The Heart to Pray

Good morning. It is Friday, July 24, 2015.

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is persiflage. Persiflage is a noun, meaning, “light, bantering talk or writing,” or, “a frivolous or flippant style of treating a subject.” It is pronounced pur-suh-flahzh. “Persiflage entered English in the 1750s. It is derived from the French word persifler meaning ‘to banter.'”

Today is Cousins Day. I like that. I love my cousins, even though I don’t get to see them, very often. So, to Kay, Lee Ann, Ricky, Johnny, Jayne, and Joan, if you happen to stumble across this, happy Cousins Day! ❤

Yesterday’s work went pretty well for me. Christi, however, wound up not leaving work until about 6:30, due to a lengthy meeting in the boss’s office. I was concerned that there might have been something wrong, but it was just a long, intense meeting, discussing future stuff. Needless to say, she didn’t make Huddle last night. So we ate our Mexican soup and watched the rest of So You Think You Can Dance, along with this week’s episode of Stitchers. I checked the pool balance before she got home, and it was much better than the day before. It’s still not quite right, but it’s good enough to swim in, so we should be good for tomorrow’s party.

Oh, and I may have forgotten to mention, I have to work tomorrow morning. That means I have to be at work at 7:00 instead of my usual 8. So there may not be a blog entry tomorrow, and it definitely won’t be the usual “weekend edition.”

So that’s it for the persiflage, this morning. On to the serious stuff. Non-persiflage?

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

Today’s daily Bible reading is Genesis 14-15, Psalm 47, and Matthew 1.

In Genesis 14, Abram rescues Lot (which he would not have had to do, had he listened more carefully to God’s initial instructions) from the kings who defeated Sodom and Gomorrah. He brought back Lot, all of Lot’s possessions, as well as the rest of “the women and the people.” At the end of chapter 14, we see that strange section involving Melchizedeck, “king of Salem,” who is also said to be “priest of God Most High.” It is said that Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Melchizedeck attempted to let Abram keep all of the goods, but Abram would have none of it. But Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have lifted my hand to the LORD, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, that I would not take a thread or a sandal strap or anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich.’ I will take nothing but what the young men have eaten, and the share of the men who went with me. (22-24)

In Genesis 15, God makes a covenant with Abram, showing him the stars in the sky, and telling him that his descendants would be as many as the stars, were he able to count that high. As Abram falls into a deep sleep, surrounded by the elements of the sacrifice that God demanded, God tells him that his people will “be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.” (verse 13)

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.
Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah.
God has gone up with a shout, the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm!
God reigns over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the peoples gather as the people of the God of Abraham. For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted!

Psalm 47

Matthew 1 contains a genealogy of Jesus, beginning with Abraham. This is followed by Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus, much shorter than Luke’s, focusing mostly on Joseph and his response to the immaculate conception.

Today’s reading in Heart Aflame, is Psalm 86:1-10.

A Prayer of David.
Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.
There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

In the last section of chapter 4, Timothy Keller tells about when David wanted to build a house for God. Instead, God told him, “No, I will build you a house.” Solomon, David’s son, would be the one to build the temple. “David wanted to build God a place that displayed his glory. God said, in effect, that he had a counterproposal. He would establish David’s royal family line and it would ultimately reveal God’s glory in a more permanent, far-reaching, and universal way.”

David’s response to all of this can be found in 2 Samuel 7:27. “For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.” There is a revelation in this verse on how prayer works. The ESV, along with the NIV that Keller quotes, says that David “found courage to pray.” However, the Hebrew text, translated literally, says that God’s words “enabled David to ‘find the heart [Hebrew leb] to pray this prayer to you.’ The Word of God created within David the desire, drive, and strength to pray.” The principle at work here is this: “God speaks to us in his Word, and we respond in prayer, entering into the divine conversation, into communion with God.”

That same Word of God that enabled David to find the heart, or courage, to pray to God, dwells richly in us today (Colossians 3:16), giving us “hearts to praise, sing, and pray to God with a joy and reality that neither David nor John the Baptist could know.”

God has given us a richer promise, even, than that of David. God told David that he would build a house for him. But God has told us that “he will make us his house. he will fill us with his presence, beauty, and glory. Every time Christians merely remember who they are in Christ, that great word comes home to us and we will find, over and over again, a heart to pray.”

As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5
. . . built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Ephesians 2:20-22

Father, help me, as I go along, this day, to remember who I am and whose I am. Help me to remember the very great and precious promises that are in your Word, and that reside in my spirit by the power of your Spirit. I believe that you have already placed within me the heart to pray. Otherwise, I wouldn’t do it. But there are some days when that heart to pray seems to be buried underneath needless cares and worries. I pray that you would keep my heart to pray above all of those things. Let me not fret over needless things; let me not even fret over things that might matter. I pray that you help me be obedient to the Psalmist’s words in Psalm 37, that tell me to fret not, but to trust in you. May the delight of my heart be you, O God!

I pray for this day. May our passage to work and home be safe and smooth. May our work day be productive and free from anxiety. Even if situations arise that might cause us anxiety, I pray that your Spirit will keep us calm as we trust in you. I pray that I might not have to work late today, as is so often the case. May your grace and mercy rain down on us, as well as on Stephanie, Rachel, Justin, and Mama. If my mother has an activity at church, this afternoon, I pray that she will have a wonderful time.

Your grace is sufficient for all circumstances.

If we struggle to find the heart to pray, we need only look to the Word of God, allowing it to dwell richly within us.

Grace and peace, friends.

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