Finding God :: A Guided Prayer

Scripture: Job 23.3-4
If only I knew where to find him;
if only I could go to his dwelling!
I would state my case before him
and fill my mouth with arguments.

Editor’s Note: Today we explore a new format for reflection.

Guided prayers and meditations are a common part of Christian spiritual practice. Today we will focus on some verses from today’s reading from Job and guide ourselves through a prayer through scripture and into our world. Like walking through a park on your way to work, let this guided prayer help you carry freshness and beauty with you through your day.

Return to this prayer through the day or over the weekend, as it will be a different experience based on your mood and surroundings…We begin with the words of Job…

Reflection: Finding God :: A Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

Even today my complaint is bitter;
his hand is heavy in spite of my groaning.

Scripture often speaks of God’s hand being “heavy” in times of distress.

What complaint do you have to carry to God?
What weighs heavy on your heart in this moment from your personal life? From your city? From your nation or from world news?

Pursue God with your thoughts and prayer…If your surroundings allow, actually get up and walk for this portion of the prayer time…

But if I go to the east, he is not there;
if I go to the west, I do not find him.
When he is at work in the north, I do not see him;
when he turns to the south, I catch no glimpse of him.

Pursuit of God often begins as a pursuit of our answers. Our solutions. To place our arguments before him. We are hunting our own concerns and God is merely a means to our ends.

Slow the pace of your walking. Notice your surroundings. Notice others. Notice your need, not of your answers, but of God’s presence.

But he knows the way that I take;
when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.
My feet have closely followed his steps;
I have kept to his way without turning aside.
I have not departed from the commands of his lips;
I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my daily bread.

It doesn’t matter how wholeheartedly we seek the answer to a prayer, we will find God when our wholehearted search is for his presence, not for something else that we want.

Follow God’s footsteps through his Word, and pursue his presence over the weekend. He wants to speak to you. He wants to walk with you.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
I call with my whole heart; answer me, O Lord, that I may keep your statues.
Hear my voice, O Lord, according to your loving-kindness; according to your judgments, give me life. — Psalm 119.145fff

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 23 (Listen – 1:43)
1 Corinthians 10 (Listen – 4:04)

This Weekend’s Readings
Job 24 (Listen – 2:56) 1 Corinthians 11 (Listen – 4:20)
Job 25-26 (Listen – 1:52) 1 Corinthians 12 (Listen – 4:25)

The Importance of Calling :: Throwback Thursday

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 9.23
I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Reflection: The Importance of Calling :: Throwback Thursday
By Martin Luther

The call is not to be taken lightly.

For a person to possess knowledge is not enough. He must be sure that he is properly called. Those who operate without a proper call seek no good purpose. God does not bless their labors. They may be good preachers, but they do no edify.

Many of the fanatics of our day pronounce words of faith, but they bear no good fruit, because their purpose is to turn men to their perverse opinions. On the other hand, those who have a divine call must suffer a good deal of opposition in order that they may become fortified against the running attacks of the devil and the world.

This is our comfort in the ministry, that ours is a divine office to which we have been divinely called. Reversely, what an awful thing it must be for the conscience if one is not properly called. It spoils one’s best work.

When I was a young man I thought Paul was making too much of his call. I did not understand his purpose. I did not then realize the importance of the ministry. I knew nothing of the doctrine of faith because we were taught sophistry instead of certainty, and nobody understood spiritual boasting.

We exalt our calling, not to gain glory among men, or money, or satisfaction, or favor, but because people need to be assured that the words we speak are the words of God. This is no sinful pride. It is holy pride.

Editor’s Note: Luther here is referring to the call of ministers and preachers of the Gospel, but as we have written many times, the call of the Gospel extends to every believer, and through every believer into the vocation and daily activities of each member of Christ’s body.

You are called to share the Gospel. Your ministry may not be in a pulpit, but in a cubicle, or a break room, or a board room. Your sermon may not be with words, but with a hug of acceptance, or a welcoming gift of hospitality, or with a moral stance that sees value in more than simplistic profitability.

Own your calling. And walk with holy pride in it’s execution. — John

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Behold, God is my helper; it is the Lord who sustains my life. — Psalm 54.4

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 22 (Listen – 2:54)
1 Corinthians 9 (Listen – 4:04)

Learning to Pray

Scripture: Job 21.4
Is my complaint directed to a human being?
Why should I not be impatient?

Reflection: Learning to Pray
By Steven Dilla

“This is a dangerous error,” warns Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “to imagine that it is natural for the heart to pray.” The great theologian, who lost his life in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945, was no stranger to unanswered prayer. He wrote:

It can become a great torment to want to speak with God and not to be able to do it—having to be speechless before God, sensing that every cry remains enclosed within one’s own self, that heart and mouth speak a perverse language which God does not want to hear.

