A Way Back for Strivers—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Hosea 12.6-8
6 But you must return to your God; 
maintain love and justice, 
and wait for your God always. 
7 The merchant uses dishonest scales 
and loves to defraud. 
8 Ephraim boasts, 
“I am very rich; I have become wealthy. 
With all my wealth they will not find in me 
any iniquity or sin.” 

Reflection: A Way Back for Strivers—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

During this contentious election week in the United States, we are seeking repentance, patience, peace, and faith. We will pray for these things this week, using the scriptures from our reading plan. We will pray through the closing chapters of Hosea, today’s chapter being the twelfth.

A Way Back for Strivers
We, like Jacob, are born swindlers
Grasping for more than we deserve

The LORD has a charge to bring against Judah; 
he will punish Jacob according to his ways 
and repay him according to his deeds.– Hosea 12.2


We, like, Jacob, don’t deserve the new name you would bestow
We are still strivers who create strife

The merchant uses dishonest scales 
and loves to defraud. 
Ephraim boasts, 
“I am very rich; I have become wealthy. 
With all my wealth they will not find in me 
any iniquity or sin.”  — Hosea 12.7-8


As Israel lied to his father, deceived his brother, and cheated his relatives
We have lied, deceived, and cheated our brothers and sisters.

In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel; 
as a man he struggled with God. 
He struggled with the angel and overcame him; 
he wept and begged for his favor. 
He found him at Bethel 
and talked with him there— 
the LORD God Almighty, 
the LORD is his name!  — Hosea 12.3-5


Despite the depths we may sink to,
No matter what poisonous sin we commit
You make a way back for us
You allow us to find you

But you must return to your God; 
maintain love and justice, 
and wait for your God always. — Hosea 12.6


If we wrestle with you God, you will bless
If we weep to you God, you will dry our tears
If we will return to you, God, you will heal

Show us and help us share your love.
Give us your righteousness and make us instruments of establishing your justice.

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

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Hosea 12  (Listen – 1:51)
Psalm 135-136 (Listen – 4:23)

This Weekend’s Readings
Hosea 13  (Listen – 2:26), Psalm 137-138 (Listen – 2:13)
Hosea 14  (Listen – 1:39), Psalm 139 (Listen – 2:26)

Read more about Spiritual Markers
May they remind us that we must be equally reliant on God in the land of plenty as in the desert of barrenness.

Read more about Distrust of God and Fraud
It is the unbelief and contempt of heaven, which make men risk it for the poor commodities of this world.

God Changes—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Hosea 11.7-9
7 My people are determined to turn from me. 
Even though they call me God Most High, 
I will by no means exalt them. 
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? 
How can I hand you over, Israel? 
How can I treat you like Admah? 
How can I make you like Zeboyim? 
My heart is changed within me; 
all my compassion is aroused. 
9 I will not carry out my fierce anger, 
nor will I devastate Ephraim again. 
For I am God, and not a man— 
the Holy One among you. 

Reflection: God Changes—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

During this contentious election week in the United States, we are seeking repentance, patience, peace, and faith. We will pray for these things this week, using the scriptures from our reading plan. We will pray through the closing chapters of Hosea, today’s chapter being the eleventh.

God Changes
As ones who deserve your judgment, Lord, we cry to you
Change your heart toward us
Remember your tender love for us…

It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, 
taking them by the arms; 
but they did not realize 
it was I who healed them. 
I led them with cords of human kindness, 
with ties of love. 
To them I was like one who lifts 
a little child to the cheek, 
and I bent down to feed them. — Hosea 11.3-4


As you loved Israel, love us, Lord.
Do not give up on us or turn us over to destruction.

“How can I give you up, Ephraim? 
How can I hand you over, Israel? 
How can I treat you like Admah? 
How can I make you like Zeboyim? 
My heart is changed within me; 
all my compassion is aroused. 
I will not carry out my fierce anger, 
nor will I devastate Ephraim again. 
For I am God, and not a man— 
the Holy One among you. — Hosea 11.8-9


As you changed your heart, change ours, Lord.
Make God changes, once-and-for-all changes, in our lives
Give us eyes that see our sin.
Give us ears that hear your voice.

They will follow the LORD; 
he will roar like a lion. 
When he roars, 
his children will come trembling from the west. 
They will come from Egypt, 
trembling like sparrows, 
from Assyria, fluttering like doves. 
I will settle them in their homes,” 
declares the LORD. — Hosea 11.10-11


Call us from the west and the idols we have followed
Free us from our addictions and false worship
Call us from Egypt, the places we have been enslaved
Free us from our oppressors
Call us from Assyria, the place of exile and judgment
Free us from our punishment as we repent.

