We get busy with school or jobs or both, chores or recreation, dating or marriage, and so much more that we easily neglect prayer. Perhaps this is why Paul gives us the following admonition: Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart. (Colossians 4:2) But what does this mean?
Devote. One definition of this word “devote” that resonates with me is to “give up or appropriate to or concentrate on a particular pursuit, occupation, purpose, cause.” This word “devote” packs quite a punch. There’s a lot to it. And just to make sure we understand what he means, Paul tells us to devote OURSELVES to PRAYER! He doesn’t say devote some time or resources to it. That would be like sending a little money to the mission field rather than being a missionary. Nothing wrong with sending money to help others, but when you send yourself you know you’re really serious about helping others. This is how important prayer is in our walk with God. It is so important than we are to devote our lives to prayer! It’s not enough to just send a prayer God’s way now and then. But what does a life devoted to prayer really look like? Paul gives the answer to this question in this one little verse.
Paul tells us that effective, life transforming prayer has two components. The first is an alert mind. We pray when our mind is engaged. So we can pray as we are reading His Word, meditation on His thoughts, allowing His truths to seep into our minds. But it’s more than this. When we devote ourselves to prayer, then we pray without ceasing. We then are alert to recognize when God is around us. We recognize Divine appointments and the devil’s snares. With an alert mind we avoid temptations and seek God’s path. But the companion to the mind is the heart. Without the heart, the mind can become fanatical and harsh.
And so we have the second aspect of prayer – a thankful heart. With a thankful heart I recognize the trials in my life as blessings. With a thankful heart I can see obstacles as opportunities. With a thankful heart my attitude is one of gratitude. With a thankful heart, I am given peace of mind and joy that can make every day the best day of my life. A thankful heart takes time to see the blessings in life and to give God the credit. So a thankful heart is always other-centered, not self-centered. Ultimately, a life devoted to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart will be a life filled with love, purpose, and joy.
What will you devote yourself to today? What would it look like to devote yourself to prayer?