Dear Brothers and Sisters,
There is a story about D. L. Moody when he made a visit to Scotland in the 1800’s and opened one of his talks at a local school with the rhetorical question, “What is prayer?” To his amazement, hundreds of children’s hands went up. So he decided to call on a lad near the front, who promptly stood up and said, “Prayer is an offering up of our desires unto God, in the name of Christ, by the help of His Spirit, with confession of our sins, and a thankful acknowledgment of His mercies.” To this Moody responded by saying, “Be thankful, son, that you were born in Scotland.”
Colossians 4:2 says “Devote yourselves to prayer. “And it is not surprising that this word “be devoted to” or “persevere in” or “continue in” occurs six times in the New Testament in relation to prayer. Acts 1:14″These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer.” Acts 2:42 “[The early church] were continually devoting themselves to . . . prayer.” Acts 6:4 the Apostles said they would devote themselves “to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, persevere in tribulation, be devoted to prayer.” Ephesians 6:18 “Pray at all times in the Spirit . . . with all perseverance.”
What does this mean for us? It simply means that we ought to pray often and pray regularly. Prayer is not infrequent and prayer is not hit and miss. Being devoted to prayer means that we are not haphazard and we are not forgetful. It means we take steps to see that it is part of our regular life, the same way eating and sleeping are. We are to devote ourselves to prayer by ‘keeping alert in it.’ Keeping alert means that, with the help of the Spirit, you work against distractions and hindrances.
So decide on a place and a time for meeting with God in prayer. Start where you are and take a step. Then ask God to help you mature and grow in your relationship with Him, enabling you to become wise and fruitful. We need wise and mature Christians! Nobody becomes spiritually wise and mature overnight. There must be a lingering in the presence of God with focused meditation on His Word and with focused prayer.
Remember Daniel? So not only do we see the courage and utter commitment of Daniel to pray in an open window when his life was threatened for it, but we see that he was “devoted” to it three times a day. Many Christians have found it very helpful at times, to set aside a time in the morning, at lunch and before or after supper. You go away by yourself and you read a small portion of Scripture and you pray and ask for God’s help in that next third of the day. Or you might do it differently. For example, Psalm 119: 164 says, “Seven times a day I praise You, because of Your righteous ordinances.”
You can’t pray for everything every time. Often, your heart will dictate much of your burden. Some days one family member or one friend or one crisis in the church or the world, will consume most of your time. But if you have a pattern, you won’t waste precious time wondering where to start. Allow God’s Word to shape your thinking. Pray Scripture. Try to pray specific Biblical values, not worn out clichés and generalities that have no spiritual depth.
For example, you could pray through the beatitudes: Father, grant that I might recognise poverty of spirit, mourning over my sins and not be indifferent or unconcerned for my own soul. Work meekness into my heart. Grant me a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Give me the heart of a peacemaker. Make me pure and keep me pure, O Lord. And if it’s your will for me to be persecuted, give me the grace to count it all joy and to remember that my reward is great in heaven. Praying like this will help us to know the Spirit’s power, because it is the Spirit’s own Word and the Spirit’s own will that you are praying.
Finally, make prayer the priority in 2021. Praying in the Spirit on all occasions, seeking the Lord’s will, and praying for His Spirit to move in our hearts, homes and across our land. Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it, for this will draw you more closely to God and will help you understand His purpose for the year ahead!
Every Blessing for 2021
Happy New Year!