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Alert in Prayer

There he goes again. Must be hungry. Wake up, Mom.

But by the time I sat up and reached over to scoop up our newborn son, the little fellow was sound asleep. Over the next five hours his rustlings and squeaks and grunts kept me alert to his possible needs. Except for one legitimate feeding, each time I shook the sleep from my head, he had settled back down. That was the last night this noisy sleeper shared a room with me.

New parents are usually on heightened alert the first few days a newborn joins the family. Moms seem to carry this special awareness forward into the coming years, ready for a crisis, especially during the nighttime hours.

There are two sides of being alert. One speaks of readiness for danger or an urgent need. There are weather alerts and traffic alerts. Sometimes we are asked to be on the alert for a lost child or an escaped criminal.

Certainly leaders of companies, organizations, or families should be watching for anything that might create a disaster or conflict. But this kind of alertness can become exhausting, especially if one is constantly expecting the worst to happen.

The other alertness speaks of being on the lookout for good things. In the business world, perhaps it is a lucrative business opportunity or a chance to promote someone to a new position. In any leadership situation it may be simply understanding a person’s feelings, perceiving their gifts and talents, tuned into their goals and dreams. Whatever the case, it’s not just the perception that counts. It’s also the action that goes with it. There is more to leadership than just a quick reaction or grasp of a situation. It’s what happens next that makes all the difference.

The same can be said of a leader who prays. Colossians 4:2 speaks of being alert in prayer. This is more than just time spent in conversation with our Lord Jesus. It means being ready for opportunities that accompany the prayer. Perhaps it’s an answer that wasn’t expected, God’s better solution to a problem that had been all consuming. Or maybe it is a new career path or an inspiration that will open previously closed doors. The Apostle Paul is adamant: Be ready for anything, stay alert! (1Thessalonians 5:6)

Paul follows up this admonition with one more directive: Be thankful! (Colossians 4:2) Remember where this inspiration, these ideas and perceptions come from. There is no room for smugness and self-congratulations when we acknowledge our Lord Jesus as the true Source.

So what does this alert prayer look like? Are we to keep one eye open when we’re praying? In a sense, maybe we are. Whenever we pray for guidance, solutions, and opportunities, we are to keep in mind our view to others and our place in this world. Ah, the prayer of the servant.

When our prayer is more about serving and not self-serving, the Lord Jesus is more than generous with His ideas and suggestions. And it brings Him great joy when we remember to say thanks for keeping us alert.

Leaving my guilt at the cross,


(First published at Lead Like Jesus August 2018)


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