Devotional Thought of the Day:
22 People of Israel, every year you must set aside ten percent of your grain harvest. 23 Also set aside ten percent of your wine and olive oil, and the first-born of every cow, sheep, and goat. Take these to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped, and eat them there. This will teach you to always respect the LORD your God.
24 But suppose you can’t carry that ten percent of your harvest to the place where the LORD chooses to be worshiped. If you live too far away, or if the LORD gives you a big harvest, 25 then sell this part and take the money there instead. 26 When you and your family arrive, spend the money on food for a big celebration. Buy cattle, sheep, goats, wine, beer, and if there are any other kinds of food that you want, buy those too. 27 And since people of the Levi tribe won’t own any land for growing crops, remember to ask the Levites to celebrate with you.
28 Every third year, instead of using the ten percent of your harvest for a big celebration, bring it into town and put it in a community storehouse. 29 The Levites have no land of their own, so you must give them food from the storehouse. You must also give food to the poor who live in your town, including orphans, widows, and foreigners. If they have enough to eat, then the LORD your God will be pleased and make you successful in everything you do. Deut. 14:22-29
Fifth, your trust must not set a goal for God, not set a time and place, not specify the way or the means of his fulfilment, but it must entrust all of that to his will, wisdom, and omnipotence. Just wait cheerfully and undauntedly for the fulfilment without wanting to know how and where, how soon, how late, or by what means. His divine wisdom will find an immeasurably better way and method, time and place, than we can imagine.
714 Yours is a desire without desire, as long as you don’t put firmly aside the occasion of falling. Don’t fool yourself telling me you’re weak. You’re a coward, which is not the same thing.
Prayer is hard.
Every week, with 50-80 people, I pray for about 150… Some are just people we need to pray for – those in government, those serving people and responding to protect and heal. Others are grieving, or are ill, others are facing a struggle that cannot be discussed.
And we pray… I attempt to lead us in putting all these people, and their concerns, in the hands of God.
There is a balance between telling God what to do and having the faith that God not only will act but is acting at this moment. Part of me wants to say with Jesus, “not my will, but Yours.” and part of me wants to be the old lady that hassled the judge.
And to this I hear the words, “you aren’t weak, you are a coward..” and I wonder if it is true, at least when it comes ot prayer. Am I afraid to really let God have everything in my life? Am I willing to let Him answer my prayers in His time, in His wisdom, in His way? Luther advocates this, but how hard is it to do? And how the heck did he learn to wait “cheerfully and undauntedly” without even the slightest bit of knowledge or control?
That’s why I asked which comes first, true prayer or true worship?
I think it has to be worship!
And we can’t worship until we know why we worship! That is how the Old Testament passage relates. One of the major tithes the people had to gather, 10 percent of their harvest, and all the firstborn of their flock was to throw a party! What kind of party? A party to “respect” the Lord- to realize His presence, to realize how He provides and cares for you. To celebrate the fact you aren’t alone.
With that knowledge, prayer seems… easier, it seems more natural, it seems to be how we are to relate to God, for it is in response ot how He cares for us.
I only have thoughts about whether prayer is effective when I am not thinking about God, when I am not in awe of His presence, of His love, of His care. When I am focused on that, such as during a worship service, prayer flows, it works, it is…
So, if you are struggling, if you aren’t sure God is with you, get with some other sisters and brothers in Christ. Be reminded of God’s love and mercy, and His presence… and praise Him for that, together. Then pray about what stresses you, what causes you anguish, anxiety, stress, pain…
And leave it in the hands of the Lord who loves you.
Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 42: Devotional Writings I, ed. Jaroslav Jan Pelikan, Hilton C. Oswald, and Helmut T. Lehmann, vol. 42 (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1999), 89.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Way . Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.