Does this WorD have a place in your life?
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The other day, we were putzing in the kitchen - two of my sons and me - and I asked the question, 'What are you devoted to?' And they did what you would likely do, turned and looked at me and said, 'What?!' That's partially because the question came seemingly 'out of the blue' but also because the word devoted itself seems to have lost much of a place in our current day vocabulary.
Devote - simple definition: give yourself to
To what do you devote yourself?
Might be to:
-raising your child/children in a loving home
-being a good person
-making enough money to retire at a certain age
-some sports team
-bringing attention to a particular cause (i.e. breast cancer)
-maintaining a healthy, vital marriage
-staying young looking and feeling . . .
all of which, if we are devoted, require maximum effort on our partsin order to make happen.
To what are you devoted . . . or, to whom?
This verse - the very first word - brings me up short.
Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.
God's call for us to be devoted in prayer is about our pressing into him in such a way, that he will act on our behalves. David wrote, 'Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your hearts.'1 What a concept!
The Greek word that Paul uses here in Colossians 4.2 for 'devote yourselves' is proskartereite, and is suggestive of a gritty determination not to give up until God's response comes. 'Devoted to raising proper children? Carry them to the Lord in prayer, and be relentless in praying for them. Do you have a child who is far from God, floundering in a sea of poor life choices? Devote yourself to praying for her. Lock arms with Jesus, and he will intercede before the Father on your child's behalf2, and be tireless in your prayer. Is your marriage strained, ready to break apart? How much time have you devoted to praying for your mate, to asking God to come and do what only he can do?
When we work, we work; but when we pray, God works, it has been said. But there is even more cause to be devoted in prayer. "As you grow in prayer, God will reveal more of himself to you, breathing more of his life into your spirit. Mark my words, that will be the most filling and rewarding part of your experience with prayer, more so even than the answers to prayer you are sure to receive. Fellowship with God, trust, confidence, peace, relief - these wonderful feelings will be yours as you learn how to pray."3
Prayer changes us; it grows us to be more like Christ, which also breathes new life into all aspects of our lives, especially those to which we are devoted.
Notice with me the devotion to prayer in the first days of Christianity: "These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers."4 It was right after Jesus had ascended into Heaven, and they did what they knew to do, what he had told them to do - they prayed. And as they prayed, the Holy Spirit bound them together. The disciples and Jesus lovers kept at it; they did not tire as they sought God side by side.
The writer of Acts tells us in the next chapter, "They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer..."5 How I love this verse! I wish I could time travel back and fall into one of their evenings together. Picture the men and women as they studied, prayed, ate together ~ sweet, powerful, desirous of all they could get from God . . . passionate, committed to being together as they discovered what life in the Holy Spirit was meant to be. Yeah, I want some of that.
Are you devoted? Come on, devote yourselves to prayer. Prayer connects you with a holy, powerful, loving God who delights in communing with you and answering your prayers.
1 - Psalm 37.4
2 - Romans 8.34
3 - Too Busy not to Pray, Bill Hybels
4 - Acts 1.14
5 - Acts 2.42