Posts Tagged ‘prayers’
Book Review: Psalms – The Prayer Book of the Bible
Author: Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Publisher: Augsburg Fortress ISBN: 9780806614397
“God’s speech in Jesus Christ meets us in the Holy Scriptures. If we wish to pray with confidence and gladness, then the words of Holy Scripture will have to be the solid basis of our prayer. For here we know that Jesus Christ, the Word of God, teach us to pray. The words which come from God become, then, the steps on which we find our way to God.” And, claims Bonhoeffer, there is no better place to find these steps than in the Prayer Book of the Bible, the Psalms.
This is a tiny book, seriously. It’s like a dwarf star in content though. There is much “bang for the buck” where it involves depth of teaching about the Prayer Book of the Bible. The first few chapters, Bonhoeffer lays out the design and form of the Psalms. He shares this thought regarding our learning to pray with these songs, hymns, and prayers:
“If we want to read and to pray the prayers of the Bible and especially the Psalms, therefore, we must not ask first what they have to do with us, but what they have to do with Jesus Christ.”
This thought might be a bit controversial or even contrary to the individualistic approach that most modernistic Westerners come to the Bible and its interpretation. Bonhoeffer goes on, adding to his thought above:
“It does not depend, therefore, on whether the Psalms express adequately that which we feel at a given moment in our heart. If we are to pray aright, perhaps it is quite necessary that we pray contrary to our own heart. Not what we want to pray is important, but what God wants us to pray.”
The next eleven short chapters are spent detailing and classifying the types of prayers included in the Psalms. Bonhoeffer arranges these prayers according to the subjects dealt with in the following manner: the creation; the law; holy history; the Messiah; the church; life; suffering; guilt; enemies; and the end. Bonhoeffer states that, “It would not be difficult to arrange these subjects according the Lord’s Prayer and show how the Psalter is totally absorbed in the prayer of Jesus.”
The final two chapters, Bonhoeffer uses strong words of encouragement to motivate his reader to begin praying the Psalms always and regularly beginning in the morning at the first order of the day. He writes; “The entire day receives order and discipline when it acquires unity. This unity must be sought and found in morning prayer. It is confirmed in work. The morning prayer determines the day. Squandered time of which we are ashamed, temptations to which we succumb, weaknesses and lack of courage in work, disorganization and lack of discipline in our thoughts and in our conversation with other men, all have their origin most often in the neglect of morning prayer.”
For those who are not familiar with the person Dietrich Bonhoeffer, there is a short biographical sketch of his life at the end of this book. This is a wonderful insight into the value of the Psalms as well as a view into the value this great theologian placed upon them as a prayer lifestyle. Psalms: the Prayer Book of the Bible is a small, but weighty little book…immeasurably full of insight and wisdom. A must read.
The Daily Office—Ponder Points & Prayers
Exposure or Contact or Touching
I consider the woman with the issue of blood (Luke 8:43) and I think she must have set out with premeditated intent to “get close” and to “touch” Jesus. I note that in reading the account that many people may have made contact with Jesus, but these “pressers” and “bumpers” didn’t “touch” him in a meaningful way such that power was released into their lives. It is so sad that this phenomenon is still active today—many people are exposed to Jesus, encountering him through bumping and pressing into him—still not being intentional and deliberate enough to touch him and have his power released into their lives. What’s the point in that? I’m so thankful that Jesus drew me close enough to Himself that I was able to reach out and touch him with intention… He stopped the hemorrhaging of my life from slipping away to nothingness and filled me with the gift of Himself. Yes, power went out from Him and came into me! Praise God for the indwelling Spirit of the Living God, the Resurrected King, Jesus!
Reading the opening lines from the Book of Jonah:
The LORD gave this message to Jonah; “Get up and go…” But Jonah got up and went in the opposite direction to get away from the LORD. -Jonah 1:1-4
I say to myself with my head in my hands; “O God, how often have I been Jonah…?”
Lord Jesus, take my mind and think through me, take my hands and bless through me, take my mouth and speak through me, above all, Lord Jesus, take my spirit and pray in me; so that it is you who move and have your being in me. (Book of the Hours) O LORD, hear me as I pray; pay attention to my groaning. Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God for I pray to no one but you. Listen to my voice in the morning, LORD. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. LORD, make your way plain for me to follow. (Psalm 5:1-3, 8) I will look to the LORD, I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:7) Glory be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.
Book Review: Prayers for Today
Author: Kurt Bjorklund
Publisher: Moody Press ISBN: 9780802463500
I have been using this book of prayers in our morning family devotions since receiving it a couple weeks ago. Not only have I been pleasantly surprised by what I have found and experienced in Prayers for Today, I am genuinely impressed by the breadth, depth, and diversity of prayer contained in its pages.
I have quite a few prayer books and devotional studies in my library; I mention this to say that I haven’t found anything in this compilation that is extraordinarily unique, at least not in a standalone sense. There are; however, a few minor twists in form and flow of these prayers that are particularly endearing. I found, after spending some time alone with these prayers that I wanted to share them as a form of group prayers and have been using these prayers in our family’s morning prayer and devotional time. We are presently reading The Rule of St. Benedict: A Contemporary Paraphrase by Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (see my review here) and closing our reading time with a selection from Prayers for Today.
One of the things I am enjoying is the “cycle of themes” of prayer types. Kurt Bjorklund has compiled the prayers in groupings of themes cycling through Thanksgiving, Confession Affirmation, Petition, Renewal, Praise/Adoration, Christlike Character, Wisdom/Guidance, Intercession, and Surrender. Using these themes, Bjorklund constructs the prayers into three sections beginning with Scripture, then moving to written or recited prayers spanning the traditions and history of Christendom, and ending with a “Prayer for Today” that personalizes the prayer time with a moment of inner reflection and application.
As mentioned earlier, this prayer book calls on a number of great resources, traditions, and writers for this collection. A few of the sources used are The Book of Common Prayer, Celtic Daily Prayer, Catholic Prayer Book, A Church Hymnary, and there are many, many more! Some of the writers and teachers quoted include Max Lucado, John Piper, Tim Keller, John Stott, Oswald Chambers, John Ballie, A.W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, N.T. Wright, and dozens more. There are numerous other sources cited and included that contribute to the robust flavor of this collection of prayers, I truly look forward to the blessing of immersing myself and my family in these soulful reflections during the coming weeks.
From the Publisher
Summary—With 260 entries — enough for every weekday of an entire year – Prayers for Today guides readers through a unique kind of spiritual pilgrimage, a pilgrimage toward the very throne room of God. For any reader who’s ever wanted more out of prayer or who’s ever hungered for a greater sense of God’s presence, Prayers for Today promises deepened communion with the One who treasures the words and longings of His people.
Author—KURT BJORKLUND was educated at Wheaton College, Trinity International University, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. After serving two churches in the Chicago area, Kurt served as a Senior Pastor in a church in southeastern Michigan for a decade. He is currently the senior pastor of Orchard Hill Church, a large non-denominational church outside of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He and his wife Faith live with their four sons in Sewickley, Pennsylvania.
“I received a copy of this book from the publisher for the purpose of this review.”
[23APRIL2012] Eastertide Devotional Series
I will be posting this devotional series as part of my Eastertide reflections for the next three weeks (see this link for other installments in the series). Each week of this devotional series focuses on a specific theme (week one: brokenness, week two: repentance, and week three: renewal). I hope you’ll enjoy the series and I invite you to comment here on the blog or email me direct; I would love to hear your thoughts.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 51:5-13
“We must imitate Christ’s life and his ways if we are to be truly enlightened and set free from the darkness of our own hearts. Let it be the most important thing we do, then, to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ” -Thomas `a Kempis
Psalm 51: 5 I was born a sinner—yes, from the moment my mother conceived me. 6 But you desire honesty from the womb, teaching me wisdom even there. 7 Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. 9 Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me. 11 Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. 13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels, and they will return to you
The past two weeks have been exercises in exploring and recognizing our brokenness and our need for repentance (realizing our need for change; turning around from our wrong, self-guided direction, and moving always and progressively on a path with God, and continually closer, toward God).
Spiritual renewal without the prerequisite acknowledgment of one’s brokenness and accompanying action of repentance is futile and impossible. A person might begin the outward expressions and disciplines for renewal, but without the aiding guidance of the indwelling Holy Spirit of God leading the way, those efforts will result in frustration, deception, and ultimately be disastrous.
Illustrated in the prayer of David (Psalm 51) we witness the broken and contrite heart of a man who understands his condition. David despairs over his emptiness of soul as he realizes he stands defiled and guilty before God. He cries out to God for restoration renewal, knowing that God alone is his source for salvation, purpose, and eternal fulfillment. We share the same plight and are in the same need of renewal. Our prayer and our plea should echo similarly as David’s prayer; “Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you. Then I will teach your ways to those who rebel against you and do not know you…and they will return to you.”
Have you realized areas of your life that have “cooled” in their fervor for God? During the past couple weeks, have you sensed apathy, complacency, or indifference toward your own spirituality? Has your heart ever burned passionately for God? Does it still? Do you want to be “on fire” for God. Do you need renewal?
Our Prayer: Lord God, today I recognize my brokenness. I do not want to make excuses for the areas I have fallen short or failed. I want to be responsible and accountable for my actions and my lack of action. Therefore, today I profess my sin and my weakness as my own. And I make the prayer of David my own as well… (read the passages above from Psalm 51:5-13 and make them your own words and prayer).
[20AUG2011] Prayer for the Day
I spent an especially comforting time this morning in communing fellowship with the Spirit of the Living God. I thought I would share the essence of my prayers and the words from His Word that linger in my soul
Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life (Psalm 139:23-24). O LORD, I call to you; come to me quickly; hear my voice when I cry to you. Set a watch before my mouth, O LORD, and guard the door of my lips; let not my heart incline to any evil thing. But my eyes are turned to you, O God, in you I take refuge (Psalm 141:1, 3, 8). LORD, hear my prayer, my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is desolate. I spread out my hands to you; my soul gasps to you like a thirsty land. O LORD, make haste to answer me; my spirit fails me. Let me hear of your loving-kindness in the morning, for I put my trust in you; show me the road I must walk, for I lift my soul to you. Teach me to do what pleases you, for you are my God; let your good Spirit lead me on level ground (Psalm 143:1, 4, 6-8, 10). Show us the light of your countenance, O God, and come to us (Psalm 67:1). Amen.
Prayer for the Day:
O Living and Eternal God, You are more ready to give than we are to ask. Grant us a new vision of yourself, that seeing you as you are we may desire you, and desiring you, we may surrender our lives to you. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
By virtue of our awakening to a new day, we Hear His voice. Therefore,
Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah… For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, “they are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways…” Psalm 95
Our response to the grace of His hand awakening us should be soul thirsting and hunger that is exclusively for Him, completely surrendered, and only to Him.
O God You are my God, earnestly I seek You: my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You… Because Your love is better than life, my lips will glorify You. I will praise You as long as I live, and in Your name I will lift up my Hands. Psalm 63
Almighty God, give us wisdom to perceive You, intellect to understand You, diligence to seek You, patience to wait for You, eyes to behold You, a heart to meditate on You and life to proclaim You, through the power of the Spirit of our Lord Jesus Christ. (attributed to Benedict of Nursia)