The Power of Prayer

A reminder to trust in and rely upon our communication line with God 

Psalm 26, 40, 59, 61-62, 64

Psalm 62_8 NIV sgl (1)

How many times have you faced a situation in your life that caused trouble, evoked anger, or instilled fear? All of us have had these moments, sometimes more days than others, but These Psalms show us that prayer is the most powerful tool that we have as followers of Christ in all sorts of situations and for all purposes.  The things that we are looking for in times of trouble are all things that God can give us if we choose to come before him. In Psalm 26, 40, 59, 60-62, 64, David is a perfect example of how we should be praying to our father persistently, fervently, and earnestly.  David prays for protection, deliverance, justice, and simple intervention in his life, but he also prays to praise his Father and pledge his dedication to him.  Prayer is not just a last-ditch effort for us when things get rough.  Rather, we should model our prayer lives after the example set by this great person of faith who has gone before us.  

Prayer is an open line of communication with God, which allows us to have a beautiful relationship with our father, who is always there to listen to us and hear what we have to tell him. Sometimes, the best time to come to our father in prayer is when we don’t feel like we have a specific reason to pray.  We don’t have to save our prayers for supplication in a time of need.  Prayer can be a wonderful, calming, and empowering thing when it doesn’t come from a place of necessity.  Even when we think we have everything under control, we still need God to intervene in our lives, and even when we are at our lowest point, we still have countless reasons to praise God.  If you feel like you don’t have as strong of a connection with God as you wish you would have, use what you know from the man who God led to conquer a giant.  He is always there for you.  In your prosperity and your weeping, he is always on the other side of the line.  Praise him in the good and in the bad.  Ask for his help in the good and in the bad.  There will always be a reason for both of those things.

I am looking forward to continuing to dive into the Word with you all this week. Consider this an introduction to the remaining devotions we will be walking through together. I leave you with this call to action: 

I wash my hands in innocence,

    and go around your altar, O Lord,

singing aloud a song of thanksgiving,

    and telling all your wondrous deeds.

                               Psalm 26:6-7 NRSV

Let’s strive to have an insatiable faith for God like David. Let us learn to depend upon him, trust in him, and sit at his feet in prayer. And, when he does intercede for you, praise his name. For he is worthy of our thanksgiving. 

-Leslie Jones

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+26%2C+40%2C+59%2C+61-62%2C+64&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Samuel 19-21 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

God Works with Broken Spirits

Psalm 32, 51, 86 & 122

psalm 51 10 niv sgl

Have you ever done something and lacked the words to express everything to God? Saying, “God, forgive me” seems to fall short of what my sin deserves and how I feel about what I have done. If any of you have grown up in a church that was severely focused on obedience but didn’t give a full picture of who God was then you probably have felt this way, too.

Today as I was reading over Ps. 51, which is one of my favorite Psalms, I was conflicted about what I really wanted to write. What I really wanted to write about was Ps. 51.17 and correlate that back to Matthew 5.3. I actually wrote a devotion on Matthew 5.3 earlier this year and didn’t want to just duplicate the material. So today I am going to look at this Psalm in a new way.

This Psalm at its heart is a psalm of complete repentance. It expresses David’s emotion right after being confronted on his sin with Bathsheba. David’s heart is over flowing with that godly grief while in the moment of confrontation and writing his prayer to God he may have laid out a model for us to use in our own repentance. I want to break the Psalm down in sections and look at it in parts.

I think verse 1-2 provide a good preamble for what David is going to prayer for. I don’t think there is real reason to dive too deep into it.

Verse 3-6 is our first real section of the Psalm. Until recently when I looked at this section I thought lines seemed unconnected and kind of thrown together. I have changed my view on this now. I now know that all of these verses are looking to serve one purpose. In verse 3 David confesses of his sin and acknowledges that his sin is before him. Verse 4 is extremely interesting setting aside the “against you and you only” I think that this verse is referring back to 2 Samuel 12.9. David is acknowledging, according to God’s response through Nathan, that he did evil in God’s sight. By acknowledging that what God says is true is an act of obedience and submitting to God’s truth. David in line 3 and 4 says that he is admitting his fault in order to acknowledge the judgements of God as righteous and true. Verse 5 David admits that he has a deep sinfulness rooted inside him from his mother’s womb. Verse 6 is where we have the truth shine through. David says that God delights in truth in the inner being and he teaches him wisdom in his secret heart.  This is a strange statement in context at first glance. David starts out this section with confession and ends it with God delighting in truth. What is confession at its root? It’s simply telling the truth. David is acknowledging throughout this whole section his sin before God and confessing God’s truth to him. He is acknowledging God’s judgements are true and the full depth of his sin. The drive of this section is confession. We can’t ignore this last line either. God teaches him wisdom in his secret heart. This sounds almost exactly like the conviction of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit made David fully aware of his sin before God. So, to close this section out verses 3-6 are entirely about confession.

