Daily Devotion for September 24, 2010
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.
Beethoven’s glorious setting of God’s blessing on us, sung here by the Choir of St. John’s College, Cambridge.
Thank You Jesus
Oh dear sweet, loving Jesus: How often I forget that it is because of You that I live. You made all of us from the very dust that You created. Then You did the most wondrous of all things, You made us in Your image and You breathed life into us. I join those praying with me today in thanking you for our lives, and we pray that You continue to sustain us each day. From Your heavenly place accept our prayers and our praise.
Prayer to Treat Others with Courage and Grace
Lord, this day and forever, may I have the courage never to be afraid of anyone. May I have the generosity to bear ill-feeling toward no-one. Lead me to live in such a way as to treat others in the same way as I would like to be treated. Inspire me never to be violent in thought, word or action, and lead me to conquer evil with goodness.
The things, good Lord, that I pray for, give me the grace to labor for.
[What action can I take to help accomplish the things I pray for?]
Oh God Almighty, send me Your light and truth, to keep this day and all the days of my life. And may Your mighty hand protect me, and all my brothers and sisters who have joined me in prayer this day, blessing our homes and our lives.
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.
The Son of God in tears,
The wondering angels see.
Be thou astonished, O my soul,
He shed those tears for thee.
~ Benjamin Beddome
John 16:16-24 (ESV)
Your Sorrow Will Turn into Joy
“A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.”
So some of his disciples said to one another, “What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, “What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.”
Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, “Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world.
So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
Notes on the Scripture
oth Christ and, later, St. Paul, tell us that whatever we ask of God, in the name of Christ, will be given to us. This is confusing. I know I have asked God, in the name of Christ, for a lot of things. But I still haven’t won the Powerball. Where’s my 320 million dollars? And plus, Barbara _____, the most gorgeous girl in high school, never even went out on a date with me.
A lot of people think that prayer is a telephone to room service, and God is some sort of cosmic bellhop. Experience, however, proves otherwise. So we know two things.
First, that God will give us whatever we ask in Christ’s name; and second, that God will not give us beautiful girlfriends or rich boyfriends, a new Mercedes, or this month’s mortgage payment, even though we pray for it in Christ’s name. Or, more sensibly, He will not stop great wars or natural disasters, despite the prayers of millions.
The apparent contradiction — and I think all of us realize this — is that we cannot use Christ’s name to free us from the world, because Christ himself taught us that we would have tribulation in the world. Christ himself suffered extraordinary pain. Neither will God intervene with the free will of mankind, no matter how evil they may be.
Praying in the name of Christ, then, excludes praying for things that Christ did not promise. Even when we pray for the good, for things that represent values that Christ taught us, we cannot pray in his name for things that he did not promise. If Christ would not change the minds of evil men, how can we expect that he will do it because we pray for it? It would mean that we are praying for our will to be done, not his.
We do not pray “Thy kingdom come, my will be done.”
What, then, did Christ promise us? It’s a long list, but two very obvious items are forgiveness and the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. Also, Christ never told us not to pray for whatever we believe we need; in fact, we are told to make our needs known to God. Pray for the victims of terrible disasters, pray to be cured of disease, pray that you have money for food; but do not blame God if these are not given to you, for he did not always give his own son what he asked.
As to why God, whose power and love are infinite, allows us to suffer — I cannot tell you and I don’t think anyone can. God’s will is beyond our understanding and beyond our ability to understand. Christ was sent so that we might understand as much as we are able; we are given, in human terms, all we need to know to find eternal life.