Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 5. If you need an explanation about how to use this guide, see the first post. It being a day off for many folks, the advice that came with Saturday’s prayer guide comes to mind. Let’s maintain an awareness of God in the midst of any recreation we might have planned.
Yesterday, I preached the first sermon at my church relating to this month-long series. It was about basic prayer patterns, rooted in Matthew 6:9-13.
A word about the Bible texts in these prayer guides: As I select them, I begin by checking the daily lectionary, a three-year cycle of readings. These are wonderful to incorporate into your times of prayer. Last week, all the Scripture aligned with the lectionary, but that may not be true throughout this month. Daily lectionary texts can be found here.
Let’s begin our prayer time by considering God’s holiness. By that, we mean that as creator, God defines what is right and wrong. Right is aligned with God’s will; wrong opposes God’s will. Be certain that as you pray, you recognize God as holy and come before Him humbly and reverently. Yes, the words “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” are true, but God is holy and worthy of awe, regardless of whether we approach Him as Father, Son or Holy Spirit.
Once in the right frame of mind, let’s think of those within our sphere of influence who are in need this day, the sick, the lonely, the anxious, the needy and the spiritually lost. Pray for them by name. How might our thoughts and prayers be translated into God-inspired action?
Take time to read these Bible verses in a contemplative and meaningful way: Psalm 2; Jeremiah 18:12-23; 1 Timothy 3:14-4:5. As we consider these, I will make one comment. It is important that we pray for the people we live among—in a larger sense, our nation. There are lessons in these texts to guide such prayers.
This also is a good time to pray for your church and its role in the world.
Give yourself a few minutes of silence before resuming your day.
Pray the Lord’s Prayer slowly, thinking about the pattern it establishes:
“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” (Remember, God is holy!)
“Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (This is an act of submission.)
“Give us this day our daily bread.” (Ask God to help with immediate needs day after day, not for extravagant long-term provision up front. Feel free to bring those up now.)
“And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” (The first part is rooted in what Christ has done for us on the cross; the second part may be harder, as we are called to forgive those who have wounded us physically, spiritually or emotionally in some way.)
“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.” (Don’t just avoid doing really bad stuff. Instead of settling for what society might call “good,” choose what is Best, the action most aligned with God’s will. Really challenge yourself as you make moral choices.)
Again, give yourself a few minutes of silence before resuming your day.
As you review your day, pay attention to how conscious you were of God’s presence. Give particular thanks for any moments where God strengthened you to handle something difficult.
I hope you are continuing the meditative prayer time in the evening. Don’t be surprised if you have a breakthrough in this area this week.
May your prayers lead to a sleep that gives you much rest and peace. There’s nothing wrong with praying one of the first prayers you may have learned to pray. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take. Amen.”