November 24 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – John

Read Revelation 22:10-21

[Before reading, please watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zP-TcNwxiqY]

I don’t know about you, but, whenever I listen and sing along to this song, I legitimately have to fight back tears…every single time. Now, I’m not someone who normally has to fight back tears during corporate worship, but this song…the imagery it represents…gets me every time.

The reading today is a part of the last chapter of the entire Bible. In the pages before, creation took place; sin corrupted the human race, and death, despair, horror, violence and immorality overwhelmed the minds and actions of so many people. Jesus (God in human form) was born to bridge the gap between us and God, in part via His death on the cross. Upon His death, He was in a tomb for three days before He rose from the dead and empowered His disciples to carry on the good news. Upon his ascension into Heaven, the disciples carried the gospel to the very ends of the earth, even if it cost them their lives.

The Bible is a story of redemption.

Where there is sin. there is grace. Where there are heinous actions, there is forgiveness. Where there is despair, there is hope.

In chapter 22, the story of the end of the world (judgments, punishments, redemption, and eternal life) is finished. In verse 20, “he who testifies” (Jesus) says that He is coming quickly to fulfill everything that was just written. He is coming to take us home to be with him.

Maybe you have prayed the prayer of Revelation 22:20, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus.”

Many of us can look at how our world is today and cry out to God to come quickly to make it all go away. On the other hand, if you’re anything like me, you cannot wait for eternity…for the imagery of the beginning song to be a reality.

Just imagine. Take some time to be still and watch that video again, really taking to heart the imagery and what it will be like to meet Jesus face to face…for sin to be completely done away with…to be home.

Incredible.

My question to you is this: are you living with the end in mind? Can you not wait for Him to come back or do you have some things you would like to take care of first? We don’t know when this time will happen. Your time is now. Don’t wait for Jesus to come back for change to happen. Be the change. Show people Jesus. Give them the hope of the gospel.

He is coming quickly. Are you ready?

Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.

Jake Lawson

November 23 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 3: 1-8. . . .again

What? Didn’t we just have an Every Day with God devotional on Psalm 3 yesterday? Yes, we did. In it, we focused on God’s provision in the midst of difficulty, His deliverance from fear in the face of any challenge. But here is another tidbit that we can glean for today as well.

Verse 2: “Many are saying of me, “God will not deliver him.”

If you have been a follower of Christ for any length of time, you have endured times of pain and heartache. Today, let’s turn the lens on those around us who watch us as we navigate those deep waters and walk through those fires.

For the watcher who has yet to embrace the love and hope found in Christ, I can envision at least two basic responses. When witnessing our trial, some observers will relate to similar feelings or difficulties they have encountered. Then, as they see how we respond, they are drawn to examine how we can possibly “sing” in the midst of our pain like David did in Psalm 3. It is in this way that the Holy Spirit may be drawing them to their own personal faith.

The second response is unfortunately less lovely. A response born out of wickedness, these folks choose instead to actively scorn the God of Heaven. They revel in mocking God, kicking us when we are down because of the Lord we love and serve. They shake their fists in God’s face.  As such, I’d like us to look at Psalm 3 in a bit larger context. Turn backwards in your Bible to 1 Samuel 17. A very young David struck down Goliath for defying the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel. He was deeply upset by the Philistine shouting curses by his gods.  Now flip forward to today’s Psalm.  A much older David hears many saying “God will not deliver him.” Is it possible that the same man whose anger burned when Goliath defied God is again just as angry that evil men are saying, in essence, “God can’t deliver him”? I find it very interesting that, at the end of this verse, the song is punctuated with “Selah” as an exclamation point, directing us to pause and ponder these last words.

I will leave you with the question God brought to my heart: When evil folks mock my God, am I more focused on my situation or am I incensed that they have chosen to defy my Lord?

Wade Karhan

 

 

November 22 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 3:1-8

Have you ever been to the funeral of someone who “died at a ripe old age” and a well-meaning person remarked, “At least they lived a long full life.”? Like me, you may have even said those same words yourself. But have you ever stopped and pondered what the deceased was thinking in the days, weeks or moments prior to their death? Were they ready to meet Jesus, knowing He was going to welcome them with open arms? Were they scared? Like many folks, it’s not so much what happens the instant we take our last breath as it is, maybe, a fear of how we might suffer, prior to that turning of the page. No matter what our age, we certainly don’t want our departure to be marked with pain and suffering. Taking this thought to a new level, we can give thanks that, in all likelihood, none of us will endure the anxiety of being pursued by a legion of folks bent on our destruction.

