Pastor Joynt's Devotionals

How Should I Pray, Week 5, Day 4

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MARK 4:9 | And Jesus said, “Let anyone with ears to hear, listen!”

There is a second reason Jesus recommends we retreat to a closet to pray. It is a practical matter. Often we hear without listening. Words are heard, but meaning is not absorbed. Sounds register but do not impact. We live in the most distracted era of human history. Our phones connect us to a world of information and contacts. Social networks feature, addictively, continuous updates on the lives of all our friends. We can be in touch digitally with hundreds or thousands or even millions of individuals at once. Notifications buzz, infinite music choices beckon, emails and texts appear, calls interrupt. Advertising pervades nearly every space, and every news announcement is presented as a dramatic alert. In prayer, we talk to God, but we also listen. Listening implies undivided attention and usually requires quiet.

How do you do with quiet moments?

How often do you listen in silence?

Do you have ears to hear?


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How Should I Pray, Week 3, Day 7

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PSALM 126:1-2

When redemption comes we are like those who dream. Our mouth filled with laughter, our tongue with shouts of joy!

What happens when we forget life’s incongruities? When we seek to be spiritual in ways disconnected from our humanity, our mortality and our web of real relations? We lose our laughter! Laughter, not cynical or mean, but real laughter is a sign we understand the unlikely character of our redemption and our great need for it!

Laughter, holy joy, helps us to see ourselves and others as we truly are. I laugh at myself frequently when I pray! Sometimes I laugh at God’s surprising provisions like Sarah at the thought of giving birth in the convalescent center. (See Genesis 17:17.) God insisted on “Isaac” as the name of Abraham and Sarah’s child—it means “laughter.” This was not a reminder that they’d doubted the promise—but a way to recall God’s power to overcome our skepticism and limits. They were joyful when “laughter” began to cry and crawl and grow! Laughter is key to Christian community.


Holy One, Let my laughter never dry up. Let it be real and holy and good, not aimed at others. Instead, let me laugh at the wonderful way you bring life out of death and joy from mourning. Let me laugh at myself. I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.


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