Praying Without Ceasing

Today is Saturday, the eighteenth of September, 2021.

Peace be with you.

Day 23,200

Only four more days until the Autumnal Equinox!

Both of the appointments went very well, yesterday. C saw a PA (Physician’s Assistant) who was very nice and we both liked her a lot. She was told that she no longer needs to wear the brace when up and walking around. She was also told that she had no business trying to completely wean herself from pain pills, only two weeks after surgery. Everything is progressing exactly as it should be. She can try lifting up to thirty pounds, as she feels like it. All the bending or twisting is also kind of up to her. If it hurts, don’t do it, is the general rule. She is scheduled to go back there the Monday after Thanksgiving. She is also cleared to drive, as long as she hasn’t taken any hydrocodone.

Cleopatra’s appointment also went very well, and took about thirty minutes. I was home less than an hour after I left, and that included stopping by Sonic for another round of drinks.

Nothing else much happened, yesterday. We had an old favorite recipe for dinner, which we had not done in quite a while, and it was quite delicious. We made pizza with cauliflower crust, turkey pepperoni, and turkey sausage crumbles. We also finished watching Clickbait on Netflix. It is an eight-episode “limited series,” and is pretty good, until the last episode. There are some really great plot twists, along the way, but the twist in the final episode is, in my opinion, completely implausible, and they left a huge loose end that was never explained.

Today, I’m working from 9:30 to 6:15 (only a forty-five minute lunch to make up for starting fifteen minutes later). I have our Walmart Neighborhood Market order set to pick up between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, this evening, so I will grab it right after work. We will likely either go to Albertson’s tomorrow or have a delivery scheduled for tomorrow, some time.

Anyway, I’d best get on with things, because I need to be done in time for a shower, by around 8:45.

No time for trivial matters today.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

"Father, I abandon myself
into your hands.
Do with me what you will.
Whatever you may do, I thank you.
I am ready for all, I accept all.
Let only your will be done in me
and in all your creatures.
I wish no more than this, O Lord.
Into your hands I commend my soul.
I offer it to you with all the love of my heart,
for I love you, Lord,
and so need to give myself,
to surrender myself into your hands
without reserve
and with boundless confidence,
for you are my Father."
Charles de Foucauld

Sing praises to the LORD, O you his saints, and give thanks to his holy name.
(Psalms 30:4 ESV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for C's continued successful surgery recovery
2. for the positive steps we took this past week in saving money
3. for the saints who sing praises to Your holy Name
4. for the ability to "pray without ceasing"
5. that we can pour out our laments to You, which does help us feel better

Scriptures and Prayers from Seeking God’s Face: Praying with the Bible through the Year

ORDINARY TIME – WEEK SEVENTEEN – DAY SEVEN

INVITATION

let them praise Yahweh’s name, for his name alone is exalted. His glory is above the earth and the heavens.
(Psalms 148:13 WEB)

As I pause in this moment, I desire a greater sense of Your presence. I reflect on the greatness of Your Name, and Your glory, which is far above the earth and the heavens.

BIBLE SONG

A psalm of Asaph.

O God, the nations have invaded your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple, they have reduced Jerusalem to rubble.
They have left the dead bodies of your servants as food for the birds of the sky, the flesh of your own people for the animals of the wild.
They have poured out blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there is no one to bury the dead.
We are objects of contempt to our neighbors, of scorn and derision to those around us.

Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of your name; deliver us and forgive our sins for your name’s sake.
(Psalms 79:1-4, 9 NIV)

BIBLE READING

Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD, so the LORD delivered them into the hands of the Philistines for forty years.
A certain man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was childless, unable to give birth. The angel of the LORD appeared to her and said, “You are barren and childless, but you are going to become pregnant and give birth to a son. Now see to it that you drink no wine or other fermented drink and that you do not eat anything unclean. You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.”
The woman gave birth to a boy and named him Samson. He grew and the LORD blessed him, and the Spirit of the LORD began to stir him while he was in Mahaneh Dan, between Zorah and Eshtaol.
(Judges 13:1-5, 24-25 NIV)

DWELLING: SILENCE AND MEDITATION

As I continue my awareness of Your presence, I ask Your Holy Spirit to guide me through these Words of Yours, teaching me, helping me see where to pause and meditate, teaching me how to pray.

The destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans occurred in 70 AD, but this psalm of Asaph was written long before that. Either Asaph was prophesying or he was writing about the destruction at the time of the Babylonian captivity. Either way, the psalmist is bemoaning the destruction of God’s holy place; the holy temple has been razed.

