January 21, Thursday

REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, is an updated version of his blog first posted on April 11, 2013.  He is a graduate of Stanford University (BA), Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (D.Min.). 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“What Honest Prayer Looks Like”

Psalm 35:22-24

O Lord, you have seen this; be not silent. Do not be far from me, O Lord. 23 Awake, and rise to my defense! Contend for me, my God and Lord. 24 Vindicate me in your righteousness, O Lord my God; do not let them gloat over me.

Did David really believe that God was sleeping and needed waking?  My guess is no. But we receive here a great example of honest and authentic prayer.  One of the reasons I love the book of Psalms is that we are shown that we can pray very honest prayers.

One of the practices that will kill our prayer life is to pray “Miss Universe” type prayers, praying for world peace, etc.  Shallow, inauthentic prayers will eventually lead us away from praying.  After-all, even the most determined hypocrites among us have our limits!  David shows us that prayer is not necessarily about saying the right thing, but is first about honest communication with God.  

I don’t believe God judges us based upon the wording of our prayers. (He doesn’t need to since He can look right into our hearts.)  As we open our hearts up to God in honest prayer, then God can work in our hearts to begin to pray more theologically sound prayers.  But it starts with honest prayer.

How authentic are your prayers?  Remember that God can see your heart already.  There’s no point faking it before God!

Prayer: Father, I thank You that we can approach You in complete honesty.  I also thank You that no matter how messed up my heart is, You still desire my prayers and a relationship with me.  I also confess that like David, I don’t understand Your ways.  Sometimes You seem so far away or slow to act.  I know that You are not sleeping, but I don’t understand why You don’t act more obviously and quickly to halt the injustices in my life and to bring healing when I ask.  Help me to trust in You and Your timing.  Help me to keep pressing on in prayer, believing that this is what You desire of me.  In Jesus’s name, I pray.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 24

Lunch Break Study

Read Exodus 32:11-14 (NIV): But Moses sought the favor of the Lord his God. “O Lord,” he said, “why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out, to kill them in the mountains and to wipe them off the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce anger; relent and do not bring disaster on your people. 13 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Israel, to whom you swore by your own self: ‘I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and I will give your descendants all this land I promised them, and it will be their inheritance forever.’” 14 Then the Lord relented and did not bring on his people the disaster he had threatened.

Questions to Consider

  1. By happy coincidence, the daily readings coincide today with the lunch break study!  So this should be a relatively easy question to answer: What is the context of this passage?
  2. How does Moses intercede for his people?
  3. In Numbers 12:3, Moses is described as a “very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth.”  What does this incident teach us about the nature of true humility?


  1. In Exodus 32, the people of Israel get tired of waiting for Moses, who was receiving the Law from God on Mount Sinai. They ask Aaron to make for them gods that they can see. Aaron makes for them a golden calf, of which he declares, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you out of Egypt.”
  2. Moses boldly reminds God of his promise to bring his people out of Egypt, and his promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (aka Israel) to bless their descendants. Interestingly, Moses also argues that God should be concerned with his reputation among the Egyptians (v. 12).
  3. Humility is obviously not the same as shyness or a lack of boldness. Moses, “the humblest man on the face of the earth” boldly confronts God even in the face of God’s anger, and reminds God of his promises. This is not arrogance on Moses’s part. We see elsewhere that Moses is not concerned about his reputation (for example, he does not respond to the challenge of his authority in Numbers 12), but rather, in his humility, he is zealous for God’s reputation. The truly humble person is more concerned about God’s reputation than his/her own.

Additional comment: As much as this passage tells us about Moses, we also learn something about God’s character.  God could have rebuked Moses for his presumption.  A small and petty god might have punished Moses for daring to challenge him.  Instead, God listens to Moses’ intercession.  We have here a picture of a God who deeply cares about those he is in relationship with, and hears their petitions and concerns.

Evening Reflection

In your journaling tonight, make every effort to be as honest as possible.  We are not journaling so that our future selves might have a certain picture of us, but to wrestle (if necessary) with the Spirit of God, and to root and establish ourselves in His love!

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