DayBreaks for 6/11/20 – The God Who Never Answers Prayers

DayBreaks for 6/11/20: The God who Never Answers Prayers

From the DayBreaks archive, June 2010:

This past Saturday, we had a Celebration of Life service for one of the godliest and most grace-filled women I’ve ever had the chance to meet.  She’d been a faithful member of our congregation for a number of years before she finally lost her struggle to cancer.  It wasn’t her first bout with that enemy – I know she’d fought and defeated it at least twice before it rose up too strong to be overcome.  It was a wonderful celebration we had – this woman was truly a saint and it showed through those her life had touched.  It was a celebration – but also a reminder that there is an enemy named death.

In Greek mythology, Hades, the god of the Underworld, the god of the Dead, was the most hated of all the immortal beings because he was held to be the only god who never answered prayer.  Never. 

The exception that proves the rule is the story of Orpheus and Eurydice.  Orpheus was the greatest of mortal musicians.  When his beloved wife, Eurydice, died, he simply could not accept the finality of that loss.  So he took his harp and journeyed to the Underworld where he played so beautifully, sang so poignantly of grief and sorrow, that tears of molten iron ran down the normally immovable face of Hades, and for the only time ever recorded, he relented. Eurydice would be permitted to follow Orpheus back into the world of the living, the world of the sun. But he must not look behind him until they had both safely emerged from the darkness of Hades’ realm back into the sunlight.

So imagine Orpheus’ feelings as he begins the long walk by himself through the dark tunnel.  He sees the small point of light at the end, and he begins to hear faint footsteps, growing ever louder and more solid, as Eurydice begins to resume physical form and follow behind him.  He desperately wants to look backwards and see her again, to confirm that it is her footsteps that he hears approaching behind him!  But he dare not. 

At the point where they only had one more step to go before Orpheus’ quest to regain Eurydice would be completed, at that instant when one more step would mean his goal would have been achieved and her life would have been snatched back from stone-faced Hades, at that moment she stumbles against a stone and cries out in pain, and by instinct, without thinking, he turns to catch her and keep her from falling.  But he has broken the ban, he has violated the requirement, he has transgressed the taboo.  And so he turns only to see her for one intolerably heartbreaking moment reaching for him as she evaporates and fades back into the mist, forever lost in the darkness.

Perhaps the hardest thing about Death to accept is that impenetrable wall brutishly erected across your path, that steel door slammed in your face.  It simply doesn’t matter how important and essential the departed loved one has been to your life, you aren’t getting him back.  That is what makes it the great and final Enemy: “The last enemy to be defeated is death” (1 Cor. 15:26).

And that is what Jesus overcame not just by his own resurrection, but by raising Lazarus and the son of the widow from Nain!  Should it be any wonder to us that the people were filled with terror and awe when the dead man sat up and began to speak?!  

Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out–those who have done good will rise to live, and those who have done evil will rise to be condemned. – John 5:28-29  This is the last, great and final hope of Christianity – that the stone wall will be shattered, that the steel door will be destroyed…and so we shall be forever with the Lord!

We tell you this directly from the Lord: We who are still living when the Lord returns will not meet him ahead of those who have died. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words. – 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18

PRAYER: I thank You that YOU are a God who hears the prayers of those who cry out to You, and that You will one day answer even our prayers to see and be with Your saints of all ages once again!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 3/17/20 – Berakah Praise

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DayBreaks for 3/17/20: Berakah Praise

From the DayBreaks archive, March 2010:

I recently preached a sermon on Jesus as the Master of Prayer.  We sometimes can start to think of Jesus as too much of a 20th century Gentile man.  He was anything but.  Jesus lived as a Jew, was born and raised as a Jew, educated as a Jew, knew their customs and traditions and practiced them up to a point.  And the Jews had certain beliefs about prayer that we find hints of in Jesus’ recorded prayers.

First: the Jews had a practice called Berakah.  Every devout Jew was expected to say 100 praises a day to God.  These praises had a very common form to start with before branching out into the rest of the prayer.  They went something like this: Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe…  After that beginning, they would start to offer specific praises, such as Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for the harvest of grain that feeds our bodies or Blessed art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, for the dawning of this new day.  One hundred times a day such a praise was to be uttered.  When you consider that the typical person is only awake for about 16 hours a day, that comes to about 1 praise every 7 minutes.  I don’t know how successful the Jews were at keeping this practice, but it is a good one and one that we might do well to resurrect. 

