Pray For Yourself
The expression “devote yourselves to prayer” could be translated, “keep on praying.” And while Paul is certainly not opposed to having set times that you sit in your favorite chair and pray, what he is talking about here is prayer as a way of life. There is a classic book, The Practice of the Presence of God, by a 17th century monk who has become known as Brother Lawrence. Now I don’t agree with all of Brother Lawrence’s theology (especially as it relates to marriage), but what I do like is his emphasis on being in the presence of God through the day. He would not only pray at the times set aside from prayer within the monastery, but also when peeling potatoes in the kitchen or working outside. He wrote, “We are content with too little. God has infinite treasures to give us, he says. Why should we be satisfied with a brief moment of worship?” Why should you be content to worship God only on Sunday mornings? Or only pray to him during specific times? God wants you to enjoy his presence so much more.
Can I challenge you to be a person of prayer? Little by little, create new habits of prayer that flow into your daily rhythms. When you get up in the morning, be thankful for a new day. When you take your breakfast or coffee, breathe out thanks for the good things God gives. (I have a habit of doing this when I smell my first cup brewing in the morning. It’s a reminder that all the good things in my life are from God.) Pray for safety for yourself and others when you buckle yourself into the car. Pray for wisdom and success when the workday begins. Give thanks for food and a moments of rest when you take your lunch break. Finish your workday by turning over your efforts, concerns, and even your frustrations to God. When you are worried about your kids or burdened by bad news or cannot sleep, stop and pray.
“To fail to pray,” Timothy Keller writes in his book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God, “is not to merely break some religious rule—it is a failure to treat God as God.” God is the giver of all things. I need him. And when I fail to pray, I am saying, “I can do this all by myself.” The Bible is not against the use of wisdom or rolling up your sleeves and getting to work, but we must act while praying.
Prayer is a matter of picking up an ongoing conversation with God. Here is Keller again: “Prayer is continuing a conversation that God has started through his Word and his grace, which eventually becomes a full encounter with him. Sometimes this conversation is praise, sometimes it is complaint, sometimes it is petition, and sometimes it is confession of sin. Little by little, make a habit of continuing the conversation with God throughout your day.