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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Daily Devotion for December 10, 2013

<i>Churchyard Christmas</i> by Charles Wysocki, ca. 1982.
Churchyard Christmas by Charles Wysocki, ca. 1982.



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.


Prayer for the Morning

You are ushering in another day, untouched and freshly new, So here I come to ask You God if You'll renew me too?

Forgive the many errors, that I made yesterday, And let me try again dear God, to walk closer in Thy way.

But Father, I am well aware, I can't make it on my own. So take my hand and hold it tight, for I can't walk alone.


For God's Help in Keeping Advent Holy

My brother, Jesus. It happens every year. I think that this will be the year that I have a reflective Advent.

I look forward to Sunday and this new season, Jesus. But all around me are the signs rushing me to Christmas and some kind of celebration that equates spending with love.

I need your help. I want to slow my world down. This year, more than ever, I need Advent, these weeks of reflection and longing for hope in the darkness.

Jesus, this year, help me to have that longing. Help me to feel it in my heart and be aware of the hunger and thirst in my own soul. Deep down, I know there is something missing in my life, but I can’t quite reach for it. I can’t get what is missing.

I know it is about you, Jesus. You are not missing from my life, but I might be missing the awareness of all of the places you are present there.

Be with me, my dear friend. Guide me in these weeks to what you want to show me this Advent. Help me to be vulnerable enough to ask you to lead me to the place of my own weakness, the very place where I will find you the most deeply embedded in my heart, loving me without limits.



Finally, may I go forth filled with the joy and confidence of your Spirit; and may everything I do this day, in word or deed, be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.

Early Roman tile of Christ holding a book with Alpha and Omega

Holiday Advice

Take time to be aware that in the very midst of our busy preparations for the celebration of Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Christ is reborn in the Bethlehems of our homes and daily lives. Take time, slow down, be still, be awake to the Divine Mystery that looks so common and so ordinary yet is wondrously present.

~ Edward Hays, A Pilgrim’s Almanac

Blue Latin Cross

Revelation 22:12-17 (ESV)

Alpha and Omega

Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.

I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.

The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

Notes on the Scripture

Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet (almost identical to the English “A”), and Omega is the last letter (the capital “Ω” is most common, but in case you're interested, the small letter is “ω”). Saying that I am the “Alpha and Omega” is a poetic way of restating that God is the very beginning of all things and will be the very end. There was nothing before Him, and there can be nothing after Him, because He is eternal.

Christian Chi Rho with Alpha Omega
A rare use of lower-case
omega (in a Chi Rho symbol)

Mostly we say simply that God is eternal; He always was and will always be. Most Christian theologians consider that God exists outside of time, and in fact created time, something that we can say but can only partially grasp (unless we want a really bad headache). But we, who exist within time and space, can pretty well grasp that God existed at the very first instant and will be until the very last; He was the beginning and will be the end.

The beautiful hymn highlighted in our devotional today, which prominently includes the phrase “He is Alpha and Omega”, is a remarkable work. The tune is recognizable as Gregorian chant and was actually written at least 1,000 years ago: The first written copy of the tune has been dated to the 11th Century. It was titled Divinum Mysterium (divine mystery) and it really does have a beautiful, mysterious, and spiritual effect on the listener. It is sung here exactly as it might have been sung a thousand years ago, by an a capella male choir. There is some modern harmonization towards the end, but much of the performance is sung in ancient monastic style (developed long before the musical revolutions of renaissance and baroque stying): in unison, in unison with a drone note, or in eerie sounding two-part harmonies.

Just as remarkable, the words of the hymn are 1,600 years old! Of course it was originally written in Latin, by Aurelius Clemens Prudentius, probably around 390 A.D. The first line in Latin is “Corde natus ex parentis ante mundi exordium”. The superb translation into English which we currently use was done by John Mason Neale in 1854, and improved by Sir Henry Williams Baker in 1859

Alpha and Omega became a common Christian symbol in the early days of the church; like the fish, it was often used by Christians in areas where they were persecuted, and the authorities would immediately recognize a cross and investigate to identify Christians in order to arrest them. The ancient Roman tile (on the left) shows Christ holding a book in His hand, with the Greek letter alpha on one page and omega (a variant, using a large lower-case omega as the capital) on the other.

endless knot

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Today in Daily Prayer

Memory Verse

Matthew 12:6:

“I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.”

With the Christmas season upon us, Daily Prayer has shifted to Scripture appropriate to the season. We will resume our study of the second half of Matthew in early January.

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