If your prayer life is like mine, more of my prayers have to do with requests rather than blessing and praising God.  Recently, one of my littlest grand daughters wrote about why she loved Jesus and God and said it was partly because they gave her he “wishes”.  There’s honesty – and we’re all somewhat like that, aren’t we? While I know that God welcomes our requests, we are also told to give thanks in everything.  The Jews believed it was appropriate to do so because God was in charge of everything. 

I’ve launched an effort to try to offer berakah praises to God throughout the day.  It is interesting: I already find that at the end of the day, my spirits are brighter and I am more thankful for things than I otherwise might be.  Want to join me in this practice?  Let me know how it is going for you!

PRAYER: Tune our hearts and our lips to sing Your praises, O Lord our God, King of the Universe!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Link to video with facts, symptoms and prevention tips about coronavirus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AITtaAAAdYc

Copyright by 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

 

DayBreaks for 10/25/19 – Prayerful Considerations

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DayBreaks for 10/25/19: Prayerful Considerations

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2009:

I have to admit that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking about prayer and trying to learn how to pray more effectively.  That is a deficiency in my spiritual walk that I need to work on.  Let me share a couple of things about prayer that recently caught my attention and which I (and perhaps you) need to think about.

FIRST: assume the right posture.  I don’t necessarily mean that you have to bow your head, bend your knees, clasp your hands together in a prayerful posture, but more that we need to be humble before our God.  If we don’t humble ourselves, He will see to it that we are humbled!  We must remember that when we come to Him in prayer that we come making requests…not demands.  We are in no position to make demands upon God.  We are clearly invited to bring our cares to him, and we certainly need to bring our thanks to him as well. 

SECOND: the attitude with which we pray is important.  We are to let him know what it is that we want – we must ask as His children would ask a Father – and yet always be willing to accept what He deems to be wise and good for us.  Again, Max Lucado put it this way (paraphrasing): “Ask for what you want, pray for what is right.”  I know that what I want isn’t always (maybe not even often) what is right.  I just am not smart enough to know what is right in all the situations I face in life.  God doesn’t suffer from my limitations.  He always knows what is right and He will only do what is good for His children.

When I keep these two points in mind in my prayer life, I find that my relationship with Him is much smoother and I am much more at peace.  In both cases, I am acknowledging that I am not divine but that I have a Divine Friend who can be totally and utterly trusted!

PRAYER: Lord, it’s hard to submit our wants to what is right.  We deceive ourselves into thinking we’re wise enough to know what is right and good for us, but we are so blind that we often are wrong!  Help us to bow before You and Your omniscience at all times!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/10/19 – Praying When it Hurts

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DayBreaks for 10/10/19: Praying When it Hurts

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2009:

How do you pray when you are hurting?  Maybe a better question would be, “How can you pray when you are hurting so badly that you can’t even think straight?”  Have you ever experienced so much hurt (regardless of the reason) that you just couldn’t find words to say?  I have.  And sometimes I didn’t make the effort to pray because it was just too hard.  Those were the moments when I had to trust the Spirit to make intercession.

The bible makes great claims for the power of prayer (Jn. 14:12-14 – I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.

Do you believe it?  Really?  Was Jesus just being hyperbolic?  It is an incredible promise from Jesus’ own lips!  When you think about it – he had reason to be so positive and sure – wherever he went in life and saw people in pain, he did something about it.  Should we think that because he is no longer here on earth that he is now powerless to do anything about it?  No!  We know that prayer connects us with the One who can heal.  But it is the times when the “healing” doesn’t come that trouble us.  As Brother Lawrence wrote: “Even when miracles seem in very short supply, when emotional problems remain unresolved or a tumor does not shrink, prayer is never wasted…many times when the specific healings I’ve prayed for have not materialized, but the situation changed in other ways.  These, too, are answers to prayer.” 

Then, he made a good observation: “We have not matured as men and women of prayer because we have not put a fraction of the time, thought and effort into learning to pray which we readily invest in our work, our hobbies, our human relationships…  If we are retarded in prayer, then we ourselves suffer for it – but so does the world.  The world needs us to be prayer therapists.  Prayer is God’s appointed way by which we become channels of His healing power.”

 “Prayer is a key which unlocks the blessings of the day and locks up the dangers of the night.”  (Anon.)  If your day could use more blessing, if your night could use more peace, prayer is the key!

