Devoted to Prayer
“Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving;” Colossians 4:2
Our goal for the year, as a church family, is to grow more devoted to God. Devotion to God includes knowing God, choosing Him, and continually drawing near to Him. Devotion to God is more than just a practice of the mind. It requires choices to be made as you mold your behavior according to His word and build habits that support your devotion. Prayer is critical in your commitment to God. Let us consider what we have studied this year regarding what it means to be devoted to prayer.
Colossians 4:2 emphasizes the importance of “an attitude of thanksgiving” in your prayer life. As a Christian, gratitude needs not only to be expressed in our prayers, it needs to shape our hearts. The problem many Christians struggle with is an attitude of discontentment. Just as a spring cannot “send forth fresh water and bitter from the same opening” (James 3:11), a discontented heart is not likely to offer a prayer with thanksgiving. Gratitude requires you to be spiritually minded. The more you focus on the blessings the Lord has given you, the more you will learn to be content (Philippians 4:11-13). Deeper faith is a catalyst for overflowing gratitude (Colossians 2:6-7). By expressing your gratitude to God in prayer, you are not emptying yourself of gratitude, but rather, you are filling yourself up with gratitude, simultaneously renewing your sense of devotion to God.
First Thessalonians 5:17 says to “pray without ceasing.” Being constant in prayer supports our thankfulness. Your thankfulness should lead you to pray without ceasing, and your constant prayer should help generate more thankfulness. Constant prayer can prevent temptations. Jesus told Peter to pray in order to avoid temptation in Matthew 26:41. Prayer can be a “way of escape” that helps you overcome temptation (I Corinthians 10:13). Constant prayer should also follow tribulation (Romans 12:12). God wants us to bring “all” of our cares to Him in prayer (I Peter 5:7; Philippians 4:6). Jesus is the perfect example of what a constant prayer life looks like. Jesus prayed when He was tired, He prayed late at night, He prayed all through the night, and He prayed early in the morning. Jesus shows us it is always a good time to pray. Also, consider that no one knew the Father better than Jesus did, indicating the closer relationship you have with God, the more constant in prayer you will be.
Devoted Christians also need to be patient in prayer. Prayer demands endurance. In Luke 18, Jesus tells a parable about a persistent widow teaching us “that men always ought to pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). This means we need to go to God over and over again in prayer, even praying for and about the same issues. Remember Isaac who prayed for a child for up to 20 years before Rebekah had Jacob and Esau! Sometimes God says no to our prayers, but sometimes we just need to be patient for the right time. God can also answer our prayers in such a way as to teach us valuable lessons. Patience in prayer requires contentment, (remember Colossians 4:2). God wants you to trust Him and His will. Perhaps trust comes as a product of not having our prayers answered exactly how and when you want them answered. Patience in prayer also includes reverence. Ecclesiastes 5:2 teaches us not to be “impulsive in thought to bring up a matter in the presence of God.” God is worthy of your reverence every time you approach Him in prayer.
What a blessing it is to be able to pray to the Creator of the universe! It is worth remembering that your sin can create an impediment to your prayers, (Isaiah 59:1-2). On the other hand, James 5:16 tells us the “fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” What a blessing! May we never take the blessing of prayer for granted, but rather let us remain devoted to prayer.