Wednesday, Sept. 28

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Wednesday, Sept. 28.

Morning

As you move toward a time when you begin to guide yourself in daily prayer, I want to encourage you to consider devotionals that might help. By some measures, one of the most widely used is Thomas a’ Kempis’ “Imitation of Christ,” which I have found fruitful to read during times of meditative quiet. If you don’t mind reading antiquated English, you can get a translation for nearly nothing, particularly if you have an e-reader. More modern translations are worth the price.

Again, here’s our basic prayer pattern for the morning:

Praise and Thanksgiving. Again, some useful psalms to consider as part of your time of praise: 18, 19, 21, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 40, 41, 66, 106, 113, 116, 135, 136, 138, 145, 149, 150. Perhaps over several days you can simply work through the list. Once you’re done, you’ll have a good sense of how to spot and pray psalms of praise.

Confession. And remember the Good News: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!

Petitions. Remember global concerns, then move to praying for your nation, and then from there for your community (including work or school), your church, your family and yourself.

Scripture. After selecting a reading, focus on a verse or verses that really seem to speak to you. Pray around those words.

Silence.

Noon

The Lord’s Prayer, and some silent time.

Night

Meditative prayer and reflection on the day. Sometimes people find this a good time to keep a few private notes in a diary or notebook.

May your dreams be untroubled.

Tuesday, Sept. 27

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Tuesday, Sept. 27.

Morning

This morning as you prepare to pray, I will ask you to consider something specific. What is your community of prayer? I am asking where it is that you go in order to pray in a serious way with a group of people, rather than simply praying alone. Do you pray with others in a very real way in the sanctuary on Sunday? Are you part of a Sunday school or small group that prays in such a way?

If anything about what I’ve just asked concerns you, know that you can contact me via email at cwgriffiniii@gmail.com.

Again, here’s our basic prayer pattern for the morning:

Praise and Thanksgiving. Again, some useful psalms to consider as part of your time of praise: 18, 19, 21, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 40, 41, 66, 106, 113, 116, 135, 136, 138, 145, 149, 150. Perhaps over several days you can simply work through the list.

Confession. And remember the Good News: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!

Petitions. Remember global concerns, then move to praying for your nation, and then from there for your community (including work), your church, your family and yourself.

Scripture. After selecting a reading (see yesterday’s guide), focus on a verse or verses that really seem to speak to you. Pray around those words.

Silence.

Noon

The Lord’s Prayer, and some silent time.

Night

Meditative prayer and reflection on the day. Sometimes people find this a good time to keep a few private notes in a diary or notebook.

And may you always have blessed sleep.

Monday, Sept. 26

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Monday, Sept. 26.

Morning

We are entering the final five days of our 30-day introduction to a committed prayer life, one where we truly hear from God. These last days will be designed to help you continue a patterned, deep prayer life on your own. By now, you probably have a good sense of what to do.

Today, I am going to give you a basic pattern based on what we’ve been doing and let you fill in the blanks. As we move through the week, I also will offer you additional resources you can use to enhance your ongoing prayer life. These largely will be resources that have inspired me through the years. At a minimum, I hope they will cause you to search online or in bookstores for what similarly might suit you.

First, lift up praise and thanksgiving to God. Declare God’s greatness, and then thank God for what he has recently done in your life. Remember, as part of your praise time, you might want to leaf through the psalms, seeking one that helps you praise God more effectively. Here are some suggestions: Psalms 18, 19, 21, 29, 30, 32, 33, 34, 40, 41, 66, 106, 113, 116, 135, 136, 138, 145, 149, 150.

Next, enter a time of sincere confession. And remember the Good News: In the name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven! Go and sin no more.

You should now feel ready to lift petitions to God, praying for the dawning of the kingdom of God in this world and in your heart. For structure, you might want to start with global concerns, then move to praying for your nation, and then from there for your community (including work), your church, your family and yourself.

