devotion to prayer

image courtesy of heavenawaits

I was reading this morning, and the first words of Colossians 4:2 stood out to me:

“Devote yourselves to prayer…”

προσκαρτερεω  (proskartereo) =
to be devoted or constant; to be steadfastly attentive to

I looked up a few other passages where this word (devote / proskartereo) appears in the New Testament:

  • Acts 1:14 – Believers, with one mind, were continually devoting themselves to prayer.
  • Acts 2:42 – Believers devoted themselves to several things, among them prayer.
  • Acts 6:4 – Apostles appointed deacons so they could devote themselves to prayer and ministry.
  • Romans 12:12 – Devotion to prayer listed as a key element in church unity and function.

Early every morning I pray alone — usually over a list I keep.  Then Christie, Baylor, and I pray together after reading scripture at breakfast.  Every run I go on involves at least a little bit of prayer time, and sometimes a lot.  Also, Christie and I pray together every night before bed.  I can certainly say I’m “devoted” to these four prayer practices.  But I’m not sure I can say that I’m devoted to prayer. I want to be.  And perhaps I’m on my way there…

**********

Committed to a Game

But I’m forced to think about things to which I’ve been truly devoted in my life.  When I coached high school soccer, I spent:

  • 12 hours a week practicing with the team
  • 5-10 hours a week taking care of the logistics of practices, scheduling, and travel
  • 5-10 hours a week coaching in, and traveling to, actual games and tournaments
  • 2-4 hours a week scouting other teams
  • 2 hours a week painting and caring for the field

That’s over 30 hours a week I spent on soccer (in addition to a full-time job).  A game.   I was truly devoted to a game. And it paid off.  Our team was very successful.  But I was devoted to a game.

**********

Consider This

So if prayer truly is powerful — and if New Testament authors were right to encourage us to be devoted to it — I can only imagine what would result from a deepened level of commitment to prayer in my own life. Or in our families and churches.

Consider how devoted you are to:

  • your job
  • your children
  • your blog
  • Facebook
  • church attendance
  • other churchy opportunities* and activities
  • college football teams
  • television

I wonder if we even committed to a “least common denominator” approach to prayer — devoting to prayer only the amount of time equal to what we spend on the least frequent of the above activities — what would happen?

I want to challenge you to pray more.  I’m not suggesting that you start by attempting to pray for an hour a day.  But pray more. I’m convinced we begin to devote ourselves to particular activities by increasingly devoting small increments of time to those activities.

Tomorrow I’m going to post some practical ideas on how we can begin to devote ourselves further to prayer.  And I’m not just thinking through these as an exercise for others.  I desperately want to learn to pray without ceasing; and I could use your help in getting me there. If you’ve got some practical ideas, feel free to post them below.  [I’m not compiling my list until late tonight or early tomorrow morning.]

* Just a little shout out to Nacho.

See also: 3 principles for training our minds.


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11 Comments

Filed under prayer, sports

11 responses to “devotion to prayer

  1. Challenge accepted. I am looking forward to this series. I’m not a real “devoted” type person because I get bored easily. I’m devoted to running and Jason, my family and somewhat to my writing, and those things are fine – but not nearly as important as prayer. Jason and I have attempted something like what you and Christie do, but I usually let my mood determine whether or not I will participate, and then it slowly becomes less of a habit eventually not occurring at all.

    So – looking forward to seeing your list and trying this out for myself!

    • i wasn’t planning on much of a series. i’m afraid i may have gotten your hopes up for not much. i’m just planning to list some practical suggestions tomorrow for how to build some extra prayer time into our days. but they’ll only be ideas. and i’m not even sure they’ll be good ones…

  2. You know, Brett, I should be ashamed to admit this (and I sorta am) but as a pastor I ought to be more devoted to prayer than I am. I know I should pray more than I do, not out of obligation for that becomes legalism, but out of love and the desire for conversation with my Father. But fall way short…and I know it. But I honestly don’t know how to break out of it. I could say, “If I am that devoted to cycling then…” or “If I am that devoted to my blog then…” but it isn’t motivation enough to stop the cycle. I am looking forward to reading what you have to say. Maybe it will kickstart me.

    • I agree with what Bill said here – I always feel bad that I am not drawn to pray and longing for more time to do so, and looking forward to another moment alone with Him. That is how I want to feel. So I’m working on how I think about Him and I remind myself of who He is and what He has done, to look around and see all that He has made and allow myself to fall in love (as cliche as that sounds) so that I will have those feelings, which will lead to a strong desire to spend more time with Him.

      I know it can’t all be based on feelings – especially as fickle as mine are – but I think they have a place in that devotion as well.

      • i also believe feelings have a place in being devoted to prayer. but from my experiences (which doesn’t mean much) my feelings often follow my prayers — or come during — rather than before. i wish it were otherwise. but no matter how often i pray, i never find that i’m just really really looking forward to the next time. but i’m always glad that i did afterward. [in that way, to me praying is similar to lifting weights.]

    • bill, thanks for the honesty. though i don’t know that i’d agree you should be ashamed. sufficiently motivated to do more, sure. but ashamed, nah.

  3. I attended a prayer conference last month, and I can say, without a doubt, that it’s changed the way I view prayer, and my practice of it! (Wow – there were a lot of commas in that sentence) It was led by the head of The Navigators Prayer Ministry and here is the main thing I learned:
    – Don’t let my prayer list become my prayer life. This is probably the main issue I’ve had in my prayer life. The “list” tends to overwhelm everything else, and I end up feeling like I’m just presenting a shopping list to the “vending machine” God. Also, sometimes, I feel guilty for not going over the entire list, then I just don’t do it because it’s too much. Do you see the cycle here? It was just exhausting and joyless. Interestingly, when we look at the Bible, we find that prayer is all about the relationship with God, not the list. So, focus on the relationship first and foremost; learn to love God and praise/exalt/honor Him in prayer. Let the relationship be the driving force of prayer, not the list.
    The Navigators prayer ministry website (http://www.navigators.org/us/ministries/prayer) has a lot of the resources from that weekend, and I especially appreciated “Holding Ropes” and “How to journal the Psalms in the first person.”
    I’m really looking forward to this series Brett!

  4. I am not even close to being there. But something that has helped me is to post verses inside all of our kitchen cabinets…open the cabinet BANG! a verse to think about, a call to consciously being in God’s presence, at least for that moment.

    There is something good about figuring out things that will call you to prayer.

  5. Good thoughts. I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately. I wonder if I’ll sleep better if I pray more.

  6. Pingback: let’s be practical: 9 ideas for better prayer | aliens and strangers

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