What does it mean to be devoted to prayer?

by | Jun 28, 2017 | David Appelt

Prayer is Important, Right?
Look at the early church–in the book of Acts we are told twice in the first two chapters that they are marked by serious devotion to prayer. If we look at ourselves, we would likely be hard pressed to think we are characterized by a similar attitude.

All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

 Acts 1:14 (ESV)

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to the prayers.

 Acts 2:42 (ESV)

In addition to just the example of the early church, we see the importance of prayer by way of myriad commands in the New Testament:

Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer.

 Romans 12:12 (CSB)

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

 Colossians 4:2 (ESV)

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (ESV)

Prayer isn’t an add-on for the extra-spiritual Christians. The early church valued it, God commands it, and we should be devoted to it. However, prayer is not just an empty habit, it is communion and communication with the triune God of the universe, your Savior. Prayer is where we relate to God as our father. Prayer is where we can bring our concerns, our needs, and our hearts to God in complete honesty. Prayer is of immense value and importance.
Devotion is effort, not skill

Fortunately, being devoted doesn’t take skill. It doesn’t take some kind of special prayer-abilities. All it takes to be devoted to prayer is to simply be devoted to prayer. If that sounds circular, that’s because it is! And wonderfully so!

There are no tricks. There are no shortcuts. Just as we can’t be devoted to our favorite hobby (fishing, reading, etc.) without actually doing it often, so it is with prayer.

But we can relax! God is not grading us based on the number of big theology words we can cram into our prayer. We don’t have to be “all-stars” who always know what to pray, and the perfect words to use. God will grow us in the habit of prayer, by his Spirit, in time.

Here are the 5 things in my life that play a huge role in making sure I stay devoted to praying:

Set an alarm. For me, it’s first thing in the morning. It reorients my mind to be like the mind God wants for me before I go out into the day. So schedule it! Do it every day (morning, noon, night, etc.). Just start with 5 minutes of uninterrupted prayer. Go through the day yesterday, and go through the day to come, asking that God would teach you, grow you, and use you. Confess sin and ask for grace to overcome temptation. It will start to be a habit quicker than you know.

Write it down. For whatever reason, starting to write down my prayer every day helped me form it as a habit. I highly recommend buying a simple notebook or journal and writing it out.

Remove distractions. Turn down the cell phone. Turn off the morning news. Give at least 5 minutes to God without any other consideration. Truly be alone in prayer with the King of the Universe. We need to learn how to slow down. It is often in the quiet, attentive, patient moments where we are most shaped by God.

Toughen up. There will be so many days where you will not want to pray. Pray anyway. Just like sick people often have to eat (even if they don’t feel like they have an appetite), so do you have to pray when you feel like you don’t need it. You might consider yourself too busy, but you know as well as I do that that is an excuse. We both probably watched an hour (or more) of Netflix yesterday. That doesn’t mean throw out your tv, but it does mean that sometimes you should turn it off, even when you don’t feel like it.

Pray that God would give you a burden to pray. Offer this prayer consistently, and God will be faithful to grow that burden in you.

Above all, remember that prayer isn’t just a boring habit that we need to check off our spiritual to-do list. Prayer is the privilege of the child of God to communicate with the King of the Universe as father. You have the chance to lay your burdens and concerns with Him, to know that He hears you, to worship Him, and to be further grown into the image of Christ, all by starting this habit of prayer. All of that, and more, is worth our devotion.

Recommended Resources

Devote yourselves to prayer by Jon Piper
3 Keys to a powerful prayer life by Tim Challies
He hears (how to pray) by Matt Chandler
He Hears (Obstacles to you) from Matt Chandler
Be Devoted to prayer by Jon PIper

David Appelt serves as the creative arts director at NewLife Community Church in Canal Winchester, Ohio. He graduated from Capital University with an emphasis on Music Ministry. He plans on pursuing pastoral ministry in the future.