Devotion to prayer

fashion-662837_640Colossians 4:2: Devote yourself to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving. (ESV)

Prayers should be what our life is about. That is the conclusion we can easily come to when we see the way bible writers talk about it.

In the Old Testament the book of Psalms said morning afternoon and evening will I pray and cry aloud, and God shall hear his voice (Psalm 55:17).

We see Daniel doing example that, as three times he sets time apart to pray facing the direction of Jerusalem (Daniel 6:10).

When Habakkuk wrote that he was going to climb upon his rampant and see what God will say to him, that was a prayer time with no exit point (Habakkuk 2:1-4). He wants God to talk to him and he will not leave the place of prayer until it happens.

To emphasise their devotion to prayer some added intense fasting to it. Nehemiah, when he was burden for the rebuilding of the Jerusalem, prayed with fasting, and that became the foundation of the rebuilding of the Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1). We see him succeed, but that was powered by prayer and fasting in the secret place and far away from the Jerusalem where the success will be expressed.

In the New Testament, we see a woman who spent decades serving God with prayer and fasting (Luke 2:36-28). She was a widow for this length of time, who sacrificed her life literally in the cause of fasting and prayer. That is ultra-devotion to prayer, in absolute abandonment to the cause of God. She was unrelenting, and was referred to as a prophetess.

In the book of Acts we see a group of prophets and teacher praying and fasting together, as a sign of there hunger for God. They wanted the move of God and they got it as the Holy Spirit spoke asking that Paul and Barnabas should be set aside for the job he has for them (Acts 13:1-5).

What about Paul? He said these famous words about prayer:  “pray without ceasing (1Thessalonians 5:17),” “praying always with all prayers and supplication (Ephesians 6:18),” “first of all prayers should be made for all men (1Timothy 2:1).” One of his activities that he emphasises is his praying. He told the church in Corinth that he prays in tongue more than all of them (1Corinthians 14:18).

Jesus said that men ought always to pray and not to faint (Luke 18:1). It takes energy to pray. Prayer is burden to the fleshly man, but it stimulates the spirit. It is focusing on the things of heaven, the unseen dimension (Colossians 3:2).

The prayer life of Elijah has been used as a prototype of a praying man (James 5:15-20). His prayed privately and he gets rewarded publicly as Jesus said we would (Matthew 17:21). Devotion to pray is serious business, as much as we can, we need to push aside other activities and make sure that we pray a lot (1Peter 4:7).

Jesus told his disciples, when they were not able to cast out a devil and he could, that this one goes not out except by prayer and fasting (Matthew 6:5-6). In other words, we cannot really be effective ministers without prayer and fasting. Our devotion to prayer is an indication of our devotion to God.

We need to spend time in prayer. What you are devoted to is defined by the amount of time you spent on it and the regularity.

Prayer is basically private devotion to God. Jesus warned against following the practise of the hypocrite, who so that they may receive the praise of men make long prayers in public. He said that they already have their reward.

What they seek is the praise of men and not God and what they will get will not be more than that. The bible says those who come to God must know that he is and that he is a “rewarder” of those who seek him diligently (Hebrews 11:6).

When we put diligence to your prayer, when we are earnest about it, it shows we really understand how important prayer is. It should not be what we occupy our left over time with.

Prayer should not be left to how we feel at a time but must be a major life agenda in the pursuit of the presence of God, where we experience the water of his presence to wash us, the fire of his presence to purify and move us on, and the grace of his presence to help us (Hebrews 4:16).

While he was in the garden of gethsemane Jesus prayed for a long spell of time (Matthew 26:36-52). He told the disciple that they better pray so that they will not fall into temptation.

Therefore we can prevent falling into temptation in the place of prayer. Jesus also hinted at this when he said that to pray we should say to our Father in heaven: lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:9-13).

Instead of watching with Jesus in prayer near the time he would be arrested, the apostles were overtaken with drowsiness.

While the forces of hell were unhinged, going all in to kill Jesus, the apostles thought that it was an ordinary day and they will wake up the next day to go on the same assignment they did yesterday. They lacked spiritual sensitivity because of lack of prayer.

They did not know the ground was about to shift from under them, and rather than get prepared in the place of prayer, Peter trusted in the sword that he had with him (John 18:8-11). While he needed to make effort in the realm of the unseen, he was busy doing so in the realm of the natural and it did not help him.

There is no limit to what we can pray for, once we see it in the bible and the Holy Spirit prompts us. We need to be more yielded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in the place of prayer.

Because you had a revelation about somebody to a group does not mean you should immediately start broadcasting it to everyone. Why not broadcast it first to God in the place of intercessory prayer?

Samuel takes it upon himself for pray for the children of Israel even though they chose to have a king, rejecting him. Nevertheless he made himself available to serve them in the place of prayer (1Samuel 12:23).

His devotion to the nation of Israel found outlet in his prayer for them. In a sense, you cannot be more devoted to someone than you are praying for or have prayed for them. Jesus expressed his devotion to Peter by praying for him. He told him: the devil wants to have you but I have prayed for you that your faith fails not (Luke 22:31-32). In the same vein, we see Paul talking about his prayer for the different churches, expressing his strong desire for them in the place of prayer.

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