DayBreaks for 9/14/20 – The Prayer of God

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NOTE: I am on a “retirement/anniversary” trip and will be out until late September. In the meantime, I’m sharing recycled DayBreaks for 2010. Thanks for your understanding!

From the DayBreaks archive, September 2010:

When is the last time you spend the night in prayer?  Have you ever spent an entire night in prayer?  In Luke chapter 6, Jesus is described as going off to a mountain where he prayed all night to the Father.  One might wonder: why did Jesus pray at all?  Who was He praying to?  (If Jesus and the Father are One, who was there to listen?)  What did Jesus say to the Father?  Did He need to pray, or just want to? 

I don’t know the answers to those questions.  I think, however, that we can learn something from how Jesus prayed – even though the passage in Luke doesn’t record his words.  It is easy to say he spent the entire night in prayer, though it takes quite a few words in English to communicate that idea.  Not so in the Greek.  In the Greek, only one word is required: dianuktereuo, and it is a significant word.  It is a word that would be used to describe enduring at a task throughout an entire period of time.  It isn’t the kind of word that would be used to say “I slept all night,” nor would you use that Greek word if you were to say it was dark “all night”.  Those uses don’t require the sense of enduring.  The verse (6:12) essentially says that Jesus worked hard all throughout the night in his praying.  How did he work hard?  It doesn’t say, but I do find it comforting that prayer could be a struggle – for it often is for me.  If the Son of God toiled at prayer – either because he had so much to deal with, or because as a certifiable 100% human being, he struggled to concentrate and stay focused (just as I do) – I find it comforting, either way.

But that’s not all.  There’s another insight from the Greek that we can’t see in our English translations.  One English translation says He continued all night in prayer to God.  The actual Greek, however, means that He spent the whole night in the prayer of God.  Whenever He prayed, it was God’s prayer, the prayer of God. 

If we take that last thought and we then reflect on the prayers of Jesus (especially his high priestly prayer on the night of his betrayal), it is even more significant.  I’ve often reflected on Jesus praying for us.  But this puts it in a slightly different light.  It wasn’t “just” Jesus, but it was God praying for me and for you.  I don’t know exactly what that means, but this I do know: it just doesn’t get any better than knowing that God is praying for me…and you!

PRAYER: For the deep, yet simple, mysteries of Your word and for Your prayers over and for us, we give our most heartfelt thanks!  In Jesus’ name, Amen. Copyright 2020 by Galen C. Dalrymple. ><}}}”>

DayBreaks for 8/19/20 – Keep Calling the Name

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There was once an old man who had a little spotted dog. The dog was a mixture of spaniel, collie, terrier and dachshund. He was a street-bred mutt, but the old man loved him because he was all he had. They were constant companions, going everywhere and doing everything together. Every night the dog slept at the foot of the old man’s bed.

Then one day the dog disappeared. He was playing in the yard one moment, and the next thing the old man knew he was gone. He searched everywhere for him, looked on every street, around every corner, and talked to every neighbor, but the dog was nowhere to be found. The old man searched all over the town, calling out the dog’s name as he went, listening in vain for his familiar bark. The next day was the same and the one after that . . . for weeks the old man searched till finally his neighbors and friends convinced him that there was no use in looking anymore. Surely the dog is dead, they said: hit by a car, no doubt, and crawled off by himself to die.

Still the old man would not give up hope. Every night, before bed, he went out on the porch and called out the dog’s name at the top of his voice. This went on for several months. The neighbors were certain that the old man had lost his mind. And then one night, as the old man was calling his name, the little spotted dog came home. The old man never knew where he had been or what caused him to stay away so long, but he was very glad that he had never stopped calling his name. – Brett Blair

I fear that we often give up too soon on many things.  We give up hope.  We give up dreams.  We give up on people.  We give up too soon.  Though the story about the man and his dog is possibly fictional, you know that it’s happened before in real life.  We’ve all heard such stories.  We are warmed by the dog’s return, by the man’s incessant hope and effort to find the lost creature.

I rather suspect that as the father in the story of the prodigal son scanned the horizon, he was at the very least calling his son’s name inwardly. 

I believe there are two main lessons here for us:

FIRST: God keeps calling we humans, each night, and people think Him crazy for it.  And perhaps crazy He is – crazy in love with us, driven by a passion for us that refuses to listen to those who think it is demeaning for a God to act in such a manner.  Though everyone else thinks He is pleading a lost cause, He isn’t willing to give up – and He won’t give up until the trumpet blast assails our ears.

