Pray at all times
Today's devotion is based on James 5:13, "Anyone who is having trouble should pray. Anyone who is happy should sing praises."
There is no situation where you can't pray. While 'having troubles' and being 'happy' don't cover every circumstance, in the context, they get pretty close. Think about it for a moment. Which one would you say is easier: to pray when in trouble or to pray when happy? I imagine you could make a case for either.
In theory, when you are happy, the praises should flow automatically. But, of course, when we are doing well, whatever form that may take, it is often easier to forget about God.
In theory, prayer should be the first thing to happen when you are in trouble. But again, we can look to other solutions, our own devices, and the help of experts. Quite often, God is forgotten.
How better to appreciate what God has given you; a beautiful sunset, a new child, a restored relationship, a house to live in, food on the table (at home or in a restaurant!), than to praise God, the giver of all blessings.
What comfort there is in offering our troubled situation, whatever it is – job loss, relationship breakdown, study struggles, no home to go to, grief – then bringing it to the Lord in prayer. What a friend we have in Jesus, indeed! Pray and sing praises; live in God's presence continually.
Please pray with me; Thank you, Jesus, that you know our every need. Even when we forget you, you are rejoicing with us and drawing us closer to you. All praise to you. Amen.
Pray with bold humility
Today's devotion is based on Genesis 18:26-28, "The LORD said, "If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake." Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city because of five people?"
How do you pray? Hands folded and eyes closed, or arms extended with your palms toward heaven? Silently in your mind or out loud? God is less interested in the physical aspect of prayer than he is in the attitude with which we pray. Abraham gives us an example to follow when it comes to the attitude we are to have when praying.
Abraham was humble. He knew he was nothing but "dust and ashes," and he had no right to expect the Lord to hear his prayer. Yet he asked anyway because he knew that God is gracious and compassionate.
Abraham's prayer is an example for us as we pray. We approach God with proper humility, fully understanding that as sinners, we have no right to be heard by a holy God. We certainly have no right to expect him to answer us and grant what we have asked.
But we can also pray with boldness. We know the love of our God. He sent his Son to die for us. Because of that sacrifice, we have been given the privilege of approaching God with every request.
Please pray with me, Heavenly Father; Based on my merit, I know I have no right to approach you in prayer. I can pray to you only because Jesus has washed me clean of all sin. Help me to be bold when I pray, trusting that you always hear and answer in a way that is always best for me. In Jesus' name I ask it. Amen.
Be careful about what you pray for
Today's devotion is based on Luke 11:11-13, [Jesus said] "Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!"
Be careful about what you pray for is a fairly common expression. What is wrong with it is that it gives the impression that God may somehow give you something bad just because you prayed for it, that he is waiting to punish you for praying foolishly.
God is your Father in heaven. He wants only the best for you. Since God knows everything, he knows what is best for you, even if you don't think it is. And since he loves you, he has figured out how to give you the best.
So, what is the best thing we can ask for? As I thought about it, I concluded that the best thing to ask for is for God to give the Holy Spirit. God uses the Holy Spirit to bring us to faith. He sends the Holy Spirit to keep us in the faith through his Word. The Holy Spirit is the Comforter, who ensures we are okay when life is difficult.
Please pray with me, Heavenly Father, since you know what is best for me, now and in the future; please send me your Holy Spirit so that I can live the life you want me to live. In Jesus' blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Praying for all people
Today's devotion is based on 1 Timothy 2:1, "Pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to God."
First, pray for all people. Pretty comprehensive. Impossible? Perhaps, but possibly this is where we need to plan or make a list. To pray for all people could seem so vast that you never begin. Perhaps pray for three people each day.
Second, pray for what they need. Which might be what you or they believe they need, but what God knows they need.
Third, be thankful. When we give thanks for someone, it is easier to love them and ask for blessings on them. Be thankful to God for that person and their life.
There is a bonus in praying for others in this manner. You will be drawn closer to God by your simple prayer. You will also see the person you pray for in a different light, perhaps even meeting your own needs in that action.
Please pray with me; Thank you, God, for life and your presence in me and those around me. Help me to pray as I can, bringing those I know and don't know before you. Give me what I need: a humble and grateful heart. In Jesus' precious name, I pray. Amen.
Pray humbly, with confidence and gratefulness
Today's devotion is based on Luke 11:2-4, where we hear Jesus say to his disciples, "When you pray, say: 'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread. Forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who sins against us. And lead us not into temptation.'"
Jesus also wants you to pray this prayer humbly, confidently, and gratefully. And for all those times you have failed to pray this way—or pray at all when you could have and should have—he wants you to know you have the forgiveness he won for you on the cross. He wants you to know that he cares for you and provides for you in your time on this earth. God is good.
