On Wednesday of this past week, as I was working on and preparing for Sunday morning bible class, I came across a passage that seemed to speak loudly to me at this time. It is found in Romans 12:10-13 and reads as follows, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer, distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.” This is in part the result of being “transformed by the renewing of your mind” mentioned back in v2 of this chapter. As may have already guessed, what stood out to me were this simple, yet provoking exhortation; that is, “continuing steadfastly in prayer.” What does that mean?
The language of “continuing steadfastly in prayer” is powerful. The NIV uses the word “faithful” while the KJV uses the word “instant.” It means to give constant attention to a thing. Maybe this is the reason the ETRV translates this, “Pray all the time.” I am truly humbled by this idea, for even though I am focusing on this class about prayer, I find it all too easy to get preoccupied, distracted by things that on the surface appear so important. Do you battle with that in your life?
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything
give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.
1st Thessalonians 5:16-18
Our understanding of prayer and its importance is directly linked to the transformation of the mind. Remember, it is that changing of what we think that enables us to “know what things are good and pleasing to God and what things are perfect” (Romans 12:2, ETRV). It is Paul’s exhortation to the church in Ephesus to “find out what is acceptable (NIV says, pleasing) to the Lord (Ephesians 5:10). It pleases God when His children go to Him in prayer.
So, how can we “continue steadfastly in prayer”? I think in part, the transformation of the mind enables us to create new habits. Someone has explained a habit as “an act repeated so often as to be done involuntary; that is, without a new decision of mind each time it is done.” Many of us can list some of our habits, especially the routines we have at the beginning of our day. Even when it comes to prayer, we have habits: like praying before a meal. Nothing wrong with that, but I am talking about more personal times when we pray. In Mark 1:35 we find Jesus getting up early to pray. I wonder if that was His habit?
One thing is for sure, the emphasis that God appears to put on the act of prayer goes beyond the flare prayers of our everyday life. Those are good and necessary, but when looking at the life of Jesus, there appears to be more to it. Do you yearn for a deeper prayer life? I know I want to grow in mine. So, let’s start to develop new habits concerning prayer. Set aside time, substantial time, to go before the throne of God and beseech Him. One thing is for sure, He will be pleased by our efforts