Not Asking, But Offering :: 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: Not Asking, But Offering :: Worldwide Prayer
A Prayer of Dedication from the USA

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)

Spiritual Practice as EDC

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5.17
…pray continually…

Reflection: Spiritual Practice as EDC
By John Tillman

The acronym EDC stands for Every Day Carry. It is a term many men and women use to discuss the items they carry with them on a regular basis. These items may include a wallet, nail clippers, a watch, a fitness tracker—anything that a person carries day-in and day-out.

EDCs are usually items of multi-functional, utilitarian simplicity, but can also include personal touchstones, such as a necklace or a pocket knife passed down from a dear relative.

The lack of these items for any reason can make us feel off kilter if we reach for them and they are not there. EDC items become part of our identity. Each one is a window into a part of us. They represent what we do, where we go, what we expect, what we prepare for. They remind us of who we are and picking them up each day and putting them down each night helps make up the rhythm of our lives.

Some EDC items may rarely be used but are rewarding when they are. When someone needs a handkerchief, or a nail clipper, and you quickly pull one out for them, both you and the person needing the item benefit from your carrying that item each day so that it would be there in an unexpected circumstance.

Spiritual practices can take on this same kind of rhythmic, identity reinforcing strength and provide blessings to us and to those around us. Instead of a pocket knife to sharpen a pencil or cut open an enthusiastically taped up package, we may carry ready-made prayers and blessings as memorized Psalms that we can recite in prayer to sharpen our focus on God or to bless someone with comfort beyond our own wisdom.

The daily practices of prayer, reading the scriptures, meditation are tools that can connect us powerfully to the Holy Spirit, help us define who and whose we are, and allow us to walk with the confidence of our secure identity in Christ.

Spiritual practices can be as tangible a part of our day as items we carry or wear to work everyday. Intentional spiritual practice is not always exciting and revelatory. But you’ll never have a revelatory experience with God without it.

The Request for Presence
Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame, and round about him a raging storm. — Psalm 50.3

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

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 15 (Listen – 3:23)
1 Corinthians 3 (Listen – 3:05)

This Weekend’s Readings
Job 16-17 (Listen – 3:40) 1 Corinthians 4 (Listen – 3:15)
Job 18 (Listen – 1:54) 1 Corinthians 5 (Listen – 1:58)

Idolatry of Self-Confidence

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 2.1-5
When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

Reflection: Idolatry of Self-Confidence
By John Tillman

If any New Testament author had reason for self-confidence, it was Paul. In other places in scripture, Paul lists his impressive accomplishments. But in this passage he shows what seems to be his standard pattern of operation—complete reliance on God and on the power of the Gospel itself.

Paul’s assertions of ignorance and low-confidence are difficult for us to relate to because in our world the ultimate heresy is to not believe in oneself. Try confessing self-doubt publically and see how quickly you are pounced upon by self-esteem evangelists.

Self-confidence and self-reliance run as extremely strong currents in our culture and we are all swept along in them. It is not a new idea, as this retort from G.K. Chesterton shows.

The publisher said of somebody, “That man will get on; he believes in himself.”

And I remember that as I lifted my head to listen, my eye caught an omnibus on which was written “Hanwell.”

I said to him, “Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Super-men. The men who really believe in themselves are all in lunatic asylums.”

Believing in himself is one of the commonest signs of a rotter. Actors who can’t act believe in themselves; and debtors who won’t pay. It would be much truer to say that a man will certainly fail, because he believes in himself.

Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness. Believing utterly in one’s self is a hysterical and superstitious belief”

Since Chesterton’s time our culture has only grown more extravagantly in love with the sinful extremes of self-confidence. These cultural currents too often sweep in aspects of out of context Christian theology, coalescing in the hysterical and superstitious quicksand of prosperity gospel teaching.

Only when our confidence in ourselves as god is shaken do we actually reach out to discover that there is a true God in whom we can safely place all our confidence and hope.

May we seek the aid of the Holy Spirit in order to give up idolizing self-confidence in favor of having confidence—having faith—in Him, who alone is capable of fulfilling our hope.

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, Lord God of hosts; let not those who seek you be disgraced because of me. — Psalm 69.7

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

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 14 (Listen – 2:23)
1 Corinthians 2 (Listen – 2:26)

Crucified, By Nature

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 1:18, 23-24
For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. We preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Reflection: Crucified, By Nature
By Jon Polk

Foolishness. That’s right, complete, utter foolishness. It is hard for us to grasp how foolish, offensive and shameful crucifixion was in the ancient world. The cross itself has become such a centerpiece in our churches, a sanitized symbol of our faith, that it is easy for us to forget what an unfathomable notion it would have been for Jesus to be crucified.

Crucifixion was regarded by Roman society as brutal, disgusting and abhorrent, reserved for convicted slaves, terrorists and egregious criminals. It could never be imposed on a Roman citizen, it was never used as punishment for more “respectable” crimes, and it was never mentioned in polite conversation because it was so offensive.

When we preach Christ crucified, we are not telling a story of how Christ died, but we tell the story of a crucified Christ, our Liberating King put to death as a criminal in the most disturbing way possible. To preach a crucified Christ is to proclaim a King whose very nature is wrapped up in sacrifice. Crucifixion is not simply something that happened to Jesus, it is a mark that describes his very character. Even in his resurrected and glorified body, Jesus still bears the marks of his crucifixion.

Some may ask why Jesus had to die. The answer is a clarification: Jesus did not have to die, he chose to die. Surely God could have chosen any number of ways to rescue and redeem humanity that did not involve the death of his Son. But he didn’t. He chose death. He chose self-sacrifice.

For Paul, Christ crucified is more than a means of salvation. It affects every aspect of the Christian life. If it is in God’s very nature to be self-sacrificial, and Jesus is our example of living life as God intended, then we must conclude that the Christian life is also in its very nature self-sacrificing.

Regarding this passage, Martin Luther writes:

For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. Now it is not sufficient for anyone, and it does him no good to recognize God in his glory and majesty, unless he recognizes him in the humility and shame of the cross. Thus God destroys the wisdom of the wise. For this reason true theology and recognition of God are in the crucified Christ.

Editor’s Note:
Across the world on this day, the church celebrates Ash Wednesday and begins the period of fasting and introspection called Lent. On this day many believers receive a cross, rubbed on the forehead using ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday. Upon receiving the cross, many are instructed to, “Repent, and believe in the Gospel”.

May each of us keep the offensive and brutal cross at the front of our minds, not only today but each day. May we be daily marked with the shame of Christ’s cross and the power of his Gospel.  —  John

The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
The same stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. — Psalm 118.22

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

Full prayer available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Job 13 (Listen – 2:27)
1 Corinthians 1 (Listen – 4:03)

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