“Devote yourselves to prayer,” Colossians 4:2
Have you ever wondered why we struggle to pray? I think its because we over-spiritualize it. We think we have to pray long and eloquent for it to be acceptable. We measure ourselves against spiritual giants we hear on Sunday and think we don’t measure up. When Paul says, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful,” Colossians 4:2 we wonder how we can do that if we have a job and kids. Paul here is talking about a heart attitude. Devoted prayer is a heart tendency to turn to God at each turn in our day. Here are some ways to devote yourself to prayer.
#1. Pray simply. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warns against using vain repetitions and fancy words. Sometimes we may think we need passionate and persuasive words for God to hear us. But God appreciates the simple prayer. A theologian once said, “The fewer the words, the better the prayer.” God delights in a simple word of praise such as, “I love you.” He treasures the anguished prayer of the mother who cries, “Heal my child.” He answers the simplest request, “Lord give me strength for today.”
#2. Read your Bible. Have you ever had a one sided conversation with someone who talked constantly without listening to you? The conversation wasn’t enjoyable was it? We do the same thing when we pray without reading Scripture. Knowledge of the Word of God will give life and freshness to our prayers. If you want to be more effective in conversation with God, read Scripture. Let David’s words in the Psalms enliven your prayers. See the love of Jesus in the Gospels. Use Paul’s prayers as a pattern for prayers for yourself and the people you love.
#3. Make prayer a regular part of your day. This verse makes me wonder: “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances,” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-17. Can you really pray without ceasing? Here’s what I try. Start and end your day with prayer. As you go through the day, lift up short prayers to God as often as you can throughout the day. Pray over your schedule. Ask God to help you with your to-do list. When you hear a troubling news report, lift up the situation to God. Say a prayer for your spouse or child as you give him or her a hug. Pray for the person you’re talking to. Look for prayer moments while working in your life.
#5 Pray expectantly. Prayer becomes a lifeless exercise when we’re not looking for answers. Jesus tells us to expect results from our prayers: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you,” Matthew 7:7 Prayer becomes much more important and exciting to us when we keep our eyes open to watch for God’s answers. Sometimes I wonder how much we miss because we aren’t really looking for God’s actions in our everyday lives.
Get started today with your praying. Don’t get discouraged with distraction. Just get back on track. He might answer differently than you expect, but his answer will always be better than what you had in mind.