DayBreaks for 9/13/18 – The Perfect Prayer

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DayBreaks for 9/13/18: The Perfect Prayer

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2008:

From Michael Card’s From the Studio, 7/27/08

As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging.  When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening.  They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.”  He called out, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Luke 18:35-37

“Years ago I wrote lyrics to a song about the Lord’s Prayer.  The title was “The Perfect Prayer”.  It is perfect simply because Jesus himself spoke it.  But there is at least one other perfect prayer in the Gospels and we find it here.  “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 

“We must see this story from a first-century perspective.  Everyone would have believed that the man was blind because he had done something to deserve it.  Obviously he had sinned, and sinners do not deserve anything.  When we understand this, we begin to see that the disciples in the front of the crowd were perfectly justified in trying to shut the man up.”

We have all sat in churches and listened to long-winded prayers.  I sometimes believe that people believe they will be heard for their many words.  And there are times when many words may be appropriate and called for.  But I can’t help but wonder sometimes if they are praying from the heart so that God hears, or if they are praying so that others will hear their “skill” at praying and be amazed and think “How righteous So-and-so must be to be able to pray like that!” 

If you’ve ever prayed out loud, you know what the temptation is like to try to impress with the prayer.  Even those who refuse to pray out loud often refuse because they think (or say) that they can’t pray “well enough.”  What does that mean?  They don’t pray well enough for whom? 

Praying well enough was never an issue with Jesus.  Praying was.  It is true, the man was a sinner, and it is true that sinners deserve nothing – at least nothing good.  What we have earned by our sinning is death (Rom. 6:23) and nothing more. 

But the amazing thing about Jesus, about the good-news gospel, is that Jesus hears prayers of desperation from hearts that are genuine.  They don’t have to be fancy, they don’t have to be long.  Whenever we pray, we might be wise to limit our prayer to those seven little words, none longer than 5 letters long: “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

And remember: Jesus seems to delight in lavishing his attention on the undeserving – not those with fancy phrases.

PRAYER: Have mercy on us sinners, Lord Jesus!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

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DayBreaks for 4/19/18 – Habakkuk’s Circumstances – Deja Vu

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DayBreaks for 4/19/18: Habakkuk’s Circumstances (Déjà vu)     

I will refer you to Habakkuk 1.2-4 as a background for this DayBreaks.

Here’s the scenario: Habakkuk, a prophet in Judea, looks around himself and sees that the “righteous” (in whose number he includes himself) are surrounded by the wicked. He sees so-called justice that is really injustice. He sees iniquity. He sees destruction and violence running rampant. Strife and contention are everywhere and the law seems paralyzed. As bad as that is, what really is bothering Habakkuk is that he has been crying out to the Lord for help – and not seeing any help coming to his rescue.

This is going to get a bit sensitive here because I’m going to delve into politics. Bear with me, please. Habakkuk mixed the two – righteousness and justice. As much as some would like to totally separate the two, we can’t. Why is it wrong to steal from someone, both morally and ethically? Because it results in injustice to the person who had things taken. Justice is both a moral and political issue methinks.

And here’s where it’s gonna get touchy: there are many in America today who are feeling a lot like Habakkuk. They are right – there is much to despair over because of what they see happening (or not happening). They can’t understand why God has let some things happen and why he hasn’t come down with an iron rod and set things straight. And as a result, they cry out – but not maybe so much to God as to their friends on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and via email.

I think that Habakkuk had a far better approach to venting his frustration. Isn’t it better to cry out to God when we are despairing? We may not like the answer (or non-answer) we get from God, but it is HIS answer, so it is bound to be better than that which we get from our friends. Our dilemma is whether or not we believe his answers and ways are good or not. He is the God who raises up rulers and tears them down – not for our satisfaction, but for his immutable reasons. 

Indeed, God may yet come down with a rod of iron to fix what is wrong in this world (we know he will eventually, but he can fix things in the meantime, too, if in his infinite wisdom he knows that it is the right thing to do). There IS much injustice. There IS much violence, strife and contention. Those things need to be fixed – and they will.

But rather than crying out to everyone else around us, maybe like Habakkuk we should be crying out to God. Oh, and one more thing: maybe we need to be on our knees a whole lot more on behalf of our president, congresspersons, governors, magistrates, etc. than we have been. I wonder how often those who have railed the most against the political and moral state of affairs in our country are taking the command from Paul that we are to pray for our leaders (1 Timothy 2.2 – and bear in mind the leader Paul told people to pray for at that time as an utterly unjust, evil tyrant named Nero.) What, I wonder, would happen if Christians in the country and around the world truly started to pray for their leaders like we should? Not pray that they be smitten, but pray for their well-being, for righteousness to find a place to rule in their hearts, to seek God’s answers, to find salvation and God’s ways rather than the guidance of human advisors. Remember that prayer is offering our desires to God, but always with the attitude of “nevertheless, not my will, but thine be done.” Might God just hear from heaven and heal our land?

