REPOST Today’s AMI Devotional Thought, first posted on November 3, 2015, is provided by Pastor Yohan Lee, a friend of AMI, who in the past has served as a staff at several AMI churches. He is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania (BA) and Cairn University (MA).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Stress and Prayer”
Hear, O our God, for we are despised. Turn back their taunt on their own heads and give them up to be plundered in a land where they are captives. 5 Do not cover their guilt, and let not their sin be blotted out from your sight, for they have provoked you to anger in the presence of the builders.
We have all had those days at work that were irritatingly stressful, frustratingly unproductive, and/or mind-numbingly tedious. After such days, most of us feel the need to “unwind”—and how we do so depend on the person: Some of us eat comforting foods, others veg out in front of the TV for a couple of hours, or others work out. One pastor shared how he would sometimes have to go walk the aisles of his local grocery story or toy store, not buying anything, but allow the time to clear away the frustration. I suppose each of these methods has a way of calming our nerves and relaxing us a bit, but I wonder whether these forms of unwinding are ultimately beneficial to us, or if they act as just band aids. Honestly, how much can television help us overcome work and family issues? And when we “unwind,” are we seeking resolution or escape?
Yesterday, we read about how Sanballat and Tobiah both tried to discourage the Jews from rebuilding the wall of Jerusalem. I’m sure their words caused Nehemiah and the people much grief. In today’s excerpt, Nehemiah gives us the time honored Christian method of dealing with stress: prayer. He prayed to the One who was able to fix their situation and avenge His people. Enough of us have adequate theologies when it comes to prayer—we know God hears and answers prayer. We also know it is a powerful force in the advancement in God’s kingdom. In fact, many of us have experienced the Lord’s comfort, direction, power, and love through prayer. However, not enough of us have practically gotten into the habit of taking things to the Lord before it becomes a crisis.
How is your prayer life? What is your initial reaction to stressful or difficult times? It would be amazing if the AMI community learned to turn to God and tell Him about our stressful days and the problems we face before or instead of looking to escape through other avenues.
Prayer: Lord, help me to cast my anxieties on You, knowing that You care for me (1 Pet. 5:7). Help me to look to You first as Your child and friend. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Acts 28
Lunch Break Study
Read James 5:13-18: Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.
Questions to Consider
1. When did James exhort us to pray? Under what circumstances?
2. Why did James reference Elijah? What was he trying to show?
3. How are you doing when it comes to praying in faith?
1. Although the passage says that we should pray when suffering, in joyful circumstances, and when sick or under sin, the breadth of circumstances implies that we should always be praying (1 Thess. 5:17).
2. Verse 17 is interesting because the implication is that Elijah asked God to usher in the three year drought described in 1 Kings 17-18, as opposed to God telling Elijah to make the declaration. If this is true (and the 1 Kings account gives no reason to think otherwise), then think about the power that a man/woman of God has through prayer!
3. Personal response
Instead of reflecting on your day, take 10 minutes to pray to the Lord. If you’ve already prayed earlier today, sit and wait (or meditate) on Him to speak or give you an impression. Let’s use this time to listen as well as to speak.