August 08, 2023

Not a Genie in a Bottle

Philippians 4:4-7

They devoted themselves . . . to prayer.

—  Acts 2:42

I don’t know about you, but this one is really hard. They devoted themselves to prayer? I’m a pastor, and I often am expected to pray, but that can be so hard at times. I can be a few minutes into my time of prayer, and boom—I’m thinking about mowing the lawn. It’s easy to get distracted when we pray.

And yet this group of early believers devoted themselves to prayer! This means they consistently and regularly were going to God. But were they doing what we often do: bringing our lists of needs and concerns? Or were they doing something else?

I talk to lots of people about prayer, and I often hear this: I tried praying, and it didn’t work. I asked God to heal my aunt’s illness, and he didn’t answer. And so on. But is that what prayer is about? Well, that’s a part of it, but there is more. Jesus’ early followers recognized that their source of strength and hope was God. For them, prayer was about laying down their lives before God and being open to serve him in whatever he called them to do.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that God is like a ­genie in a bottle, as if we could just pray and be granted whatever we wished for.

When it comes to prayer, what God truly wants is to hear about what is going on in our hearts—and then for us to listen.

God, help me to grow in my understanding of prayer. By your Spirit, help me to connect with you, talk with you, and listen to you. Guide me to follow you faithfully. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Ron Baker

Ron Baker is the Lead Pastor of Vitalpoint Church, a multi-site church that focuses on planting churches in small towns in Ontario, Canada. He is married with two sons, two daughters-in-law, and two granddaughters. His passion is to connect God’s Word to our everyday life.

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