The next section comprises verses 7-12. They articulate exactly what I want God to do to my heart. Verse 7 in summation is, “God cleanse me, wash away my sin”. In verse 8 he is asking God to bring joy back into his heart. His sins had just drained the joy from him. In verse 9 he is asking God to overlook his sins and remove his iniquities. In verse 10 David asks God to create in him a clean heart and to put a steadfast spirit within him. In verse 11 David is asking God to not cast him away from his presence and not remove the Holy Spirit from him. In verse 12 David asks God to restore the joy he once found in how God saved him and help him have a willing spirit. I think you probably get the point but in every one of these verses David is petitioning or asking God to help or cleanse him from his sin.

I want to really delve into each one of these verses in the section 13-17 but I don’t want to wear out your attention here. So, I am just going to give away my point. In each one of these verses David is telling God his response. In each one of these verses David is ascribing an action or a change that David is making in his heart. True repentance always comes with with a new set of actions or a change in heart.

To pull all these together, David started out in verses 3-6 with a pure confession and a confession of God’s truth in the world. In verse 7-12 David petitions God to cleanse and purify him, to replace his heart, uphold him, give him a right spirit and finally to restore his joy. In verses 13-17 David tells God what he is going to do in response. David says he will teach transgressors God’s ways, his tongue will sing aloud of God’s righteousness, his mouth will declare God’s praise and finally give God the true sacrifice which is a broken or contrite spirit. This model of confession, petition of cleansing, and response is a great example for us. It firstly acknowledges our sin, then asks God to cleanse us and then gives God the response to our sin. This model allows us to do what we can do and allows God to do what ultimately only he can do. It is our responsibility to acknowledge our sin but ultimately, we can’t cleanse ourselves or restore our joy. Those things are dependent on God and David in this section of scripture acknowledges that fact. David doesn’t just stop his life, though. He acknowledges that he can still praise God and he can still offer up the proper sacrifice of a broken spirit through which God can work.

Daniel Wall

 

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+32%2C+51%2C+86%2C+122&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 2 Samuel 13-15 as we progress on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Feeling Weak

Psalm 102-104

Psalm 102 1 NIV

I didn’t have to read for long in today’s passage to find something that might apply to me.  He had me at the intro to Psalm 102: “A prayer of an afflicted person who has grown weak and pours out a lament before the Lord.”  I have been there more than once, recently, what about you?  Verse 2 also got my attention as it sounded eerily familiar to my week: “Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress.  Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”  Yup!  Come on God – we are working on a time schedule.  We need an answer and we need it now.

At our house we are making college decisions.  Well, it is my son’s decision, but it has been weighing heavily on us all as it seems unclear to any of us what the wisest answer is, and we need an answer very soon.  With so many different implications for the future and not able to visit any of the top contenders this spring, and with new information and opinions emerging daily, it is truly tiring.  And I am weak.

It doesn’t feel good to be weak – especially for those who relish being in control or regarded as strong.  The psalmist writes of how this anguished state is affecting his appetite, health, sleep, and relationships.  We have seen some of that.  He has been reminded once again of his frailty, limits, shortcomings, weakness – and it hurts.

But, in his weakness he still knows where to go.  To the One who sits on the throne.  “But you, O LORD, sit enthroned forever; your renown endures through all generations.” (Psalm 102:12).  The tone of the psalm changes from personal despair and questioning in the first 11 verses – to hopefulness – because he knew where to go when he was weak. Humbled, and at the feet of the all-powerful, all-knowing, loving and compassionate Creator, he gains a new perspective.  When we can put ourselves in His presence we know we can rely on Him no matter how weak we are on our own.  We know, “He will arise and have compassion…He will respond to the prayer of the destitute; he will not despise their plea.” (Psalm 102:13,17).

It reminds me of the poor kid who has been ruffed up by the bully on the playground, again and again.  He knows he is weak – and it hurts.  But this battered kid puts his broken glasses back on his tear-stained face and says to the bully – “Yeah, but my Daddy is stronger than your daddy.”  And, sure enough, Dad just arrived and is waiting at the gate.  It’s okay to be weak, when you have the strongest Daddy in the world!

I know you may be facing issues, decisions, and heartaches much larger than making a college decision.  And you may be struggling with feeling weak.  If you aren’t now – you will be later.  Weakness has a way of finding us all.