PRAYER: Forgive our lack of time in speaking and listening to You in prayer.  May our desire to be with you in prayer grow and increase constantly so we may come to know you and love you more each moment!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/21/19 – It’s OK to be Human

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DayBreaks for 5/21/19: It’s OK to be Human

God, have mercy on me, a sinner! – (Lk. 18:13)

The tax collector who offers this simple prayer to Jesus knew who and what he was.  He was a sinner – pure and simple, with no other claim to make.  When you get right down to it, his is perhaps one of the most honest and truthful claims ever made by a human being.  The best part is that he had enough wisdom to turn to the only One who could help him out of his misery.

The book of Job is the story of one human being struggling with the concept of God and His nature.  It is a man trying to make sense out of life and all that has happened to him, to try to understand the answer to the toughest question we humans ask: “Why?”

While there is much we can learn from Job, one of the most valuable lessons we can learn is that it is okay to be human.  God doesn’t berate Job for all the questions.  He doesn’t accuse him for not having enough faith.  God didn’t get angry at the psalmists or prophets for their cries of frustration, doubt and anger, either. That must mean that given God’s mercy, it’s okay to be human.  While He longs for us to recover what we lost through our sinfulness, He understands that we are mere vessels of clay, prone to crack and break.  God didn’t create us all-powerful, He didn’t create us to be capable of perfection by our own strength of effort.  He created us just the way He wanted to create us – and He doesn’t blame us for being human.

Perhaps His most extravagant mercy is to allow us to be human.  It doesn’t present a problem for God.  He can deal with all of our human failings.  And in His great mercy, He does!

Prayer: We take comfort in Your extravagant mercy, Lord!  Thank You for overcoming our human failings through the perfection of Your son, Jesus.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 5/01/19 – Connecting to a Disconnected God

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DayBreaks for 5/01/19: Connecting to a Disconnected God

From the DayBreaks archive: April 2009

In March of this year, Reuters carried a story about a Dutch artist by the name of Johan van der Dong who decided God needed a telephone number and so he got Him one – a cell phone, in fact -to show that God was “available anywhere and anytime.”

“In earlier times you would go to a church to say a prayer,” Dong said in an interview, “and now [this is an] opportunity to just make a phone call and say your prayer in a modern way.”

What was the response?  It seems a lot of people appreciated what van der Dong did for them with the so-called “divine hotline.”  In just one week, over 1,000 people had called the cell number and left God a message.

On one hand, it’s pretty intriguing and exciting to know that over 1,000 people got the number in just one week and wanted to connect to God.  However, I can’t help but wonder how the people felt once they made the “connection.”  You see, when they called the number van der Dong set up for God, this is what they heard on the other side of the line: “This is the voice of God. I am not able to speak to you at the moment, but please leave a message.”  Now, I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t exactly give me a warm and fuzzy concept of a God who is supposed to be “available anywhere and anytime.”  Van der Dong plans on keeping the cell phone number active for only six months.

So, what has van der Dong accomplished?  Not much.  It was mostly a gimmick, perhaps even a mockery.  All he did was connect people to an altogether disconnected God.  He is not connecting people to the real God.  God doesn’t need a phone line (cell or land-line), He doesn’t have an answering machine because He’s too busy managing supernova’s somewhere in deep space, and He is never, ever disconnected from the prayers of His people. 

When you pray, what is your attitude?  Do you really understand the power to whom you are speaking?  Do you comprehend that prayer is not something to be thrown off casually like a flippant, off-hand string of comments and requests, but rather a connection with the only True and Living God?  God is not to be trifled with, but He longs for communication from the heart, and He will never be too busy to put you on hold.

Prayer: What a privilege and blessing it is to be able to talk directly to You, most glorious and exalted God and Father!  May we approach Your throne in humility, but boldly, in confidence that we have Your ear and attention at any time of the day or night for as long as we shall live!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 2/27/19 – The Great Value of Faith

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DayBreaks for 2/27/19: The Great Value of Faith

From the DayBreaks archive February 2009:

Yes, you know the verse about “Without faith it is impossible to please Him.”  So, faith is non-negotiable, if we are to please God.  But God, why?  Why does faith sometimes have to be so hard? 

