June 19, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals from June 19-25 are provided by Pastor Joshua Kim of Church of Southland.  Joshua, a graduate of Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary (M.Div.), serves as the pastor of Access group (singles).  He is married to Christina.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

Revelation 8:1-5

When the Lamb broke the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour. 2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and seven trumpets were given to them. 3 Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. 4 And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer and filled it with the fire of the altar, and threw it to the earth; and there followed peals of thunder and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

I’ve had the privilege of being able to attend three different seminaries during my time in ministry, all with very different perspectives on theology and the Christian life. And as I have learned through my professors and classmates, you start to see how wide the spectrum of thoughts that people hold on various topics such as prayer. You have people on one extreme where prayer is merely an activity of religion because they emphasize the sovereignty of God so much that they don’t see the benefit of prayer. But on the other extreme, you have people who pray in such a way as if everything still depend upon what they do or say. But the reality is, prayer is neither of these extremes. Prayer is more relational, more dynamic than that.

In the passage today, we see the final seal being broken open by the Lamb. Every time a seal is broken, we’ve seen since chapter 6 an outpouring of God’s judgment upon earth. But this final one is different from the other ones. We see the participation of the saints’ prayers in the unfolding of the events that follow. Commentator Leon Morris points out how the prayers of the saints rise with the incense to God out of the angel’s hand, suggesting that there is a sense of oneness amongst the saints and the angels of heaven. This reminds us that we are never alone in our prayers. It reminds us of the cloud of witnesses in Hebrews 12 that stand testifying of God’s faithfulness. The sense is that there is a participation of the prayers of the saints in the events that unfold in God’s sovereign plan. What an incredible reality of prayer!

How is your prayer life these days? Has prayer become an empty gesture, a to-do that you check off because that’s the right thing to do? It is passages like today’s where we see that our prayers do matter, that they rise from the altar to the throne of our Heavenly Father. And although our God is indeed sovereign and in control, He also invites us to participate in His unfolding of redemption. Won’t you respond to His invitation today?

Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of prayer. You are sovereign, omniscient, and all powerful, yet You allow imperfect beings to participate in Your redemptive work. Lord, fill us with Your Holy Spirit so that we may pray according to Your will. In Jesus’ name we pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Romans 15


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Matthew 6:5-15: And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread 12 and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.’14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Questions to Consider

  1. As you meditate on these verses, what can you glean from this passage about prayer? How are the prayers of those discussed in verses 5-8 different from how Jesus teaches us to pray in verses 9-15?
  2. In the greater context of this passage, there is a repetition of the phrase, “they have their reward in full” (verses 2, 5). What is implied in this passage about the nature of prayer?
  3. How does Jesus’ instructions on prayer speak to your personal prayer life?

Notes

  1. There are several things at play in this passage: There is a contrast to the visibility of the one who prays. There is a contrast in terms of the content of their prayers. One thing you can draw from this passage is that prayer is an act of intimacy with your Heavenly Father—it is from a place of intimacy for the things that are so intimate to you (such as your everyday meal).
  2. This passage talks much about those who seek an earthly reward will receive just that, and the manner of their actions reveal it. What is implied (or perhaps explicit in verse 1) is that there is indeed a reward for our actions, but it comes down to the kind of reward we desire. Those who want to be seen by others, they will receive their reward. But those who pray in intimacy with their Heavenly Father, they will also be rewarded—God will respond to our prayers. Nevertheless, there is indeed a reward.
  3. Personal response.

EVENING REFLECTION

Prayer is an act of faith. How has today’s reflection on prayer challenged your notion of what it means to live by faith? How does your prayer life reflect the level of faith with which you live? Spend some time in intimate conversation with your Heavenly Father, asking for greater faith that you may ask and receive, not just any reward, but His reward.

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