Thanksgiving and Its Connection to our Praying

Bible Book: Colossians  4 : 2-4
Subject: Thanksgiving; Prayer
Series: The Thanksgiving Connection


All this month, my mind has been on the subject of “Thanksgiving.” And in looking at the various occurrences of the concept of thanksgiving in the scriptures, I noticed that some form of the word “thanks” is used in each chapter of the book of Colossians.


In chapter 1, verse 12, Paul said that Thanksgiving is Connected to us being Partakers of God’s inheritance for us.

In chapter 2, verses 6 and 7, Paul said that Thanksgiving is Connected to the Path of believers.

In chapter 3, verse 15, he said that Thanksgiving is Connected to our Principles as believers.

And in chapter 4, verse 2, Paul said that Thanksgiving is Connected to our Praying.


While “Thanksgiving” has not been the only truth that we have discovered in these passages, it is prominently woven into these chapters and this book of Colossians.


Having looked at those sections in the first three chapters, it is on my heart this morning to deal with Colossians chapter 4 and verses 2 through 4 as Paul talks about prayer (and how thanksgiving is connected to our prayer life).



I read this past week that…


In today’s politically correct environment where you have to be so careful to keep from offending anyone, we might all have to give reports like this fourth grader who reported on the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday. “The pilgrims came here seeking freedom of you know what. When they landed, they gave thanks to you know who. Because of them, we can worship each Sunday, you know where.”



Thanksgiving and prayer may both be sensitive topics in today’s politically correct environment. But Paul was not hesitant to mention either one. As we study these verses, we notice that…




I. Paul Mentions A Practice Of Prayer

(Colossians 4:2) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;


A. Let’s Consider The Terminology Of Prayer

prayer – Greek 4335. proseuche, pros-yoo-khay'; from G4336; prayer (worship); by implication, an oratory (chapel):--X pray earnestly, prayer.

When we pray, we come into a chapel, a temple, a sanctuary formed by our words, petitions, and adulations to Almighty God.

The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament explains this word “prayer” (NT:4335 – proseuche)…

“To pray,” “to pray to,” “to ask,” “prayer,” “petitionary prayer.” While ‎deísthai ‎almost always denotes asking, ‎proseúchesthai ‎contains no narrower definition of content and refers to calling on God. ‎proseuche ‎can also denote a “place of prayer,”


B. Let’s Consider The Teaching On Prayer

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia says of “Prayer”…

In the Old Testament: The history of prayer as it meets us here reflects various stages of experience and revelation. In the patriarchal period, when ‘men began to call upon the name of the Lord’ (Genesis 4:26; compare 12:8; 21:33), prayer is naive, familiar and direct (15:2 ff; 17:18; 18:23 ff; 24:12). It is evidently associated with sacrifice (12:8; 13:4; 26:25); the underlying idea probably being that the gift or offering would help to elicit the desired response. Analogous to this is Jacob’s vow, itself a species of prayer, in which the granting of desired benefits becomes the condition of promised service and fidelity (28:20 ff). In the pre-exilic history of Israel prayer still retains many of the primitive features of the patriarchal type (Exodus 3:4; Numbers 11:11-15; Judges 6:13 ff; 11:30 f; 1 Samuel 1:11; 2 Samuel 15:8; Psalms 66:13 f). The Law has remarkably little to say on the subject … while it confirms the association of prayer with sacrifices, which now appear, however, not as gifts in anticipation of benefits to follow, but as expiations of guilt (Deuteronomy 21:1-9) or thank offerings for past mercies (26:1-11). Moreover, the free, frank access of the private individual to God is more and more giving place to the mediation of the priest (21:5; 26:3), the intercession of the prophet (Exodus 32:11-13; 1 Samuel 7:5-13; 12:23), the ordered approach of tabernacle and temple services (Exodus 40; 1 Kings 8:1).