In our reading today, David begins with, “How many are my foes? How many rise up against me?”. Yet, as David wrote these words, don’t miss the incredible backdrop to this song. It was penned when David was fleeing from his own son! The pain and anguish of that alone must have been unbearable.  And yet, from this place of deep grief and fear, David proclaims what he knows to be unshakably true, a truth we can absolutely proclaim for ourselves: God is our shield. He will lift our head and will always answer when we call out to him. We can sleep confident that the Lord will sustain us.  And don’t miss this – regardless of what is “assailing us on every side,” we do not have to fear. Financial hardship? Broken relationship? Betrayal? A health crisis? Anything that would come against you is not too hard for the Lord and from Him will come your deliverance.

Deliverance. Comfort. Peace. God provides it in many forms. Sometimes He strikes our enemies on the jaw, shattering the teeth of the wicked. Now there is retribution! As a dentist, I’ve seen many broken teeth. Sometimes, however, God’s intervention doesn’t so much change our circumstances as it lovingly surrounds us and ushers us through it. Yet, no matter how life looks, the Lord will always be there every step of the way. Even if you don’t feel like singing, it is no less true.  Selah! (Pause and ponder!)

Wade Karhan

November 21 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Elijah

Read 1 Kings 18:17-46

Elijah was a prophet of God.  Prophets had the difficult task of speaking God’s truth to people that didn’t really want to hear it.  It’s fascinating to read their accounts in God’s word and see their faith and courage in action.  Sometimes questioning God themselves, they kept taking steps of faith, waiting on God to come through.

The king, at the time of our passage, was Ahab.  I Kings 16:30 tells us he ” . . .did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of the kings before him.”  I wouldn’t want to tell him anything he didn’t want to hear, but Elijah did.  Ahab, his wife, Jezebel, and his family were worshiping Baal instead of God and it was causing Israel a ton of problems.

Elijah sets up a ‘battle of the gods,’ if you will.  He presents the opportunity for God to show up in undeniable ways, and He does.

The thing that stands out to me is how the prophets of Baal prayed.  They cried out to Baal from morning until night.  They danced, they shouted and shouted some more, they slashed themselves with swords and spears until their blood flowed.  They were frantic, yet nothing happened.

Elijah prayed and boom…God answered immediately!  His fire consumed,  not just the sacrifice, but also all of the water, soil, wood, and stones on the altar.

Has God ever answered a prayer like that for you?  You aren’t even sure if you fashioned a legible prayer and boom…it’s taken care of?  And then there are times when you pray and wait. Nothing happens.  You pray and wait some more.  Nothing happens.  What do we do then?  Do we begin to look like Baal worshipers…dancing around?  Worrying ourselves frantic?  Do we think God is sleeping or doesn’t care?  Do we resort to doing all WE can to make things happen because God just isn’t doing what we want?  That’s idolatry, my friend.

God is able.  God can move faster than lightning and use it for His glory.  He can move like a snail and use it for His glory.  What do we do in the meantime?  We wait on the one, true God.  We walk in obedience and wait on the one who can do anything.  We trust that, even in the waiting, He is good.  He’s good when He acts quickly, and He’s good when nothing seems to be happening.  Rest, my friend.  Cry out to Him…lay your burdens at His feet, and rest.

