Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.
Throughout this study series I have likened particular verses to dominoes. Does #2|2 or #3|3 ring a bell? Let’s remember again the secret of the domino effect. A two-inch-tall domino can tip into and topple a four-and-a-half-inch-tall domino and a four-and-a-half-inch tall domino can topple a domino just over a foot tall, and that one can fell a domino at two-and-a-half-feet tall. Here’s the domino effect. When you get to the twenty-third domino in this progression, you’ve just toppled the Eiffel Tower. When you come to the thirty-first domino, you just knocked over something three thousand feet higher than Mount Everest. As I said at the beginning of this book, sit down for this next one. At domino number fifty-seven, you are approaching the moon.
Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. (v. 2)
This text is the antidote to casual prayer. The Greek term behind what often feels like the perfectly innocuous word, “devote,” is proskartereo. Let’s say that together: pros-car-ter-eh-o. It means a fanatically fixated focus. The old word for this kind of prayer was “travailing prayer.” It’s a word we are working to bring back into fashion with the New Room movement (of which I so badly want all of you to be a part). Travailing, or fanatically fixated, focused prayer, cannot be limited to a single domino. It’s the DNA of every one of these dominoes. It’s what gives the dominoes their innate tipping power.
We see this amazing domino effect most prominently and profoundly in the book of Acts. This whole idea of proskartereo, figures prominently in each of the following verses. See if you can spot it.
They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. (Acts 1:14)
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)
Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. (Acts 2:46)
“Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:3–4)
The dominoes tipped from the Upper Room with 120 people to the day of Pentecost with 3,000 and all the way to the present day and some 2 billion Christians around the world. In domino effect terms we’ve been to the moon and back a thousand times and the dominoes are still falling. Impossible things keep happening. And again, great awakenings are still on the horizon.
We need to wrap our minds and hearts around these things. Sometimes I think our churches are just playing dominoes when we could be playing with the domino effect. We don’t want to look back at the end of our days and realize we were just playing dominos.
Domino #4|2 will be code named Proskartereo, alias The Travailer.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is both the cause and the effect of the kingdom of God and the church against which the gates of hell will never prevail. Come, Holy Spirit! Teach and train me for this way of proskartereo. I confess I am incapable of it apart from you. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- What do you think about this idea of the domino effect and the implications for our faith in the world today?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being casual and 10 being travailing, where would you rate your prayer life?
- What simple step might you take to advance one number higher on the scale?
For the Awakening,
JD, the closest that I can come to understanding this domino effect is to compare it to the concept of movement. We are told that upon witnessing Jesus ascension into heaven, the Apostles returned to Jerusalem with great joy, where they stayed at the temple, praising God. (Luke 24: 52,53) This action along with prayer set up the scenario for the Jesus Movement to begin on the day of Pentecost, where the gift that was promised was poured out on them. The Holy Spirit has been spilling out from these believers into the lives of others up until this day. When men attempt to control this movement by institutionalizing it, this is what impedes the movement.
I’d say that on a scale of one to ten, I probably about a six.
I’m currently in the process of joining with other like-minded believers to gather and pray for the next Great Awakening.
My heart continually
Crys out to the living Jesus.
With a fanatically fixated focus
Because it knows no other
Solution to life’s situations
Or healing for its pain.
My brokenness ignites
My prayers with passion
And keeps me calling
Day and night
On the One who loves me most.
I meant “cries,” not “crys.”
I echo Bob’s thought. I fear the clarity with which you’ve shared the concept will become muddied in institutionalism.