We have all heard that the divorce rate amongst Christians and non-Christians alike is around fifty percent. There is some evidence that this number may be falling — not because more people are staying married, but because fewer people are bothering to get married in the first place. If you include couples who live together for a few years and then separate, the numbers go right back to that unfortunate baseline.
The one thing that has been shown to protect marriages better than anything else is prayer. Couples who pray together regularly have a divorce rate of less than one percent. Sadly, only about four percent of Christian couples actually do this (pray together regularly). If you happen to be a pastor, then that number goes up to six percent!
It seems that if we want to protect marriages, we need to teach couples to pray together. We read books, attend seminars, go to counseling, and do a myriad of other things of unknown benefit to those trying to stay married. Yet,we don’t do the one thing that is virtually guaranteed to work.
If you contracted Ebola and had a fifty-fifty chance of dying, but your doctor offered you a vaccine that would give you a greater than ninety-nine percent chance of surviving, would you take the vaccine? Your marriage has a fifty-fifty chance of survival, but a vaccine exists called prayer. Only a small percentage of married couples have actually taken this vaccine. Are you one of them? Should you be? Is today the day to start?
Of course, marriage is just one facet of the Christian experience. Perhaps the reason we lack spiritual power in other areas of our lives is because we aren’t plugging into the spiritual power Source through prayer. Churches aren’t lacking in plans or programs — just in prayer.
In Colossians 4:2, Paul urges Christians to “devote yourselves to prayer.” In fact, he encourages prayer over and over throughout all of his letters to the churches. If someone is sick, pray. If someone is in jail, pray. If someone is suffering persecution, pray. His answer to virtually every problem is the same: prayer. Even in the Old Testament, people would “call upon the name of the Lord” or “cry out to God” in times of trouble.
Prayer is a central theme of Scripture, yet it seems to be less central with modern believers and modern churches. Perhaps that is why today’s Church appears so anemic. We’re trying to do things in our own limited power, when what we need — now as desperately as ever — is God’s supernatural power.
Could it be that modern affluence and technology has tricked us into believing we can do things on our own that we actually cannot? Maybe we have all been busy building a gigantic spiritual supercomputer, but no one has bothered to plug it in.
- Is prayer a central component of your personal life?
- Is prayer a central component of your family life (spouse and children)?
- Is prayer a central component of your church’s life?
- If you are not relying on God’s power through prayer, what are you relying on? At work? At home? At church? Can you change?
- Consider your ability to lead the lost to Christ. Has God used you to lead anyone to Christ recently? Ever?
- Is it a lack of knowledge that is limiting your witness — or a lack of power?
- Is it a lack of opportunity or a lack of perception that is holding you back?
- Are you willing to pray that God opens your eyes to the needs around you and that He gives you the power to meet those needs?
Power and perception are only a part of the equation. Wisdom, in both conduct and speech, is the other part of the equation. Paul addresses them both in the second portion of this passage.
- If a nation has empowered someone to be an ambassador to a foreign country, how is that person expected to behave while serving abroad?
- When that person speaks on behalf of his home country, should he be rude or diplomatic?
- Whom are we representing in our conduct and speech? Are we representing Him well, as good ambassadors?
- Paul uses the phrase “seasoned with salt” concerning our speech. Is salt sugary sweet? Is it bitter and offensive?
- In addition to adding flavor, salt also acts as a preservative. Could Paul be communicating the idea that we are trying to preserve relationships in the way we speak?
- Is this always possible? (See John 15:18 or Matthew 10:22)
- Should we try anyway? (See Romans 12:18)
Those who name the name of Christ are ambassadors for Jesus wherever we are. We don’t get to take off the uniform and just “be ourselves.” We have been purchased with His blood and we are no longer our own.
Our goal is to represent Him well in all that we do or say. This is a daunting task, one for which we have not the strength. God, however, does have such strength and is willing to give it to us, if only we will ask. Isn’t it time to stop trying to do so much in your own power?
When it comes to your marriage, your chances of success on your own are the same as the flip of a coin. When it comes to leading others to faith, your chance of success apart from God’s empowering grace drops to zero.
Isn’t it time to stop treating life like a Vegas casino with the odds so heavily stacked against you and to call out to the only One Who is a sure thing?
This post was excerpted from my book, Life’s Big Questions: Colossians, available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and through fine booksellers everywhere.