I want you to know what I want my son to know, and what I need to remind myself of over and over again.  God has good things in store for you.  He is a good God to His children.  Be His child.  Keep seeking Him.  I pray for you what I pray for my son and family.  “Dear God, we thank you for your greatness, power, wisdom and love.  Thank you for being what we are not.  Thank you for the gift of Your Son and your perfect plan.  Help us to sit at your feet, in Your presence, humbled, and drawing our strength and hope from You.  Help us to see You at work.  Even when life seems muddled, difficult and painful and we feel like we are being beaten up, give us your eyes to see how You ordered and provided and blessed.  We want to seek You first.  Please show us how to do that.  Help us to see your greatness – and share that with others, boasting of our Daddy’s goodness and strength.  Thank you for hearing our prayers and responding, quickly.”

We don’t know what tomorrow will bring – well, we don’t even know what today will bring.  But we are thankful we are not alone when we put ourselves in His presence.  In our weakness, He is strong.

 

A Weak Momma at the Feet of a Great Big God on His Throne,

Marcia Railton

 

PS – One great way to put yourself in His presence is through reading His Word.  Dig in.  He is there.

Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+102-104&version=NIV

Tomorrow we jump back into the events of David’s life as we read 2 Samuel 5:1-10 and 1 Chronicles 11-12 in our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

What are You Looking For?

Seek the Lord!

Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19 & 21

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Today’s reading contains my absolute favorite Bible Verse, Psalm 16:8, “I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With Him at my right hand I will not be shaken.” I love this verse because of its beautiful reminder to seek the Lord daily. Growing up as a Christian my whole life, there is an added need to make my faith my own. And with that comes the importance of having a relationship with our Creator. But no matter what walk of life we are on, we all need to be striving to seek the Lord in all that we do. 

If you make God your main priority in life, He will see you through the rest. Although this doesn’t mean you won’t have any more problems, you can be reassured that God will be by your side the whole way. Continually seeking the Lord.  It’s so simple, and we have all heard it a million times yet its significance is still so important. So how do we continually seek the Lord?

 

Worship- As great as worshiping with other believers can be and is, spending time alone with God in worship can be just as beneficial, if not more. Whether it’s turning on worship music or meditating and praying Psalms, take the time to unplug from the world and plug into God. 

Psalm 95:1-2  “Come, let us sing for joy to the Lord; let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation. Let us come before him with thanksgiving and extol him with music and song.”

 

Reading the Bible – Dedicating time each day to read His word will realign your focus on God over and over again and is the best way to learn more and grow closer to God. God has given His word to you! Don’t leave him unread! 

 

Memorizing and meditating on scriptures-   Keep your focus in alignment with what is important. One way to do this could be to place a couple of your favorite Bible verses around your house to encourage you to continually seek the Lord throughout your day. Soon you will be thinking of Bible verses from memory. 

Joshua 1:8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

 

Pray- Just like any relationship between two people, there needs to be communication. Consistent communication. Turns out, the same is true for a relationship with God. When was the last time you talked to God, and I mean really talked, like spilled your heart out to Him? We have an amazing opportunity to talk with the Creator of the universe. And the most amazing part, he hears you. He’s waiting for you to open up your heart to him. 

Deuteronomy 4:7 “What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him.” 

Psalm 27:8 “My heart has heard you say, ‘Come and talk with me’ And my heart responds, ‘Lord, I am coming’

 

Call on Him- The outcome of seeking God- he will uphold you. When you seek the Lord wholeheartedly, you invite Him into your life, and He will touch every angle of it. That is how our lives can be transformed into  living for Him and His glory. God’s plan for you starts with you looking to the Lord as your strength and foundation every day. .  

Jeremiah 29:”Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 

James 4:8 “Come near to God and he will come near to you…”

Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.” 

Psalm 91:14-15 “He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.”

Lastly, another verse from today’s reading, Psalm 10:4 “ In his pride the wicked man does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God. 

 

Let’s learn from this wicked man and not make the same mistakes he did. Make room for God in your lives, He can be found when we seek Him wholeheartedly. It’s our job today, tomorrow, and forever.

 

Makayla Railton

 

Today’s Bible reading can be found at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+6%2C+8-10%2C+14%2C+16%2C+19%2C+21&version=NIV

Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Chronicles 1-2 as we continue seeking God in His Word on our journey through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

 

 

 

Will You See God’s Face?

Psalm 17, 35, 54 & 63

Psalm 17 15 NLT

In Psalm 17:3, we see that David wholeheartedly sought God – “Though you probe my heart and examine me at night, though you test me, you will find nothing; I have resolved that my mouth will not sin.”  He goes on to say, in verse 5, “My steps have held to your paths; my feet have not slipped.”

 

Because David wholeheartedly followed God, he could then say with confidence in verse 6, “I call on you, O God, for you will answer me; give ear to me and hear my prayer.”  Unlike Saul, David’s predecessor, who rejected God (and God rejected Saul), David longed to please God, and knew that God heard and answered him.

