December 1, 2021
This morning I texted a pastor friend of mine whose church is near Oxford, MI, where the school shooting occurred yesterday and told him that I was praying for him and his flock. A little while later I began to check in with some of our members who are suffering with Covid and several of them are really hurting. There is a lot of grief, hurt, and fear around us. It reminds me a bit of the setting of 1 Samuel, where the Israelites were facing a great deal of adversity, but in their case, they were trying to handle it on their own. Let’s not waste these challenges.
I am calling us to a one-week 24-hour prayer vigil. You can sign up here to take one or more 15-minute slots that you will commit to praying during that time for the next 7 days. This will begin tonight at midnight and go through next Wednesday at midnight.
Praying for 15 minutes may seem like a long time. How can you talk to God for that long without starting to repeat yourself or saying the same idea but just using different words? This is one of the ways in which the Psalms are so helpful. Here is a prayer guide from a portion of Psalm 34 that you can use. Read the text to the Lord and then use the text as a guide for your prayers. Here is an example:
1) I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
Lord, in spite of the adversity that I may be facing and that many of my brothers and sisters are facing, and certainly people in my community, I am going to bless you. I know that you are God, you are Sovereign, you are holy, you are righteous, you are good and gracious. The cross forever stands as a testimony to your incredible mercy; therefore, your praise will always be in my mouth.
2) My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad.
Lord, we often sing, “I will not boast of anything, no gifts, no power, no wisdom, but I will boast in Jesus Christ, His death and resurrection.” While I am grateful for the medical personnel and resources, I know that my ultimate hope and the hope for my brothers and sisters is not in those gifts, or effectiveness, or wisdom. You may use those, and I pray that you will, but I boast in you and in your power and authority to save. We are humbled by our needs. We confess that we are completely at your mercy. We hear again of your power and glory and we are glad because we know how you love to show mercy to the needy and grace to the humble.
3) Oh, magnify the LORD with me and let us exalt his name together!
God, right now ______________ (names of people suffering) are not able to gather together and praise your name with the congregation. They probably feel isolated and perhaps lonely and may find it difficult to imagine having enough breath to talk, much less sing at the top of their lungs of your goodness. I pray for their healing and recovery that they can once again join with the redeemed and gather as your people in order to acknowledge your great worth. I can’t wait to see them again with the people of God as a testimony to your grace and power! O God, bring it about.
4) I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.
When I look around, I see many reasons for fear. If I made a list of all of the reasons for fear, it would only tempt me to be even more fearful. Instead, I am going to seek you. I am asking you to make yourself known as the God of mercy, grace, power, and righteousness. I am seeking you for forgiveness where I have failed to love you and others like I should, or where I have ignored your Word and the needs of others. I am seeking for your kingdom to come, instead of my own version of how the world ought to be. I am yielding myself completely to your control to be used as you see fit. When I try to control my world or look at all of the “what-ifs” I tend to be very anxious, but you O God, you deliver me from those fears, just by looking to you.
Psalm 34 has 22 verses. What I have done only covers the first four. You can follow this format and will probably not be able to pray the entire Psalm like this within 15 minutes. Of course, if you go over 15, it’s really ok!
This past Sunday, we saw that Israel failed to humble herself before God when facing a dire situation. Let’s acknowledge that God has placed us into this setting at this time that we may look more like Jesus and help our brothers and sisters do the same.
Grace and Peace,
Sunday’s Text: 1 Samuel 4:12-22