Persistent Prayer

Today is Saturday, the thirtieth of July, 2022, in the seventeenth week of Ordinary Time.

May the peace of Christ dwell within you today!

Day 23,515

Twenty days until S turns 29!

We hit 103, yesterday, two degrees beyond the predicted 101, so our streak is now at fourteen days, and we have had a total of 34 days of 100+ temps, this summer. More importantly, however . . .

It rained.

Not for very long, maybe a half hour, and it was only a tenth of an inch (I didn’t measure it, but that’s what the nearest airport said), but it rained. It smelled so good, sounded so good, and felt so good. And the temperature dropped quite a bit when that happened. Between about 4 PM and 6:30, it dropped twenty degrees. The high today, at least on one of my weather apps, is predicted to be only 96.

We are going to Mineral Wells, later this morning. I have a lunch gathering with some old High School bandmates at 11:30, so I’ll go there while Mama and C go to the house. It’s going to be hot in that house, though, so I’m not sure how much work will get done. Or actually how much is left to be done, either. We’re very close to needing to get a truck to move the large pieces that we will be bringing to our house, and then we’ll be ready to get the estate sale going. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen until autumn, though.

The Texas Rangers won their second in a row, beating the Angels 7-2, once again behind the stellar pitching of Martin Perez. I’m a little concerned that the article about the game begins with, “With the trade deadline looming . . . ” It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they traded Perez. That’s what the Rangers are notorious for doing. He’s their only good pitcher, this year, and they’ll probably trade him, which will dash any hopes for playoffs this season. He has won nine straight games.

The Rangers are now 45-54 for the season, still in third place in the AL West, still twenty games out of first, and 7.5 out of the Wild Card race. They play the Angels again, tonight, in LA, at 8:07 CDT.

The Red Sox lost to the Milwaukee Brewers, 4-1, making their record 50-51 for the season. They are in last place in the AL East, eighteen games out of first place, and 3.5 out of the Wild Card race.

The Dodgers continue to hold the best MLB record (by percentage), at 67-32. The Nationals are still the worst, at 34-67. The Mets and Athletics kept their win streaks alive, so they are tied with four straight wins. The Pirates lost again, so their losing streak is now at five games. The Yankees still have the best run differential, at +203, but are only ten runs ahead of the Dodgers. The Nationals continue to have the worst run differential, now at -164. The Rangers improved to +10, and the Red Sox dropped to -17.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL AND PRAYERS

Lord our God, we are your children. Hear all our concerns, we pray, for we want help from you, not from men, not from anything we can think or say. May your power be revealed in our time. We long for a new age, an age of peace in which people are changed. We long for your day, the day when your power will be revealed to poor, broken humankind. Be with us, and give our hearts what will remain with us, the strength and mercy of Jesus Christ. Amen.
(Daily Prayer from Plough.com)

For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
(2 Timothy 1:7 NIV)

Today I am grateful:

1. for RAIN!!
2. for the power, love, and self-discipline we receive from God's Spirit; may we employ that in our everyday living
3. for an opportunity to reconnect with old friends
4. for the lessons of the parables of Jesus
5. for the ability to acknowledge my weaknesses and unworthiness before the Lord, and the ability to rejoice in all things

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 3:12-14 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
(Luke 9:62 ESV)

Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.
(Romans 6:13 ESV)

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. . . . “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.”
(Luke 18:1, 6-8 NIV)

Is Jesus teaching that we have to badger God into giving us what we want? Certainly not! But I have to confess that I have often puzzled over this passage (it’s not the only one I puzzle over, believe me).

But see the first verse in the chapter. Jesus is telling His disciples this parable why? “To show them that they should always pray and not give up.” It’s not the only time that He used a so-called “secular” device to teach one of His principles.

There is another principle at play, though, that might explain why we don’t get what we ask for, at least not right away. “God in His wisdom, righteousness, and love, dare not give us what would do us harm if we received it too soon or too easily.” (Andrew Murray)

Yet another principle to consider is what we are really after when we pray. I have discussed, previously, that prayer is not just a way for us to get what we want from God. And there are too many instances where people treat it that way. How many folks only pray when something is wrong?

Certainly, or Father wants to give us what we need. There may even be times when He gives us what we want. But He also earnestly desires fellowship with us, and that we would desire fellowship with Him more than we want His gifts. We all know what it feels like when, upon coming home from a trip away from the rest of the family, the first words out of the children’s mouths is, “What did you get me??”

I imagine that our Father feels the same way when we only pray to Him when we need or want something.

“We discover how earthly and finite our heart is and how we need God’s Holy Spirit to help us. Here we come to know our own weakness and unworthiness and to yield to God’s Spirit to pray through us.” In this, we also learn to crucify, with Christ, our own way and will.

“Let us acknowledge how vain our work for God has been due to our lack of prayer. We can change our methods and make continuing, persistent prayer the proof that we look to God for all things and that we believe He hears and answers us.”

As we carefully consider these things, it is worth noting that there is a not-so-recent trend in dismissing any idea of our unworthiness before God. While it is true that Christ has made us “worthy,” it is also true that we have no intrinsic worth without Him. This does not mean that we walk around with stooped shoulders and droopy faces, thinking bad things about ourselves all the time.

There is a balance here, and Paul speaks of this when he talks about boasting in his own weaknesses.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
(2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)

So, along with Paul, I proudly proclaim my weakness, and my unworthiness, because it is in the acknowledgment of these truths that He is seen as strong and worthy. And I also choose to rejoice in these things.

That’s the prayer word of the day, by the way, “rejoice.” And our choice in this is emphasized by a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who said, “It is about your outlook towards life. You can either regret or rejoice.”

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
(Romans 12:12-15 ESV)

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
(Philippians 4:4 ESV)

Today's sources:
Pray a Word a Day
Daily Guideposts 2022
Power in Prayer, by Andrew Murray
Spiritual Classics, by Richard J. Foster and Emilie Griffin

Father, I thank You that You hear our prayers all the time. But I also thank You that You know what is best for us, at all times, and that You will not answer a prayer in the way that we want, if it will do us harm in any way (either spiritually or physically). Thank You for the parables of Jesus that teach us how to pray. Thank You for the examples of persistent prayer, to show us that we ought never give up in prayer.

I pray that my prayers would reflect Your will on earth, so that they will be more effective. I pray that my heart’s desires would be Your heart’s desires. And I know that the way for this to happen is for me to delight myself in You.

It is my heart’s desire, also, that I would desire fellowship with You more than the gifts that You give. Sometimes, I just want to sit and contemplate, basking in Your grace and mercy, in Your presence. There is such a warmth and acceptance in Your presence, Father, that even those words fail to describe.

And it is in that presence that I see the truth of how unworthy I am of all that You have done for me. However, I do not take that unworthiness to a level of self-deprecation that would cause me pain or grief. I celebrate it, because in Christ, You have made me worthy! I rejoice, along with Paul (not comparing myself to him in any way), that in my weaknesses, I am strong because of You and the work done in Jesus Christ on my behalf.

Help me to distance myself from thoughts and actions that would draw me away from You, or disturb my fellowship with You. And may my joy in You continue to grow and flourish.

Even so, come soon, Lord Jesus!


“Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;”
(Isaiah 55:6 ESV)

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
(Psalms 16:11 ESV)

Grace and peace, friends.

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