Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

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 (Col. 4:1-4).

Paul completed his prescription for household harmony with a word to masters – be the kind of master your Master is to you. Always remember to whom you are accountable and how He treats you.

The point of Paul’s instructions is – at whatever level you exercise power and authority over others, do it with the same attitude as Jesus has towards you. Treat everyone with dignity and respect, be it your husband, wife, child, servant or master. This rule of thumb is absolutely vital for interpersonal relationships at every level of society. What a difference it would make to our world if this basic rule were followed! It’s up to us as followers of Jesus to set the standard wherever we are.

Paul’s next instruction was equally vital in his world gone crazy just as it is in ours. Stay in touch with your heavenly Father because you are surrounded and bombarded non-stop with stresses and tests. Jesus stated categorically, on the eve of His departure, ‘Apart from me you can do nothing.’ Keeping in close contact with our Father will enable us to draw from His wisdom and strength as we navigate a world system that is anti-God and self-sufficient.

In the busyness and pressures of our everyday lives it is easy to forget that we have a Father to whom we are accountable for the daily choices and decisions we make and their consequences, whether we like them or not. We live in a world system that is based on selfishness and greed. It’s everyone for himself in a dog-eat-dog society.

How can we guard against being a part of the way the world lives? Paul’s prescription: Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. Devote – bend all your energies towards . . . Prayer is not to be a hurried, five-minute, conscience-appeasing, ‘Good morning, God. Please look after me and my family today, and meet all our needs’ kind of greeting.

What is prayer? Prayer is the intercourse of a son with his Father, recognising, valuing and appreciating who the Father is, and opening the heart to His presence, His authority and His will. It is the awareness that wherever I am and whatever I do, He is always there, always good and always in charge – and I am accountable to Him for every word and action.

Prayer is also the expression of dependence on the Father as my life source. Everything I am and have comes from Him and is for Him. I cannot even draw a breath without Him. Prayer is allowing Him to live His life though me, fuelling and fulfilling my desires as His desires become mine.

What was Paul’s desire? To proclaim the mystery of Christ clearly wherever he was able to go. What was God’s desire for him? To do exactly as he desired. Prayer’s highest purpose is to become one with the Father so that His will becomes ours and His will is done on earth through us as it is done in heaven.

It did not matter to Paul whether he was free to move about anywhere in the Roman Empire or incarcerated in jail. As long as there were people around him with whom to share the message of Christ, his desire was to speak it freely and with clarity so that his hearers would understand and believe. God knew his desire but it was necessary for Paul to express it to Him. In that way, his heart was bonded to the heart of the Father.

God knows your desires too but, to share your heart with Him strengthens your union with Him. Out of that union comes the power to fulfil your desires and bring glory to Him as His kingdom overrides the ungodly kingdoms of this world wherever His people are.

The atmosphere of prayer is always: awareness that I am vulnerable because I still have my old nature lurking inside and awaiting every opportunity to trip me up; and thankful because I have a Saviour who rescues me from my destructive self-will, the Holy Spirit who energised me to walk in God’s ways; and a heavenly Father who passionately loves me as His child and provides everything I need to live a godly life.

His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. 2 Peter 1:3-4

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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