Preparing the Ground—Guided Prayer

Scripture Focus: Matthew 13.37-43
37 He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. 38 The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 

40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear. 

Reflection: Preparing the Ground—Guided Prayer
By John Tillman 

We need nothing more in this time of national grief and conflict than to refocus on prayer and our commitment to only Jesus Christ, preparing the ground of our hearts for his truth. We will pray, today, a prayer based on Matthew 13.1-43.

Preparing the Ground
Lord, We live in a difficult time for spiritual growth.

We live in a time of confusion when the enemy is trying to snatch the seed of truth from us…

We live in a time of rocky relationships that cannot stand the heat of the sun or the cold of the night. Our roots cannot break up the hardness of our hearts, so we cannot draw up living water for our own, or anyone else’s, thirst.

We live in a time of distraction, with controversies and conspiracies and crises by the dozens screaming for our attention…diluting our strength…sapping our energy and growth. We allow thorny antagonism to flourish, but not the flower or fruit of the gospel.

Lord help us, even in this time and space, to prepare our hearts as ground that is ready to receive your truth.

Help us to banish and scatter the demonic influences that would snatch away the truth and replace it with a comfortable lie. We especially pray against those demonic forces such as Q-Anon, that would snatch the true gospel from our hearts and plant tares in your good field.

Help us to break up the rocks of our hard heads and our hard hearts. Help us to see with eyes that can discern your truth and listen with ears that can hear the cries and needs of our fellow brothers and sisters. Heal our broken and crumbling relationships, making room for the growth of deep roots of love and community.

Keep us out of the weeds of needless controversies and pointless arguments. Keep us from being tangled in the thorns of addiction to wealth of money or wealth of fame. Help us to shape our lives to produce a fragrant flower to attract others and a fruit that satisfies the deepest needs of those who seek the gospel.

May we bring in many to the harvest. May we shine like the sun in your kingdom.
May whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.

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
Genesis 14 (Listen – 4:04)
Matthew 13 (Listen – 7:23)

Read more about Cultivation Leads to Harvest
Cultivation leads to harvest. Harvests, when shared, lead to celebration.

Read more about Judging Our Hearts
Jesus refers to false prophets’ disguise as sheep’s clothing that conceals an inward nature that is a violent and ferocious wolf.

Cultivation Leads to Harvest

Matthew 12.1
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them.

Reflection: Cultivation Leads to Harvest
By John Tillman

Cultivation leads to harvest. Harvests, when shared, lead to celebration.

In the rural south, I often experienced touches of the generosity harvest brings. In northern Mississippi, you knew when someone’s harvest was in because the produce would show up unannounced at your door. Or sometimes in your kitchen.

I remember coming in from some errand with my Granny to find a bag of fruit on her table that hadn’t been there when we left. A neighbor, coming by while we were out had walked into the unlocked home and left a bag of fruit. My Granny recognized the giver by the gift and set to work baking the fruit in a cobbler to take back to his house. Of course we ate some as well.

The generosity of sharing in the harvest is not a southern or a northern phenomenon. It is a phenomenon that happens within communities where gains and pains are shared.

The fruit of harvest may be literal fruit—the fruit of the vine, the fruit of the grain, the fruit of trees. It may also be the fruit of beauty and peace—of fresh cut flowers from a garden, of sitting in cooling shade, of walking beneath vines whispering with wind, or of crossing a brook whose current waves the cattails at us in greeting.

Scripture has specific guidance for dividing the harvest. Some was to be left in the fields for the poor. A tithe was to be brought to the temple so that those who served the spiritual nourishment of the community could be physically nourished in return. Some was to be given in other sacrifices. Sacrifices for sins. Sacrifices for special requests to the Lord. Sacrifices on behalf of the community and for others. (Anyone teaching that all God wants from us financially is a tithe hasn’t read the Old Testament in depth.)

We are responsible for the care of our communities, spiritually and physically. This requires a financial and a spiritual harvest. We understand, if we don’t always follow, the principle of sharing our financial benefits with others. But often we are left with no harvest of wisdom, love, and mercy to share with our community, because we do not cultivate our spiritual growth.

How are you dividing up your spiritual harvest? To whom are you passing on biblical knowledge? With whom are you exploring the treasures uncovered in God’s Word? How are you supporting those who support your spiritual development?

Prayer: The Refrain for the Morning Lessons
Our sins are stronger than we are, but you will blot them out.. — Psalm 65:3

– 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 12 (Listen – 2:51)
Matthew 11 (Listen – 4:06)

This Weekend’s Readings
Genesis 13 (Listen – 2:16), Matthew 12 (Listen – 6:41)
Genesis 14 (Listen – 4:04), Matthew 13 (Listen – 7:23)

Additional Reading
Read More about Redemption at Work in Generosity
Landowners, the CEOs of Israel’s agrarian society, had a holy responsibility to not wring every grain of profit from their fields—to not harvest the edges and corners of the field, and to not pick up dropped grain or return for forgotten sheaves.

Read More about Good News to the Poor :: Epiphany
When Mary sang about filling the hungry with good things, poverty and many other personal tragedies were considered markers of spiritual failure. Today we also see poverty as a result of sin.

How far will you travel in God’s Word this year?
On January 1st we restarted our two year Bible reading plan in Genesis and the Gospel of Matthew. Join us on the journey. We read the Old Testament over two years and the New Testament and Psalms each year.

Read with us at a sustainable pace. Subscribe and invite friends to join you using this link.

Where will a journey through the Bible take your faith in the coming year? Jesus calls each of us, saying, “Follow me.”


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