Persevere in PrayerApril 22, 2015
This month we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the new life we have in Him because of His victory over sin and death. Our restoration to the heart of the Father and our ability to stand in His presence without the taint of sin was purchased at the high cost of Jesus’ intense sufferings in our place.
Christ’s sufferings — which included His physical torture and death — actually began in the garden of Gethsemane when, knowing what lay ahead of Him, Jesus agonized in prayer to receive the strength He needed to make it through to final victory (see Matthew 26:36-39; Mark 14:32-36).
That’s what I want to talk to you about in this month’s letter — about the kind of persevering prayer it takes to get all the way through whatever it is you’re facing and obtaining the prize of the answer you so greatly desire.
Last time, we studied the word “continue” in Colossians 4:2: “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.” The word “continue” comes from the Greek word proskartereo, which portrays a strong, solid, never-give-up type of leaning toward an object. This word depicts someone who so fiercely wants something that he is relentlessly 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. From this inspired admonition, “Continue in prayer,” the apostle Paul was urging us to stay forward-directed in the Spirit and focused in prayer.
This month, we’re going to look at the word “prayer” in this verse, which was translated from the Greek word proseuche — an important word that is used 127 times in the New Testament! The word proseuche is a compound of the Greek words pros and euche. The word pros is a preposition that means toward, and it can denote a sense of closeness. An example of this is found in Ephesians 6:12, where the word “against” is translated from pros to describe our close contact with unseen, demonic spirits that have been marshaled against us. Almost everywhere the word pros is used in the New Testament, it carries the meaning of a close, up-front, or intimate contact or encounter with someone else.
This tells us that prayer should bring us face-to-face — in close contact — with God!
You see, prayer is more than a mechanical act or a formula to follow. Prayer is a vehicle to bring us to a place whereby we enjoy a close, intimate relationship with God. Especially when we are praying through spiritual barriers or pressing deep into the Spirit, prayer is to be a time when we draw close to the Lord.
The second part of the word proseuche is taken from the word euche. The word euche is an old Greek word that describes a wish, desire, prayer, or vow. This word was originally used to depict a person who makes some kind of vow to God because of a need or desire in his life. This individual is so desperate for an answer that he promises to give something of great value to God in exchange for a favorable answer to prayer.
The first part of the word proseuche, the word pros, certainly speaks of our coming closer to God in prayer. However, the idea of sacrifice is also contained in this Greek word, picturing a person who wants to see his prayer answered so desperately that he’s willing to surrender everything in exchange for that answer. Such a person has come to this place of surrender because of his fierce drive to obtain his heart’s desire from the Lord ¾ a desire so strong that it has produced a willingness in the person to make any change in his life that God might require of him. All of that is a part of the word “prayer” ¾ the Greek word proseuche ¾ used in Colossians 4:2, where Paul urges us to “continue in prayer….”
The fact is, there are often issues in our lives that block the answers to our prayers. When we come close to God in prayer, the Holy Spirit often uses that opportunity to convict our hearts of any areas that need to be surrendered to Him. When we respond and repent, the blockages that hinder our prayers are removed and our answers often come quickly. And because the word proseuche carries this meaning of surrender and sacrifice, we know that God wants us to meet with Him and surrender every area of our lives to Him. In exchange, we will receive the answers we have so urgently requested and fervently desired.
But Paul goes on to say that we must “continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving….” The word “watch” is translated from the word gregoreo, and it means to be awake, watchful, or vigilant. It refers to a spiritual, watchful attitude. One expositor has translated this word as, “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” pictures someone who so fiercely wants something that he is leaning forward toward that object, pressing toward it. He is devoted to the goal of obtaining it and busily engaged in activities that will bring the object of his desire to him. He is forward-directed, focused in prayer, pressing into the Spirit, and resolute about not giving up until he has obtained that for which he is praying. This is someone who has prayed long and hard and is now becoming weary from constant prayer. Therefore, Paul says to this person, “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 have to stay vigilant and watch for the answers to your prayers to show up! Stay in a strong attitude of faith that causes you to “continue in prayer with watchfulness and thanksgiving.…”
The word “thanksgiving” in Colossians 4:2 is from the Greek word eucharistia, which is a compound of the words eu and charis. The word eu means good or well. It always denotes a general good disposition or good feeling about something. The word charis is the Greek word for grace. When these two words are compounded into one, they form the word eucharistia. This compound word describes an outpouring of grace and wonderful feelings that freely flow from the heart in response to someone or something.
In order to “continue in prayer with watchfulness and thanksgiving,” you must persistently engage in aggressive prayer ¾ heartily seeking a specific answer from God as you keep your attitude vigilant and your eyes watchful for the soon-to-be-manifested answer. When you have taken this expectant stand of faith, it is right for you to 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!
So what should you do if you are praying in faith for something and your answer still hasn’t come?
- Know that it’s time to dig in and press in the Spirit toward the answer.
- Be willing to make whatever changes God may require of you.
- Keep your eyes open for the answer!
- Finally, lift up your voice and start thanking God now for the answer even before it comes! It’s 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!
As I close this letter, I must ask you — are you going through one of those trying times right now? Have you been tempted to give up on something you’ve been praying about because the answer hasn’t come as quickly as you desired? If so, don’t throw up your hands in exasperation and walk away! Stay in faith and remain alert, because you may be on the very brink of seeing your long-awaited answer!
How can we be praying for you this month? Denise and I and our team are honored to pray with you about the answers you are diligently seeking from God. We want to be your prayer partners! And we thank you in advance for your prayers for us as well.
We love you and thank God for you!
Rick and Denise Renner
along with Paul, Philip, and Joel and their families