The four Brethren fellowships here in Arizona got together yesterday for our annual joint worship/singing/eating (it's not fellowship if there's no potluck) experience. The guys from the other churches and I got together last week to decide what we would focus on in our message, and I said that one of the things I had been chewing on lately was the idea of 'pressing in' to God more. (I'll talk more about that in a later blog, that's all Aly Pflugfelder's fault. Let the blame begin!) That took us to prayer, to the importance of prayer in our mission as a church, to Colossians 4, here's the three questions, see you Sunday, end Skype. How dangerous could it be talking about prayer? As one of the guys said, you can't go wrong with this topic.
Unless you actually think about it. We were supposed to come up with a few things that we could talk about out of the passage and I couldn't even get past the first four words. No, I'm not sure you want me to write them here, I'm not sure you want to consider them any more than I did/do. Okay, you asked for it: “Devote yourselves to prayer.” Now I'm odd this way, but I generally see myself as a person who pretty much believes the Bible means what is written there, that I should try to do what it is the Bible tells me to. But here's the sad, convicting truth: I have pastored 3 churches in my 33 years of being a pastor and at no point in that time would I say we were ever a church that “devoted” ourselves to prayer. Because that's a massive word, devote! Think of the things you would say you devote yourself to—this is no small commitment!
I've always wanted to be part of a church that was like the early church, like the first believers we see in the book of Acts. To get rid of all of the stuff that we 'devote' ourselves to that just isn't worth it, that is extraneous to what we are supposed to be about. And so I look at what they did and in the very beginning when the Holy Spirit shows up they were all in one place...praying. And then 2 chapters later it happens again, all together, one activity, prayer. Some other important stuff is added in chapter 4, like the truth, and obedience, and loving each other, and, oh yeah, prayer.
“To concentrate on a particular pursuit, occupation, purpose, or cause.” Yes, that's the definition of 'devote.' Concentrate on prayer, Paul writes. Have you ever done that? Make it your focus. Funnel your energy into that. Make it a priority of your life together. I may be a slow learner, but I'm not yet completely dense! If this is what God is saying to me at this moment for me and this church, (quick, talk me out of it if I'm blowing this out of proportion...but I'm not, am I?) then I need to learn how to devote myself to this, and I need to take you with me on that journey. Nice huh? I've often told you, you're just being dragged along for the ride for all of the ways God needs to fix me.
Tune in in the days to come to find out how devoted we will be.