The Apostle Peter drew his second letter to a close with these wise and pastoral words: “But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen” (2 Peter 3:18). The word “grow” is an exhortation and a command, and it implies that if we’re to progress in Christ we must play an active role, by the grace of Christ, in building habits that nurture our progress. Therefore, I am offering a series of devotionals this summer on eight essential habits that help us to grow in grace. For today, let’s consider the place of prayer in the Christian life.
Paul writes in Colossians 4:2, “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.” The words “continue steadfastly,” like Peter’s word “grow,” implies that we who love Jesus must put forth effort by the grace of Jesus and learn to talk to him about everything. And this is, of course, the essence of prayer: talking to Jesus. Prayer is not some kind of incantation or request line through which we get things from Jesus, rather, it is the highest and most important use of the gift of verbal and non-verbal communication.
And Paul exhorts us to keep on keeping on in prayer because this is the way we remain alert to the presence of Jesus in our lives, the perspective of Jesus on our lives, and the power of Jesus for our lives. In fact, the word translated “watchful” here literally means “to stay awake,” and I think Paul meant it to be taken literally. I think Paul is saying that when we pray we stay awake to the presence, perspective, and power of Jesus, and when we fail to pray we fall asleep to these things. Therefore, it is of vital importance for those who long to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus, to learn what it means to persevere in prayer, to talk with our Savior about all things at all times.
The life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus bought for us the right of access to the throne-room of our Father. And his desire is that we would become intimately familiar with his courts, spending much time in his presence, seeking his broad and wise perspective, and pleading for the power to do his will.
So my exhortation to you today is this: commit yourself to spending more time with your Father every day, preferably in the morning. When we talk with the Lord at the beginning of the day, we tend to talk with him throughout the day. Press yourself to grow. “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2).