Good God, why do I pray so timidly, offering hesitant requests when I’m your loved child? I’ve been commanded – almost dared – by Jesus to trust your generosity in my prayers. Give me the expectation of a child that through Jesus Christ I will receive all I ask from you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
In Australia people are giving up on religion, so the ABS says. Personally, I doubt it. There may be less people attending church, and a reduction in the number of those who have nominal attachment. But really, everyone is religious. Even the ‘no religion’ response is a religious response.
Those who do not believe in God still offer a response to God – one of unbelief. As those who are agnostic say ‘we don’t know if there is a God.’
Maybe there are just different religious responses.
Those who ignore God, and live as though he doesn’t exist.
Those who avoid God. Who know he’s probably there, who tip toe around his fingerprints, and do their best to think about other things.
Those who manipulate God. Or at least try to. If I
- work on my broken relationship
- pray harder
- get to church more
- stop that terrible behaviour
- give to that charity
- fill in the blank
…then God will do what I ask, bless me, accept me.
Then there’s following God. Receiving his gift of grace, forgiveness and life, and living a life that shows his true intent for life and humanity. This is the life Jesus has come to give.
‘No religion’ is not an option, so which one are you? And how is that working?
Whatever happens today, remember that as strong and as ugly as the evil one appears to be, he has limited strength and ability. Jesus Christ, ruler of our universe, has all power and authority. He is on the throne and rules all nations. You can trust this powerful Saviour to be near you and to give you all you need today to follow him.
Rev 12:1-9 “A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads. Its tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who “will rule all the nations with an iron sceptre.” And her child was snatched up to God and to his throne. The woman fled into the wilderness to a place prepared for her by God, where she might be taken care of for 1,260 days.
Then war broke out in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him. “
Prayer: High King of Heaven, this strange visit fits our this world. Every news story of misery and corruption is an echo of the dragon waiting like a thief to devour all that is good and to vandalise your shalom. Thank you for the good news that evil has met its match in Jesus, and give me the patience in this day as I wait for its complete end. Amen
(Philip F. Reinders, Seeking God’s Face, p.537 – using material from Belgic Confession, Article 12)
“God of truth and light, my sworn enemies – the world, my own flesh, and the devil – are not always obvious opponents. They are shifty prowlers, usually hidden and wickedly crafty. So make me wise to their schemes but mostly alert to your grace.
In Jesus’ name, amen”
Philip Reinders, Seeking God’s Face, p.523
I love how this prayer recognises the presence of sworn enemies ‘in my own flesh’. Ruthlessly honest. The problem is not just ‘them’, it’s also me. As Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn observed, the dividing line between good and evil runs down the centre of every human heart.
Thankfully, God’s grace in us in Jesus is greater than the shifty prowlers in the world.
Every follower of Jesus wants to be a person of prayer. That’s what Eugene Peterson suggests in the introduction to Seeking God’s Face. I think he’s right. Trouble is, few of us know where to start or what to say.
This is where Seeking God’s Face is brilliant. It encourages a daily practice of prayer and reading by providing a structured program throughout the year.
Each daily reading has several sections:
Invitation: A brief passage of Scripture drawing the reader into a mindfulness of God’s presence.
Quiet: The reader is encouraged to be still before the Lord. Turn off. Slow down. Be quiet. “Cultivating a stilled, attentive heart before God and quieting down actual noise and internal noise is a vital step in preparing to hear God’s voice.” (p.19)
Bible Song: Each day has a Psalm to be used a prayer. These Psalms guide the reader to respond to God. It might be confession of sin, praise for His goodness, or magnifying his power. Following these Psalms will take the reader through the entire Psalter twice in the year.
Bible Reading: The readings follow the celebrations of the church year: Christmas, Lent, Easter, Pentecost etc. The readings are for meditation: to hear the voice of God. Since we believe the best place to hear God’s voice is Scripture, this is a welcome alternative to reading what someone else has written, and to hear God’s word directly.
Quiet: The second period of quiet presents an opportunity to move to a more contemplative frame, opening ourselves to what God will say to us in his word.
Dwelling: The reader is encouraged to slowly re-read the Bible passage, listening for words and concepts that stand out as they read. This is lectio divina – listening for God’s voice and seeking to grow in our walk with him. The author acknowledges this may be new for some, but in a world where we are so used to interpreting, studying and analysing the word it is good to train ourselves simply to listen deeply.
Free Prayer: Several prayer points are noted, which are excellent prompts to broaden our prayer focus well beyond our immediate needs and personal gaze. For example: the first time I used this book it was suggested I pray for the continent of Australia. I thought that was pretty good!
Prayer: Each day has a set prayer where the living theology of the reformed confessions is enfolded into the Christian activity of prayer. One of the true benefits of this volume is that it works the faith heritage we know and love into our devotion and praise.
“If we can begin to weave these core Christian beliefs into our prayers, most likely we’ll find them trickling into our minds, embedded in our hearts, and lived out in our lives [.22]
Blessing: a final blessing closes the session, reminding us of God’s good intentions and his gracious provision.
Each day is conveniently arranged on a page opening, with a helpful table pointing the reader to the correct reading for each respective date.
I love the way Seeking God’s Face opens my mind to God’s voice in his word. I love the way it slows me down. I love its depth of content. I love the way it draws me into the reformation heartbeat.
Whether you’re busy and your schedule is overgrown, or whether you’re looking for renewed opportunity to deepen your sense of God’s presence, Seeking God’s Face is just what you’re after.
As a Pastor, I can only dream about how my local church would grow and mature if every person used Seeking God’s Face for a year!
…and I should point out it’s way cheaper to buy this title through Book Depository.
- Find one block of 30 minutes per week for the next two weeks
- As you enter into that 30 min period, simply pray “Lord, reveal yourself to me anew, let me feel my own soul’s thirst for you. Open my heart, my eyes, my ears to you. Let me love you for who you are.”
- Do nothing else during that time: no reading, no prayer, no phone (turn it off!!), no writing, no speaking. Just wait and listen to your soul.
- After 30 mins, write down your thoughts in a journal or a notes app
- Sometime during these next two weeks , share your experiences with a friend
The full text of my message can be found at SermonandStudy.com and audio is available from our iTunes feed and from our webpage
Almighty and merciful God, by whose grace your faithful people are able to bring you true and praiseworthy service: Grant, we ask, that we may so faithfully serve you in this life that we do not fail to attain your heavenly promises through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
[adapted from ‘The Book of Common Prayer’ 1662]