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.
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
- church attendance
- other churchy opportunities* and activities
- college football teams
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.