A new epoch in the history of prayer in Israel was brought about by the experiences of the Exile. Chastisement drove the nation to seek God more earnestly than before, and as the way of approach through the external forms of the temple and its sacrifices was now closed, the spiritual path of prayer was frequented with a new assiduity (attentiveness). The devotional habits of Ezra (Ezra 7:27; 8:23), Nehemiah (Nehemiah 2:4; 4:4,9, etc.) and Daniel (Daniel 6:10) prove how large a place prayer came to hold in the individual life; while the utterances recorded in Ezra 9:6-15; Nehemiah 1:5-11; 9:5-38; Daniel 9:4-19; Isaiah 63:7-64:12 serve as illustrations of the language and spirit of the prayers of the Exile, and show especially the prominence now given to confession of sin. In any survey of the Old Testament teaching the Psalms occupy a place by themselves, both on account of the large period they cover in the history and because we are ignorant in most cases as to the particular circumstances of their origin. But speaking generally it may be said that here we see the loftiest flights attained by the spirit of prayer under the old dispensation – the intensest craving for pardon, purity and other spiritual blessings (51, 130), the most heartfelt longing for a living communion with God Himself (Psalms 42:2; 63:1; 84:2).

In the New Testament: Here it will be convenient to deal separately with the material furnished by the Gospel narratives of the life and teaching of Christ and that found in the remaining books. The distinctively Christian view of prayer comes to us from the Christ of the Gospels. We have to notice His own habits in the matter (Luke 3:21; 6:12; 9:16,29; 22:32,39-46; 23:34-46; Matthew 27:46; John 17:1), which for all who accept Him as the revealer of the Father and the final authority in religion immediately dissipate all theoretical objections to the value and efficacy of prayer. Next we have His general teaching on the subject in parables (Luke 11:5-9; 18:1-14) and incidental sayings (Matthew 5:44; 6:5-8; 7:7-11; 9:38; 17:21; 18:19; 21:22; 24:20; 26:41 and the parallels), which presents prayer, not as a mere energizing of the religious soul that is followed by beneficial spiritual reactions, but as the request of a child to a father (6:8; 7:11), subject, indeed, to the father’s will (7:11; compare 6:10; 26:39,42; 5:14), but secure always of loving attention and response (Matthew 7:7-11; 21:22). In thus teaching us to approach God as our Father, Jesus raised prayer to its highest plane, making it not less reverent than it was at its best in Old Testament times, while far more intimate and trustful. In the LORD’S PRAYER He summed up His ordinary teaching on the subject in a concrete example which serves as a model and breviary of prayer (Matthew 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4). But according to the Fourth Gospel, this was not His final word upon the subject. On the night of the betrayal, and in full view of His death and resurrection and ascension to God’s right hand, He told His disciples that prayer was henceforth to be addressed to the Father in the name of the Son, and that prayer thus offered was sure to be granted (John 16:23-24,26). The differentia of Christian prayer thus consists in its being offered in the name of Christ; while the secret of its success lies on the one hand in the new access to the Father which Christ has secured for His people (17:19; compare Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-22), and on the other in the fact that prayer offered in the name of Christ will be prayer in harmony with the Father’s will (15:7; compare 1 John 3:22 f; 5:13 f).

In the Acts and Epistles we see the apostolic church giving effect to Christ’s teaching on prayer. It was in a praying atmosphere that the church was born (Acts 1:14; compare 2:1); and throughout its early history prayer continued to be its vital breath and native air (2:42; 3:1; 6:4, 6 and passim). The Epistles abound in references to prayer. Those of Paul in particular contain frequent allusions to his own personal practice in the matter (Romans 1:9; Ephesians 1:16; Philippians 1:9; 1 Thessalonians 1:2, etc.), and many exhortations to his readers to cultivate the praying habit (Romans 12:12; Ephesians 6:18; Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:17, etc.).




II. Paul Mentions A Perseverance In Prayer

(Colossians 4:2) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;


A. We Are To Pray In Spite Of Our Duties

Paul presents this urging to pray after he has mentioned our familial and vocational duties, so that none of these things should be excuses not to pray.

(Colossians 3:18-25) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. {19} Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. {20} Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. {21} Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged. {22} Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: {23} And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; {24} Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. {25} But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.

(Colossians 4:1) Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.

The Pulpit Commentary says…

When we are least inclined to pray we are in most need of prayer.

Adam Clarke said…

[Continue in prayer] This was the apostle’s general advice to all; without this, neither wives, husbands, children, parents, servants, nor masters, could fulfill the duties which God, in their respective stations, required of them.

Matthew Henry said…

If this be considered as connected with the foregoing verse, then we may observe that it is part of the duty which masters owe their servants to pray with them, and to pray daily with them, or continue in prayer.


