Humble, Welcoming Servants—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Mark 9.50
“Salt is good, but if it loses its saltiness, how can you make it salty again? Have salt among yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Reflection: Humble, Welcoming Servants—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman

We confess to you, Lord…
When our immaturity demands miracles on our terms
When we struggle to accept the people whom you are calling us to accept
When we take offense
When we are ungrateful for how much you have transformed our lives
That, so many times, it is our own ambitions and selfishness that stand in the way.

Just like the twelve, just like any numbered group, we are concerned about being number one. We argue and attempt to dominate one another.

“He asked them, ‘What were you arguing about on the road?’ But they kept quiet because on the way they had argued about who was the greatest.” — Mark 9.33-34

“Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” — Mark 9.35

Help us to serve all and humbly welcome those whom you place in the center of our gatherings.
He took a little child whom he placed among them. Taking the child in his arms, he said to them 

“Whoever welcomes one of these little children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me.” — Mark 9.36-37

Help us to support those outside our groups who are willing to work in Christ’s name.

“‘We told him to stop, because he was not one of us.’
‘Do not stop him,’ Jesus said. ‘For no one who does a miracle in my name can in the next moment say anything bad about me, for whoever is not against us is for us.’” — Mark 9.38-40

Lord, it is not what we see that causes us to stumble, it is our own eyes. It is not what we touch that causes us to stumble, it is our own hands. It is not what we lust for that causes us to stumble. It is our own heart.

“If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell.” — Mark 9.47

Help us to remove from our lives what causes us to stumble.
Help us to humbly work with those who will work with us.
Help us to be servants to all-comers, not contestants against all-comers.
Help us to remember with thanks the transformative work you have done in our lives.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Be joyful in the Lord, all you lands; serve the Lord with gladness and come before his presence with a song. — Psalm 110.1

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Jeremiah 27 (Listen – 3:52)
Mark 9 (Listen – 6:16)

Read more about Seeking God’s Servant
Blind and hard of hearing as we may be to His ultimate purpose, God leads us and calls us to be His humble servants.

#ReadersChoice is time for you to share favorite Park Forum posts from the year.
What post helped you endure suffering?

The Miracle of Faith

Mark 9.23-24
“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

Reflection: The Miracle of Faith
By John Tillman

At the beginning of this passage, the disciples are failing at ministry, surrounded by needs they can’t meet, and distracted by arguments with religious opponents. Then Jesus comes to them.

In many sermons I have heard pastors scold the disciples for their lack of faith, or for not praying and fasting, or for not believing, but Jesus never scolds the disciples.

Christ’s complaint about unbelief is directed to “this generation” not to the twelve. When Jesus tells the disciples that “this kind only comes out by prayer,” he isn’t necessarily impugning the disciple’s prayer life.

Jesus knew what it was like to be unable to succeed in ministry due to a community’s lack of faith. When Jesus was in his own hometown, not only did they attempt to kill him after he preached that they would have to share the benefits of God’s kingdom with outsiders, they had so little faith that Jesus couldn’t do many miracles there. The scriptures tell us that Jesus was “amazed” at their lack of faith.

Many times in his ministry, Jesus addressed spiritual healing before physical healing. Jesus’ greatest miracles were not ones of stopping storms or diseases or demons. His greatest miracles were helping the faithless to believe again. Helping the cynical to trust again. Helping the hardened to love again.

And when we, or our communities, are faithless, cynical, and hardened, Jesus comes to us as well, to change our prayer like he changed the prayer of the father in this passage.

The father’s nakedly honest prayer has long been one of my favorite verses in the Bible. It has also been one of the scriptures that I turn to as a prayer in my own life.

I long to be filled with faith, but I’m often filled with other things.
Sometimes I am filled with doubt, like John the Baptist in prison.
Sometimes I am filled with fear, like the disciples after the storm.
Sometimes I am filled with shame, like the woman caught in adultery.
Sometimes I am filled with pride, like the rich young ruler who claimed to have kept all the commandments.
Sometimes I am filled with feelings of inadequacy, like Peter, begging Jesus to keep his distance.

Despite this, Jesus comes. Bringing faith for those who ask.

Let Jesus change your prayer today. Ask him to drain you of your sin, anxiety, and inadequacy and to fill you with faith.

Prayer: The Request for Presence
Show us the light of your countenance, O god, and come to us. — Psalm 67.6

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

Prayers from The Divine Hours available online and in print.

Today’s Readings
Genesis 39 (Listen – 3:08) 
Mark 9 (Listen – 6:16)

Read more about Faith After the Storm
How many times do we go to Jesus in prayer, without faith but with bucket-fulls of complaints and accusations.

Read more about Stories of Faith :: A Guided Prayer
It is important for us—the redeemed—to tell our stories.
To laud the Lord of our salvation.
To praise the Prince who enters our struggles with us.