Word Study: “Continuing instant”

Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;

Romans 12:12

This text presents us with a Greek word that gives us a unique glimpse into our prayer lives. The Apostle Paul in the letter to the church at Rome presents the fullest explanation of the Gospel in the Bible. From justification to sanctification to the believer’s final glorification, every step is present in some way in this magnum opus of theology. In the twelfth chapter, Paul makes a definite switch from teaching to practice and begins to lay out exactly how justified Christians should act. This brings us to the phrase “continuing instant,” which has to do with how a Christian should pray. What, exactly, does this phrase mean about how we as Christians should pray?

The phrase in question is actually a translation of one word in Greek: proskarteountes. This word derives from ‘proskartareo’ and is here used to describe how a Christian should pray. Specifically, the dictionary BDAG comments on it as meaning “busy oneself with, be busily engaged in, be devoted to.” Immediately, however, a Christian must ask: if we are to do this concerning prayer, what about our other duties? What about going to work to provide for families? What about Bible reading and meditation? Talking the whole counsel of God, we understand that we are to give proper time to all these activities, but when we turn our attention to prayer we must do so with the attitude here brought before us.

This brings us to the question at hand: how are we doing when it comes to being “busily engaged” in prayer? When we bow our heads, do we just throw out some phrases and head off to bed? Or do we take the time to actually bring our requests before God? Even still, when we attempt to bring our request before His throne, are we doing so with a focused mind or with a mind that is thinking about the day’s chores? Surely, if we are engaged in other activities we are focused on them. Why, then, should are minds not be focused on prayer when we are engaged in it?

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