B. We Are To Pray In A Spirit Of Diligence

John MacArthur said…

Devote yourselves (continue) is from proskartere, a compound word made up of kartere (“to be steadfast,” or “to endure”) with an added preposition that intensifies the meaning. The verb means “to be courageously persistent,” “to hold fast and not let go.” Paul is calling strongly on believers to persist in prayer. They are to “pray at all times” (Ephesians 6:18; cf. Luke 18:1), “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), and be devoted to prayer (Romans 12:12). … It refers to a God consciousness that relates every experience in life to Him. … Our Lord told two parables illustrating the importance of persistent prayer: Luke 11:5-10 and Luke 18:1-8.

Kenneth Wuest said…

“Continue” is ‎proskartereœ‎, “to give constant attention to a thing, to give unremitting care to a thing, to persevere, to wait continually upon, to be in constant readiness for.”

This word “continue” has the idea of being strongly devoted to, focused on, persisting obstinately in.



III. Paul Mentions A Perceptiveness In Prayer

(Colossians 4:2) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;


A. Consider The Significance Of Our Watching

Kenneth Wuest said…

‎”Watch” is ‎ gregoreuo‎, “to give strict attention to, to be active, to take heed lest through remissness and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one.” Lightfoot says: “Long continuance in prayer is apt to produce listlessness. Hence the additional charge that the heart must be awake, if the prayer is to have any value.”


B. Consider The Scope Of Our Watching

As I thought about this watchfulness, I thought about some scriptures that mention the watchman or the guard upon the watchtower…

(Isaiah 21:6) For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.

(Isaiah 21:11-12) The burden of Dumah. He calleth to me out of Seir, Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? {12} The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night: if ye will inquire, inquire ye: return, come.

(Hebrews 13:17) Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

In his Exposition of Colossians, Nicholas Byfield said of this word “watch”…

It is spiritual watchfulness that is here specially required; and it is nothing else but a Christian heedfulness, observation, and consideration, both for prevention of evil, and embracing of the means, ways, and opportunities of good. And thus we must watch: first, Our own hearts, to spy out where any spot of spiritual leprosy in thoughts or affections breaks out, to heal it in time. Secondly, The practices of Satan, that we be not ensnared with his spiritual baits and methods. Thirdly, The ways of God: if any mercy appear, or fountain of grace open, to snatch up our incense, and run presently to God’s altar, and offer with our sacrifice the calves of our lips; or if any threatening arrest us, or judgment befall us, to make our peace speedily, and fly from the anger to come. Fourthly, The coming of Christ, either by death or judgment: Especially we should ‘watch, upon whom the ends of the world are come,’ Luke 21:36. But that which is here principally meant is watching unto prayer; and thus we had need to watch: 1. To the means to get ability to pray; 2. To the opportunity and occasions of prayer; 3. To the success of it—to take notice of God’s answer, and our speeding, waiting upon God till he give a blessing, or, if God hide himself, to sue out an atonement in Christ.

Spurgeon said…


1. For you will be drowsy if you watch not. How many men and Churches are asleep in prayer because they do not watch.

2. For as soon as you begin to pray enemies will commence to attack. No one was ever in earnest without finding that the devil was in earnest too.

3. Watch while you pray for propitious events which may help you in the answer to your prayer. We cannot make the wind blow, but we can spread the sails; and when the Spirit comes we may be ready.

4. Watch for fresh arguments for prayer. Heaven’s gate is not to be stormed by one weapon, but by many.

5. Watch for the answers. When you post a letter to your friend you watch for the answer.

Paul goes on to ask them to pray for him, and another reason to watch is what he said in…

(1 Corinthians 16:9) For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.



IV. Paul Mentions A Prerequisite For Prayer

(Colossians 4:2) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;


thanksgiving – Greek 2169. eucharistia, yoo-khar-is-tee'-ah; from G2170; gratitude; act. grateful language (to God, as an act of worship):--thankfulness, (giving of) thanks (-giving).

Warren Wiersbe said…

Our praying should also be thankful: “Watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). Thanksgiving is an important ingredient in successful praying (Philippians 4:6). If all we do is ask, and never thank God for His gifts, we are selfish. Sincere gratitude to God is one of the best ways to put fervor into our praying.

