Beware When "Good Things" Take the Place of Time With God

Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the Word.

-Acts 6:3-4

John Piper, “Brothers, Beware of Sacred Substitutes”

“The apostles said, “We will devote ourselves to prayer” (Acts 6:4). The word translated “devote ourselves” (proskartereo) emphasizes the unbending commitment of the apostles to preserve time for prayer. It means “to persist at” and “remain with.” It is used in Acts 10:7 to refer to the loyalty with which some soldiers served Cornelius. The idea is to be strong and persistent and unwavering in one’s assignment.

So the apostles were saying: No matter how urgent the pressures upon us to spend our time doing good deeds, we will not forsake our chief work. We will persist in it. We will not waver or turn aside from the work of prayer.

This word (proskartereo) comes to be firmly attached to the ministry of prayer in the early church. In Acts 1:14 the disciples “devoted themselves to prayer,” and in Acts 2:42 to “prayers.” Then in the epistles of Paul this practice becomes a command: “Be constant in prayer” (Rom. 12:12). “Continue steadfastly in prayer” (Col. 4:2). “Keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints” (Eph. 6:18). The more heavily engaged one is in battling the powers of darkness, the greater will be one’s sense of need to spend much time in prayer. Therefore, the apostles combine “prayer” and “the ministry of the Word” and free themselves from time-consuming good deeds.”



About Aaron Golby

Christian. Husband to Katherine.
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