are praying.
There will undoubtedly be times in your life when the answers to your prayers won’t come quickly. However, God requires you to stay spiritually strong — pushing forward and continuously engaging in robust prayer until you see what you are believing Him for come to fruition. If you are tenaciously determined to continue in prayer, you will receive the answers you seek.
The Greek word translated “prayer” in this verse is also very important. It is the word proseuche, a compound of the Greek words pros and euche, and it is used 127 times in the New Testament. As we saw earlier, the word pros is the preposition to or toward, and it carries the idea of closeness. The word euche is an old Greek term that describes a wish, a desire, a prayer, or a vow. This word was originally used in Scripture to depict a person who makes a vow to God because of a need or desire in his life. This person is so desperate for an answer that he promises to give something of great value to God in exchange for a favorable answer to his prayer. When these two words are compounded, the new word conveys a multifaceted and powerful meaning.
The first part of the word proseuche — pros — tells us that prayer should bring us face to face with God. Prayer is more than a mechanical act or a formula to follow; it is a vehicle through which you can enjoy a close, intimate relationship with God, especially when you are trying to break through spiritual barriers or press deep into the Spirit.
Secondly, the word euche conveys that sacrifice is a vital component of prayer. When you come before the Lord, you must be willing to surrender yourself and make any changes in your life that God might require of you, because there are potential areas in your life that can block His ability to bless you. As you draw near to God, the Holy Spirit will convict your heart of any areas that need to be surrendered to Him. If you respond to His conviction and repent, the obstacles in your life that were hindering your prayers will be removed, and the answers to your prayers can come quickly.
God wants you to meet Him face to face and surrender every area of your life to Him. In return, He promises that you will receive the answers you seek.
Paul continued in Colossians 4:2 by saying, “Continue in prayer, and watch….” The word “watch” is the word gregoreo, meaning to be awake, to be watchful, or to be vigilant. It refers to a spiritual, watchful attitude and can be translated, “Be wide awake….” Rather than go to sleep on the job after spending time praying, pressing, and interceding, you need to keep your eyes wide open so you can watch for the answer you are requesting!
Remember, the word “continue” (proskartereo) refers to someone who wants something so fiercely that he is leaning forward and pressing toward it, busily engaged in activities that will bring the object of his desire to fruition. He is forward-directed, focused in prayer, pressing into the Spirit, and resolute in his determination not to give up until he has received the answer to his prayers. It is the picture of a believer who has prayed long and hard and is now becoming weary from constant prayer. Therefore, Paul exhorted us, “Stay awake! Stay on your guard! Keep your eyes open!”
Once you pray in faith and begin to make the changes God requires of you, you need to stay vigilant and watch for the answers to your prayers to show up!
The final point Paul made in this verse is that you must “…watch in the same with thanksgiving….” The word “thanksgiving” is the Greek word eucharistia, which is a compound of the words eu and charis. The word eu means good or well, and it always denotes a good disposition or a good feeling about something. The word charis is the Greek word for grace. When these two words are compounded, the new word describes an outpouring of grace and wonderful feelings that freely flow from the heart in response to someone or something.
By using this word, Paul taught that you must persistently engage in aggressive prayer — heartily seeking a specific answer from God as you keep your attitude vigilant and your eyes watchful for the soon-to-be-manifested answer. As you take that stance of faith, lift your voice to thank God in advance for the answer you are seeking! Thanksgiving is the voice of faith that thanks God for the answer before it comes! It is hard to be discouraged or defeated when you are continually thankful, so be sure to maintain a thankful, faith-filled heart as you watch for your answer to arrive!
Given what we have learned, Colossians 4:2 could be paraphrased:
“Be committed to ongoing and relentless prayer! You have to press toward that answer you are seeking. You have to be devoted to the goal of obtaining it as you stay engaged in the robust, strong, stout, never-give-up kind of prayer that brings you straight into the presence of God! While you are persistently and aggressively praying, you also need to stay wide awake, constantly keeping your eyes open as you look for and expect your answer. And while you are doing all of this, don’t forget to stay in an attitude of thankfulness that gives thanks to God in advance for the answers you are seeking.…”
So what should you do if you are praying in faith and the answer still hasn’t come? It’s time for you to dig in and press in the Spirit toward the answer. Be willing to make whatever changes God may require of you, and keep your eyes open for the answer. Finally, lift up your voice, and start thanking Him now for the answer even before it comes!
Are you going through one of those trying times right now? Have you been tempted to give up on something you’ve been praying for because the answer isn’t coming as quickly as you wish? If so, don’t throw up your hands in exasperation and walk away! Stay in faith and stay alert, because you may be on the very brink of receiving your long-awaited answer!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I am making the decision to turn up my fervency in prayer! You are telling me to pray consistently and persistently and to press in harder than ever before, so that is what I am going to do. If there are issues in my life that are blocking the answers to my prayers, please reveal them to me, and I will surrender them to You. With the help of Your Spirit, I will stay in faith with a watchful eye for the answer I have sought from You. Right now by faith, I thank You in advance for the answer I am seeking.
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that I press forward in the Spirit, persisting in prayer until I get a breakthrough from the Lord. As God’s Word instructs me, I will be committed and unrelenting in prayer until every blockage is removed and the answer manifests in my life. By faith I keep a watchful eye for the answer I have requested from the Lord. Right now I lift my voice in faith and begin to consistently thank Him in advance for those things I have asked of Him.
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
- Can you say that you’ve been unrelentingly committed to continuing in your prayers until you receive the answers you have sought from the Lord?
- Have you maintained an attitude of thankfulness while you’ve waited for your request to be manifested? Be honest! Have you lifted your voice by faith to thank Him in advance for the answer even though you haven’t seen it yet?
- Before you do anything else, why don’t you begin taking a few minutes, starting today, to get into an attitude of thanksgiving and verbally praise and worship God for hearing and answering your prayer?