To close out the morning, spend some time in God’s word. You may choose to follow the daily lectionary readings, which help us to read Scripture thoroughly during a three-year cycle. (We are currently in Year C.) If so, you can check the daily readings by going here.

Or you instead might choose to start working your way through the Bible in about a year, reading three chapters a day or investing in a “year through the Bible” book or program.

Starting out, it’s also fine to simply think about Bible stories you’ve heard of but not explored thoroughly as an adult, and read them prayerfully and thoughtfully. If you don’t know where the story is, a quick search on some key words, including “Bible,” likely will give you the reference.

And don’t forget to have some silent time before launching into your day.

Noon

I think the use of the Lord’s Prayer in the middle of the day is something we can do until the day we die. Many prayer books will offer you additional midday prayers, too. I will repeat this one for you, written for this 30-day guide:

Lord, how am I doing?
Has your will been done?
Help me to walk with you 
     through the remainder of the day.

As I hear your voice at the center of my soul,
let me move according to your will. Amen.

Again, some time in silence can be most helpful before resuming your day.

Night

By now, you probably have a clear sense of how meditative prayer works for you. At a minimum, take time in the evening to still yourself, focus on your breathing, and clear your mind, listening for God.

Search the day’s events. Search for where your heart has been during the day. If necessary, once again confess what needs to be turned over to God.

There are few gifts greater than a peaceful, holy night of sleep, and I pray we all have this tonight and as many nights as possible.

Sunday, Sept. 25

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Sunday, Sept. 25.

As we have done each Sunday, we will deviate from our structured day of prayer. Focus today on worshiping with others! If you engage earnestly in worship, you will experience all the elements of prayer we have explored so far.

I am hoping the last couple of days have inspired some of you who are not participating in church life regularly to return. You need that direct contact with God; your church needs you. Every member has a role to play.

As you head to worship, engage early. Start preparing yourself to encounter God in worship as you leave the house. Approach the place of worship prayerfully and joyfully, rejoicing in the sight of your fellow believers. Ask the Lord to reveal new truths to you in the music, in the reading of the Scripture, during the prayer time, and in the sermon. And as you worship, remember throughout who your audience is:

God.

Saturday, Sept. 24

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Saturday, Sept. 24. Once again, I have to acknowledge that Saturdays can be different for people with traditional work schedules.

Morning

Much can distract us from life with God on a Saturday. I know there’s at least one football game I am eager to watch. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Rest and recreation are a part of God’s plan. God simply wants us to recognize the divine presence in the midst of all that activity.

Yesterday, we focused on praying for our churches. Today, let’s be sure that whatever we do, those activities don’t interfere with our ability to worship well tomorrow.

Here’s a simple morning prayer for you:

“Lord, be with me in all I do today. Give me glimpses of you throughout. May I find myself restored so that I serve you well in coming days.”

Remember to make your personal confessions, and lift up your requests for yourself and others.

Turn to your Bible today for an image of holy worship: Revelation 4. Pray that you will glimpse an earthly version of this tomorrow.

Noon

Remember the Lord’s Prayer, and I offer you this prayer to raise, too:

Lord, how am I doing?
Has your will been done?
Help me to walk with you 
     through the remainder of the day.

As I hear your voice at the center of my soul,
let me move according to your will. Amen.

Night

We continue with meditative prayer. Again, it may be useful to write down or record in some way the impressions you receive.

Here’s a prayer you can speak out loud, too:

“Give me rest from worldly excitement, Lord, and give me deep sleep as I experience your peace. Amen.”

Sleep well.

Friday, Sept. 23

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Friday, Sept. 23.

Morning

Yesterday, as I prayed the morning prayer from Daniel, I was struck by one line in particular: “Show your favor to your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake.” Daniel was praying this in a particular situation. The Chosen People of God had been scattered or captured by invaders, an event we are to understand as punishment for their unfaithfulness.