PRAYER: Convict us of the need to pray for all of our leaders far more than we feel the need to criticize them, Lord! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

COPYRIGHT 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 9/15/17 – Your Garden of Gethsemane

DayBreaks for 9/15/17: Your Garden of Gethsemane

From the DayBreaks archive, 9/2007:

Have you ever stopped to think how many decisions you will make in any given day?  We make decisions all the time without even thinking about it.  When we think of decisions, we tend to think of the weightier matters of life – and that’s a good thing.  Weighty matters deserve lots of thought as we try to decide what to do.  Hopefully, if you are a Christian, the very first thing you contemplate is whether or not the thing you are doing is in God’s will.  Regardless of whatever other factors you choose to apply to decisions you are facing and making, that one should be the most prominent. 

How do you know His will?  I’m not going to try to provide an exhaustive list here, but certainly His revealed and written Word is our primary tool for discerning his will.  If we cavalierly throw that out the window, we have no solid basis for a decision.  God expects us to follow the Word when we are facing decisions.  That means we have to accept it as truth, not try to explain it away or rationalize why it doesn’t apply to us.

One of my favorite stories about the life of Jesus has to do with his night in the garden of Gethsemane, my favorite place in the Holy Land.  I am moved by that story – even more, I think, that by the story of the crucifixion itself.  Physical pain is one thing, but spiritual pain can be far worse.  It was in the garden that we’re told Jesus was in agony – not on the cross.  (I’m not minimizing what happened upon those old timbers – I am sure there was incredible agony there, too.)  It was in the garden that he wrestled with both flesh and blood and principalities and powers in the heavenly places.  Why?  Because in the garden he was faced with the decision that would form the crux of his life.  It all culminated there, in the shadows of the olive trees, as the Son of God knelt down in the dirt and made the most crucial decision in all of history: would he do things his way, or God’s way?

There are times and decisions in our lives that are seemingly insignificant (although I’d like to argue that one with you – notice I said “seemingly insignificant”), but then there are moments that clearly rise into the stratosphere in terms of importance.  At those times we are faced with our own garden of Gethsemane.  We must decide whether our prayer will be, “Nevertheless, my will not Thine be done,” or if we’ll echo Jesus’ words: “Nevertheless, not my will but Thine be done.” 

You may be wrestling with a decision today that has life-altering potential, that once made may not be able to be undone ever.  Have you considered what God’s Word would say about it?  If you know how God feels about it, what will you do about it?  You may be facing your own garden of Gethsemane right now.  What will your prayer be?

PRAYER:  Spirit, help us not to fail the test in moments of crisis.  Strip away Satan’s deceptions from our eyes so that we can see what is at stake in the decisions of life!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 7/31/17 – A Lack of Presence

DayBreaks for 7/31/17: A Lack of Presence

From the DayBreaks archive, July 2007:

Prayer is such a strange thing.  It is talking.  It is listening.  It is listening to a voice that isn’t heard out loud by others.  It is richly rewarding but often terribly troubling.  Prayer is so vital that we cannot do without it, not really.

From time to time I have people ask me questions about prayer and praying.  Some wonder if it really makes a difference.  Some wonder if God will hear them.  Some wonder if I believe that God does miraculous healings in response to prayer, as if my belief in it makes the difference.  Some ask me to pray for them.  I’d much rather pray with them. 

In his book, Prayer – Does It Make a Difference?, Philip Yancey talks about those times when we don’t even want to call upon the Lord in prayer for whatever our reason may be  As always, I appreciate his refreshing honesty about his own emotions and thoughts: Sometimes I come to God out of sheer determination of will, which may seem inauthentic.  When I do so, however, I need not put on a mask.  God already knows the state of my soul.  I am not telling God anything new, but I am bearing witness to my love for God by praying even when I don’t feel like it.   I express my underlying faith simply by showing up.

When I am tempted to complain about God’s lack of presence, I remind myself that God has much more reason to complain about my lack of presence.

I wonder how many times God has thought: “I wonder why Galen won’t come and talk with Me about this.  I just wish he would!” 

For all the complaining we do about how God just doesn’t seem to be present, there have probably been 10 million times more that I have failed to show up in His throne room with my cares, concerns, fears and praises. 

Bottom line: I think our problems with prayer are not due to God’s failure to show up, but with ours!

PRAYER:  I thank you, Lord, for inviting us to bring all our cares and concerns to You.  Help our faith to grow so that we realize You are always there, eager and waiting for us to show up, and that You long to do far more than we can imagine or possibly believe.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2017 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 2/2/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

DayBreaks for 2/02/17: Should I Pray to be Delivered from this Hour?