“Since ancient times, no one has heard, no ear has perceived, no eye has seen any God besides you, who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.”  Isaiah 64:4

Shelly Eberly

November 20 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 77:1-20

One of my earliest memories is sitting in the back of a car with my cousin, traveling down a Missouri highway and sharing Jesus with him. As far as I know, both of my uncles and their families aren’t believers. Back when the three of us kids weren’t in sports that required Christmas break practices (those are literally the worst), our family would always travel to my parents’ stomping ground of St. Charles, Missouri (suburb of St. Louis) to see our extended family. I have no recollection of how old I was at the time of this car ride, but my dad was driving while talking to my uncle about Jesus. In the back seat, I was talking to my cousin and I cited the verse about Jesus answering any prayer and giving us whatever we ask for. My cousin liked the idea of that and immediately asked God for a four-wheeler. Now, I knew that wasn’t how prayer worked, but I had no idea how to salvage the conversation. I know what you’re probably NOT thinking, “Great job, Jake. You nailed it! There’s no way that your cousin wasn’t saved through that conversation!” I’m guessing that, while my cousin looked outside for a four-wheeler, I was squinting my eyes trying to think back to what I learned in Sunday school that could get me out of this hole. Nothing came to mind.

Talk about awkward.

The question of unanswered prayer is one that is on the heart and lips of so many people. It’s a completely logical question to ask why God seemingly doesn’t always answer prayers. What happens when I pray for something and all I get is silence? As you just read, David was having very similar questions in Psalm 77.

The truth is that God answers EVERY prayer! It just may not be in the way that we want. He answers every prayer with either a “yes”, “no” or “not yet”. There is never a time where God ignores your prayer.

At the time of the writing of this devotional, Pastor Nick is about to preach on this very question, “Why doesn’t God answer my prayer?” Despite if you were in the service or not, it would be a good idea to re-watch or re-listen to the message.

Check out the link here to watch the sermon.

Some of the principles that Nick talked about that were encouraging to me were: 1) Prayer isn’t about getting my way; it’s about surrendering my will. 2) Waiting is never wasted and 3) Silence doesn’t mean absence.

Listen to Nick’s message and be encouraged! You are never ignored. Do you believe that God has a plan for your life and it’s what’s best for you?

Jake Lawson

November 19 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 145: 1-21

Have you ever sat and wondered what life will be like in heaven? I’ve always dreamed that at least a portion of the ‘day’ will be focused around glorifying God. Part of me imagines all of heaven sitting in some massive arena and, upon the Lord’s arrival, the heavenly places bursting out into the chorus of Agnus Dei “Holy…. Holy… are you Lord God, Almighty.”

While my dream is simply that- a dream – our reading today certainly has me excited about what the prospects of what our life in heaven will be like. Basking in the presence of a God who deserves all of the glory, honor, and praise. A God whose holiness, righteousness, and grace are simply incomprehensible to our human understanding. How amazing it will be to be in the presence of our King!

I certainly do look forward to the day I get to praise God for eternity, but I’m also awestruck by how  I can honor Him today. I’m challenged by what the Psalmist writes in verse two:  “Every day I will praise you.” Believe it or not this was actually the verse that stuck out the most, as I was reading this passage, because I’m not sure my life praises God every day. On the days where I’m not feeling so hot, or my mind is racing in a million different directions, or I’m just baffled by a set of circumstances, I really do struggle to be thankful.

But this passage from the Psalms reminds me of God’s goodness. That even on the days when thankfulness is the hardest, I still should praise God for his faithfulness. When was the last time you sat back and just thought about how good God has been to you? I challenge you to spend some time thinking about that today. In a world that is increasingly pessimistic, what would it look like for you to spend 5-10 minutes out of your day, thinking about what is actually going well? Focusing your thoughts on the blessings the Lord has provided you?

Take the challenge. Sit back for up to ten minutes today and just sit quietly and pray. Praise God for who He is and who He promises to be in your life. What are you thankful for?

Taylor Bennington

 

 

November 18 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 19:1-14

Although there are many who question the existence of God, David points to two clear ways through which God has revealed Himself.

  1. God reveals Himself in general ways through creation (vv. 1-6). Although the created world lacks a literal voice with which to speak, David personifies it, pointing out that the message of creation spans all languages.  It declares clearly the glory and the power of God to all (cf. Rom. 1:18ff).  As a result, all are accountable to Him.  No one can use the excuse that God did not reveal Himself to him/her.
  2. God reveals Himself in special ways through the Bible (vv. 7-14). The inspired words of the Scriptures revive, make wise, cause rejoicing, and enlighten the reader/listener.  They serve as both a warning and keeping them results in reward.  No wonder David expresses their value in terms that money cannot buy.  With the special revelation of the Word of God comes increased accountability for all who have access to it.