SECOND: we give up on people to soon, too.  We may pray for someone to come to Christ daily for a year.  If no progress has been shown, we may give up.  If the subject of our prayers seems farther away than ever at the end of that year, we can’t afford to stop praying.  Far too much is at stake!  People may think you’re crazy, but keep at it.  Is it crazy for Christians to pray for a Hitler to become a believer?  Many would say so.  But what if we all united to pray for such a thing, and we kept at it for years and years?  Might it happen?  Surely, it might.  If God could reach Abraham without a phone, Jonah, Noah, Paul and you…He can reach anyone. 

Who are you praying for?  Just keep calling their name…

Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ. – Acts 5:42

PRAYER: Give us the strength to persist fervently for those who don’t know You until they have come within Your loving embrace!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

PRAYER: Father, thank you for taking Jesus home and for preparing a home for us to join you there throughout eternity. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/31/20 – A Sign in the Subway

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From the DayBreaks archive, July 2010:

A while back on a subway platform in one of our Eastern states was a large, printed sign proclaiming boldly: “God Answers Prayer.”  Right below that message, some experienced person had scrawled these words: “Sometimes the answer is NO!”  This is one of the challenges that we have to deal with in any discussion of prayer.

If you have talked with any skeptic, or even some Christians, you have undoubtedly heard someone say something like this: “I felt the need of God.  I prayed for something to happen, for Him to give me a sign, or just to answer me, and it didn’t happen.  Prayer failed.” 

Is that really a fair statement to make?  I don’t think so.  As Carveth Mitchell said: “I suggest that you did not want God – you wanted God to do something, and that’s different.”

Far too often I think we think of prayer primarily when we want something from God.  We want someone to be made well, we want more money, we want a child or a job or a house.  And so we pray for those things – asking Him for what we want.  And we tend to pray for what we want, but seldom do we pray for what God wants.  It is very possible that we have missed the primary purpose of prayer: to be in harmony with God, to be keenly aware of His hovering and indwelling Presence, to feel the assurance that God is aware of, encompassing and is far greater than any circumstance we may be encountering, and that no matter what else happens, that we will still belong to Him and that underneath us are the everlasting arms of God that never quiver or are weary. 

Mitchell also observed: “Prayer is not a trading post, but a line of communication.”  Let’s be more aware of the purpose of our praying and not treat it like a bartering session with a Father that loves us.  He is eager to give good gifts…but only what is good, never what is harmful.

PRAYER: In our prayers, Lord, may we want You more than anything else!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

DayBreaks for 7/29/20 – He Got the Cookies

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The inimitable, late Paul Harvey told a story about a 3-year-old boy who went to the grocery store with his mother.  Before they entered the store, she gave the little fellow some very specific instructions: “You’re not going to get any chocolate chip cookies, so don’t even bother to ask for them.”

She then picked him up and put him in the child’s seat in the shopping cart, and they took off through the aisles.  The boy did just great until they came to the dessert and cookie section. Seeing the chocolate chip cookies he just couldn’t seem to help himself, so he said, “Mom, can I have some chocolate chip cookies?” She said, “I told you not even to ask. You’re not going to get any at all.”

They continued on their journey up and down the aisles, but she forgot something and had to back track and they found themselves once more, of all places, in the cookie aisle again. “Mom, can I please have some chocolate chip cookies?” he begged.  Stern faced, she replied: “I told you that you can’t have any. Now sit down and be quiet.”

Finally, their search for items concluded, they arrived at the checkout.  The little boy seemed to sense that the end was in sight and that this might be his last chance to get cookies.  He stood up on the seat and shouted in his loudest voice, “In the name of Jesus, may I have some chocolate chip cookies?”  Everyone in the checkout lanes laughed and applauded. 

Do you think the little boy got his cookies?  You bet!  The other shoppers moved by his daring pooled their resources, and that little boy and his mother left the store with 23 boxes of chocolate chip cookies.

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. –  Luke 11:5-8

Jesus used the term “shameless persistence.”  Sometimes I think we are embarrassed to keep asking God for something over and over again.  Maybe the reason we don’t get it is because we have the idea that persistence is shameful and that God is sick and tired of hearing the same request out of our mouths over and over again.  I don’t think that’s the case.  It appears that Jesus didn’t think so, either.

PRAYER: We know, Father, that You will only give us what is good for us.  Help us to be bold in our asking, full of confidence in Your hearing and full of peace to rest in Your decision!  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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

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.  ><}}}”>