John 12:27-28 (NLT) – Now my soul is deeply troubled. Should I pray, ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But this is the very reason I came! Father, bring glory to your name…”

Wow. Just WOW! To place this verse in context, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover. He has just foretold his coming death. He has also just said that his disciples must be where he is. Where would he be? He would soon be in the garden, on trial, on the cross and in the tomb. This is a sobering reminder that if our Master didn’t escape a troubled heart or a troubled life, we should not expect to, either. As David Platt said recently, we tend to think as believers we are guaranteed a safe life. We are not. In fact, if anything, we are guaranteed a troubled life if we are to inhabit all the spaces Jesus did not only physically, but also if we journey with him spiritually and emotionally – and he want to some very foreboding places in his heart.

It is interesting that Jesus shares his thoughts out loud here. Should he pray to be saved from this hour?, he asks. In matter of fact, he did make that very request some mere days or hours later in the garden. Yet, in spite of his deeply troubled heart, even here he resolves himself with the knowledge that God had a purpose for his coming, for this very hour. He came not to be delivered, but to deliver, not to be spared, but to spare others.

How do I view my own life in that regard? Do I have even an inkling of the call God has put upon my life? How often do I pray to be delivered from “this hour” when in fact, it may be that my struggle, even my death, may be the thing that will bring the most glory to the Father. My first inclination is to pray for my own preservation rather than to see my “hour” as an opportunity for his glory.

Jesus refused to pray for deliverance. Maybe I should pray less for deliverance and be more concerned about how God can use my situation and my obedience in that dark hour for His glory.

PRAYER: Lord, I am very self-centered and as I read this verse, it becomes clearer to me. Thank you for the power of your word to show us not just your love and goodness, but our weaknesses and failures, too. Use those hard times and difficult hours in our lives to bring you glory. May we be more like our Master and seek your glory and your purposes above all else! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2017 by Galen Dalrymple.

DayBreaks for 12/7/16 – Bad Reception

DayBreaks for 12/07/16: Bad Reception

I’m sure that you’ve had some version of this discussion if you have, or ever have had, a cell phone:

“I have full signal, it must be you.”

“No, it must be you, I haven’t moved and I have 5 bars.”

How often have you received a call back from the person you thought you were talking to and with great frustration you ask, “At what point did I lose you?”

Or maybe it goes more like this:

“Do you have reception? How many bars to you have?”, or:

“Can you hear me now?”

What do all these things have in common? They’re people talking about the quality of reception (or lack thereof) that they have on their cell phones. Why? Because bad reception causes interruption to communication. Sometimes we even get so frustrated with dropped calls that we stop trying any more.

Those things are all understandable when we talk about cell phones, but what about our spiritual reception? What causes a “bad signal” or blocks the exchange of information in our communication efforts with God? You may not want to take the blame, but chances are, it’s YOU! You can be sure that God always wants to hear from you, so He’s not going to be the one who creates the static on the line.

There’s another factor that enters into this equation, though, and it is this: for there to truly be communication, not only must there be someone who is communicating something, but there must also be someone who is listening. And that, I’m convinced, is where a great deal of our problem with prayer comes into play. We’re too busy talking, or thinking about other things, to hear the “still, small voice” of God.

Perhaps you are frustrated with your prayer life…feeling that you just “aren’t getting through”, that you’ve got a bad connection. Please, don’t let what you perceive as a “dropped call” stop you from reaching out. Keep “dialing”, but be sure that you’re also ready to listen for His voice at all the other times of your life, too…not just when you reach out to Him. It seems to me that there are as many instances in the Bible when God spoke to people when they weren’t praying as times when He responded directly to a prayer request. If we’re not listening, we won’t hear Him under any circumstances.

PRAYER: Teach us the sound of Your voice, let us recognize when You speak and listen closely to what You are saying. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple.  All rights reserved.

DayBreaks for 8/3/16: If I Should Die…

DayBreaks for 8/03/16 – If I Should Die…

Many of you are familiar with the childhood prayer “Now I lay me down to sleep, ” but I was little surprised to learn that it is a shortened version of an Old English prayer, which goes like this:

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John,

bless the bed that I lie on.

Before I lay me down to sleep,

I give my soul to Christ to keep.

 

Four corners to my bed,

four angels there aspread,

two to foot, and two to head,

and two to carry me when I’m dead.

 

I go by sea, I go by land,

the Lord made me by his right hand.

If any danger comes to me,

Sweet Jesus Christ, deliver me.

 

He’s the branch, and I’m the flower,

pray God send me a happy hour.

And if I die before I wake,

I pray that Christ my soul will take.

 The prayer has an important refrain, that Christ is the keeper, the caretaker of our soul. And, when we slip into the unconsciousness of the night I suppose, on a daily bases, we are never nearer death. It was out of this fear of sleep that this prayer was written. At night, when we are vulnerable, we want someone watching over us. During the daytime when we are afraid, we want someone watching over us. When we come to die, we want someone watching over us.

The wonderful news: Someone is!

PRAYER:  Thank you for never sleeping or taking your eyes off us for even a single moment. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright 2016, Galen C. Dalrymple. All rights reserved.