Friday, Sept. 30

Welcome to the final daily prayer guide for this month of September! Today is Friday, Sept. 30.

Morning

As we conclude this month-long exercise, I hope you feel better-equipped to pray in a consistent way, using patterns that should deepen you spiritually for the rest of your life. Pray alone; pray in community; know that as you pray, you are making a real difference for yourself and the world around you.

Regarding that “pray in community” recommendation: If you find yourself isolated in such a way that community prayer seems difficult, please contact me. My email address is cwgriffiniii@gmail.com. I will do whatever I can to help you find such a community.

I’ve simply tried to offer you a beginning pattern and some time to practice it until it feels like your own. I always am curious to know what patterns of prayer people adopt for themselves over time. Let me know as interesting things happen in your prayer life.

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 days and nights be filled with the comforting joy of the Holy Spirit. Be blessed.

Thursday, Sept. 29

Welcome to the daily prayer guide for the month of September! Today is Thursday, Sept. 29.

Morning

Let me take a moment to tell you about two “pilgrim” books that have meant a lot to me, and that tie in well with times of prayer and meditation. The first one is pretty widely known among Christians, John Bunyan’s “The Pilgrim’s Progress.” It is an allegorical tale reflecting the Christian journey into salvation and beyond. (Watch out for those fiery darts!) One of my great joys when my children were small was reading them “Little Pilgrim’s Progress,” a child-oriented version of the story by Helen L. Taylor.

Some may find this a more difficult read, but I also recommend working through “The Way of a Pilgrim,” a classic Eastern Orthodox story. The unknown author imagines a 19th-century peasant who is determined to fully comprehend and live out the Apostle Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

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 you sleep well and arise with a joyous heart.

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.

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.

A Growing List

2 Peter 1:2-11 (NLT)

May God give you more and more grace and peace as you grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

By Chuck Griffin

At the core of the above passage is a spiritual to-do list, a way to grow as a Christian. Each item is strengthened by something else on the list, with the ultimate goal of experiencing a strong, unshakable faith.

Moral excellence, or goodness, undergirds great faith and has to do with whether we choose what God would choose in the same circumstances. But how do we know how to choose?

Well, knowledge helps to prop up moral excellence. The Lord has revealed much to us in the Holy Bible, even if it does sometimes take a little effort and the guidance of the Holy Spirit to tease the information out. What a gift: thousands of years of holy revelation at our fingertips!

Why do we fail to dig out what we need? We have trouble staying focused. We lack self-control. The painful distractions and immediate pleasures of this world draw us away from the rich rewards available to us in the Bible and through direct contact with God in prayer.

Patient endurance marks the beginning of self-control. We see the fiery darts of the enemy coming at us, but regardless of whether and where they stick, we know we can keep moving forward as Christians because God is with us. And if we find ourselves passing through Vanity Fair, we don’t slow down, for we know our real destination.

If that previous paragraph was confusing, I just went all “Pilgrim’s Progress” on you. If you haven’t read it, you really should try it.

Godliness supports endurance, of course. This is a little different from the “goodness” or “moral excellence” that develops down the road in this spiritual journey. At this stage, there is a simple desire to please God, springing from the warmth that is felt when in fellowship with other Christians.

And the beginning of all of this is love. We understand true love when we first comprehend what God has done for us. “For God so loved the world … .” We didn’t deserve God’s love; maybe those around us should receive love regardless of what they deserve, too.

And don’t miss the promise Peter made: “Do these things, and you will never fall away. Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Seems to me like we have a to-do list worth doing.

Lord, thank you for the guidance Peter and other conduits of your holy word offer us. May we grow as we live the lives of disciples. Amen.

You Are That Temple

1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (NRSV): Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy that person. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.


Some ideas we considered in last week’s devotionals (and Sunday, if you worshiped with my church, Holston View UMC) come together in a personal way for us in today’s verses from 1 Corinthians.

Last Thursday, we heard the Apostle Peter tell us to behave like “living stones,” joining together to build a spiritual house, with Christ as our foundation. If you heard Sunday the story in the Gospel of John about Jesus cleansing the temple, you should have been reminded of the holiness of that place, and a need for zeal now in regard to the holiness of God.

Today’s reading in this season of Lent tells us that just as Jesus’ body became the new temple, destroyed but rebuilt in three days, the Christian church now acts as God’s temple on earth. The collection of people calling themselves Christian is where God’s Spirit resides and can be met by those seeking God.

The metaphor easily operates on both the corporate and individual levels. If something is holy, every part of it is holy. If it is God’s intent for the church to be holy, it is God’s intent for each individual in the church to be holy.

We of course cannot achieve holiness on our own; that is the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, to make us holy despite our sin. We believe, and it is so. We need to cling to that belief, however, and live in awe of God so that we are making every effort to avoid sin, asking God to give us the power through his Holy Spirit to do so.

There is no doubt sin creeps into our lives and into the church. Satan is relentless. Some of the stones resting on the foundation of Christ become fractured. Let’s go back to the concept of “living stones,” however—those fractures can be healed.

The trick, it seems, is to not crumble in a way where we threaten the holy structure. Church leaders, we who are preachers, teachers and administrators, take special note!

We are trying to use these Monday LifeTalk articles as an opportunity to establish a spiritual practice for the week. This week, let’s do a very Lenten thing. Asking God to guide us, let’s search our souls thoroughly for the sins we need to surrender, making new space for God to be at work.

Not only will we strengthen ourselves, we will strengthen the church as a whole, the temple in which we play an active role.

Lord, we surrender to you. Make us whole and holy so that we may better work with the living stones around us. Amen.

On the Outs

Psalm 69:1-5 (NRSV)

To the leader: according to Lilies. Of David.
Save me, O God,
    for the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
    where there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters,
    and the flood sweeps over me.
I am weary with my crying;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes grow dim
    with waiting for my God.

More in number than the hairs of my head
    are those who hate me without cause;
many are those who would destroy me,
    my enemies who accuse me falsely.
What I did not steal
    must I now restore?
O God, you know my folly;
    the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.

There is more to this psalm, but let’s deal with the initial feeling being expressed, one I suspect many of us have experienced.

When we are little children, the feeling comes out in a song: “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me, going to the garden to eat worms.” (If you learned to sing it a little differently, there are many variations.)

I wonder if any teenager has managed to get through puberty without feeling unfairly ostracized and opposed from every direction. And yes, most of us know that even as adults, we can find ourselves on the outs and wondering why.

As the psalmist is noting, it’s particularly painful when we come under attack for doing what we are certain is in accord with God’s will. We shouldn’t be surprised, however—Scripture is clear that our relationship with God will bring us into conflict with the world.

Recovery Strategy, Part 1: Keep our hearts attuned to God, who loves us more than any human can love. God will not abandon us as we do our part to work within the divine plan. It’s okay to complain a little, like the psalmist. God can handle it, and God will let us know if we are somehow off track.

Recovery Strategy, Part 2: Stay in community with godly people, even if that community is no larger than a group of three or four. Search the Bible together, pray together and encourage each other.

Remember, the kingdom is not only coming, it will come in full.

Lord, sustain those who would work on your behalf in all sorts of worldly places. May they exude a light from you that astonishes and attracts others. Amen.