Devote Yourselves To Prayer
Colossians 4:2 (NIV) Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
1 Peter 4:7 (NIV) The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.
Scripture tells us to devote ourselves to prayer, or give our focus and attention to prayer.
How Much TV Do You Watch?
Wikipedia says that United States adults are watching five hours and four minutes of television per day on average (35.5 h/week, slightly more than 77 days per year). That’s quite a lot!
In the past, some Christians got into the legalism of saying watching TV is sin. Of course, we don’t want to go there. Manmade rules, guilt, and condemnation don’t produce good fruit.
But I think Christians would spend much less time watching TV if we’d realize what we can accomplish by devoting ourselves to prayer. Lots of TV puts us in a kind of zombie state, the opposite of “alert and of sober mind.”
Many people watching tons of TV struggle with feelings of uselessness and depression. This is especially common among elderly people who are retired, find it hard to get out much, and tend to spend more time in front of the TV. What if instead of going the route of legalism, we just stopped watching so much TV because we found something so much better?
I’m really looking forward to seeing Incredibles 2 when I get a chance! I think it’s been out for a while now, and I still haven’t seen it. Yet although I really enjoy seeing a good movie once in a while, spending long hours watching TV and movies has lost its appeal. I have no interest in watching most of what’s out there, and if I do feel like watching something, it’s almost always as a way of spending time with family or friends.
Many people report that it took a little discipline to change their eating habits or to form an exercise habit, but when they did, they felt so much better and eating lots of sugary food lost its appeal. It can be the same with TV. If you get into the habit of devoting yourself to prayer, you might find that the TV has almost no appeal to you anymore!
These Promises Seem Too Good To Be True, But They Are True!
Take a moment to read some of Jesus’ promises concerning prayer:
John 14:13-14 (NIV) And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
John 15:7 (NIV) If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
John 15:16 (NIV) You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
John 16:23-24 (NIV) In that day you will no longer ask me anything. Very truly I tell you, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete.
1 John 3:21-23 (NIV) Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask, because we keep his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.
1 John 5:14 (NIV) This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.
Do you believe these promises? I think if we believe them, devoting ourselves to prayer will be a high priority! But if we feel like they aren’t working, it’s easy to get discouraged. A little glimpse into the spiritual realm that helps us to see what are prayers are accomplishing will help us to stay encouraged and continue to devote ourselves to prayer.
Persevering In Prayer
As a teenager, I wrote down these scriptures and latched onto them. Yet I wondered why I often had asked things of God and it didn’t seem like I’d received them.
Then I read the story of Daniel encountering an angel after 21 days of prayer and fasting. The angel’s words give us a glimpse into what may be happening in the spiritual realm.
Daniel 10:12-13 (NIV) Then he continued, “Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.
God sent an angel immediately, from the first day Daniel began to pray. Yet Daniel only met the angel 21 days later!
We often don’t realize until later what’s happening as we pray. Only later do we begin to understand what our prayers put into motion. Sometimes we see immediate, rapid change, and sometimes it’s like planting a seed. You don’t see anything change immediately, but a long time later there’s a big tree standing there.
Not only that, but fervent prayer builds something in us that’s released later, in a moment. The other day I was in the park and a kid playing soccer twisted his ankle. He was limping. I held my hand on it for 10 seconds and he ran off with no limp and no pain. The awareness in my heart of God’s presence was built through prayer. You don’t have to pray long hours to see people healed, but prayer can build an awareness of God’s presence in you so that you are quickly in the place of faith when you face something.
The exhortations of scripture to continue and persevere in prayer imply that sometimes we won’t see the results immediately, and feel like giving up. Don’t give up!
Luke 18:1 (NIV) Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.
Colossians 4:12 (NIV) Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.
Ephesians 6L18 (NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.
Do You Want To Make A Difference?
There are so many people with great needs, in desperate situations, stuck in sin, feeling hopeless. There are many unjust situations that need to change. Will you join with Jesus in his task of rescuing people?
Few people really devote themselves to prayer, but those who do leave a massive impact. Every revival I’ve heard of had people who devoted themselves to prayer. Two elderly, blind ladies devoted themselves to prayer for years, and the Welsh revival was the result, changing the culture and transforming society with an awareness of God’s presence.
I encouraged elderly ladies in Russia with this truth, reminding them that the Iron Curtain fell because of believing, persevering prayer. These little old ladies in Russia could shape the course of history with their prayers!