I was sitting listening to Peter Misselbrook preaching at the 6.30 service in November. It was the end of the series on Paul’s letter to the Colossians, and one verse hit me so hard that I have not been able to get it out of my mind since. “Devote yourselves to prayer, with all thankfulness and watchfulness.” Colossians 4: 2. It was one of those rare times when I knew deep down that this was God’s word to me and I felt compelled to take action. What does being devoted to prayer look like in my daily living?
One thing I did was to go back to one of the most formative books I know – Devotional Classics, edited by Richard Foster and James Bryan Smith. This brings together excerpts from 52 different Christian writers, from Julian of Norwich to CS Lewis, from Augustine to Dietrich Bonhoeffer arranged in themes that ‘seek to touch the heart, to address the will and to mould the mind.’
As I was reading Henri Nouwen’s writings on the significance of solitude during the quiet period between Christmas and New Year I felt again the Spirit whispering to share these insights with the church. After all, the words of Paul in Colossians were not written to an individual but to a Christian community. So as a preparation to our week of 24/7 prayer at Christ Church beginning on 15th January, I am intending to quote one of the 11 sections that come from Henri Nouwen’s Making All Things New: an invitation to the Spiritual Life – a book written in 1989 which addresses the twin questions of, ‘What does it mean to live a spiritual life?’ And ‘How do we live it?’
I will try to offer a question for reflection or suggest an action that may be useful for any who want to explore and apply this teaching. These could be considered within a life group or written about individually in a journal.
May the Spirit lead us all this year into a deeper devotion to the God who is fully devoted to us.