Most of our churches are not desolate, but as we watch decline in church participation happening in so many places, we can become fearful about future desolation. Fear not; let’s pray. If you don’t participate in a local church, pray for the people who await your spiritual gifts to be in their midst.

“Lord, I pray for the churches today, and in particular, I pray for my local congregation. Forgive us for the many ways we have failed you. Return us to our core mission, helping us to tell others of the joy of walking with Jesus Christ. Make us deeper disciples, Lord; give us a desire for your holy word and draw us toward prayer so we may know your will in every circumstance. Amen.”

Remember to make your personal confessions, and lift up your requests for yourself and others.

Turn to your Bible today for images of the early church full of the Holy Spirit: Acts 2:41-47; Acts 4:32-37. Prayerfully ask God, “How much of this can we recover?”

Noon

Remember the Lord’s Prayer, and I offer you this prayer to raise, too:

Lord, how am I doing?
Has your will been done?
Help me to walk with you 
     through the remainder of the day.

As I hear your voice at the center of my soul,
let me move according to your will. Amen.

Night

We continue with meditative prayer. Again, it may be useful to write down or record in some way the impressions you receive.

Here’s a prayer you can speak out loud, too:

“Lord, help me search the day that is ending, enabling me to better spot the grace you have offered me throughout. Forgive me for the moments I turned away or even ran away. May my rest tonight prepare me for a glorious day with you tomorrow. Amen.”

Sleep deeply, dreaming of the church to come.

Thursday, Sept. 22

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Thursday, Sept. 22. It also happens to be my mother’s birthday, so, Happy Birthday, Mom!

Morning

Let’s try something a little different. Below you will find a prayer from Daniel. It was prayed in a particular place and time, of course, but as you move through it, think how these words might inspire you to pray about modern circumstances. Within the prayer, you will find praise, confession and intercession, all in line with how we have been praying during our morning time.

Daniel 9:4-19

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

Ah, Lord—the great and awe-inspiring God who keeps His gracious covenant with those who love Him and keep His commands— we have sinned, done wrong, acted wickedly, rebelled, and turned away from Your commands and ordinances. We have not listened to Your servants the prophets, who spoke in Your name to our kings, leaders, fathers, and all the people of the land.

Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but this day public shame belongs to us: the men of Judah, the residents of Jerusalem, and all Israel—those who are near and those who are far, in all the countries where You have dispersed them because of the disloyalty they have shown toward You. Lord, public shame belongs to us, our kings, our leaders, and our fathers, because we have sinned against You. Compassion and forgiveness belong to the Lord our God, though we have rebelled against Him and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following His instructions that He set before us through His servants the prophets.

All Israel has broken Your law and turned away, refusing to obey You. The promised curse written in the law of Moses, the servant of God, has been poured out on us because we have sinned against Him. He has carried out His words that He spoke against us and against our rulers by bringing on us so great a disaster that nothing like what has been done to Jerusalem has ever been done under all of heaven. Just as it is written in the law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not appeased the Lord our God by turning from our iniquities and paying attention to Your truth. So the Lord kept the disaster in mind and brought it on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in all He has done. But we have not obeyed Him.

Now, Lord our God, who brought Your people out of the land of Egypt with a mighty hand and made Your name renowned as it is this day, we have sinned, we have acted wickedly. Lord, in keeping with all Your righteous acts, may Your anger and wrath turn away from Your city Jerusalem, Your holy mountain; for because of our sins and the iniquities of our fathers, Jerusalem and Your people have become an object of ridicule to all those around us.

Therefore, our God, hear the prayer and the petitions of Your servant. Show Your favor to Your desolate sanctuary for the Lord’s sake. Listen, my God, and hear. Open Your eyes and see our desolations and the city called by Your name. For we are not presenting our petitions before You based on our righteous acts, but based on Your abundant compassion. Lord, hear! Lord, forgive! Lord, listen and act! My God, for Your own sake, do not delay, because Your city and Your people are called by Your name.

