Colossians 4:2-6

"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. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

This is an exhortation from Paul (similar to Col. 2:7) directed at the Masters of estates, the wealthy living in Colossae. He's just finished talking to the slaves, encouraging them "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." The truth here is that both can apply to us today.

We are the wealthiest people in the world. Only 2% of the world own cars, my family has three. Wealth is measured in opportunity, not by the amount of paper in your wallet. Americans, in college or not, are the wealthiest the world has ever seen. But Paul also mentions he is enslaved to the gospel, in chains to the mystery of Christ. Should this not be our position as well?

"being watchful" in prayer. This passage in Colossians is linked with Ephesians 6:18-20

"And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests (greek: supplication - with humility). With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."

Prayer seems to function as a way to watch over other Christians, to care for them in supplication. I always related alertness to the "watchful servant" parable Jesus tells in Luke 12, but here - being alert translates in to knowing what to pray for.

The Col. passage also encourages thankfulness for our prayers, and how rightly he tells this to the wealthy. We are blessed, and need to be humbly reminded of such daily. Jesus, who during His ministry was homeless and not very wealthy, began most every prayer in the gospels with thanking God. We should abide in his example.

This idea of being chained to the Gospel or to the Mystery of Christ is fond in both passages. Paul often was literally in chains, as Paul wrote both letters during his first imprisonment in Rome, but he means it spiritually as well. He cannot separate his life from the message and direction of Christ.

Do I see this in my own life? Paul seems to be addressing conversation soon after, and it is true - so often in my daily conversations Christian topics just work their way to the surface. It's difficult for me to have conversations with people that do not end up focusing on Christ. But Paul is addressing something bigger here. Everything Paul does seems to be in relation to Christ. If he is truly in chains, maybe a better question is who are leading the chains?

If two are chained together, one is directing the other as they move forward. By saying he is in chains to Christ, yes there is a weight felt there, but is he not also saying he will go wherever those chains lead him? If on the other side of those chains is Christ, who is bigger? Who will be leading whom? I'm reminded of Christ saying His yolk is easy, encouraging us to bring our burdens to Him, that he might help us on the road - but a yolk can only go one direction. To join the yolk of Christ is to join Him in whatever direction He leads.

So what is my incentive to pray? I was recently reminded that if my incentive to spend time with God is to avoid sinning, I'm still only worshiping that sin. Praying needs to draw us closer to God for the purposes of knowing/better understanding Him and His will. This will reflect who or what we are really chained to, this will guide what happens in our daily conversations.

"Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone."

The encouragement is to have your conversations "seasoned" with the focus of Christ. But not only to mention Him, but be prepared to discuss it further. It may be a great "mystery", but our testimonies are not, nor are His works in the world. Being prepared to answer questions about your Christ seasoned words can only come from spending time with Him, in word and prayer. From being in Chains.