Daily D – Romans 15:13
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. ROMANS 13:13 (NLT)
The 4-H Pledge says:
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.
This organization was prominent in the agricultural community where I grew up. I attended one of their awards events with a friend when I was in high school. At one point, another friend of mine was on the program to lead in prayer. He was a good guy, a pleasant and likable young man. However, I do not think he had much prayer experience. He stumbled around in search of coherent thought for a bit and then stopped talking. After an uncomfortable pause, most of us looked up to see what was going on. My friend looked at everyone and said, “That’s it!”
There was no, “In Jesus’ name.” There was no, “Amen.” There was only, “That’s it!”
His mother, one of my sixth-grade teachers who was a rather fastidious soul, was likely uncomfortable with her son’s effort. Uncomfortable may not be the word. What is more uncomfortable than uncomfortable? Whatever it is, that is what she was most likely feeling.
Sitting in my comfortable chair forty years after this event provides me with the kind of distance from which I can look down my nose at my friend’s effort if I so choose. However, I have been there, done something like that myself on more than one occasion.
There were times I prayed to impress people with what I said or how I said it. There were times I was at a complete loss of what to say or how to say it. Even today, there are moments when I struggle with public prayer. How about you?
Private prayer is a deeply ingrained habit. It grows richer with the years. It is an unending conversation uninterrupted by unnecessary Amens. Put me on the spot in a crowded room, however, and I have a tough time moving from private prayer intimacy to public prayer propriety.
I have learned a helpful practice to help in cases like this. I memorize Bible prayers and use them as prayer guides. What is commonly called the Lord’s Prayer in Matt. 6:9-13 is one I return to again and again. I do not pray it verbatim. However, I use it to shape what I want to say and how I say it.
Another Bible prayer I use is Psalm 23. These words contain truth every ear needs to hear and every heart needs to feel.
Today’s text, Rom. 15:13, is another I will memorize. This benediction, this blessing, is the kind of prayer that straightens weakened spines. It encourages wavering hearts. It strengthens weary hands. This prayer reminds us to live in the overflow of God’s gracious goodness to us. We can “overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Someone needs to hear that from you today.
Someday you and I will be called on to pray when we are not ready to pray publicly. We can get ready in an instant by taking a Bible prayer and allowing it to shape our own. As saints of old liked to say, “When we pray God’s word, we pray God’s will.” What better to pray than a prayer that we know was heard and answered when it was prayed and preserved for such a time as this?
I will turn Bible prayers into personal and public prayer guides.
Our Father, teach me to pray. Amen.
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2 Timothy 2:3-6 Endure suffering along with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. Soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life, for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them. And athletes cannot win the prize unless they follow the rules. And hardworking farmers should be the first to enjoy the fruit of their labor. (NLT)