February 23, Monday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

Lk. 11:5-9 (ESV): Then He said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and goes to him at midnight and says to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves; [6] for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; [7] and from inside he answers and says, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.’ [8] I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs. [9] So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. [10] For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it will be opened.”

23aWhen my basset hound thinks it’s time to walk, she whimpers without ceasing.  This annoys me a lot when I am busy, but I still walk her so that she won’t bother me with her persistent whimpering.  And once we’re out, I make sure she has a good walk.

So, do we get anything we want from God as long we pray persistently?  No.  Paul, while suffering from “a thorn in the flesh”—likely a physical illness (Gal. 4:14-6)—“pleaded with the Lord to take it away from [him]” three times (2 Cor. 12:8).  God said, “No.”  David “fasted and . . . and spent the nights lying on the ground” for his sick child.  “The child died” (2 Sam. 12:16, 18).

23bKeep this in mind before praying: “If you remain in [Christ] and [his] words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (Jn. 15:7).  Those abiding in Christ won’t ask for things that contradict God’s general will revealed in the Scripture.  In Mexico where Catholicism reigns, it isn’t uncommon for drug cartels to demand that a priest bless them.  God will never answer prayers that go contrary to His general will; some may experience what may look like an answered prayer, but God has nothing to do with it.

The prayers of deliverance by Paul and David were according to God’s general will (James 5:15); unbeknownst to them, however, they were praying earnestly against God’s specific will.  There is no shame in that; in fact, we should pray like this persistently.  If we happen to be praying according to God’s specific will, then, in time, we’ll see it answered.   Even if our prayer isn’t answered according to how we prayed, we might still encounter God in a special way: a disappointed Paul heard God say, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9); a sad David “went into the house of the LORD and worshiped” (2 Sam. 12:20).

Before you pray, make sure your petitions align with God’s general will and that you abide in Christ.  Then pray, persistently!  If it is answered, praise God; if he doesn’t, the consolation prize isn’t bad!

Prayer

Father, how I adore You and delight myself in Your presence.  Thank You that you want me to be persistent in prayer so that I can experience answered prayers; better yet, thank You that you want me to pray persistently so that even if my prayer will not be answered in the way I expect it, I’ll still encounter You in a special way.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Isaiah 61

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Lunch Break Study

Read Lk. 5:16, 9:18 (NASB): But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness* and pray. . . .

[18] And it happened that while He was praying alone, the disciples were with Him, and He questioned them, saying, “Who do the people say that I am?”                                    *Desolate (ESV)

Mk. 1:35 (ESV): And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

Acts 10:9 (NIV), 16:13 (ESV): About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. . . . [13] And on the Sabbath day [Paul and Luke] went outside the gate to the riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down and spoke to the women who had come together.

Question to Consider

  1. What common practice did Jesus, Paul and Peter share with respect to praying?
  2. Why is that so important?
  3. What adjustment s do you need to make in order to pray instead of talking about praying?

Notes

  1. They all sought out a quiet place to pray alone, whether it be the wilderness (or perhaps the desert), beach or rooftop. When I am travelling and have to share a room with someone, I get up early and pray in the bathroom.  (Hey, some hotel bathrooms are cleaner than my living room.)
  2. Have you tried communicating on the phone when there you’re in a room with a lot of people talking? Likewise, if anyone who is serious about praying to God, one must find a quiet place where there won’t be any distractions during this prayer time.
  3. Is there something you usually do, that if you don’t it, you don’t feel as good? Make praying a habit until it feels like something is missing when you don’t pray. I feel that way toward the following three things that I do every morning after I get up: pray at least an hour, read 5 chapters of the Bible, and then go jogging!

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 Evening Reflection

“Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17).  Pray for yourself, your family, friends and coworkers.  Pray that America’s moral slide will hit a bump so that it will, at least, slow down.  Pray for AMI to prosper so that God’s kingdom will continue to expand around the globe.

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