There is always so much to be thankful for! We have already noted the emphasis in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians on thanksgiving (Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15, 17; 4:2). When we recall that Paul was a prisoner when he wrote this letter, it makes this emphasis even more wonderful.

Spurgeon said…

We should not go to God as mournful beings who plead piteously with a hard master who loves not to give. When you give a penny to a beggar you like to see him smile, and you give at the next application because of previous gratitude. So go to God with a thankful mind.

The Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary says…

With (literally, IN) thanksgiving – for everything; whether joyful or sorrowful, mercies temporal, spiritual, national, family, and individual (Philippians 4:6; 1 Thessalonians 5:18).







V. Paul Mentions A Plea For Prayer

(Colossians 4:3–4) Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: {4} That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

Albert Barnes said…

[Withal] With all the supplications which you offer for other persons and things; or at the same time that you pray for them.


A. Paul Had A Desire For The Opening Of A Door


Marvin Vincent said…

Door of utterance ‎thuran ‎‎tou ‎‎logou‎. The English Revised Version (1885), better, “a door for the word.” Compare 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Revelation 3:8. See also “entering in,” 1 Thessalonians 1:9; 2:1. And the parallel passage, Ephesians 6:19. There may be an allusion to a release from imprisonment.


(2 Corinthians 2:12) Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord,

(1 Thessalonians 1:9) For they themselves show of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God;

(1 Thessalonians 2:1) For yourselves, brethren, know our entrance in unto you, that it was not in vain:



B. Paul Had A Discernment About The Obligation Of Declaration


Matthew Henry said…

Paul knew as well as any man how to speak; and yet he begged their prayers for him, that he might be taught to speak. The best and most eminent Christians need the prayers of meaner Christians, and are not above asking them. The chief speakers need prayer, that God would give them a door of utterance, and that they may speak as they ought to speak.


(Ephesians 6:20) For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.































John MacArthur, in his Commentary on Colossians, said…

Virginia Stem Owens wrote the following about wrestling with God in earnest prayer:


Christians have always interpreted the splitting of the temple veil during the crucifixion as symbolic of their liberation from the mediated presence of God. Henceforth they were “free” to approach him directly—which is almost like telling someone he is “free” to stick his head in the lion’s jaws. For once you start praying there is no guarantee that you won’t find yourself before Pharaoh, shipwrecked on a desert island, or in a lion’s den.

This is no cosmic teddy bear we are cuddling up to. As one of the children describes him in C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, “he’s not a tame lion.” [Jacques] Ellul is convinced that prayer for persons living in the technological age must be combat, and not just combat with the Evil One, with one’s society, or even one’s divided self, though it is also all of these; it is combat with God. We too must struggle with him just as Jacob did at Peniel where he earned his name Israel—”he who strives with God.” We too must be prepared to say, “I will not let you go till you bless me.”

Consider Moses, again and again intervening between the Israelites and God’s wrath; Abraham praying for Sodom; the widow demanding justice of the unjust judge. But in this combat with God, Ellul cautions, we must be ready to bear the consequences: “Jacob’s thigh was put out of joint, and he went away lame. However, the most usual experience will be God’s decision to put to work the person who cried out to him. Whoever wrestles with God in prayer puts his whole life at stake.”

Awful things happen to people who pray. Their plans are frequently disrupted. They end up in strange places. Abraham “went out, not knowing where he was to go.” After Mary’s magnificent prayer at the annunciation, she finds herself the pariah of Nazareth society. How tempting to up the stakes, making prayer merely another consumer product. How embarrassing to have to admit not only that prayer may get you into a prison, as it did Jeremiah, but also that while you’re moldering away in a miry pit there, you may have a long list of lamentations and unanswered questions to present to your Lord. How are we going to tell them they may end up lame and vagrant if they grasp hold of this God? (“Prayer—Into the Lion’s Jaws,” Christianity Today, November 19, 1976, pp. 222-23; italics in the original)

That stands in marked contrast to the glib, self-centered prayers of our day. Much of the contemporary church has lost its reverence for God. He is too often viewed as a sort of cosmic automatic teller machine. If we punch in the right code, He’s obligated to deliver what we want. … (But) True prayer often involves struggling and grappling with God, proving to Him the deepest concern of one’s heart. Prayer is to be a persistent, courageous struggle from which the believer may come away limping.