When you are devoted to something, it means you give (devote) a lot of time to it, because it is very valuable and important to you. You can’t be devoted to too many things, because our time is ﬁnite, but the apostle Paul makes clear that prayer should be one of those few things worthy of our devotion.
At the turn of the twentieth century, two pastors’ wives were sitting mending their husbands’ trousers. One of them said to the other: “My poor Andrew, he’s totally discouraged in his work at church. He told me yesterday he was thinking of packing it all in.” The other replied: “Well, for my husband it’s the complete opposite. He’s so vibrant and on ﬁre, things are going great.” There was a subdued stillness as they continued to mend their husbands’ trousers – the ﬁrst one patching the seat and the other the knees.
James O. Fraser was a remarkable man who became largely forgotten as he laboured for many years in isolation behind the great mountain ranges of China’s far west. In areas steeped in witchcraft, he fasted and prayed for years with hardly any tangible spiritual fruit. Through dark times he contemplated suicide, but he clung on to God’s promises, until the day came in God’s time, and there was a massive outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival power. In village after village where previously the inhabitants had been hardened to the gospel, families responded en masse.
As Fraser reﬂected on his work, he reached the following conclusion: “I used to think that prayer should have the ﬁrst place and teaching the second. I now feel that prayer should have the ﬁrst, second and third place, and teaching the fourth.”
Do re-read the above and let the lesson sink in. How often I just get on with things without praying ﬁrst! You’re probably the same. God help us slow learners!
Lord, teach us to pray sufﬁciently before we act. Amen!
Simon will be speaking at our men's weekend, Scrum, next week (13th to 15th March) about 'Radical living', drwaing on his own experiences and the life and character of Caleb.