As we have been discussing these Sunday morning of late, there is a time on the church calendar after Easter when we wait. We are waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. The day on the calendar we are waiting for is called Pentecost. The story of the day is told in the very first chapters of the Book of Acts. The story begins with the followers of Jesus doing pretty much what we are doing – waiting for what comes next. In the story just linked there are two key phrases I want to focus on:
These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer
they were all together in one place
If we are to be Christ-followers, and we are to receive the Holy Spirit, I think as we wait we should be doing what the followers that knew Him personally were doing. We must be of one mind, we must devote ourselves to prayer and we must be together. Today lets think about devoting ourselves to prayer.
Evangelicals like to think of prayer as simply “talking to God.” But that seems very awkward at times, talking while being alone, even if only in your mind. You know God is present, but you still feel alone – it just gets weird sometimes. Catholics, and even some Protestants, like to pray prayers that someone else has written, often reciting from memory or reading from a book. To many this seems like it is without “authenticity.” After all, is not the object to express ourselves to God, not someone else? But then how good are we are expressing ourselves really? Sometimes a little help is a good thing.
I could keep writing like that for a while. We create all sorts of obstacles to prayer. But note, we do not need simply to pray, but to devote ourselves to prayer. Devotion is a hard word. Not only does it imply that we pray regularly and frequently; it implies that we do so with a sincere passion and desire. When we are truly devoted to something there are no obstacles sufficient to keep us from it.
Think about something you are truly devoted to, maybe it is your spouse, or your favorite hobby. If you think about it, your devotion built over time. You may have enjoyed the object of your devotion at first encounter, but genuine devotion was born of time and effort and practice. So it is with prayer. True devotion to prayer begins with a single “date” that blossoms into a relationship. It will be weird, it will feel awkward and you will not be very good at it. You’ll have to find a groove all your own. But you will find it.
Part of what will help us find our groove in prayer is when the Holy Spirit comes, but as we have seen He comes when we are devoted to prayer. So while we wait, let’s devote ourselves.