David closes the chapter in prayer . . . a prayer that should be close to the heart of each person who understands the multiplied responsibility that is ours because of His revelation.

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
Be acceptable in Your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”  (v. 14)

This prayer draws attention to his thoughts and words.  Though you may argue that no one is aware of our thoughts or that words are insignificant, in reality, both have a huge impact on the person you are and the people with whom you have contact.  And both are of great interest to God.  As we fix our words and thoughts on the revelation of God made through creation and the written word, we can anticipate transformation.

Is it your genuine desire to please Him in word and thought?  Enough to internalize and apply His revelation through the Word to your life?  Enough to make this prayer your prayer in the days ahead?  Pause now to express the words of verse 14 to the Lord, your Rock and your Redeemer.

Steve Kern

November 17 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – David

Read Psalm 51:1-19

When brought face to face with our sin, our responses are interesting. We often find ways to do things like minimize our sin (“Ah, it isn’t anything to worry about!”), justify our sin (“The way he was treating me…I just couldn’t do anything different!”), or shift the blame for our sin (“That’s judgmental! Who are you to judge me?”). Any of those sound familiar?

David’s confession of sin in Psalm 51 shows us the right response. The occasion of the psalm is of particular interest here. David had committed adultery with Bathsheba. You can read about that in 2 Samuel 11. But, after the adultery, lies, and murder, Nathan exposed David’s sin.

How did David respond when confronted? Thankfully, he didn’t minimize it, justify it, or shift the blame about it.  Instead, he owned his sin! He made reference to it as “my iniquity,” “my sin,” and “my transgressions” (vv. 2, 3, 9). He acknowledged that he had committed his sin against God (v. 4).  But David also did what every sinner must do. He called upon the mercy, unfailing love, and compassion of God (v. 1) in order that he might experience cleansing, washing, purification, renewal and restoration (vv. 7, 10, 12).

God’s forgiveness, you see, is not granted on a “time heals all wounds” basis. It is not the result of mindlessly mouthing some words or even trying to “appease” God with some kind of personal sacrifice. No, forgiveness is granted on the basis of owning our sin in true repentance of a “broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart” (v. 17, 1 Jn. 1:9). Is there something in your life that you need to stop minimizing, justifying, or blaming others for?  Pause now and “own it!”

What happens when we own our sin? There is cleansing, washing, purification, renewal, and restoration! There is forgiveness. Though there may be temporary or lifelong consequences for the choices we have made, we, nonetheless, are brought back into right-standing with God. Although he was broken, David was able to look beyond his situation in anticipation of the day when things like joy, gladness, and rejoicing would once again characterize his life (v. 8).

The Bible is filled with the names of countless people like us. They are people who sinned.  But because they owned their sin, they received forgiveness from God and went on to serve Him. Our story will be no different if we make sincere confession a necessary part of our prayer life!

Steve Kern

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 7: PRAY FOR A FAMILY ON MISSION

Read Joshua 24:15. Imagine what your homes, our church, and even the world could look like if we chose to be families that were on mission. Think about how different life would be if we intentionally chose to live life and love others the way that God designed us to. Are you willing to commit to raising a household that is devoted to serving the Lord? If so, ask God to stir in your heart the passion and devotion to lead your family to be on mission for the gospel starting TODAY!

November 16 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Simeon

Read Luke 2:21-32

In today’s reading, verse 25 tells us of Simeon. Other than saying he lived in Jerusalem, what Luke wanted us to know first and foremost was that Simeon was righteous and devout. My mind instantly thinks, “If Luke were writing today, what would he say about me?” Sure, I live in Wooster now.  But how would those who know me finish that sentence?   Would it be limited to my profession? “. . .who is a dentist”.  Or maybe how I’ve served in the past?  “. . . who used to sing in contemporary worship.” Each day we are given options about what we will do and say.  Every single one of those choices defines us to others.  Personally, I would like to think people would see me and think “loves Jesus and loves encouraging others”; hence my life verse of Galatians 6:10. How would you describe yourself? How would others describe you?