Call us back, Lord, and we will come!
Trembling with fear
Trembling with excitement
Trembling with songs of joy
Trembling and longing for your loving comfort.

May you again roar over us in celebration
And may we respond with love and worship.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
You are the Lord; do not withhold your compassion from me; let your love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever. — Psalm 40.12

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Hosea 10  (Listen – 1:53)
Psalm 132-134 (Listen – 2:42)

Read more about Repurposed Weapons
Our world, and Satan who rules it, wants us, like Gog and Magog, to be their weapons…but in Christ, the weaponized, can be remade…

Read more about Of Pride and The Sword
Despite how Egypt, or any nation, postures itself, those who live by the sword will fall by it. Those who profit by violence will face justice.

Confessing Idolatry—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Hosea 10.12-13
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves, 
reap the fruit of unfailing love, 
and break up your unplowed ground; 
for it is time to seek the LORD, 
until he comes 
and showers his righteousness on you. 
13 But you have planted wickedness, 
you have reaped evil, 
you have eaten the fruit of deception.

Reflection: Confessing Idolatry—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

During this contentious election week in the United States, we are seeking repentance, patience, peace, and faith. We will pray for these things this week, using the scriptures from our reading plan. We will pray through the closing chapters of Hosea, today’s chapter being the tenth. 

Confessing Idolatry
God, your prophet tells us Israel built many places for worship, had many “sacred stones,” but their hearts were far from God. 

As his fruit increased, 
he built more altars; 
as his land prospered, 
he adorned his sacred stones.
Their heart is deceitful, 
and now they must bear their guilt. 
The LORD will demolish their altars 
and destroy their sacred stones. — Hosea 10.2


Our hearts are deceitful, Lord. 
Point out our guilt and break down our idols.
Help us see and confess our sins, so similar.

Israel sought success and security by any means necessary, abandoning religious principles, while giving lip service to Yahweh. 
Help us see and confess our sins, so similar.

Israel committed destructive and bloody violence against their brothers and sisters. Injustice, civil wars, coups, and slaughters were the norm.
Help us see and confess our sins, so similar.

Then they will say, “We have no king 
because we did not revere the LORD. 
But even if we had a king, 
what could he do for us?”
— Hosea 10.3

Israel hoped in king, after king, after king and you took them away.
Do not let us worship kings as idols.
Take away any leader (secular or sacred, local or national) we would give undue devotion to.

They make many promises, 
take false oaths 
and make agreements; 
therefore lawsuits spring up 
like poisonous weeds in a plowed field. — Hosea 10.3-4


Israel could not vote for kings, yet still shared in their guilt.
The poison of a leader’s deceitfulness infects the country, the people, the ground itself.
How much more, O God, are we complicit in the sins of those who we take part in electing?
Even if there were perfect leaders to choose from, what can earthly kings do for us, O God?

May we place our trust instead in our true and only king.
Who rode humbly on a donkey.
Who stooped low to wash feet.
Who walked to the cross.

It is time to seek the Lord.
Break our unplowed ground.
Sow into our lives your unfailing love
And pour your righteousness on us.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The Lord has sworn an oath to David; in truth, he will not break it: “A son, the fruit of your body will I set upon your throne.” — Psalm 132.11-12

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Hosea 10  (Listen – 2:47)
Psalm 129-131 (Listen – 2:03)

Read more about The Seductive Idolatry of Politics
Politics provides everything that the darkest parts of humanity’s sinful nature want from a religion.

Read more about Incest, Greed, and Idolatry
Paul would have us as uncomfortable with greed and idolatry as we are with incest and other sexual sins. But are we?

Confessing Hostility—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Hosea 9.1
1 Do not rejoice, Israel; 
do not be jubilant like the other nations. 
For you have been unfaithful to your God; 

Reflection: Confessing Hostility—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

During this contentious election week in the United States, we are seeking repentance, patience, peace, and faith. We will pray for these things this week, using the scriptures from our reading plan. We will pray through the closing chapters of Hosea, today’s chapter being the ninth. 

Confessing Hostility
Lord, we confess that our sins and hostility have been great.
We have been
Hostile toward leaders
Hostile toward our brothers and sisters.
Hostile to mercy and justice

The days of punishment are coming, 
the days of reckoning are at hand. 
Let Israel know this. 
Because your sins are so many 
and your hostility so great, 
the prophet is considered a fool, 
the inspired person a maniac. — Hosea 9.7


Prophets spoke against violence. We called them foolish.
People were inspired to protest. We called them maniacs.