Asaph is not telling God anything He did not know. Neither are we when we pray prayers of lament, telling God the terrible things that are going on, either surrounding us, or, perhaps, even being done to us.

I have, at times, been critical of prayers that are nothing more than giving God information. God doesn’t need me to tell Him how sick someone is. He already knows that so-and-so is having surgery on such-and-such a day. He already knows that our friend or relative has cancer or Covid.

The thing is, prayer isn’t always asking God to do something. Asaph gets around to that in verse 9. Sometimes, prayer is cathartic. “Cathartic – providing psychological relief through the open expression of strong emotions.” Nothing wrong with that, is there.

So I repent of my criticisms. Go ahead. Tell God whatever you want to tell Him. Because it’s not for Him. Truthfully, He doesn’t need our prayers. He doesn’t need anything at all. God is fully self-sufficient, the only being in the universe who is. It is we who need the catharsis of unloading our emotional distress to the Lord. Time after time, we get this example shown to us in Psalms. Psalmists continually cry out to God with deep emotion. So let us do the same.

As we have seen in previous days, we can even, like Gideon, question God without fear of reprisals.

“Pray without ceasing,” Paul advises us in his epistles. If prayer is conversation with God, then it can happen at any time, in any place. And should. And it can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. God is infinitely smarter than we are, so we can’t confuse Him. And if we can’t quite make our words make sense, He understands what we are asking for.

Are there terrible things happening in your life right now? Goodness knows there are terrible things happening in our world, in our country, in our state. Going on the example of Asaph (and others), we can feel comfortable just telling God what’s going on. And, honestly, even if you are believing lies and “fake news,” you can spew those back to God, because He knows the truth.

Things were going terrible for Israel, once again, because, as previously noted, “Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD.” As I said, if you read through the book of Judges, you see that statement (or ones very similar) over and over again. Because people are people, and, in general, never change.

Judges 13 is the beginnings of the story of another of the judges, Samson. Now, I’m still at little bit miffed that I was led to believe, as a child, that Samson was a great, honorable hero of faith.

Man, Sampson was a horrible person! I could use worse words, but I’ll refrain. He wasn’t nice, he wasn’t honorable, and he was about as self-centered as they come.

But he accomplished the Lord’s purpose with his life, and that is really all that matters. We don’t need to try to imitate his personality, but he is one of the best examples in Scripture that God can use just about anyone for His purposes.

Father, there truly are horrible things going on in our world, in our country, and in our state. I’m sure that pretty much anyone in the world could personalize this. As we pray to You, Lord, help us to be honest with You. Help us to see truth as we pray. Help us to seek Your Truth, and know that only Jesus is the Truth, as well as the Way and the Life. May we truly find life in Him, as we try to walk this path of life that leads to You. Your Church (at least in the USA) is in tatters, right now, from my perspective, as it is as divided as the nation. I pray for unity among Your people. May we find things that we have in common, rather than trying to point out things that we don’t share in common. May we focus on truth, found in Your Words, rather than lies found in the mouths of politicians (and other humans). I pray, along with the psalmist, Asaph, “Help us, God our Savior, for the glory of Your Name; deliver us and forgive our sins for Your Name’s sake.”

I pray, Lord, that You would give us courage in ministry, making us willing to take certain risks as we engage our communities. Again, I ask for unity, as well as holiness, within Your Church, especially in the USA. May Your presence be strong in the souls of all leaders within Your Church, as well.

"Extravagant God,
in the past You sprinkled Your Spirit on particular people or specific times for special tasks or roles.
Thank You for pouring out the Holy Spirit on all Your people,
making the Spirit's power and presence a normal part of following Jesus.
With my whole heart I ask for the fullness of the Holy Spirit in my life,
to stir up and disturb,
revive and renew.
In Jesus' name,
amen."

BLESSING

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”
(Matthew 5:3 WEB)

A song of ascents.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
(Psalms 121:1-8 NIV)

Of David. In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
(Psalms 25:1 NIV)

Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)

I trust in You, Lord! May this day be full of the evidence. May I pray without ceasing.

I pray for peace in our nation, peace in our world. I pray for racial injustice to end, and I pray for the pandemic to be over. Above all else, though, I pray for Your will to be done, on earth as it is in heaven. For Yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world, 
have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
have mercy upon us.
O, Lamb of God, that takes away the sins of the world,
grant us Your peace.
(Agnus Dei)

Grace and peace, friends.