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What Does Whole-Hearted Devotion Look Like?

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV)

When asked what the greatest commandment was, Jesus answered, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the great and foremost commandment.” We know this and we want to obey, but what does whole-hearted devotion look like?

There is much media attention given to physical heart care – do this exercise, eat this healthy diet, take this medication to keep that ever rising cholesterol in check and on it goes to prevent heart attacks, keep us healthy, and give us long lives.

Exercise and diet are also important to strengthen our spiritual hearts against distractions that try to upset our total devotion to Jesus. Romans 12:2 reinforces that whole-hearted devotion includes our mind, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is.”

We renew our minds by hunger for God’s word and the discipline to consume it daily as a regular diet. Also, James 1:22 warns us not to delude ourselves by being just hearers of the word, we are obey God’s word through the exercise of living it out. Read Romans 12:9-21 for a great check list to allow God to point out areas that need improvement, and to hone your skills for living out whole-hearted devotion as a way of life.

The reward personally and the impact culturally is worth the investment of our time. Let’s pray Psalm 86:11, “Teach me Your way, O Lord; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.”

Elaine Helms is a prayer leader at the North American Mission Board, SBC. Visit

Do you ever get distracted when you are praying? What do you do to bring your mind back to conversation with God?

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Comment by Priscilla Lindsay on June 12, 2010 at 11:42am
When I get distracted, I remind myself that God is eternal and the life I live here on earth is just for a little while and I should be about obeying God. But I wonder sometimes when I don't listen and I let those distractions keep me away from my time with God, if I'm going to be like Moses when he hit the rock instead of speaking to it and lost going into the Promised Land. What do you think about that? Does God limit our blessings when we disobey?
Comment by Dennis Conner on June 6, 2010 at 12:06am
Well said...and very true! One of the major reasons why we all are prone to NOT eat & exercise correctly--to reach that level of "whole hearted devotion" Elaine speaks of-- is the daily "MO" of the devil himself...identified by noted Prayer Leader/former pastor, Daniel Henderson, as "WMDs" (Weapons of Mass Distraction"). To the degree each of us are "alert" to what kind of WMD the devil likes to launch our way (since they are not all the same for everybody), we can recognize them and repel them victoriously!
Comment by Sally J Campbell on June 4, 2010 at 12:20am
I also used to write out my prayers when I could not get off by myself. It helped a great deal with a bipolar daughter. They are very intense or very depressed. I had to write my prayers so she would not swallow me up with her intensity. I also find that praying about your passion keeps you focused. For years I either prayed in a Moms in Touch International group or led a group. We learned to keep our focus on the passion of praying for our children and schools along with some structure in the form of praise, silent confession, thanksgiving and intercession..God kept us focused that way!
Comment by Terry McDermott on June 3, 2010 at 6:44pm
I am always distracted when praying. The discipline that works for me is to focus on my passion and place it in the hands of JESUS:

JESUS, I Hand Her To YOU

A little hand raised high in the air,
wondering if anyone cares?

She reaches for the hand of God,
as pro-lifers we need to applaud.

It is way beyond time for the truth to be told,
Like JESUS in the temple, we need to be bold.

Sold out for life is our call,
not one more child, Lord, let fall.

Hands raised across our nation,
standing firm for abortion cessation.

Satan applauds the killing from the gates of hell,
we need to speak up and to tell.

Every abortion kills a living child,
why does that not drive everyone wild?

Are these deeds of darkness in control,
as every lost life takes its toll?

JESUS, rend the heavens and come down,
as rivers of blood are all around.

Hearts must change and be broken,
and the word "abortion" must be spoken.

Stolen property You need to take back,
expose the difference between lies and fact.

JESUS, we cannot do this alone,
the horror of it all chills to the bone.

So on my knees I will pray,
for Your presence and white ribbon day.

Let every mother hear as you end the strife,
"Mom, take my hand, not my life."
Comment by Marsha Mundy on May 31, 2010 at 9:01am
Thank you for your words, Elaine. I totally agree with what you are saying about obedience and staying in God's word.
It is so easy to get distracted while praying and years ago I started journaling my prayers. I think the act of writing out my prayers has helped to keep me focused. It engages my mind and my hands. I have also found that it has helped to record my requests. I can look back over my prayer requests and see where God has answered so many of my prayers.
He is faithful!

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