As is often the case, I am convicted by today’s text, but in a way that may surprise you. It’s not about being filled with the knowledge of God’s will and wisdom and understanding and living a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing the Lord in every way and bearing fruit in every good work and all that. Don’t get me wrong; this is the stuff of conviction, but that’s not it today. Two phrases tackled me today:
We have not stopped praying
We continually ask God
These early Christians took prayer seriously. My friend David Thomas regularly reminds us in our work with the New Room that the Bible is “utterly unfamiliar with casual prayer.” How is it that I can be so casual when it comes to prayer? I have been asked recently to lead a couple of prayer conferences, which has brought me to a place of conviction about my own prayer life.
It has me remembering the early days of my own awakening, when I prayed all the time. In those days I could have fairly identified with Paul’s words, “we have not stopped praying,” and “we continually ask God.” There were very regular set times of prayer. There was spontaneous prayer throughout the day. I prayed with other people all the time. I prayed alone, even through the night at times. It wasn’t duty but delight. I loved to talk with God and to be in agreement with others in their prayers before God. I’d love to tell you some stories sometime.
If you have read the Daily Text for any length of time, you know I try to keep it real. If I’m keeping it real, I must tell you that I may be more committed to the idea of prayer than I am to prayer itself. I believe in it. I’m for it. I’m just not praying very much these days. Sometimes I think I try to convince myself that I am so spiritually mature that I am really praying all the time; that somehow my thoughts are my prayers; or that I have moved beyond defined times and set prayers. I’m just going to call it today.
I want to get back to the place where I can say with loving authenticity things like, “I have not stopped praying,” and “I continually ask God . . .”
Here’s where I think I went wrong. Somewhere along the way, I turned pro. What I once did for the love of the game I began doing as a job. And I think that’s okay to a point, but when it comes to prayer there’s no such thing as a professional. We are all amateurs. Now there’s a word I think I have misunderstood. I have thought of an amateur as someone who doesn’t really take the game seriously. The term gets used pejoratively so often, as in, “He’s such an amateur.” It means something altogether different. Amateur comes from the Latin word amare, which means, “to love.” An amateur plays, or in this case prays, for the love of it.
There it is. Nine verses into the first round and Colossians takes me to the mat. I’m not ready to tap out, but I am surrendering my professional prayer credentials today. I’m returning to amateur status. That’s how you can pray for me.
Anybody out there with me?
Turning Amateur—that’s what I’m calling Domino #1/9. When this one tips, big obstacles start falling.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who both teaches us to pray and answers our prayers. Come, Holy Spirit, and fill me with the tenacious faith of Jesus in my praying. Bring fresh definition to my prayer life, new dimension and an awakened sensitivity to your presence. Lord, teach me to pray anew. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.
- How about you? Do “we have not stopped praying,” and “we continually ask God” describe your prayer life at this time?
- What do you make of this professional-versus-amateur contrast? Have you made the ill-fated move to turn professional in your prayer life before?
- In what particular ways do you feel burdened or called to grow in your life of prayer?
For the Awakening,