September 17, Monday

Today’s AMI QT Devotional is written by Esther Chailim. Esther, a graduate of University of California, San Diego, is currently serving as the Director of Ministries at Kairos Christian Church (San Diego) and pursuing a Masters in Christian Ministry and Leadership at Talbot School of Theology.

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Heart of Prayer”

Jeremiah 37:1-8

“Zedekiah son of Josiah was made king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon; he reigned in place of Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim.Neither he nor his attendants nor the people of the land paid any attention to the words the Lord had spoken through Jeremiah the prophet. King Zedekiah, however, sent Jehukal son of Shelemiah with the priest Zephaniah son of Maaseiah to Jeremiah the prophet with this message: “Please pray to the Lord our God for us.” Now Jeremiah was free to come and go among the people, for he had not yet been put in prison. Pharaoh’s army had marched out of Egypt, and when the Babylonians who were besieging Jerusalem heard the report about them, they withdrew from Jerusalem.Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet: “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of me, ‘Pharaoh’s army, which has marched out to support you, will go back to its own land, to Egypt. Then the Babylonians will return and attack this city; they will capture it and burn it down.’”

Picture1As a teenager, I went through a rebellious stage and took out my frustration and
bitterness on my mother.  Sadly, this ultimately put a strain in our relationship for years to follow.  However, several years after I became a believer, the Lord stirred my heart to pray for our relationship to heal.  Living 100 miles apart, I thought this was the least I could do. So, I began to pray for my mom’s salvation and for our relationship to be restored. I prayed that God would soften her heart so that she could know Jesus.  I prayed that God would give me patience and help me to love her as Christ loves her.  I prayed that somehow, He would miraculously heal our relationship. But, as time passed, the tension in our relationship only deepened. After visits home to see my mom, feelings of guilt arose as I realized how quickly I got agitated over miniscule things. Frustrated, I thought, “God, why arent you answering my prayers?  Why isn’t our relationship changing? I don’t understand!

One day, as my mom and I were taking a stroll in the park, we got into a heated disagreement, leaving me feeling pretty down.  We parted ways and once again, I was left feeling both upset and guilty. Later that week, I felt the Lord pierce my heart where it hurt the most: my pride.  He revealed to me that my attitude towards my mom was sinful because up until that point, I had always felt justified in my actions towards her. And though I felt guilty, I wasn’t willing to let all the past hurts go.  In short, He revealed a new depth of my sin that I had never realized.

In the passage today, we read about King Zedekiah asking Jeremiah for prayer. Threat was upon the king, and he was desperate for help.  Though the Lord had already prophesied Babylon’s defeat over Jerusalem (Jer. 21:4-7), Zedekiah ignored the Lord and still pleaded for a favorable outcome.  The problem is that the king was looking for circumstantial change, butunwilling to submit himself to hear from God (v. 2).  In turn, God did not answer Zedekiah’s prayer.

My prayers for my mom, though earnest and seemingly “holy,” were no different than Zedekiah’s prayer.  In truth, I wanted my circumstances, that is, my mom, to change, but I wasn’t positioning myself to hear what God wanted to reveal about me.  It wasn’t until God disclosed my sin that I was able to finally hear from God and repent of my bitterness, judgement and pride.  Then, and only then, did I truly begin to see my relationship with my mom change; not because SHE changed, but because God changed me.  

Often times, we subconsciously come to prayer with a set agenda.  We pray for people and things to change, and yet we forget that we need to be changed. I still struggle with this, but more and more, I realize that prayer is not about changing circumstance; prayer is about changing us.  The question is, do we allow God to mold and shape us through prayer?  

Prayer: Lord, You are in control, not me.  Help me to lay aside my own plans and surrender them to You.  I invite You, Holy Spirit, to come and speak into the areas of my life that are self-seeking. Help me to be God-centered and continue to shape and mold me to be more like Jesus. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Job 31


Lunch Break Study

Read Psalm 66:16-20: Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. 17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!

Questions to Consider

  1. How can we posture ourselves in prayer?
  2. What is one reason God does not answer prayer?
  3. In respect to #2, does this mean that we have to be sinless for God to hear my prayers?
Notes
  1. One way we can posture ourselves in prayer is to have reverence for God, acknowledging that He is the one in control and we are subject to His good will and purpose. Secondly, we can posture ourselves with praise on our tongues.
  2. King David reveals that one hindrance in God’s willingness to hear our prayers is when we continue to walk in sin and do not repent of those sins. We can’t live a consistently sinful lifestyle and expect God to hear our prayers.
  3. In verse 18, David uses the phrase, “if I had cherished sin.”  Though it is true that we are sinners, even after we become Christians, David’s use of the word “cherished” indicates the kind of sin we hold on to and are unwilling to let go of.  God isn’t expecting us to be sinless, but He does call us to face our sins and confess them.

Evening Reflection

Reflect on some of the things you are currently praying for.  Ask yourself if you are having a right heart posture as you pray for these things?  Are you allowing God to speak to you and change you, or are you just praying for circumstances to change?  Take some time to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal your heart motive.  

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