Pastor Joynt's Devotionals

How Should I Pray, Week 2, Day1

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MATTHEW 7:1

“Do not judge that you may not be judged. “

The asking, which is at the heart of prayer, is also at the heart of our relationship with others. The opposite of asking is demanding and expressing disappointment, disapproval, and condemnation when others do not conform to our will. Jesus forbids condemnation or “judging” just prior to his teaching on “asking” or petition. When we judge others, we convey to them that they are somehow bad, even irredeemable, and certainly unacceptable. It is very difficult to do without falling into anger and contempt and without striking a piercing blow into the soul and self of the one we are unhappy with. Anger, already set aside earlier in the sermon (see Matthew 5:21-22), leads to condemnation, which is such a powerful way to hurt someone. Condemnation eases the way to anger, because the one we condemn deserves to suffer and is no longer worthy of our respect. These behaviors stifle our participation in Christ’s Kingdom and undermine our connection to God in prayer and to others.

Prayer

Gracious God, How easy it is to judge and condemn! How quickly harsh and unequivocal words come to my mouth. How easily condemnation can produce shame as others condemn themselves. Renew my practice and my speech. Enable my self-control. Let me avoid condemnation in my family, workplace, and church. Amen.

 

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How Should I Pray, Week 1, Day 7

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MATTHEW 6:9-13

The Lord’s Prayer is also, after its address, a series of requests. We ask that God’s rule will be extended, that our daily needs will be met, that forgiveness will be extended by us and to us, and that we’ll avoid moments of trial. Notice all these requests are matters of immediate importance to any disciple.

Now prayer is more than asking for what we want, since God is not a cosmic vending machine, and the universe is not simply there to meet our desires. But that does not mean we must pray for non-personal or for spiritual matters and leave out our actual concerns. This kind of prayer is unsustainable. We must pray for what we care about, and as we interact with God, the circle of our concern will grow and expand toward the largeness of his love. We must ask as a child does a parent, or a friend does a friend. Dallas Willard defines prayer as “talking to God about what we are doing together.” God is concerned about our concerns—and that they coincide with his.

Prayer

Great God, I ask you to deepen my praying. Let it be honest and real. Widen the circle of my concern toward those you love and value that are currently marginal to me. Help me gain a new sense of partnership with you, every day. Amen.

 

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