This week's devotional is from Pastor Art Greco.
Colossians 4:2-4: “Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.”
I’ll admit that sometimes praying seems like a complete waste of time to me ... spiritualL cosmetics designed to make “pretend sense” of a fool’s mission. And it certainly doesn’t help matters any that when I do pray for something “crazy” ... then watch “crazy” actually happen, there’s usually someone there to remind me that it was probably a coincidence ... that I couldn’t really be certain my prayers had anything at all to do with the outcome.
But on my less cynical days, days when practicality takes a back seat to faith, I sit and wonder why the Apostle Paul would command me to “devote myself” to a waste of time, or why Jesus, in Matthew 6, would teach his disciples something like, “when you ‘waste your time’, ‘waste it’ like this ...”
Sometimes it seems as though there are as many definitions of the essence of Christian faith as there are people offering them, but none I’ve heard rise above the one presented in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” and I’m quite certain the writer of Hebrews would be comfortable including in those “things not seen” the idea of “things not fully understood” or, to put it more simply, "things that make absolutely no sense to me at all".
It’s important to remember when reading such texts as Colossians 4, where Paul challenges the church to devote themselves to prayer, that prayer is not a matter of pragmatism but one of faith. We don’t get the how of it; we don’t get the why of it; and we honestly don’t often see the direct results of it, but God keeps hinting at the necessity of it, so because we are people of faith, we also make ourselves people who are devoted to prayer, even when – ESPECIALLY when our sensibilities pull with full force in the opposite direction.
- Turn to Hebrews 11 and read verses 11:1-12:2.
- Choose one person from that vast list of people who held to their convictions even though they never saw what they had prayed for or been promised, and link your heart with theirs.
- Why did you pick THAT man or woman?
- What else might you learn about his/her life?
- Now pray, asking God to plant a “piece” of that person’s faith and character in YOUR heart.
BE A BLESSING
Think of someone you might know or know of who is facing something that has discouraged him/her to the point where he/she just can’t see how anything could be a source of help or rescue. Perhaps that person is dealing with a serious illness, a nasty or broken relationship, a deep and seemingly unrelenting financial hole, anything that makes him/her feel like the epitome of that old saying, “caught between a rock and a hard place.”
Now, ask God to give you the gift of faith FOR those you've noticed. Every day, at least once per day, for the next 7 days, pray for them. Regardless of how unlikely one seems, ask God for a break-through of some kind for them. When “not seeing” may have caused them to “quit hoping,” hope FOR them – bless them with YOUR faith.
There is a prayer meeting at Marin Covenant every Monday evening. Consider the possibility that it may be a very good discipline and balm for your soul to join it once in a while. Praying in solitude is an excellent discipline, but praying with others is a warm and enriching experience for all involved.