Please pray with me, Jesus; thank you for teaching me to pray. Please help me always to remember that you provide all I need in this life and the next. In Your blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Pray for what God wants
Today’s devotion is based on 1 Timothy 2:1,2: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
If you are someone who thinks that your prayer habits could use improvement, consider praying for a list of people one by one. It doesn’t matter where you get the list of people for prayer. You might try praying for the people in your news feed. They are often in your news feed because they have some particular need. Pray for the Lord to meet that need according to his will.
Those in authority need your prayers as well. What if you disagree with the decisions those people in authority are making? Pray that the Lord would guide them to make godly decisions.
Please pray with me the prayer for today, Holy Spirit; help me to pray in a godly manner for all people, especially those in authority, so that our nation may be at peace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
All praise to God
Today’s devotion is based on Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Interestingly Jesus does not tell the disciples or us what to ask. He simply says ask in my name. Don’t just add it to your prayer as if it is a magic formula. But add it to your prayer, knowing who Jesus is and what he has done for each one of us. Broken down barriers (between God and us, between us and others); provided healing (physical, mental and spiritual); changed society totally; invited us to live humbly and practice justice; to have the fullest possible joy.
When we pray, it is not actually about us; it is about being open to God’s working in our lives, living in his forgiveness and grace and blessing, so we can forgive and be gracious and bless.
When we focus on God and what he wants to do for us, when we pray in Jesus’ name, it is exciting and full of promise, hope, and joy. It’s not about getting what we want. It is about opening up to the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we look forward to the fullest possible joy overflowing into all areas of our life.
Please pray with me; Lord Jesus, thank you for your gracious love. Thank you for the joy and peace that surpasses understanding. Help our focus to remain on you. In your precious name, we pray. Amen.
All praise to God for his mercies are new every morning
Today’s devotion is based on Psalm 138:7, “Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life.”
This Psalm was written by King David. He had walked through some deep and dark times in his life. I can imagine there were many challenges already as a shepherd boy. The sooner we learn – and remember – as he did, challenges are actually opportunities, which allow us to grow in wisdom, courage, and strength of character, recognizing our purpose.
Our life is richer when we call to the Lord for help. He loves us and loves to help us! That’s why Jesus came for us. That’s why the Father has sent his Holy Spirit to us, to be God’s power within us, enabling us to overcome fear or whatever comes against us, to grow in gratitude, and to know the Lord in the process.
David recognized God’s answer, and praise to the Lord simply kept pouring out, overflowing in gratitude and thanksgiving, calling kings of nations to hear the Lord’s words and to join in praising the Lord.
Have you ever desperately needed the Lord’s help and cried out to him to intervene in your situation … and then recognized his answer when it came? What was your response?
Please pray with me: Thank you, Lord, that you watch out for us. Help us encourage others around us in their times of trouble also. May I always praise your name. Amen.
Forgive us as we forgive
This Sunday, the Gospel lesson is from Luke 11:1-4, "Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." And he said to them, "When you pray, say: "Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation."
Did you notice that in this prayer, we are to ask God to forgive because we forgive everyone else? I don't know about you, but I am sometimes slow to forgive or maybe even not forgive someone who has sinned against me. This is something that I will struggle with probably until I take my last breath.
That is why I must clean to the cross for forgiveness even as I pray for the Holy Spirit to enable me to forgive. I want to be able to pray this prayer knowing that, even as I am getting better, I have a ways to go in forgiving others.
Please pray with me the prayer for today; Almighty, everloving and forgiving God, I give you all glory and praise for forgiving me even when I am not forgiving. Lord, you know how I can make excuses for not forgiving someone. Please help me recognize my unforgiving sin toward others so that I repent and forgive them as you have forgiven me. In and through Jesus' blessed name, I pray. Amen.
Living in joy
Today's daily devotion is based on Luke 10:17-21, "The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!" And he (Jesus) said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven."
After a time of serving others, you may feel tired, yet you might notice an inner joy bubbling up. You know that your serving was by the grace of God, by his enabling; people have been blessed, and you can't help but praise him. Perhaps that's a taste of this 'joy through the Holy Spirit' that is discovered as we, too, learn to be led by the Spirit in trusting God at work in our situations—learning to see from heaven's perspective.
Joy is a gift from heaven usually discovered as we serve others. Joy rises within, replenishes us, and even energizes us and gives us new strength through the process. Joy is also part of the fruit of the Spirit received when the Holy Spirit is given to us. This joy is different from happiness, which is usually fleeting.
Please pray with me, Lord Jesus, grow in us this joyfulness you share with the Father and Holy Spirit. Give us insight and increase our understanding of your priorities. Amen.