“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”
(Colossians 4:2 NIV)
This is my theme verse for 2017. I’m not exactly sure why. I don’t usually have a theme verse for the whole year, but somehow this year I thought this would be the verse I wanted to focus on. I wrote it on an index card and taped it on the window bars over the kitchen sink. I’ve been mulling it over the past couple of months.
Devote yourselves to prayer. I’ve wanted to be devoted to prayer for years. From the first months in Sudan, back in 2001 when I got up early in the morning to pray on the roof of our house to 2008 when I sat in the hosh (outside area) of our Soba village house. Then periodically throughout the coming years, all the way to here in Malaysia when I sat aside one morning a week to pray.
I suppose I’ve grown a lot in my prayer life over the years, though I wouldn’t call myself “devoted to prayer”. But as we got ready to return to Malaysia after 6 months in the States, I felt the Holy Spirit telling me that in my many plans for my schedule upon returning, I needed to pray and watch.
I was reminded of a local family that I visit several times a month. This little ministry came about after I’d obeyed a prompting from the Lord to set aside a morning a week for prayer. It was a bit hard for me at first because it seemed like I shouldn’t be planning for another day to stay home…I should get out and find people to share with! But as I did pray, I watched this family come into my life and I was thankful. It was so evidently a work of the Lord.
God showed me that, once again, God’s economy is different than mine. In this case the economy of time. If I had not set aside time to align my heart with the Lord’s through prayer, I would have missed out on meeting this family because I know it is by the Lord’s orchestration that I met them.
What am I missing by not praying?
Another thing I have learned about prayer is that it is not all petition. We think, “I should pray about that” or “I should plead for God’s hand to move in this way,” etc. I am not saying we shouldn’t pray for things. I am saying that’s a part of it but that is not all of it, or even a majority of it. God knows what we want to ask for before we ask. Prayer is much more about aligning me to Him. And of course should never be an attempt on my part to align God with MY desires, even if they are good desires like ministry and Gospel sharing.
Devotion to prayer is about stopping and saying, “God, I know that You can do everything without me. None of Your work is falling behind or losing out because I chose to pray this morning. I am not indispensable.”
Devotion to prayer is saying, “My heart being right with You is more important right now.”
Devotion to prayer is spending time in confession, in praise, in worship, in Scripture, and then, of course in petition. And lots of listening and “what do You want for me to do”s.
Devotion to prayer is the first step, the second is: go out and do. But now it is “doing” in His power with a keen ear toward His leadership because we have devoted ourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
This year I want to be devoted to prayer. I want to grow in the area of prayer in 2017. In what area do you want to grow in this year?