Daily Devotion for April 22, 2015
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.
Matins (Morning Prayer)
Holy Word, equal to the Almighty, our only hope, Eternal light of the earth and the Heavens, I break the peaceful night's silence. Divine Saviour, cast your eyes upon us! Spread the fire of your mighty grace upon us. May the entire hell flee at the sound of your voice; Disperse from any slothful soul the drowsiness which induces it to forget your laws! Oh Christ, look with favor upon the faithful people who gather in spirit to bless you. Receive my prayer, receive the prayers of who pray with me now, offered to your immortal glory. And send our souls away with the gifts you have bestowed upon them.
To Be Powerless
Lord Christ, may all of my expectations be frustrated. May all of my plans be thwarted. May all of my desires be withered into nothingness, that I may experience the powerlessness and poverty of a child, and sing and dance and pray utterly in the love of God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit.
Prayer for Renewal
O God, who for our redemption gave your only-begotten Son to the death of the cross, and by his glorious resurrection delivered us from the power of our enemy: Grant me and my fellow saints so to die daily to sin, that we may evermore live with him in the joy of his resurrection. Stir up in your Church that Spirit of adoption which is given to us in Baptism, that all Christendom, being renewed both in body and mind, may worship you in sincerity and truth; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
[To die daily to sin.]
And finally, may the grace of Christ our Savior, and the Father's boundless love, with the Holy Spirit's favor, rest upon me, and all of us, from above. Thus may we abide in union, with each other and the Lord, and possess, in sweet communion, joys which earth cannot afford.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 23 (ESV)
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Matthew 5:43-48 (ESV)
The Hardest Obligation of a Christian
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Notes on the Scripture
To my mind, this is the hardest thing Christ commands us to do during our lives. But there is no doubt about what He is saying, because it is repeated time and time again, by Christ Himself, throughout the Gospels. When somebody does something mean or cruel or harmful to us, we are expected to forgive them for it. When our "enemies" do us harm, we must not try to hurt them back. And when somebody we don't know or who doesn't like us or who has done terrible things to us in the past is in need, we must help them. We must love them.
ll I can say is: Good luck! This is the hardest thing in the world. I probably spend more time praying about this duty than anything else. It just runs contrary to our deepest nature.
One situation we face often is life is when our pride is hurt by something somebody has done or said. Perhaps they merely contradicted something we said, or made a comment that seemed critical of us. In these situations, the amount of anger we feel is usually blown way out of proportion to the purported offense. I have certainly been furious about comments that the person didn't even mean to be unflattering -- I just misunderstood them!
In such situations, praying for the person really helps, especially over time if you repeat it again and again. Pray for whatever it is that would make you feel sick for the person to get. Pray that they get a raise at work or become famous, or that they lose weight — something that gets you right in the same part of your brain where the anger is coming from, your sinful pride. You will find that the harder you pray for them to do well, and the harder you pray that you can forgive them, the less and less angry you will become. Even in life, this is a two-edged sword. Harboring resentments, anger, and hatred hurts the person who is angry, often more than the person against whom the anger is directed.