Devotional Prayer

One of the best books that I've read recently is Thomas Merton's autobiography, The Seven Storey Mountain.  Merton recounts a childhood spent traveling about Europe in the early 20th century and his American education at prestigious Columbia University.  But it is mostly a story about his journey to faith.  In 1941, on the cusp of an exceptional literary career, Merton entered a Trappist Monastery in Kentucky and embarked on a life of meditation and writing.  He became one of the most renowned Christian writers of his era.  (I was actually given an extra copy for Christmas a couple of years ago.  If anyone wants it, it's yours.)

I just wanted you to have some context before I shared one of his prayers with you.  This is from his book, Thoughts in Solitude:

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Let me tell you what I absolutely love about this prayer: its unflinching honesty.  This prayer hasn't the slightest bit of pretense.  Merton has no need to act like he has all the answers or that he's Super Christian.  This is the modern day equivalent of the tax collector's prayer in Luke 18: "God, have mercy on me, a sinner."

This morning we'll be looking at a verse in Colossians in which Paul encourages his audience to "devote (themselves) to prayer (4:2)."  I've been trying to figure out why this is so difficult a challenge for me.  I pray semi-regularly.  But to say that I'm devoted to prayer, I don't know about that.

I think that there are a variety of reasons.  But one of them is that I still have a hard time being this honest with God.  When I can be this transparent, devotion to God isn't a difficulty, it's a privilege.  I hope you will devote yourselves to prayer this morning and that you will experience God's blessings because of it.