Why I Can’t Be a Professional Anymore

7

Colossians 1:7–10

You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,

CONSIDER THIS

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.

THE PRAYER

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.

THE QUESTIONS

  1. How about you? Do “we have not stopped praying,” and “we continually ask God” describe your prayer life at this time?
  2. 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?
  3. In what particular ways do you feel burdened or called to grow in your life of prayer?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

7 COMMENTS

  1. J D, once again the Holy Spirit has spoken through you in a way that brings light to my own situation. We have a group of believers from various church traditions who gather at our place on Sunday afternoons. We engage in a dialogue type of Bible study, worship in singing, pray and share our praises and concerns. One of the members, a PK of a local church, who is in the process of facilitating a county wide prayer gathering to seek God’s grace for an awakening for the church in America. During our time of sharing, several of us confessed that we had allowed our “ministries for the Lord” to distract us from being as close to Him as we should. The parable of the sower came to my mind in how I had allowed the problems and concerns of this world (the thorns and the weeds) to affect my own time spent in dialogue with God. During the times we’re in, I would venture to say this might be a problem common to many of us. Today’s Daily Text is a reminder to keep our priorities in order. Thank you.

  2. OUCH. Ouch ouch ouch. Keep preaching,Brother- God is using you to put burrs under my saddle! I had fairly successfully convinced myself “popcorn” prayers were a version of “pray without ceasing”. I am really good at self-deception. You haven’t reached “devote yourselves to prayer” yet, but it’s looming on the horizon. I think it might be the fruit of “love must be sincere”. Praying for your prayer time as well as mine.

  3. I woke up with this thought on my mind today: “For relief beyond belief: Instead of forcing yourself to believe–receive and perceive the presence of Jesus.” I think that’s the key. The kind of prayer Paul is talking about isn’t forced by will power. Instead, it freely flows from the risen Jesus living inside us. “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” It’s “amare.” It flows from Jesus’ love manifesting in and through us.

    The Beatitudes shine light on the blessedness of that kind of prayer. Effectual, fervent prayer begins with such poverty of spirit that we mourn and become meek (pliable to the leading of the Spirit). Then we hunger and thirst for righteousness so much that we continually cry out to the living God for His presence and power, emptying our heart of all bitterness and unforgiveness. We continually let God’s presence fill and purify our heart as we make peace with Him and with others. When we’re opposed, we let that opposition bring us back to poverty of spirit and we repeat the beatitudinal cycle.

  4. Every morning as I open the antique mall, I sing “In Jesus’ Name I Pray” alongside Charley Pride:

    Father give me strength, to do what I must do.
    Father give me courage, to say what I must say.
    Let that spirit move me.
    I’m nothing on my own.
    Father stand by me, I can not stand alone,
    in Jesus name I pray.

    Father open up my eyes to your wonders all around.
    Father let me see the good and beauty of this day.
    Fill my heart with love, for my fellow man.
    And if I’m tempted Father.
    Father take my hand,
    in Jesus name I pray.

    Father help me through the troubled days that lie ahead.
    Let your life stand before me, that I may find a way.
    Don’t let me stumble Father, or fall beneath my load.
    Father guide my footsteps.
    Hold me to the road,
    in Jesus name I pray.

    Let not hunger be my guide, nor fear be my master.
    Father let not envy, be a part of me in any way.
    Father search my soul, take away my fear and doubt.
    Any moment that you find this, Father cast it out,
    in Jesus name I pray.
    Ah ah ah Amen.

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