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Devotions > Attention Focus and Prayer

4 Jun 2014


Disciples pray  ….. because disciples are the ones who are becoming most like Jesus.   My pastor, Barry Waits, is a disciple maker.   Each day he sends an encouraging teaching e-mail to every person in our body who has an e-mail address.    Last week he sent the e-mail pasted below regarding a critical aspect of becoming a disciple.   The content of this communication struck me as very significant and integral to the potential power of our prayers. 

In the world of Christian discipleship, so much emphasis is put on developing the proper balance between "being" and "doing." Armchair monks are ever ready to pounce with the saying, "After all, we aren't Human Doings. We are Human Beings!" It sounds right, but I think it's wrong. The abstraction is just not helpful. I really don't think the two can be separated. The biggest issue for Christian discipleship is not activity or inactivity. It's attention or distraction.

If we can learn anything about discipleship from the world of marketing and advertising it is this: The most valuable asset we possess is our attention. Whoever or whatever has my attention has me. That's why everyone competes for our attention.

It's why the scriptures instruct us to do things like casting off the entanglements and encumbrances of sin and running the race marked out for us, "keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:1-2). Paul urges us in Romans 12   "in view of God's mercy, to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. . ." He tells the Corinthians that as we, with unveiled faces, behold the glory of the Lord we are transformed into his likeness from one degree of glory to the next.

To Behold is to apprehend or to grasp with understanding, to lay hold of...

Beholding requires attention raised to the level of adoration.

The core dynamic of Christian discipleship is not being and doing. It's beholding and becoming. We become what we behold.

Behold holiness-Become holy. Behold love-Become loving. Behold mercy-Become merciful. Behold generosity-Become generous. Behold Jesus-Become like Jesus.


We will not pray as we ought to except to become an unswerving beholder of JESUS.   What really needs to change in each of us is our heart.   In John Chapter six  a crowd of people followed Jesus across the lake and when they found Him, Jesus said this:

John 6:26-27 (NASB95)
26 Jesus answered them and said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled.
27 "Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal."

Much like these folks most of us have a heart problem.   In the depth of our heart we more often than not principally prefer a free lunch.   It seems that we have a natural propensity to perform on a surface level seeking those things that are physical and tangible and immediate.    Listen to the words that Jesus spoke:  “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life which the Son of Man will give you.”   Jesus is intensely instructing us in things eternal.   He is coaching us regarding the things on which we should place our focus and attention.     Using the synonym of bread Jesus speaks of the immediate and physical in contrast to the spiritual and eternal.      If we are to enjoy the fullness of the plan and purpose of God in our lives we must adjust our attention away from the immediate and physical toward the spiritual and eternal!    

 Our specific scriptural command regarding the renewal of our land from 2nd Chronicles implores us to humble ourselves.   Humility best becomes a part of us as we move our focus away from the immediate and ourselves and focus on beholding our Savior.   This scripture further implores us to pray which is likewise an act of focusing on and following Jesus.   Next this passage directs us to seek the face of God.   Here is where we find the pure and undefiled sense of “Beholding.”    Our final part, the key, is to turn from our wicked ways, to repent, which is a primary prerequisite for pure prayer, discipleship, and revival.

If we are to improve the power of our praying perhaps we need to persevere in the practice of beholding?     What is currently distracting you from dedicated times set aside for focused attention on beholding your God?  

It seems to me Pastor Barry has provided for us a great strategy, a means of focusing our attention on the activity of beholding.   For example what might happen to our hearts if we spent every day of next week focused on beholding the holiness of God?   Then the following week move our focus to behold His love, continuing this process systematically through the attributes of God.  It seems to me that the scriptures are resplendently overflowing with the direction for God’s children to give their undivided attention to beholding their God and Father, their Savior and LORD.  

 How might our praying and walking and sharing and disciple-making change if we were to set aside a time regularly spent in sharp and significant focus on beholding the nature and attributes of God?   How do you think God might respond to this kind of “beholding” commitment on the part of His children?   Can you think of a better means of growing toward the likeness of our Lord?   May His Spirit help and guide us as we make our choices upon what to focus.  

John 15:7 (NASB95)
7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 

Jeff Williams