“Never give up praying,” said Paul to the church at Colossae. Keep in mind that the Colossians had fallen into the wrongheaded thinking that Christianity could be reduced to a formula. Do the right things. Say the right things. Keep away from the list of the terrible ten or the nasty nine, or whatever checklist you are using to live by your form of “Christianity.” Ditch it. Instead, persevere in prayer without knowing the outcome. Pray relying on God and the mystery of Christ. Pray with uncertainty instead of continually believing you need sure answers to everything for everyone.
God is not some algebra equation to figure out. He is not a gumball machine to put a quarter in and get exactly what you want. He is not Santa God. Christianity requires living in the tension of not knowing everything and yet having cogent answers for others who inquire about our faith. It is a dynamic relationship in which we must continually and constantly interact in prayer to God as we largely improvise our lives, spontaneously applying what understanding we have for each situation we face.
“Never give up praying” was Paul exhorting the church to keep up a vigilant and ongoing dialogue with the God who answers in his own good time, according to his own good will. We are to make good use of the time God gives us, being gracious and pleasant around unbelievers, choosing our words carefully as we carry on a silent prayer conversation with God in the midst of our human conversations. This is Christianity above rules and laws and checklists. It is Christianity as it is meant to be lived, depending on Jesus and the Spirit.
Mysterious God, forgive me for any attempts at reducing faith to a few spiritual rules to keep. Help me to speak in ways which are gracious, loving, and redemptive. May the person and work of Jesus come tumbling out of my mouth out of the overflow of my heart. Amen.