Saturday, March 07, 2009

Prayer Devotional, Day 3

"When he had taken the seven loaves and given thanks, he broke them and gave them to his disciples to set before the people, and they did so. They had a few small fish as well; he gave thanks for them also and told the disciples to distribute them."
Mark 8:6-7

Jesus gave thanks. Of all people, why should Jesus give thanks when He, Himself, is God? He had the power to turn stones into bread. All of creation was like play-dough in His hands. And yet, He gave thanks.

It is easy to not see a reason to thank God. Isn't our food earned by the work of our own hands? Aren't the grades we receive in class the result of our own studying? Isn't my success on the track the fruit of my own sweat, tears, and blood? If I did all the work, whom shall I thank besides myself?

Read: Philippians 2:5-11

I believe an unwillingness to give thanks begins with a forgetfulness of God's character. When we have even a glimpse of how "wide and long and high and deep" the love of Christ is, we cannot help but worship. When we understand that He is faithful, we will give Him thanks even when it seems to make no sense. This isn't to say it will be easy, but I encourage you to know that His heart towards us is good even when we feel so alone. When we recognize who He is to us, trusting becomes easier, and thanksgiving becomes a beautiful and fearful form of worship.

Consider this prayer in Proverbs 30:9: "...give me neither poverty nor riches...Otherwise I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?'"
Pray: Where have you forgotten His goodness in your life? Bring this to God and give thanks in prayer.
Pray: Give thanks for 3 people in your life.

Even small thanksgiving involves faith. Prayer is not ignoring reality, but recognizing that God is reality.
Even in our times of deepest confusion and pain, we can give thanks because God is still God.

Many of you are familiar with "Desert Song," by Hillsong:
"This is my prayer in the desert,
when all that's within me feels dry.
This my prayer in my hunger and need.
My God is the God who provides...
All of my life, in every season, You are still God
I have a reason to sing, I have a reason to worship."

Read: Exodus 17:1-7
Pray: What is your prayer in the desert? Have you learned to live "Desert Song," or can you still only sing it? Give thanks to God in your deserts, remembering who He is. Learn to worship and thank Him there and see what happens.

If you have time, read Daniel 2:1-23 and 3:1-18 and notice how Daniel, fully aware of the possibility of death, sets his hope in the "God in heaven who reveals mysteries."

"The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen."

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