August 28, 2013

King Solomon prays for wisdom

By night
in a dream,
God appeared to the king and said,
‘Ask what you want Me to give you.’

And Solomon said, ‘Great kindness
You have shown to my father David –
Your servant who remained faithful to You –
righteous and upright in heart.
How kind You have been to him!
And You have given him a son to sit on
his throne.
O LORD, my God, today
You have made me, Your servant,
king in place of my father David!
But I, his child, do not know how
to go out or come in to carry out my duties!
Here am I, Your servant, among the people
You have chosen – a great people –
too many to count!
Oh, give me the wisdom
to govern Your people and discern
between right and wrong.
For who knows how to rule
this great people of Yours?

This prayer pleased the LORD,
and so God said,
‘Because you asked this and not
long life or wealth for yourself
or a short life for your enemies
but for the understanding to know
what is right, I will do as you asked.
I will give you a wise and discerning heart.
Never before has there been anyone
like you, nor will there ever be again.

But to you I will also give
what you did not ask for –
I will give you wealth and honor
all of your life.
No other king shall be your equal.
And if
you walk in My ways and keep My decrees
and follow My commands as did
your father David,
to you will I give a long life.’

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler prayer-a-phrased 1 Kings 3:5-14 from today’s Daily Bible Reading.


August 19, 2013

Prayer removes obstacles

Background: Taken out of context, the story of Jesus’ cursing the fig tree sounds harsh, but reading the whole chapter of Mark 11 puts that incident into perspective.

Jesus had set His face toward Jerusalem, knowing this began the journey toward the cross. As He rode into town on a donkey, people laid a path of palm branches and their own cloaks, shouting, “Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the LORD!”

After entering the Temple and looking around, Jesus and His followers went back to Bethany for the night. As they headed toward the Temple again the next morning, Jesus saw a fig tree already in leaf, which indicated fruit but none existed. Not only did this become an obstacle to His hunger, the tree had become showy, rather than fruitful, and so He said, “No one will ever eat fruit from you again.”

Jesus then entered the Temple and drove out money-changers and merchants whose booths blocked people from getting through the area to worship. Quoting scripture, Jesus explained, “My house shall be called a house of prayer!” But the showy booths had turned the Temple into something else, making obstacles for people who had come for genuine worship. Those people found what they came for, however, as Jesus stayed to teach, and they hung onto His words.

That night as Jesus and His followers started back to Bethany, they saw what had happened to the fig tree. Called out for showiness that belied fruitlessness, the tree had withered to its roots! When the disciples commented, Jesus responded with this vital word on prayer:

Have faith in God!
I tell you truly
if you say to this mountain,
‘Be plucked up and thrown into the sea,’
and do not doubt in your heart
but believe
God can
remove obstacles of any size,
it shall happen as you say.

And so I say,
ask in prayer,
and you will receive.

And whenever you take a stand
in prayer,
forgive whatever you have
against anyone,
and your Father Who Is
in heaven
will also forgive you
your trespasses,
but if you don’t forgive others,
that will become an
to your Father’s forgiving you.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. Prayer-a-phrased poem comes from today’s Daily Bible Reading in Mark 11:22-26.


August 15, 2013

Whole body clothed in praise

Seeking the prayers of the Bible in the Daily Bible Readings often brings days of interesting stories, proverbs, parables, or prophecies, but not necessarily prayer. Today, however, choices arose in the passage from Isaiah below and the Gospel reading from Luke 1:46-55, also known as The Magnificat. Since “The song of Mary, Mother of Jesus” had previously been prayer-a-phrased here, I encourage you to visit that post, too, to see and hear how beautifully Mary embodied this prayer-life of praise from the Prophets.

Greatly will I rejoice in the LORD!
My whole being shall exult in my God,
Who clothes me with garments of salvation.

God has robed me in righteousness –
the way a bridegroom wears a garland
or jewels adorn a bride.

The whole earth brings forth beauty
like a spring garden with shoots growing
from what’s sown.

So the Lord God has sown us
with righteousness and praise
ready to spring into flower
and clothe the nations.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, prayer-a-phrased poem from today's Daily Bible Reading in Isaiah 61:10-11

August 5, 2013

The Mercy Prayer

When I heard Thomas Nelson, Inc., had recently published The Mercy Prayer by Robert Gelinas, I could hardly wait to read the book. Not only do I often pray, “Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy,” but the thought of a whole book on this short Bible prayer intrigued me.

As we’ve previously discussed, the first mention of prayer in the Bible occurred during the lifetime of Adam and Eve’s grandson, Enosh, when “people began to call on the name of the LORD,” Genesis 4:26. The Bible doesn’t specify the words or sounds used, but the “name” and “the call” imply the prayer, “God, help!”

During an especially difficult or scary time, that prayer erupts from most of us, reportedly, even nonbelievers caught in a life-or-death crisis or other foxhole. However, the most often prayed prayer is not, “God help!” but “LORD, have mercy.”

As the Introduction to The Mercy Prayer points out, this prayer offers “more than a cry for help. It is a cry for love. Through it we are not simply asking, ‘God, will you help me?’ We are asking, ‘God, do you love me?’” Yes!

From the start of this insightful, biblically-sound, and powerful little book, Robert Gelinas reminds us that “God’s mercy is one of the central themes of Scripture, especially in the Old Testament.” Opposite the scale of justice, mercy does not give what we deserve or “have coming to us” but reveals God’s love for us as we are, rather than as we “should be.”

In biblical account after account, the author shows, “There is not one time in the Bible when God denies this request!” And, as God the Father gives ongoing mercy, so does God the Son.

Praying the “Kyrie eleison – Lord, have mercy” transforms us and reminds us of the love of Christ. Beyond these vital reassurances, however, The Mercy Prayer brings aspects of God’s mercy we might not notice on our own, for instance, by asking, “What if our closeness to Christ actually increases the frequency of our requests for his mercy.”

As the book explains, “Asking for mercy is not about us; it’s about God” and the way into a mercy-filled life. How transforming this can be! How powerful! How loving – as we begin to see ourselves and other people through the loving lens of God’s most merciful view.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler

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August 3, 2013

Jesus thanks God for what He has

When a great crowd had nothing to eat,
called His disciples to Him and said,

“I’m concerned about this crowd. For three days
they’ve stayed with me without anything to eat.
If I send them away
to their homes,
they’ll faint on the way – and some
have come a great distance.”

The disciples replied, “How can anyone
feed so many people, here
in this desolate place?”

But Jesus
(who relied
on more than evidence) replied:
“How much bread do you have?”

“Seven little loaves,” they said.

So Jesus ordered the crowd
to sit down on the ground,
and He took the seven loaves
and gave thanks
for what they had.

Then Jesus broke the bread
and gave the food
to His disciples to distribute.

And they also had a few little fish,
which Jesus blessed
before His disciples distributed that food too.

And it was good.

And it was blessed.

And the little became
more than enough
to feed 4,000
with food left
to fill seven baskets

©2013 Mary Harwell Sayler, prayer-a-phrase of today’s Daily Bible Reading in the Gospel, Mark 8:1-9


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