This may have contributed to the reason Bonhoeffer did not believe it was possible to pray without the power of God:

We confuse wishing, hoping, sighing, lamenting, rejoicing—all of which the heart can certainly do on its own—with praying. But in doing so we confuse earth and heaven, human beings and God. Praying certainly does not mean simply pouring out one’s heart. It means, rather, finding the way to and speaking with God, whether the heart is full or empty. No one can do that on one’s own. For that one needs Jesus Christ.

Not wanting “needs Jesus Christ” to devolve into mere platitude, Bonhoeffer explains how to pray the words of God—Scripture—through the power of God—Spirit:

Jesus Christ has brought before God every need, every joy, every thanksgiving, and every hope of humankind. In Jesus’ mouth the human word becomes God’s Word. When we pray along with the prayer of Christ, God’s Word becomes again a human word.

If we want to read and to pray the prayers of the Bible, and especially the Psalms, we must not, therefore, first ask what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ. We must ask how we can understand the Psalms as God’s Word, and only then can we pray them with Jesus Christ. Thus it does not matter whether the Psalms express exactly what we feel in our heart at the moment we pray.

Perhaps it is precisely the case that we must pray against our own heart in order to pray rightly. It is not just that for which we ourselves want to pray that is important, but that for which God wants us to pray. If we were dependent on ourselves alone, we would probably often pray only the fourth petition of the Lord’s Prayer. But God wants it otherwise. Not the poverty of our heart, but the richness of God’s word, ought to determine our prayer.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
O God of hosts, show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved. — Psalm 80.7

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 21 (Listen – 3:05)
1 Corinthians 8 (Listen – 1:54)

Prayer of Dedication from the USA :: Worldwide Prayer

Scripture: Hebrews 5.7
In the days of His flesh Jesus offered up prayers and supplications with loud cries and tears to the one who was able to save Him from death and He was heard because of His reverent submission.

Reflection: Prayer of Dedication from the USA :: Worldwide Prayer

Eternal God,

We come not to ask you for anything
But to offer you everything.
We approach your throne, not presuming on you
But seeking a closer relationship with you.
We bow in lowly reverence before you.
We worship you because of who you are
And what you are in spite of being who
and what we are.

We fall on our faces for cleansing
And lift our hearts to praise you.
We commit all we are and have
And all we hope to be to you because
You are worthy of our adoration.

May our dedication result in the salvation of the lost,
The edification of the saved
And the glorification of the Savior
That you may look on us and say, “It is good!”

In Jesus’ name we pray.

*Prayer from Hallowed be Your Name: A collection of prayers from around the world, Dr. Tony Cupit, Editor.

Prayer: A Reading
Jesus said to the people, “…none of you can be my disciple without giving up all that he owns.” — Luke 14.31, 33

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 20 (Listen – 2:52)
1 Corinthians 7 (Listen – 6:09)

Equipped for Good and Bad

Scripture: Job 19.25
I know that my redeemer lives…

Scripture: Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace…equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever.

Reflection: Equipped for Good and Bad
By John Tillman

We typically put a lot of thought into the kind of equipment we rely on. This is true of our mobile devices—the most ubiquitous equipment that modern urbanites carry—but it is also true of any item we use frequently.

Whether it is students going to school, business professionals walking in to a presentation, or tourists going on vacation, no one willingly goes ill-equipped.

The student may be ill-equipped due to economic disadvantagement. The business professional may be ill-equipped due to faulty research or poor preparation. The vacationer may be ill-equipped due to negligence or ignorance. But they aren’t ill-equipped on purpose and each of them would admit embarrassment at the outcomes of their situations that resulted from being poorly equipped.

Being spiritually ill-equipped, however, is a common occurrence. When a disaster hits our lives, it is often a wakeup call to our spiritual life. We pray when we’ve never prayed before. We read the Bible when we’ve never read it before. We seek godly counsel in community when we had been going it alone.

The life of Job shows us that spiritual practice does not prevent tragedies of any kind, but we can see that his spiritual practice prepared him to experience tragedy differently than his wife or his friends. Even at his most bitter and even in his most painful moments, Job sees the truth of his situation and his desperate cries give us some of the greatest insights and prophecies of Christ’s role as our mediator.

“I know that my redeemer lives,
and that in the end he will stand on the earth.
And after my skin has been destroyed,
yet in my flesh I will see God;
I myself will see him
with my own eyes—I, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19.25-27

Spiritual disciplines allow the Holy Spirit to equip us for good and prepare us for bad. He prepares our hearts for the joys, the trials, the successes, and the failures that are and will be a part of our walk with Christ. He gracefully walks with us and will supply our needs when we call on him.

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
You strengthen me more and more; you enfold me and comfort me. — Psalm 71.21

– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 19 (Listen – 2:48)
1 Corinthians 6 (Listen – 3:03)

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