Prayer is one of the most basic fundamental disciplines of the Christian life. We know we should “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17), but it’s hard to know for what we should be specifically praying. When we aren’t biblically informed of how we ought to pray, we find ourselves praying for mere physical healing or provision with “vain repetition” (Matt 6:7). The Bible says we ought to pray for “our daily bread” (Matt 6:11) and for those who are ill (Jam 5:14-16), but there’s much more for which we should be praying. We should be praying for the salvation of souls as often as we pray for temporal things.
Paul’s Specific Prayer Request
According to Colossians 4:3, Paul had a very specific prayer request. He asked the beloved Colossians to pray “that God will open up to us a door for the word.” The word “door” here metaphorically refers to an opportunity. Keep in mind that Paul was in prison while he wrote to the saints in Colossae. He did not pray for a prison break. He did not pray for the guards to treat him with more favor. He did not even want prayer for his physical needs or comfort. While he sat in prison, he wrote and prayed that he would have the opportunity to preach the Gospel to those around him. In other words, Paul was more concerned about his own personal prison ministry than his own personal safety, health, and freedom.
Pray for Opportunity
Like Paul, Christians need to be praying regularly for an opportunity to evangelize the lost. The Great Commission equally applies to all who believe (Matt 28:19-20). Before His ascension, Jesus said, “you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8). Our prayers should mainly be spiritual in nature, not mainly for physical healing and certainly not for material wants. God does not promise to physically heal people but He does promise that sinners will be saved through the hearing of the Word of God via the mouth of the faithful evangelists (Rom 10:14-17). That should be our focus. We need to pray, like Paul, for opportunities to speak forth the Gospel of Jesus.
The Opportunity Giver
God is the giver of every good thing (Jam 1:17). He controls every minute detail of your life (Pro 16:33). He also is the One who opens doors to share the Gospel. Paul reminds us of that truth. Note in Colossians 4:3 who is the One that creates these evangelistic opportunities: GOD. Dr. Steve Lawson said, “The door knob is only on one side of the door.” In other words, only God can soften a sinner’s heart enough to listen and respond to the Gospel message. This point is very applicable in our personal witnessing. We must remember that God will open the door to witness whenever He wants. We cannot force or coerce people to listen to the Good News. Instead, we must prayerfully stay alert and walk through the open doors according to God’s sovereign leading.
When Opportunity Knocks
Paul’s prayers were answered abundantly in this realm. The Colossians must have been faithful in their prayers because Paul produced a bountiful harvest of spiritual fruit. In 1 Corinthians 16:9, he wrote, “a wide door for effective service has opened to me.” Again in 2 Corinthians 2:12, he revealed, “a door was open for me in the Lord.” God did indeed grant Paul ample opportunities to share the Gospel and we are all the living fruit of his evangelistic encounters.
Almost two years ago now, my mom suddenly passed away. She was only 50 years old. As soon as I received the news, I immediately got on a plane and flew to IL from southern CA to arrange and officiate her funeral. After the funeral, my dad drove me to the airport. On the way, he asked, “Karl, how are you able to deal with this?” Right then and there, God graciously granted me the opportunity to testify about my sovereign God and Savior. God opened up the door in the midst of a trying season, but I had to walk through it. I’m glad I did because it was an extremely rare opportunity. Remember this as you pray for these divine appointments: the God who can part the Red Sea can just as easily open any door to present the Gospel to whomever and whenever He wants, but you are responsible to be alert and prayerful for open doors.
Grace and peace to you.