“Devote yourself to prayer,” Paul writes to the Colossians, “being watchful and thankful.” That feels like a challenge thrown out to religious people, the kind of statement that makes the rest of us say, “I could never be devoted to prayer.”
The more I’ve been reflecting on the couple of sentences that follow this, the more I think that Paul wasn’t issuing a command to people who already had arrived spiritually. He was offering a way of living to people who wish they were closer to God.
Being devoted, persevering, is something you learn to do. One choice at a time, one action at a time. If you do something every day for a year, you are on the way to being devoted. Whether it’s my oatmeal and apple for lunch, your 30 minute run, the message of encouragement Nancy sends out every day, or a conversation with God, devoting yourself to something starts with being consistent. Five days out of seven. Three days out of five. Every day.
The subtle thing about being devoted is that we don’t set out to have the status of “devotee.” We set out to pray. Or to encourage. Or to run. It’s the rearview mirror, it’s the view from 10,000 feet, it’s the series of datapoints that show devotion.
Paul says, “throw yourself into talking with God.”
What do you talk about? Pay attention to what is going on around you, to the troubles people face, to the way that your friends are facing evil. Let your conversation with God reflect your awareness of children being trafficked. And be thankful. That God has the capacity to help. That God is willing to listen. That my incapacity to understand how God works doesn’t stop him from being present.
Talk today. Then tomorrow. You are devoting yourself.