REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Matt Ro who formerly pastored Journey Church in Atlanta, was originally posted on May 15, 2013. Matt is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BS) and Biblical Theological Seminary (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“‘Breathing Exercises’ When We Pray”
Psalm 58:6-11 (ESV)
O God, break the teeth in their mouths; tear out the fangs of the young lions, O Lord! 7 Let them vanish like water that runs away; when he aims his arrows, let them be blunted. 8 Let them be like the snail that dissolves into slime, like the stillborn child who never sees the sun. 9 Sooner than your pots can feel the heat of thorns, whether green or ablaze, may he sweep them away! 10 The righteous will rejoice when he sees the vengeance; he will bathe his feet in the blood of the wicked. 11 Mankind will say, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.”
Prayer is one of the most remarkable privileges that we have. It can be compared to how we breath physically. Through prayer, we breathe with the breath of God’s Spirit. We exhale impure air — such as our complaints, our honest confessions, and our disturbing thoughts. In prayer, we inhale the fresh breath of God — His revelations, assurance, and promises. We may respond by breathing out and exploding in praise to God.
One form of breathing prayer is the complaint psalm in Scripture, sometimes called the “cursing” or imprecatory psalm. We rarely hear messages in church about these prayers, especially words like, “O God, break the teeth in their mouths” (Psalm 58:6a). It can be disturbing to us, sounding self-righteous, paranoid, or even vengeful; but actually, what the psalmists are doing is breathing with God. These prayers are samplings of their private struggles. We can see that even though everything is going badly, the psalmists keep on talking with God. They do not turn their backs on God.
The “cursing” psalms teach us an important lesson about prayer: when things get unbearable or injustices assail us, when life is more than we can bear, we can still face our heavenly Father. He can handle our rants. We can vent our pain and process our thoughts in His presence. By the end of Psalm 58, we see that the psalmist has settled down. He says, “Surely there is a reward for the righteous; surely there is a God who judges on earth.” (v. 11). The psalmist comes through with a sense of hope and assurance.
These psalms in Scripture teach us to wrestle through with God (Col. 4:12). We, too, can breathe out all our disturbing and chaotic thoughts whether it be through journaling, poetry, or art; or we can let Scriptures express for us what we can’t. This process, as disordered as it may be, is essential for our well-being. Give it a try today.
Prayer: Father, You invite us to breathe with Your Spirit and to freely express our burdens and our joys in prayer. Give us the courage to pray with such consistent honesty before You. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Song of Songs 3
Lunch Break Study
Read Ephesians 4:4-6 (ESV): There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Questions to Consider
- Paul uses the word “one” a total of seven times in these three verses. What are some lessons that can we learn about unity from this passage?
- If you had the same unity with the Father as Jesus had, how would that affect your human relationships?
- Upon what basis is our unity based?
- What are some areas that God has revealed to you in which you have been focusing on yourself instead of on Him and His glory?
- Beginning with Eph. 4:3, we see that unity is not something that needs to be produced but is something that already exists. It is not only based on truth but also the experiences and identities that we share. These are things that lay hold of us, not we who lay hold of them. We are united in these ways the moment we become a Christian. Therefore, the way to create unity is simply to bring people to Christ, and the unity of the Spirit will be produced in them by the Spirit. Another principle for unity is that we are “one body.” I think back to Galatians 3:28 where there is “neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” What does this all mean? You and I lose our “human” identity in Christ. I shouldn’t be known anymore for my social, physical status in life. I now should be known as a Christian (i.e., a follower of Christ) first and above all else. Rather than being known as pro-this or anti-that, I should be known as a Christian who seeks to emulate Christ.
- It is important that Christians not be quarreling, bickering, and struggling against one another. Such a church is totally ineffective in its life and ministry. It is important that when Christians meet together, they recognize that they are called to understand one another, to forbear one another, to pray for one another, to forgive one another, not holding grudges, not being bitter or resentful toward each other. We must fulfill what God tells us to do through the apostle Paul: to maintain the unity of the Spirit.
- This unity is based on truth: There is one Spirit—one Holy Spirit—who is the third person of the Trinity. He calls us to life, convicts us of sin, draws us to Christ, and enables us to walk worthy of this calling. There is one hope in this calling—the hope that we have in Jesus Christ. Hope that will not be disappointed (Is. 49:23b). There is one Lord—one Jesus, one Mediator between God and men, one Savior, one Redeemer. There is only one way to heaven. There is one faith—one true belief. Whatever is not of faith is sin. There is one baptism—one immersion into Christ by the Spirit of God, symbolized by our water baptism. There is one God—this is in reality the most foundational truth, echoed throughout the Old and New Testament, that the Lord our God is One. There is none other.
- Personal response
Have we realized that it is not our job to produce unity, but to discover the unity produced by the Spirit? Have others noticed the peace, love, and life of Christ in us?
Prayer: Father, may Your Spirit search my heart about my attitude toward others. Thank you that it is not my calling to produce a union of Christians but rather to discover that unity produced only by the Holy Spirit. Amen