In Daniel 10 is one of the most fascinating stories in Scripture.  Daniel was in prayer – and had been for some time – when Daniel becomes perplexed by why his prayer, offered in faith to the Living God, wasn’t answered already.  Since Daniel was a faithful servant of the Most High, the Lord sent an angel to Daniel to grant him a peek behind the curtain of the spiritual world.  For three weeks, in the unseen world that we can only “see” by faith, the angels says he tried to come and deliver the answer to Daniel’s prayer, but he was resisted by the “prince of the Persian kingdom.”  The angel by himself, so it reads, was not able to overcome that resistance, and had to wait for reinforcements from a heavenly power named Michael, the great archangel of God’s army. 

This passage has caused me endless trouble and distress.  Why, for example, did God wait 3 weeks to dispatch Michael to defeat the source of resistance?  Surely, God knew this was going on and would happen.  Why didn’t God just send Michael to start with?  And what does it mean that the first angel couldn’t overcome the resistance by himself?  Could the angel not have asked Got to remove it, or to give him/her the strength to defeat the resistance?  Such questions are not necessarily confidence builders for me.

Elsewhere, the Bible talks about prayer and uses the term “wrestle” to describe that activity.  It brings to mind, of course, the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel.  Perhaps prayer is much more like real, physical wrestling than we’ll ever know.  In our prayers, we are at war with principalities and powers that are in the unseen world.  Wrestling is hard work.  How much wrestling am I doing in my prayer life? 

Another thought: do angels have to learn faith and trust, too?  What was the lesson for the angel in all this, if any?  Is it possible that even angels are on a faith-journey, side by side with us, just unseen?

I don’t know, nor do I have to know.  But as Phillip Yancey put it, “I doubt Daniel ever prayed casually again.”  Nor should we!

Prayer: Father, may we be willing to engage the enemy in prayer, to call down Your power to bring victory, to release oppression and to pour forth holiness on this earth!  Give us the strength to fight for the souls of the lost, knowing that there are unseen enemies waging war with us.  Give us the wisdom to not fight in our own strength, but only in Yours!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 1/08/19 – The Power of a Timid Prayer

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DayBreaks for 01/08/2019: The Power of a Timid Prayer

From the DayBreaks Archive, 01/05/09:

It was 1992 and Derek Redmond, a 26-year old Briton, was running in the race he was favored to win in the Barcelona Olympics: the 400 meters.  He’d already passed the early qualifying rounds and was running in the semi-finals.  About half-way through the race, he collapsed onto the track, with agonizing pain in his right leg.  His hamstring was torn – his Olympic dream was gone.

As the medical personnel drew near, he raised himself to his feet, and with agony on his face, began hopping toward the finish line, about 200 meters away.  He later said that it was “animal instinct” that made him do it.  His coaches came running to him, but he pushed them away…and kept hopping in a crazy attempt to cross the finish line. 

By the time he got to the stretch, a large man with a t-shirt that said, “Have you hugged your child today?” and a hat that advised, “Just Do It!” had pushed his way through the crowd and somehow managed to get down onto the track.   It was Jim Redmond, Derek’s dad. 

As the tears of pain and disappointment flowed down Derek’s face, his dad said to him, “You don’t have to do this.” 

“Yes, I do,” Derek responded. 

“Well, then, we’re going to finish this together.”  And so Jim wrapped Derek’s arm around his shoulder and helped him hop and hobble toward the finish line.  By that time, security reached the two, and as Derek buried his face in his dad’s shoulder, they stayed in Derek’s lane all the way across the finish line.  The crowd was on their feet, first cheering, then weeping openly as the father and son finished the race together. 

In analyzing this story, Max Lucado pointed out: “What made the father do it?  What made the father leave the stands to meet his son on the track?  Was it the strength of his child?  No, it was the pain of his child.  His son was hurt and fighting to complete the race.  So the father came to help him finish.

“God does the same.  Our prayers may be awkward.  Our attempts may be feeble.  But since the power of prayer is in the one who hears it and not the one who says it, our prayers do make a difference.

In the Biblical story, the father who intercedes for his dying son simply says, “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”  In that instance, the disciples had failed to cast out the demons that plagued the son, and the father was now trying Jesus to see if he could help.  “IF you can help…” was even how the father put it.  Jesus diagnosed the situation and said that this kind of demon only comes out through prayer.  Notice: in the entire encounter, the only prayer offered was that of the doubting father: “I believe, help my unbelief.”  Jesus didn’t stop and pray.  Yet the demons left.  It was at best a very timid prayer, but an honest one of agony and desperation. 

Never underestimate the power of your prayers – even when you are uncertain.  The Father responds to the pain of his children!