Back to this amazing scene in the Bible. The Holy Spirit had revealed that Simeon’s prayers for the Consolation of Israel would be answered in physically seeing and touching the Messiah in his lifetime.  Wow!! Moreover, his prayer, starting in verse 30, proclaimed, “My eyes have seen your salvation, which you prepared in the sight of all nations; a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.” No wonder Mary and Joseph marveled at this!

I will leave you with these thoughts taken from verse 29:  “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. “ As a righteous and devout man, Simeon certainly spent many hours in quiet reflection and solitude with God. Surely, he prayed for many people and situations. But, of all those things, first and foremost on his prayer list apparently was for the coming of the Messiah. And in this time and place in history, Simeon’s prayers recognized Israel’s need for Consolation.

What do you pray for? Is there something that is always at the top of your list? Something your heart aches to see? The “Jesus, if this or that could happen before I die” kind of prayer? I’ve thought a lot about that lately. If you took all those things I care about, put them in a big box, and placed them on an altar, praying, “God, please tend to all these things.” I realize now that they have already been answered . . .answered in Jesus. I am not ready to be “dismissed” into His presence. There are so many more ways I’d like to be used in the lives of people. But I can rest assured that my deepest, most heartfelt prayers have already been answered, whether I see them or not.

Wade Karhan

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 6: PRAY FOR HEALING

Read Psalm 147:3, Matthew 11: 28-30. Let’s be honest, there is no such thing as the perfect family. Every family has been broken and has experienced heartbreak. The world is diseased by sin, which leaves precious families to deal with death, divorce, abuse, addiction, and so much more. Pray for your family today and ask God to begin to heal the wounds/hurts that they live with every day. Ask Him to show your family His never-ending, never-failing, all-consuming love and mercy.

November 15 – 35 Prayers in the Bible – Paul

Read Ephesians 3:1-21

I am crazy in love with Ephesians chapter 3!

I think I relate so much to Paul because I, like Paul, could not be more unqualified to speak out for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Thankfully, God doesn’t give that a second thought.

The Jews were extremely proud people because they knew they were God’s chosen people.  Then, Paul comes along in chapter 3 and sets up the scene by telling them that there is ‘more to the story’ and they are going to have a very hard time grasping it.  In verse 6, Paul declares that the gentiles are now fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.  Wait, WHAT?!

Religious thinking:  They don’t deserve that.  We deserve it.  It’s a rule.

Relationship thinking:  I don’t deserve this yet you give it to me anyway.

We can never reach God through a set of rules when we were created for so much more!

I remember a night during our Grace Group when my husband asked the group, “If you knew you had 24 hours to live, what would you do?”  Most of us stated that we would run through the streets trying to share the gospel of Jesus to everyone we met.  We would do that, if, we knew we were dying.  As sad as that is, it’s been my reality.  I go along in my very comfortable life and pray little prayers asking God bless this and protect that.  Paul didn’t have time for that and yet, he had all the time in the world sitting in that prison cell.  He was on a mission, the same mission I’m called to be on.  To know this love that surpasses knowledge – that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

Father, forgive me.  You have blessed me to live in a nation where I can hit my knees at any given time to come to you in prayer.  Forgive my surface prayers.  Thank you for Paul’s courage.  To kneel before you in inhumane conditions and declare that we become rooted and established in love. He wasn’t praying for himself, he was coming before you and praying for me.  Am I praying that over my family, my small group, & my co-workers?  Am I bowing before you daily, begging you through tears to show the lost people in my life how wide and long and high and deep your love is for them?  Oh, Lord, may we pray these prayers with the boldness as if it may be the very last prayer I am blessed to bring before you.  Time is running out and you have given me a job to do.  May I finish strong, not because it’s a rule, but because it is a privilege.

Rayonna Miller

7 Day Family Prayer Challenge

DAY 5: PRAY FOR PARTNERSHIP

Read Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10. Life is better together!! The Family and the Church need each other!  Parents have thousands of more hours with their kids than the church does. The Church has the privilege and opportunity to be another positive voice in the lives of our kids. So pray today for Grace Students and Grace Kids Grace Group Leaders. That they will be encouraged as they speak truth and hope into students and kids’ lives. Pray for God to show our church the very best ways to encourage and partner with families!