Summary: This message is a challenge to prayer instead of the busy-ness of church life.
Amos 4:4 KJV Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years:
Amos 5:4-6 KJV For thus saith the LORD unto the house of Israel, Seek ye me, and ye shall live:  But seek not Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and pass not to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nought.  Seek the LORD, and ye shall live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and devour it, and there be none to quench it in Bethel.
I. INTRODUCTION -- “Overcommitment”
A. Be Careful Not To “Overcommit”
Two Irishmen, Pat and Mike, had narrowly escaped death on a sinking ship. They were floundering around in icy ocean waters on a couple of planks. Pat had a problem with often resorting to some of the grossest profanity and he thought that he ought to repent of it and then the Lord would come to his rescue. Mike thought his theology was sound. Pat began to pray, but just before arriving at the main thesis of his repentant prayer, Mike spotted a ship coming toward them. As delighted as Columbus when he first spotted the North American shore, Mike hollered, “Hold it, Pat. Don’t commit yourself, here’s a ship.” Pat immediately stopped praying! Isn’t that the way that many of us are? The only time we pray is when we are “in a jam.” As soon as things improve we forget God. (From John Haggai, Run To Win)
-Sadly that is way that we often spend our lives particularly in the call of prayer. We appear to be “busy” for God and yet our souls are just as parched and dry as a summer cornfield.
B. Be Careful To “Overcommit”
-What are the things that keep us from prayer?
• Unanswered Prayer -- But I must tell you that there are a lot of prayers that we pray that are either out of the will of God or as James says, “asked amiss” (James 4:3). Like a prodigal son, we ask for the farm and God knows that it is out of His will to grant it. Therefore, He does not grant to us the answer.
• Unconfessed Sin -- I ran across this when I was reading through Malachi a few days ago. Those three brief chapters are good medicine for the self-righteousness that have unconfessed sin.
• Unresolved Conflict In Our Relationships -- Our homes, our families, our friends, and even those with whom we worship.
• Selfishness -- Prayer is not. . . . Dear Santa Claus. . .
• Uncaring Attitudes -- Proverbs 21:13, whoso stoppeth his ears to the cry of the poor. . .
• A Lack of Faith -- We must go back to James 1. When you ask, you must believe and doubt not!
-There has to be a commitment to prayer!
E. M. Bounds -- The apostles were as dependent upon prayer as other folks. Sacred work—church activities—may so engage and absorb us as to hinder praying, and when this is the case, evil results always follow. It is better to let the work go by default than to let the praying go by neglect. Whatever affects the intensity of praying affects the value of our work. “To busy to pray” is not only the keynote to backsliding, but it mars even the work done. (From The Weapon of Prayer in Complete Works on Prayer, p. 370.)
-The prevailing question of our day is “how far can you go on empty?” I have discovered in my little Civic that once the low fuel light comes on that I can drive for another 90 miles or so. The reason that I know this is because the light comes on with I have about 3 gallons of gas left in the tank.
-We spend much of our life with God trying to determine how much we can do without prayer!
II. THE PROPHET, AMOS
-So it was with Israel during the days of Amos, they lost their understanding of the purpose of Bethel and Gilgal and it was detrimental to them. If we are not careful we can lose the ability to understand the purpose of our relationship with God. It is not a new problem, in fact, Israel had to deal with the same dilemma.
A. Amos, The Man
-God had a man that could pull the nation of Israel back to a more focused state in the prophet, Amos.
-Amos was the child of the quiet countryside of Tekoa. Tekoa was some six miles south of Bethlehem, which was in the southern portion of the kingdom of Judah.
-Amos was summoned from the spade to preach to the educated ranks of men who lived in the streets of the northern kingdom.