Devoted To Prayer
Prayer is good; very good. It was an integral part of Jesus’ lifestyle (Luke 2:49; Mark 1:35). The idea of talking to God, pouring out the inner cries of our hearts, exposing our souls to His Divine scrutiny, seeking His will and purpose for our lives, and giving undiluted time to being with Him ... all that is a right and true ambition for every day. Of all the beautiful things of this life, time spent in prayer with our Heavenly Father surpasses them all. Like a baby content with its mother (Psalm 131:2), and a farmer delighted with the harvest (Isaiah 9:3), so the believer is satisfied in the presence of God.
But the idea of praying is not prayer; any more than the thought of having a successful business is not profit. Millions of sermons have been preached about prayer, and thousands of books written to encourage prayer. And no Christian would deny that prayer is important. But devoting ourselves to prayer is a different matter. Devotion involves a cascade of deliberate choices, and every positive decision means the rejection of other possibilities. So when we are praying we cannot be focussed on anything or anyone else. Prayer is exclusive. Prayer is also highly relational, an intimate conversation with our Maker and Saviour. Therefore, those who truly pray cannot be casual ... indeed, they cannot stop praying (Colossians 1:9).
None of us know the future, only the Lord knows that. But we do know something about the past and the present. Jesus instructed Peter, James and John to, “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.” (Matthew 26:41). A keen awareness of the people around us and our circumstances will not only fuel the content of our prayers, but move our focus from ourselves. Instead of obsession with personal comfort and ambition, we must choose to observe the needs of others and be grateful as we see the Lord is building His kingdom. Paradoxically, most people spend most of their time concerned about the future while ignoring what is around them, or being thankful for God’s previous mercies. No thanks for yesterday … no divine relationship today … no confidence for tomorrow. Gratitude for God’s mercies in the past will always stimulate faith in the God who will provide for those who look to Him in faith.
Devoted prayer is not a fashion, a whim to amuse us or an emergency panic button. It is a lifestyle choice. It is more than requests, thanks and even confession (although prayer includes all these); prayer is the outcome of a rigorous determination to be so close to God that nothing else has priority. But how can that work in a busy life? Simple: choose to start each day with the Lord, reading His Word and discussing with Him how to do it. Then, at every decision point of the day involve Him; ask Him for His wisdom. In every conversation listen to the other person and ask the Lord what is true, and how to respond. Everything good comes from His hand, so thank Him. Everything bad is under His control already, so praise Him for His future provision. A decision to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17) is good; now let us do it every day.
© Dr Paul Adams