 

With this assurance, David then prayed in verses 8 and 9, “Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me.”  David was literally running for his life, but was able to have an assurance that God was with him and would help him.

 

Finally, in verse 15, David acknowledged his ultimate rescue, “And I – in righteousness I will see your face; when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”  David is looking forward to the resurrection, recognizing that at the resurrection of the righteous, all sin will be removed, and David will awake, and see God’s face – and will be satisfied.”

 

Ultimately, this is our longing too.  We must live a righteous life today, not only so God will answer our prayers now, but ultimately because only by living for God today, will we be resurrected to eternal life, and see God’s face – and be satisfied.  And this all starts with drawing close to God today.

 

I’ll close with Psalm 63:1-4, also from today’s reading, “O God, you are my God, earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you, my body longs for you in a dry and weary land where there is no water.  I have seen you in the sanctuary and beheld your power and your glory. Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name, I will lift up my hands.”

 

–Steve Mattison
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+17%2C35%2C54%2C63&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1Samuel 28-31 and Psalm 18 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

God is Present

1st Samuel 4-8

1 Samuel 4 3 NIV

If a tree falls in the forest, does it make any sound?

This is what I think of when I read 1 Samuel 4-8. The Israelites and Philistines seem to think that the presence of the ark of the covenant is equivalent to God being present and vice versa, if the ark is not anywhere around, God must be absent. The ark of the covenant is merely a physical and tangible symbol of God’s presence. And while it is true that some amazing things took place while the ark was in possession of the Israelites, it wasn’t always a guarantee that having it around would lead to a win. That my friends, is called manipulation. It’s honoring the thing rather than the Creator.
I feel like I might have shared this story with some of you before, but here I go again. Many years ago, I was out on the lake with some friends. It was a gorgeous day and we were wake boarding. I was out in the water waiting for the boat driver to circle around and I just started praying out loud, not loud enough for others to hear me, but it was obvious that my lips were moving. After I had gotten back into the boat, a friend asked me what I was talking about and I just responded, “I was praying”. And her response has stuck with me, “You can pray out on a lake?” She wasn’t kidding, when she asked me that question. She really wasn’t a church goer but she had gone through Catholic Catechism. She was so used to the act of praying being limited to certain environments that praying on a lake was a new concept for her.
It’s easy sometimes to compartmentalize our lives. If we’re not careful, we may find ourselves dressing, speaking, and acting one way at home, another way at church, and another way at school or work. We can become chameleons in our environments in order to cast a persona that works for our benefit, instead of being our real and authentic selves.
What 1 Samuel 4-8 can teach us, if we’re willing to pay attention, is that no matter where we are, what we are doing, or who we are with, God is present. And our ever-present God desires to be our authority, our protector, our provider, our friend. Should we ever be insistent on wanting something else to stand in his place, that is our choice, but that does not mean that God goes away. He will always be there, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, and whomever we’re with, loving us just the same as always.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible reading can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+4-8&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1st Samuel 9-12 as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Pouring Out My Soul

1 Samuel 1-3

1 Samuel 1 15c NIV

Raise your hand if you are in the habit of writing out your prayers.

I am not consistent with the practice, but whenever I do, I’m glad that I did. I’ve gone back and read some of my past prayers and I wonder who in the world wrote them. It’s like I’m a different person when I write out my prayers. As I write out my thoughts while praying, I spend much more time acknowledging God and less time on my own wants. When I write out my prayers my words are more intentional than when I speak. When I write out my prayers my ideas seem to be more in alignment with who God wants me to be compared to when I ramble on in my own mind without recording my thoughts.
As I read 1 Samuel 2, I take in the words of a woman who fully expresses who she has experienced God to be. He is her Rock, her God. God is one who knows her heart and strengthens her when she stumbles. God blesses her and sends thunder against her enemies.
I am thankful that this particular prayer was recorded for us to read. It’s an encouragement for us to persist in prayer. It reminds us of who God is and of his power and might, his peace and his love, his provision and his holiness.
If you are already in the practice of writing out your prayers, spend some extra time this week, going back and reading previous prayers. What have you learned since? How have you changed?
If you do not already write out your prayers, I encourage you to spend some time this week, recording your prayers. How do your written prayers compare to your verbal prayers? What might you gain or learn from the process?
Keeping a prayer journal is a discipline that has many benefits. Learn from Hannah and spend time praising God.
Bethany Ligon
Today’s Bible reading, 1 Samuel 1-3, can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Samuel+1-3&version=NIV
Tomorrow’s reading will be 1 Samuel 4-8 as we continue on the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan