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Daily Prayers for the OCC

Daily Prayers for the OCC April 2017

325 for our 325th Anniversary Year!

 

Wednesday November 8, 2017. Prayer 425. Foolish Expectation

Jesus talks to us about foolish expectations. In Matthew 25:2 he describes what it means to wait by faith to folks that are foolish and folks that are wise in their preparations.  A foolish person does not take the time to thoughtfully accomplish what needs to be done.  “The foolish ones had taken no oil for their lamps” and when an unexpected delay occurred they had to search for more oil at the last minute.  In their frantic scurrying, they missed the moment of the visit they had so longed to be there to see.  Who is more foolish?  The fool, or the fool who follows the fool?  Or, the fool who follows their own foolishness?

Dear God, when I say I want to be a fool for you, what I mean is that I am willing to pay attention to you when the world wants me to be doing so many other things instead. Amen.

 

 

Thursday November 9, 2017. Prayer 426. The Door Was Shut

I saw a person once looking to get into the church but the door was closed. It was a clearly stated non-office hours day.  But, that person did not know that at the time.  Faith is like that.  Jesus says in the parable of the 10 bridesmaids who are required to keep the lamps burning in expectation of a great appearance that there is a big difference in knowing and not knowing the people of God.  To the foolish whose lamps went out they find in Matthew 25:10 “The door was shut” on their inopportune return.  Timing is everything in life.  Sometimes the door is open when you least expect it.  Sometimes it is closed when you need it most.  The key is to know whose door it is.  Get to know that person.  Then you have access to the door on any day.

Dear God, help me to be in the right place at the right time in my search for you. Open all doors for me by love.  Amen.

Friday November 10, 2017. Prayer 427. Neither The Day Nor The Hour

The Lord teaches us to “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour” as it says in Matthew 25:13.  While we are busy making plans, our life happens.  We may think we know what to expect in the day, but, each day has its own expectations ready for us.  When we get that sudden phone call that a loved one has been rushed to the hospital, or has passed, even if we were expecting that to happen, the news comes to us as a sudden shock.  That is because each day is so final.  Tomorrow cannot be today.  Today cannot be yesterday.  Each day was appointed for itself.  Jesus does not want us to be lost holding onto the wrong expectation.  Exactly because we know neither the day nor the hour our love, life and soul is expected of us, it keeps us honest in working at our loving, living and soul on all days and at all times.

Dear God, increase my strength of soul today, that I may include a hopeful watching as part of every day! Amen.

 

Monday November 13, 2017. Prayer 428. Standing At A Distance

Matthew 17:12 tells the story of Jesus encounter with 10 people suffering from the skin disease called leprosy in the Bible. While Jesus was on the way, he entered a village and was met by the lepers, “who stood at a distance.”  Why were they standing at a distance?  Because of the shame and public scorn of their disfigurement, society did not want to see them.  Society was afraid they too might catch the disease and become like them.  Society did not want to see the suffering.  Society wanted to go on without having to be slowed down to deal with such an uncomfortable public health disease.  Society is not always right, we learn by faith.  Jesus slowed down, stopped, and started to heal them.

Dear God, make me to challenge society when society’s values are not in line with my faith values. Amen.

Tuesday November 14, 2017. Prayer 429. Master Have Mercy

There are as many beautiful prayers in the world as there are people to speak them. Yet, all prayer may come down to two essential ingredient: thanksgiving and mercy.  We give thanks to God for all the blessings we have and for the love of family, friends, and community.  We pray to God with a plea for mercy, for others and for our own hurts and important needs for life and relationship.  How did the 10 lepers move from standing at a distance from society, from God, and from themselves?  In Luke 17:13 they lifted up their voices to the Lord saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.”  God does not despise a contrite and broken heart.  If you plea for mercy is genuine, mercy is genuinely present.

Dear God, please slow me down from my rushing around to recognize when someone is asking me for mercy. Amen.

 

Wednesday November 15, 2017. Prayer 430. Go And Show Yourselves

The most curious portion of the story about Jesus healing the 10 people with leprosy is that part when he says to them, “God and show yourselves to the priests.” In Bible terms, Jesus is encouraging the sick individuals to no longer accept society’s diagnosis and judgment upon them that they are sick “invalids” who shall remain shunned in an “un-valid” life because of their disease.  The priests were the authorizing agents to restore a person to full status in their society.  Jesus knew he could heal these persons from their physical ailment, but, could they be cleansed in their soul from all those years of shunning and rejection?  Would they feel rejected forever even if healed of their medical condition?  Only time would tell.

Dear God, please help me to learn the deeper lessons of my suffering so that I may suffer with others patiently. Amen.

 

Thursday November 16, 2017. Prayer 431. One Turned Back

Living a robust faith life is about turning back, and being willing to be turned back. Does true love restore balance to your life?  Or, does true, deep, soul turning love actually sweep you off your feet and knock your whole being off balance?  Don’t we do crazy awesome things for crazy awesome love?  Only one of the 10 people who were healed of leprosy by Jesus turned back to give thanks for what Jesus had done for him by faith.  In Luke 17:16 it says, “he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks.”  When we are rushed to the hospital with great pain, we are literally, knocked off our feet.  Most major healing procedures require that we remain off our feet for a while.  When we are truly sick and in pain, it is hard to stand on your feet of self will and willful pride.  Where is true wellness found in the healing process?

Dear God, when life has knocked me for a loop, when I find myself off my feet, know that I am on my knees in prayer. Amen.

 

Friday November 17, 2017. Prayer 432. Except This Foreigner

A curious thing happens on the way to the temple for those 10 people suffering from leprosy when Jesus has healed them. They run so quickly, and without hesitation to get the approval of the very same society that had rejected them in the first place.  Only one stopped, turned, and realized, society was not going to do anything more for him that God had already accomplished.  It turns out, as Jesus says in Luke 17:18 “Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”  Why is this significant?  The one person in the group who was from the north and not a part of that local community’s society was able to see with different eyes the inconsistencies and injustices of his neighbors to the south.  Being a foreigner and a stranger is like having a terrible skin disease when society shuns you and shuts you out.  Being an alien in an alien land is a gift of God when you are able to realize we are all healed by faith.

Dear God, may I never be a stranger to you, to others, to myself that I may not recognize where love is!!!! Amen.

 

Monday November 20, 2017. Prayer 433. Separating Sheep and Goats

Jesus offers us a parable on our ultimate relationship with God by comparing our actions on earth to a kingdom in which the king needs to be a shepherd leader to the flock and keep the sheep and goats in their own pens. In Matthew 25:32 he says of the king’s task, “he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”  This is the caring shepherd’s task, to keep the children safe from hurting one another.  Sheep are considered sweet, docile and gentle and always going along with the crowd, but in reality they are a little difficult to deal with.  Goats may be seen as the more ornery self-willed creatures ready to go their own way, but in fact they are tough, can live in difficult terrain and cling to life and provide for life.  No parable is perfect nor can answer every question of faith in every comparison.  Personally I would choose a reliable goat over a sheep that would not stand up for itself or others when trouble came!

Dear God, when tempted to go along like a sheep in a world that gives in, make me to stand strong like a goat. Amen.

 

Tuesday November 21, 2017. Prayer 434. When Did We See You?

In the parable of the King and the Kingdom Jesus teaches us about the kind of behavior that the King expects to see in their society. The King asks them to ponder how they treated him when he was down.  The response in Matthew 25:37 is, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink?  And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”  Our spiritual quest has us ask, “Where is God?”  Especially we ask this when times get tough.  The better question is not “Where is God with us?” but rather, “When is God with us?”  The King asks his people, “You saw one person hungry, thirsty, unwelcomed, naked, sick and in prison, and you did not see my name on his identification card?”

Dear God, when I am tempted to think that we are not all in this together, that is when I need to see you most. Amen.

 

Wednesday November 22, 2017. Prayer 435. Welcome The Stranger

We hear the phrase, “Stranger Danger” nowadays. We struggle as individuals, families, neighborhoods, states, and nations to define who is welcome, who is alien, who is native, who is foreign?  As followers of Christ we have two residencies on our “spiritual identification cards.”  One says we are a resident on a place on earth.  The other says we are residents of the Commonwealth of Heaven.  We have demands on our body, soul and mind from both at the same time.  These pull us in two directions.  The King in the parable of the King and the Heavenly Kingdom teaches in Matthew 25:43 “I was a stranger and you did not welcome me.”  If strangers are only to be feared as ready to do evil to us, are we not saying, by logic, all others who don’t know me yet consider me to be a stranger to be fear for the uncertain hurt and harm I may inflict upon them?  So if we give ourselves a free pass as being a “safe stranger” can we offer this curtesy to others whom are strangers to us?  There are no easy and pat answers here.  This is a struggle of our souls, and is an energizing struggle of our world right now.  We need to hear what the King would say about how to be!

Dear God, show me the way to trust in your goodness even in a world that demands us to be afraid. Amen.

 

Thursday November 23, 2017. Prayer 436. Clothe The Naked

The call of the benevolent King to the residents of God’s Heavenly Kingdom includes the value “When I was naked you clothed me” as written in Matthew 25:36. While running a rummage shop for folks to pick up gently used clothing for gentle prices is a clear example of flowing from this core value, it has a much more profound spiritual task in mind for us.  Being clothed protects us from exposure to the elements and provides dignity from shame.  The depth of this faith value is in not letting a single person in society to be living in a way that they have only shame, and no access to dignity and being treated as a person to be valued.  That is the core of the Judeo-Christian faith, that each person is first a beloved child of God and ought to be treated as such.  We are all, holy, important, cherished, and a concern of God.  Imagine a world in which there is no more shame in being vulnerable and powerless?  The people ask, “King, when did we see you naked and not minister to you?”  There is the learning.  There is the hope.  Don’t be down about society, but rather see when the occasion to minister comes to you!

Dear God, help me to minister to others with a genuine heart, and a generous spirit to clothe the world with love. Amen.

 

Friday November 24, 2017. Prayer 437. The Least Of These

The parable of the King and the Heavenly Kingdom resolves in this phrase from Matthew 25:45 “Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” If God is to be compared to a benevolent and wise King, then God is asking something of us as we live on earth. People who are hungry, thirsty, naked, strange, sick and imprisoned are seen as “the least of society,” but we need at least to do what we can for them so far as it lies within our power.  If we all act like Kings looking for others to serve our expectations of dignity and security and perfect appearances, praising us for having the most, then we may be unable to see the value in those who have so little of these things.  Jesus asks us to be loving in thought, word and deed.  This is our daily challenge by faith.

Dear God, I do so want to be more loving in my heart. May my faith increase my strength of service in your name.  Amen.