• Joel Riehle

be careful then WHAT you pray

“I’m a little stressed all the time. Can you help me with my nerves.” I wrote in my prayer journal today. I reread the sentence I had typed. The devotional reading had been about the backwards nature of Jesus’ teachings in Luke 14.

In it he tells people not to take the places of honor at banquets, but rather sit in the least honorable seats. And he tells people when they throw parties not to invite those who can repay you with another invite but to bring in the crippled and poor and then your reward would be in heaven.

I think in my prayers sometimes I miss the bigger picture. Instead of focusing on what I can give to God, my prayers can often be centered on how I would like God to bless me.

Paul’s prayer request to his brothers and sisters in Ephesus goes like this:

“Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel,” (Eph 6:19)

This is a man who is constantly traveling and rarely knowing where his next lodging or meal will be. He enters towns knowing that they are likely to run him out or attempt to stone him. He faces ridicule from the Romans and persecution from his own kin, the Jews. Yet the request he lodges is for courage to proclaim the gospel in spite of these circumstances.

And right after Peter and John were released from prison for preaching the gospel, their prayer was not for protection from beatings, or for the authorities to leave them alone. The believers gathered together and prayed this:

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word.”

Acts 4:29

I doubt these kinds of Christians would have prayed for 'safe travels'. More likely they would have prayed for witnessing opportunities along their route.

I doubt many of these Christians would have asked God to 'bless their meal' but we know that they blessed many less fortunate with food.

I really need to reevaluate what the content of my own prayers more often.

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