Prayer:  Jesus, thank you for joining us in the race of our life.  Thank you for hearing even our most doubting and timid prayers.  Thank you, Father, for responding to the pain of your children.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2019 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 12/31/18 – How Closely He Listens

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DayBreaks for 12/31/18: How Closely He Listens

The brick wall. The deafening silence. The times when it seems our prayers ascend to nothingness and no one. We’ve all felt it. It isn’t a comfortable feeling for those who are believers, who proclaim that there is a God in heaven who is good and caring and notices us.

David marveled that the One who created the vast heavens (and David had no idea how vast they are – and to this day no one really knows for sure) was mindful of him. It is a bit difficult to believe when staring up into space while laying out under a canopy of stars on a dark night. How could He possibly even know I’m here, let alone care for me and know my every word before it’s spoken, my very thoughts before I think them?  And not just me – but everyone!?!?!?!?  Can God really be listening to me, hearing me when I mutter my hopes, dreams, pain and requests skyward?

Psalm 6:8 gives us the assurance we need, but we have to pay close attention. Here’s what David said: Psalm 6:6-8 (ESV) – I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. My eye wastes away because of grief; it grows weak because of all my foes. Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping.

What is it that God hears? The sound of weeping. Not of shrieking, wailing. When David just said he drenches his couch with his weeping he is using “weeping” in the sense of tears, not loud wailing. So David is saying that God is hearing the sound of his tears.

What sound does a falling tear make when it escapes the eye and moves down the face? It’s inaudible – but David says that God hears it. He is listening so closely to us that he can hear the sound of a tear escaping our eye. If we have ever doubted that God is a God of compassion, we need never question that fact.
If he hears your tears, he also knows your heartache. And as David concludes Psalm 6, he tells those who oppress him that they should start running now because God has heard his pleas and accepted his prayer – in short, God is moved to action on behalf of the one whose tears fall silently. He hears you.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for not just noticing us, but for listening so closely you can hear the silent tears that escape from the eyes of your children. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 10/11/18 – Children, Our Teachers

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DayBreaks for 10/11/18: Children – Our Teachers

From the DayBreaks archive, October 2008:

Do you remember the Ark Linkletter show called, “Kids Say the Darnedest Things”? I guess others now have similar shows, but I’ve not seen them. Kids are amazing, aren’t they? They’ll just come right out and say things that we as adults wouldn’t dream of saying. For example, check out these quotes from letters to pastors:

“Dear Pastor, I know God loves everybody, but He never met my sister. Yours sincerely, Arnold, age 8, Nashville”

POINT: You probably have someone in your life that you just can’t bring yourself to love. You may even think that God couldn’t possibly love them, either. Here’s the catch: God HAS met them and guess what? He does love them. And He wants you to do the same!

“Dear Pastor, I would like to go to heaven someday because I know my brother won’t be there. Stephen, Age 8, Chicago” POINT: Whatever the situation between these two brothers, I know God doesn’t approve of it. He wants us to live together in love and harmony. I’m convinced God’s heart breaks because of our divisions and pettiness. Is there something that keeps you from living in peace with your brother/sister? Do you have a quarrelsome spirit? Get rid of it – and experience His joy in your life as you discover what your brother or sister is really like!

“Dear Pastor, Please pray for all airline pilots. I am flying to California tomorrow. Laurie, age 10, New York City”

POINT: Aren’t we all prone to praying in moments of crisis? We fear death – so we pray like crazy when we consider the possibilities. But God wants us to pray for teachers, students, bosses, employees, leaders, followers – for everyone. Take time today to lift up those who have been special in your life.

“Dear Pastor, Are there any devils on earth? I think there is one in my class. Carla, aged 10, Salina”

POINT: It is easy to see the “devil” in others, but God wants to remind me of my own failings and the fact that even though he can’t have me anymore, the devil is still trying, and sometimes I let him in a crack in the door. When I give in, I have opened the door to Satan and given him a piece of my life here on earth that should be only for God.

“Dear Pastor, I liked your sermon on Sunday. Especially when it was finished. Ralph, age 11, Akron”

POINT: Every one of us needs to learn when to shut up. And with that, I bid you adieu for today! Until tomorrow, I remain, His, and yours, Galen ><}}}”>  

PRAYER: Thank you, Father, for the delight we have in our children. May we bring that delight to your heart, too! In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Copyright by 2018 by Galen C. Dalrymple.  ><}}}”>