From Playing Dominos to the Domino Effect


November 17, 2017

Colossians 4:2

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.


You will remember at a few places throughout this study series I likened particular verses to dominos. Does 2:2 or 3:3 ring a bell. Are you familiar with what is known as, “The Domino Effect?” I’m not talking about standing up a bunch of dominoes end over end in varying configurations and then tipping one and watching the rest of them fall into each other. That gets pretty boring pretty fast.

I’m talking about the way a 2 inch tall domino can tip into and topple over a 4.5 inch tall domino and the way a 4.5 inch tall domino can topple a domino just over a foot tall and that one can fell a domino at 2.5 feet tall. Here’s the domino effect. When you get to the twenty-third domino in this progression you just toppled the Eiffel Tower. When you come to the thirty-first domino you just knocked over something 3,000 feet higher than Mt. Everest. Sit down for this next one. At domino #57 you are approaching the moon.

2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Let’s call this one domino #4:2. This text is the antidote to casual prayer. The Greek term behind what often feels like the perfectly innocuous word, “devote,” is “proskartereo.” Let’s say that together: pros-car-ter-eh-o. It means a fanatically fixated focus. The old word for this kind of prayer was “travailing prayer.” It’s a word we are working to bring back into fashion with the New Room movement (that I so badly want all of you to be a part of). Travailing, or fanatically fixated focused prayer, cannot be limited to a single domino. It’s the DNA of every one of these dominos. It’s what gives the dominos their innate tipping power.

We see this amazing domino effect most prominently and profoundly in the book of Acts. This whole idea of proskartereo, figures prominently in each of the following verses. See if you can spot it.

They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers. Acts 1:14

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Acts 2:42

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, Acts 2:46

Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word.” Acts 6:3-4

The dominoes tipped from the Upper Room with 120 people to the Day of Pentecost with 3,000 and all the way to the present day and some 2 billion Christians around the world. In domino effect terms we’ve been to the moon and back a thousand times and the dominoes are still falling. Impossible things keep happening. And Great Awakenings are still on the horizon.

We need to wrap our minds and hearts around these things. Sometimes I think our churches are just playing dominos when we could be playing with the domino effect. We don’t want to look back at the end of our days and realize we were just playing dominos.

*Credit to Gary Keller and his book The One Thing for the Domino Effect idea.


Abba Father, we thank you for your son, Jesus, who is both the cause and the effect of the Kingdom of God and the Church against which the gates of hell will never  prevail. Come Holy Spirit! Teach and train me for this way of proskartereo. I confess I am incapable of it apart from you. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.


  1. What do you think about this idea of the domino effect and the implications for our faith in the world today?
  2. On a scale of 1 to 10, with one being casual and ten being travailing, where would you rate your prayer life? (no self-shaming!)
  3. What simple step might you take to advance one number higher on the scale?

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J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.