The AMI QT Devotionals for July 22-23 are written by Pastor Ryun Chang.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
“What is Worse than Prayerlessness?”
Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my sighing. 2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God, for to you I pray. 3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
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.
As the head of Israel, King David was a very busy man, but evidently his morning hours were spent seeking God. He knew that once his day got going, it would be difficult to spend time with Him. This wasn’t a brief and hasty encounter with God, for David pleaded, cried out, and waited on the LORD.
So, how do you typically spend your morning hours? Do you think it can be better utilized to promote spiritual growth? As a new day is about to commence, is there anything that tugs at your heart, causing you to worry? Take a moment to lay your burden before God. Ultimately, our prayerlessness means that we neither trust nor rely on God.
But an act worse than prayerlessness is praying to be noticed by men in order to be perceived as spiritual—apparently, the religious leaders in Jesus’ days—the Pharisees—made art out of it. Nevertheless, this is something that tempts everyone, for most of us have done the same, perhaps through other “spiritual things” such as, biblical knowledge or church involvement. The core issue is the basis upon which our security is built: our performances or God’s unconditional acceptance of us in Christ?
What’s the trap when we try to earn people’s acceptance through our performances? It works like an addiction; those who are intoxicated by it will do anything (e.g., tell lies, spread gossips, stage events) to keep their audience. Before mobile phones became available and affordable, the car phone was the in-thing in the 1980s. Some people, who couldn’t afford this, would install a fake car phone antenna in the rear to pretend that they had one. What a cover up for insecurity! How can we overcome living like that? Based on Paul’s confession in 2 Cor. 12:9 (“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me”) what is one way to deal with our insecurity? It is willing to be vulnerable through sharing our weaknesses and then share how Christ continues to heal and strengthen those and other areas of our lives. Try it today.
Prayer: Lord, give me the wisdom and discipline to seek You first in the morning. I lay before You all my burden, for You are gentle and humble in heart, and Your yoke is easy and burden is light. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Kings 5
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 6:1-5: “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 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.
Questions to Consider
- Who said this and to whom was this said (Mt. 5:1)?
- Why was this taught2 (Mt. 16:5-6, 11, 23:2-3)?
- What was in it for the Pharisees to behave like this? What were they willing to do to get what they wanted (Mt. 23:5-6; Mk. 11:18; Jn. 7:31-32)?
- Jesus said this to a large crowd that had followed him to a mountainside to listen to him.
- He was concerned that they may learn to act like the Pharisees, their hypocritical leaders (“Don’t do what they do”). Bad spiritual leadership can really affect people; thus, we need to be judicious in choosing our spiritual leader.
- Having gotten used to receiving approval from the audience, the Pharisees craved for more and were willing to do anything, like praying ostentatiously before people to impress them (thus, making spirituality a means to a carnal end), or conspiring to eliminate their competition, that is, Jesus (thus, breaking the very commandments they had taught the people to obey).
Were you busy today? Too busy to pray or too busy not to pray? Write out a prayer asking God for strength to trust Him amid your trials and those things that make you feel insecure.