REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Barry Kang who heads Symphony Church in Boston, was first posted on April 18, 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
“Don’t Need to Pretend; He Already Knows”
All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.
Psalm 38 was written in a time when David was physically ill. David believed that his suffering was a result of his own sinful choices. In desperation, he prays in faith to a God who he believes despite the circumstances is loving and merciful.
As an expression of this faith, David cries out to God, “All my longings lie open before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you.” In other words, David has laid himself bare before God. He has opened his heart, sharing every desire and every discouragement. He has hidden nothing from the Lord, aware that God sees all, anyway.
God knows every longing of our hearts, even our evil desires, and He loves us still! We don’t have to pretend when we pray. Rather, we can confidently and freely pray to God, knowing that His acceptance of us is not based upon our goodness but on his grace!
Do you ever try to hide from God? Why? What encourages you to open your heart freely and fully to him? Today, let us go before God in confidence knowing that He knows every longing of our hearts and still invites us to come.
Prayer: Father, I thank You for Your incredible grace. You know all the longings of my heart. The ones that give You glory and the ones that are wicked and self-centered. Yet, in Your grace, You have accepted me and invited me into your presence. I am now part of Your flock, not because I am worthy, but because You have chosen me in love. Help me to live in the reassurance that You know every longing of my heart. Help me to learn to live with You in every moment, seeking to give You more and more glory. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Jeremiah 35
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 6:6-8 (NIV): But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Questions to Consider
- Why does Jesus command us to pray in our rooms? Is Jesus instituting a rule against public prayer?
- Why does Jesus tell us not to “babble like pagans”?
- If God knows what we need before we ask him, why do we need to pray at all?
- What is the purpose of prayer?
- Jesus is not instituting a rule against public prayer, but rather warning against hypocrisy. Indeed, every recorded prayer of Jesus in the gospels is a public prayer! But Jesus knew that when we pray in public, we are in danger of formulating our prayers not for the ears of God but for the ears of other listeners. Instead, the main purpose of prayer is to communicate with God.
- When we babble like pagans, we speak words without meaning, our lips move but our hearts are empty. The form and style of our prayers become more important than the content. Christian prayer is a meaningful communication with God, rather than a meaningless loquacity. Since God knows what we need even before we ask, we can ask with confidence without trying to impress him or persuade him. As John Stott writes, “He is neither ignorant, so that we need to instruct him, nor hesitant, so that we need to persuade him. He is our Father—a Father who loves his children and knows all about their needs.”
- The first reason to pray is simply that God commands us to pray. Second, Calvin writes, “‘Believers do not pray with the view of informing God about things unknown to him, or of exciting him to do his duty, or of urging him as though he were reluctant. On the contrary, they pray in order that they may arouse themselves to seek him, that they may exercise their faith in meditating on his promises, that they may relieve themselves from their anxieties by pouring them into his bosom; in a word, that they may declare that from him alone they hope and expect, both for themselves and for others, all good things.” More succinctly, through prayer we draw nearer to God. God commands us to do this for our sake, but also because he delights in hearing and answering his children’s requests.
- The purpose of prayer is for us to communicate with God (remember communication goes both ways). We are not praying primarily to inform God of what is going on in our lives, we pray so that our hearts would become connected to his heart. We don’t have to impress him with our prayers. Rather, when we pray, God impresses his will and love on our hearts.
How is your prayer life? What goes through your mind when you pray? Has God been working on your heart today? What has he been saying to you?