The prophet, along with my God, 
is the watchman over Ephraim, 
yet snares await him on all his paths, 
and hostility in the house of his God. — Hosea 9.8


Preachers spoke the truth. We shouted them down.
Watchmen called out warnings. We attacked them.

Because of their sinful deeds, 
I will drive them out of my house. 
I will no longer love them; 
all their leaders are rebellious. — Hosea 9.15


Like rebellious, prodigal children, our hostility breaks fellowship with you and with our brothers and sisters.

What will you do on the day of your appointed festivals, 
on the feast days of the LORD? 
Even if they escape from destruction, 
Egypt will gather them, 
and Memphis will bury them. 
Their treasures of silver will be taken over by briers, 
and thorns will overrun their tents. — Hosea 9.5-6


We have loved religious posturing and procedures rather than our neighbors and trusted in ceremonies for righteousness while denying justice.

My God will reject them 
because they have not obeyed him; 
they will be wanderers among the nations. — Hosea 9.17


May you relent, O God. Do not reject us as we deserve.
May you hear our repentance and sorrow, Lord.
May you run to us, prodigals returning.
May we humble ourselves under your rule, no matter what king you place over us.

May renewed faithfulness make us jubilant in obedience to you.
May you restore us to fruitfulness and joy.
May we again be a light for a darkening world.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
With my whole heart I seek you; let me not stray from your commandments. — Psalm 119.10

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Hosea 9  (Listen – 2:52)
Psalm 126-128 (Listen – 1:58)

Read more about Good and Pleasant Unity? A Prayer for Election Week
The rancor and rhetoric of 2016, rather than relaxing, has ramped up, raising political tensions, accusations, and attacks.

Read more about Responding to Political Violence
Our political rancor has reached the point of normalizing violence…Christians not excluded.

The Sins Behind Sexual Sins

Scripture Focus: Hosea 4.1-3
1 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing,[c] lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.


Reflection: The Sins Behind Sexual Sins
By John Tillman

Gomer’s sexual sins of prostitution and adultery were not just an analogy for idolatry. The people of God were metaphorically and literally committing adultery and participating in prostitution as part of worshiping Ba’al. However, idolatry doesn’t have to involve sexual sin to cause similar damage.

When we read about sexual sins in the Bible, we need to take care not to automatically think of sexual sin as the only sin involved. Sometimes sexual sin is also a symptom or a tool of other sins.

The entire point of worshiping a fertility god or goddess in an agrarian economy is financial blessing. The sin behind the sexual sin was a desire to manipulate the economy. The blessing to be expected from Ba’al was a higher ROI.

Sex to gain power is a sin of lust, but it is a lust for power not for flesh. Sex in exchange for money or influence, likewise, is a sinful means to a sinful end. Sex to display power, such as rape or sexual harrasment and abuse, is a sin of domination and control.

People commit today the exact same kind of sins as the Israelites who worshiped Ba’al in pursuit of better crops. When we are willing to kiss any ring, shake any hand, or endorse any person in order to gain power, get elected, make a deal, cut out a competitor, or monopolize an earning opportunity we are prostituting ourselves in lust whether or not there is sex involved. The Israelites attributed their profits and success to their efforts in worshiping Ba’al. We attribute our success to our “pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps.” It is the same sin of idolatry with a different object.
 
Many times sexual sins are a symptom of other sins such as greed, selfishness, inequality, and oppression. Prostitution, adultery and other sexual sins rise with poverty rates because the sins of greed and oppression create the circumstances under which women resort to prostitution and men seek dominance and control.

May we confess and weep over all our lusts, not just lusts of the flesh.
May we weep for our greed.
May we cry to be delivered from selfishness.
May we ache for healing for our addiction to power.
May we humble ourselves in repentance from our pride.
And, yes, may we turn in faithfulness toward a biblical sexual ethic that divorces sex from the abuses of sin.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Greeting
For you Name’s sake, O Lord, forgive my sin, for it is great. — Psalm 25.10

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime by Phyllis Tickle


Today’s Readings
Hosea 3-4  (Listen – 3:53)
Psalm 119:121-144 (Listen – 15:14)

This Weekend’s Readings
Hosea 5-6  (Listen – 3:44), Psalm 119:145-176 (Listen – 15:14)
Hosea 7  (Listen – 2:19), Psalm 120-122 (Listen – 2:12)

Read more about Lamenting Materialism :: A Guided Prayer
Today, Ba’al wouldn’t be a rain god, he’d be Gordon Gekko. Or Bernie Madoff. Or Jordan Belafort.

Read more about Prayers God Hates
The sin at the top of God’s list isn’t adultery or any sexual sin…it is systemic oppression of the most vulnerable members of society.

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