The year was around 60 A.D. and the apostle Paul was in prison in Rome. He has completed three missionary trips and converted people to Christianity and helped churches in numerous locations. From prison Paul wrote several letters which have become known to us as the Prison Epistles. One of those is written to the church in Colosse. The Colossian Christians had accepted Jesus, however they were being influenced by the Grecian and Jewish religions, and the gospel of Christ was being distorted.
Paul's words of encouragement pointed out the supremacy of Jesus and the need for all men to believe and obey him. Probably no one worked as hard at spreading the good news of the gospel, as Paul. I mention again that he wrote these words while he was imprisoned in Rome for teaching about Christ. That must have been a depressing situation to be in. Having the responsibility of teaching others about salvation in Jesus, and the good news he was teaching got him thrown into jail again and again.
Paul could still write words filled with hope and promise. He could still encourage Christians to remain faithful and make Jesus the priority of their lives. The one thing I ask you to think about this weekend is mentioned by Paul in Colossians 4:2-4. "Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should."
I continue to be impressed with Paul, in such adverse circumstances, still seeking avenues to reach others for Christ. He is a lesson we all need to learn. Usually, when we are surrounded by adversity or issues of life, we are in no mood to be representing Jesus. That's when Paul says, "Pray for me so I can reach others with the gospel."
One more thing we need to see about Paul's plea for prayer. He asks that we be devoted to prayer, and have an alert mind and a thankful heart. Come to think of it, Paul in prison has given us an example of how every one of our prayers should be prayed. You can credit your new-found attitude of being devoted to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart, to an old preacher in prison.
God really does move in mysterious ways.