Remember to intercede on behalf of others and yourself throughout the day, and give yourself a few minutes of silence before resuming your day.

Noon

As our noon prayer, I offer you another one from Hildegard of Bingen:

Praise be to you, Holy Trinity,
for you are sound and life.

The choirs of angels praise you.
Wonderful, mysterious radiance,
hidden from humankind,
you are life in everything.

Night

We continue with meditative prayer. Again, it may be useful to write down or record in some way the impressions you receive.

Here’s a prayer you can speak out loud, too:

“Lord, may your grace, protection and restoration be with me and my family through the night, and may the sunrise promise us a holy day, one where our actions reflect your love. Amen.”

Sleep well.

Wednesday, Sept. 21

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Wednesday, Sept. 21.

Morning

Words of praise can be found in the writings of the prophets, too. Pray these words from Isaiah, understanding that Jesus’ ministry, death and resurrection usher in “that day.”

Isaiah 12
On that day you will say:
“I will praise You, Lord,
although You were angry with me.
Your anger has turned away,
and You have had compassion on me.
Indeed, God is my salvation;
I will trust Him and not be afraid,
for Yah, the Lord,
is my strength and my song.
He has become my salvation.”
You will joyfully draw water
from the springs of salvation,
and on that day you will say:
“Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!
Celebrate His works among the peoples.
Declare that His name is exalted.
Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things.
Let this be known throughout the earth.
Cry out and sing, citizen of Zion,
for the Holy One of Israel is among you
in His greatness.”

As we usually do, take time to prayerfully consider and confess where sin has crept into your life, but know the cross makes forgiveness possible. Intercede in prayer for others and yourself, something you can continue to do throughout the day.

See if you can take today’s Bible verses and pray around them. Consider each theme, what that theme means to your life, and what all of that inspires you to lift up to God: Jeremiah 10:23-24; Luke 20:45-21:4.

Give yourself a few minutes of silence before resuming your day.

Noon

Pray the Lord’s Prayer, turning each part of it over in your mind before moving to the next. Again, spend a little more time in silence than you have previously. Try using some of the breathing exercises recommended for evening prayer.

Night

We continue with meditative prayer. Again, it may be useful to write down or record in some way the impressions you receive.

Here’s a prayer you can speak out loud, too:

“As the evening settles upon me, keep me mindful of how you control the spinning of the universe—the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars—to the benefit of your glorious creation. May I rest in the embrace of all you have made, at the same time knowing there is so much more. Thank you for your grace, which saves us all and gives us peace. Amen.”

Sleep deeply and peacefully tonight.

Clearing the Clutter

As we continue through our September focus on prayer and discipleship, here’s a little extra something for you, a devotion from an Asbury Theological Seminary student living in Southwest Virginia.

By Suzanne Whittaker

I began this summer with a very long summer reading list. Titles I have neglected to read were dusted off and placed in a beautifully organized pyramid-shaped stack on the nightstand. I was so excited to catch up on all of my reading plans that I even made an official Facebook announcement, complete with picture! And then summer happened.

It’s September and we’ve begun our homeschool lessons and piano practice, and I am rushing to organize everything for the fall semester at Asbury Theological Seminary. That beautifully organized stack of books stands accusingly in the same place—with a few titles gone, at least. One is Out of Chaos by Jessica LaGrone. “Chaos” is not how I would describe my life right now, but it is definitely busy. It is a great read about the amazing “new” that God can, and does, create out of chaos! I highly recommend it.

My big plans for the summer were to work on some forms of chaos in my life. My screened porch comes to mind instantly. For years I have threatened to fix the broken screens, scrap the old paint and put up a fresh coat, hang some blinds to make the evenings much more enjoyable (that sunset is a scorcher!), and put new outdoor carpet down. Today I disposed of three bags of debris, none of which moved me toward the original goals. My putting-off-today-what-could-be-done-tomorrow approach to the porch chores created an environment that prevented any of us from enjoying the porch this summer. It was cluttered with paint chips and leaves blown in from storms, dirt in the corner where a plant had turned over, and stacks of gardening items my teenage daughter, Alyson, uses for her backyard orchard projects. The wood stain used by my daughter to finish her porch swing project was still sitting where my adult ADHD brain had left it two months ago.

The porch became the junk drawer of all junk drawers!

I am writing this after the morning I finally tackled the porch. I began with a general debris pickup and basic organizing of the items. The space is actually usable again. Just a quick hour of work and things were greatly improved. I am planning on power washing the walls and cutting out the remaining screens this weekend. I may even re-glue the carpet. The exciting part is we can begin to enjoy this space again. We will be able to step outside and relax in the chairs or swing, simply enjoying the beautiful blue mountains and the autumn sunsets. Perhaps we will have breakfast at sunrise!

It’s not been hard for me to connect my summer of disorder to our spiritual lives. How often do we clutter them?

Life is both orderly and exciting when we set time aside to go to church, study Scripture, and meet God in a time of meaningful prayer. Life is frustrating when those spiritual activities take a back seat to all the other stuff in our lives. Eventually we notice our light has grown dim and our soul feels lonely.

The good news is that it doesn’t take a power-washing to gain control. You simply need to start with your daily prayers and get back to Sunday sermons and fellowship with your local church family. I’ve always found that no matter how long you’ve been away, the folks at church are always glad to see you!

Tuesday, Sept. 20

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Tuesday, Sept. 20.

Morning

As you might have noticed yesterday, we will be using Scripture a little more heavily to guide us through prayer this week. In many ways, such a choice powerfully enhances our prayer lives. By turning directly to the Bible for guidance when we pray, our prayers are made stronger because they are clearly aligned with the will of God. Let’s again begin by lifting a psalm of praise as a prayer.

Psalm 98
Sing a new song to the Lord,
for He has performed wonders;
His right hand and holy arm
have won Him victory.
The Lord has made His victory known;
He has revealed His righteousness
in the sight of the nations.
He has remembered His love
and faithfulness to the house of Israel;
all the ends of the earth
have seen our God’s victory.

Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
be jubilant, shout for joy, and sing.
Sing to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and melodious song.
With trumpets and the blast of the ram’s horn
shout triumphantly
in the presence of the Lord, our King.

Let the sea and all that fills it,
the world and those who live in it, resound.
Let the rivers clap their hands;
let the mountains shout together for joy
before the Lord,
for He is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world righteously
and the peoples fairly.

As we usually do, take time to prayerfully consider and confess where sin has crept into your life, but know the cross makes forgiveness possible. Intercede in prayer for others, something you can continue to do throughout the day. If your church publishes a prayer list online or in a bulletin, now would be a good time to consult that list.

Today’s Bible verses are also prayers. After reading them, consider how you might reconstruct or rephrase them as prayers of your own: John 17; Ephesians 3:16-21.

Give yourself a few minutes of silence before resuming your day.

Noon

Pray the Lord’s Prayer, and spend a little more time in silence than you have previously. How might stilling yourself change the direction of your day?

Night

We continue with meditative prayer. Again, it may be useful to write down or record in some way the impressions you receive.

Here’s a prayer you can speak out loud, too:

“Heavenly Father, Your mercies were new this morning, and they did not fail me through the day. Praise and thanks be to You for being faithful to Your promises and unwavering in Your steadfastness. I am not worthy, Lord, for today I have been unfaithful and have wavered from the past of righteousness. Forgive me for the sake of the bitter suffering and death of my Savior, Jesus Christ.

“As night closes in on me, surround me with Your protective strength and almighty care. Keep me steadfast in my faith, and preserve me unto Your heavenly kingdom. Amen.” ~ Borrowed from “My Prayer Book,” Concordia Publishing House, 1957.

May your dreams resonate with the reality of God.