Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.
My study guide mentions it doesn't mean "worryiing". I found that a little odd as I wouldn't have thought of that as the meaning anyway. A search on the Greek word (really the lemma) used in the passage (γρηγορέω) resulted in 22 matches in the NT. A search of the ESV resulted in 37 matches. The Greek meaning comes back to four primary ideas - "stay awake", "watch", "be alert", "wake up".
Should be pretty clear this is a word that may be of particular note in the context of this blog (see Mark 13:34-37) which uses the same word that Paul uses in the Colossians passage. Besides the Gospel use of this word, I found a similar usage in Rev. 3:2-3 where the church in Sardis is given a similar warning about waking up so that they will not miss the return of Christ.
The BSM study guide suggested reading Gal. 5-6 regarding this word, which did not pop up in my search on the Greek, but it did when I was searching the ESV. In Gal. 5:15 we read:
But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
and in Gal. 6:1 we find:
Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Both of these passages seem to focus more on watching out for our own actions and attitudes so as not to fall prey to earthly problems and temptations. Not so much watching for the return of the Master. So it is a different spin.
I think one reason the BSM study guide is connecting these Galatian passages with Col. 4:2 as it seems to fit the context of Paul's writing. As you may recall from my previous post, when writing this letter Paul was aware of divisions in the church at Colossae. So we have two passages that have to do with watching our brothers (note - in a spirit of gentleness). This is for the purpose of helping avoid temptations.
If we were to take that concept and apply it to prayers being done while watchful, we might be able to conclude that Paul is urging those in Colossae to use their prayers in a way that will help them not fall into the false teachings and in a way that will support each other. This might also serve them to avoid approaching prayer from the perspective of supporting their own position - that is, avoiding the trap of division that Satan may be laying for them.
Se we have two possible ways to engage in prayer in a way that is watchful. One is to help us avoid the temptations of this world. The other is to help us remain ready for the return of Christ (which might be an extension of avoiding the power of this world).
Ponder on this and the previous postings. I'll have one post related to Week 1. Until then, reflect and pray on what I've covered so far.
Thanks for reading!