“Commitment is more than an action; it is a quality of mind. Jesus defined commitment when He said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind” (Matthew 22:37, NAS).”
As we give ourselves wholeheartedly to our commitment, we receive strength to accomplish whatever is necessary to keep it. We see commitment in action when we turn to the Scriptures to read the story of Ruth. She pledged her allegiance, love, and devotion to her mother-in-law, Naomi. If we commit to prayer as Ruth committed to Naomi, we can understand the quality of mind necessary to become a faithful person of prayer.
Naomi, her husband, and sons, journeyed to Moab to escape famine in their country of Judah. While living in Moab, her two sons met and married Ruth and Orpah, who were citizens of that land. In the course of time, Naomi’s husband died, followed by her two sons. Hearing that the famine was over in Judah, she decided to return to her native country. Since she had no other sons to marry the young women (which was a Hebrew custom), she gave them permission to remain in their own land and to marry men of their own country.
Responding out of their love for Naomi, both young women said they would go with her to Judah. It could be they accompanied her as far as the border. At this point, Naomi tried to persuade the young women to return to their families. Both women said they would not return but continue with her. However, when Naomi again prevailed on them to return, Orpah kissed her good-by and departed. One young woman, Ruth, remained with her. What was the difference between the two women?
Both women loved her, packed their bags, and left town with Naomi. Both cried when she entreated them to leave her. What did Ruth possess that Orpah did not? She had commitment. She determined that nothing but death would separate her from Naomi. Orpah had the same opportunity to go with Naomi as Ruth did, yet she chose to return. We can only guess why Orpah decided to return home. Perhaps she saw no future in a strange land, or she was not as devoted to Naomi as it seemed. Could it be she did not love enough? To be weak in love is to be weak in faith, for love believes all things. (I Corinthians 13) Whatever the reason, she turned back, and we do not hear of her again. Ruth, however, pledged her allegiance to Naomi. She declared her intentions with these beautiful words of commitment:
“Where you go, I will go; where you lodge, I will lodge; Your people will be my people, and your God, my God” (Ruth 1:16, NASV).
With this statement, she declared her future. She became a member of Naomi’s family, and the God of Israel became her God. When Naomi saw her determination, she accepted her commitment. She no longer tried to persuade her to return.
As we examine Ruth’s commitment to Naomi and compare it with the commitment to prayer, we see that faith and love are integral parts of commitment. Ruth loved and believed in Naomi and in her God. Faith and love are companions of commitment. When we use our power of faith and love, we find commitment nearby. Whatever a man loves and believes, he gives himself wholly to it. Commitment is like glue; it holds together what we firmly believe until we receive it. Commitment is important in all we do. When we give ourselves to any project or relationship, commitment is present to help us carry it through to completion, even in difficult times.
Ruth’s declaration of love to Naomi was a continuation of the commitment she made when she married into the family. She embraced their culture as well as their God.
By so doing, she set a course from which she never turned back. We do not know details of the first years of her married life, but perhaps her family and friends ridiculed her for marrying into a foreign family and accepting their God. Her love for her new family grew as the years passed. With courage and boldness she refused to allow Naomi to persuade her to turn aside from her love. When we give our selves to prayer, there will be a time when our commitment is tested. We will be tempted to miss our prayer time by other activities, or friends may insist we are praying far more than necessary. In this time of testing, our commitment holds us steadfast.
When we show our determination, life responds by helping us. The people who saw Ruth daily gleaning in the fields to gather grain for her mother-in-law’s table, recognized her commitment. They joined her by helping. Even Boaz, the owner of the fields, pronounced blessing upon her. He said, ”May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge” (Ruth 2:12, NASV).
Looking at Ruth’s relationship with Naomi, we see that she loved and believed in her. Commitment to Naomi followed naturally. Life was not always easy for Ruth. She gave up her people to become a citizen of a different country. Working long hours in the sun, Ruth provided food for Naomi. She also joined her faith to the God of Israel, and accepted their covenant with God as her own. Ruth was not disappointed in all her choices, because Naomi remembered her commitment by arranging a marriage for her.
The rewards of our prayer commitment are many. When we commit to prayer, our passion encourages other to join with us in seeking God. In committing ourselves to God in prayer, we find a new authority we did not have before this time. We begin to see answered prayers, and people trust us to pray for them. Our faithful prayer has gained us access into the inner courts of heaven. Heaven recognizes our voice and responds.
Jesus had much to say about committed people. They sell all they have to buy a field, because they know a treasure lies therein, or they sell all they have to buy a glorious pearl. When His disciples asked Him what they would receive for leaving all to follow Him, He told them that people who committed all to Him would receive more in this life than they had given up, and eternal life in heaven. (Luke 18:29-30)
We can see the truth of this principle in the story of Ruth. She gave all to join herself to the God of Israel. She received more then she gave up. She had nothing but her faith and love wrapped up in the cloak of commitment. It was enough.
Pledging our allegiance, love, and devotion to prayer, we receive the necessary quality that allows us to become faithful men and women of prayer.
To become a faithful person of prayer requires commitment.
- The Book of Ruth
- I Corinthians 13
- Hebrews 11