Archive for July, 2021


Written by Elton Trueblood (1900-1994), an American Quaker author and theologian and former chaplain to both Harvard and Stanford Universities. This is an excerpt from his book “The New Man for Our Time.”

When we begin to ask what the conditions of inner renewal are, we receive essentially the same answers from nearly all of those whom we have most reason to respect. One major answer is the emphasis upon discipline. In the conduct of one’s own life it is soon obvious, as many have learned the hard way, that empty freedom is a snare and a delusion. In following what comes naturally or easily, life simply ends in confusion, and in consequent disaster. Without the discipline of time, we spoil the next day the night before, and without the discipline of prayer, we are likely to end by having practically no experience of the divine-human encounter. However compassionate we may be with others, we dare not be soft or indulgent with ourselves. Excellence comes at a price, and one of the major prices is that of inner control.

We have not advanced very far in our spiritual lives if we have not encountered the basic paradox of freedom, to the effect that we are most free when we are bound. But not just any way of being bound will suffice; what matters is the character of the binding. The one who would like to be an athlete, but who is unwilling to discipline his (or her) body by regular exercise and by abstinence, is not free to excel on the field or the track…failure to train rigorously and to live abstemiously denies that person the freedom to go over the bar at the desired height, or to run with the desired speed and endurance. With one concerted voice the giants of the devotional life apply the same principle to the whole of life with the dictum, “Discipline is the Price of Freedom.”


Written by Izwe Nkosi, a contemporary South African author, passionate about worship and prayer.

Jesus, I invite you into my tiredness. Teach me to walk at Your pace. I yield to your pace. Help me to step out of my anxious hurry and into Your gentle yoke. I hear Your invitation to, “Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it.” Lord, help me to learn Your “unforced rhythms of grace.” (MT 11:29 MSG).

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Written by Donald J. Shelby (1931-2012), an American pastor and author.  This is from his book “Forever Beginning.”

Temptations, frustrations, and pressures beset believers today, and our new life in Christ can be easily compromised and betrayed. In fact, it may be as difficult—if not more so—to live out a new life in our day than it was in the first century. This, paradoxically, because the pressures are more subtle, the temptations are cloaked with respectability, and the gray areas of compromise are almost the norm. It is neither easy nor simple to translate our commitment to Christ into the living of our days. It does not happen instantaneously or automatically, but it is instead a process of growth and development, including reversals, retreats, detours, beginning over, and moving ahead.  We need such an understanding of our journey at the very outset because there are those who claim otherwise, who promote the new life in Christ as a kind of idyllic state of spiritual perfection in which there are no doubts, uncertainties, stumblings, or time of falling away. Such claims are simply not true, are very misleading, and result in unnecessary anguish and discouragement.


The prayer today is a traditional Scottish Gaelic prayer.

As the rain hides the stars,

as the autumn mist

hides the hills,

as the clouds veil

the blue of the sky, so

the dark happenings of my lot

hide the shining of thy face from me.

Yet, if I may hold thy hand in the darkness,

it is enough, since I know,

that though I may stumble in my going,

Thou dost not fall.

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The Humble Man


Written by Thomas a Kempis (1380-1471), a German-Dutch clergyman and author. This is an excerpt from his book “The Imitation of Christ.”

It is often good for us to have others know our faults and rebuke them, for it gives us greater humility. When a man humbles himself because of his faults, he easily placates those about him and readily appeases those who are angry with him. It is the humble man whom God protects and liberates; it is the humble whom He loves and consoles. To the humble He turns and upon them bestows great grace, that after their humiliation He may raise them to glory. He reveals His secrets to the humble, and with kind invitation bids them come to Him. Thus, the humble man enjoys peace in the midst of many vexations, because his trust is in God, not in the world. Hence, you must not think that you have made any progress until you look upon yourself as inferior to all others.


The prayer today is a Lenten prayer from Ethiopia from an unknown source.

What an unheard of thing for the Potter to clothe himself in a clay vessel, or the craftsperson in a handicraft! What humility beyond words for the Creator to clothe himself in the body of a human creature!

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God Speaks


Written C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), a British writer and lay theologian. This is an excerpt from his book “Reflections on the Psalms.”

If there is any thought at which a Christian trembles it is the thought of God’s judgment. The “Day” of Judgment is “that day of wrath, that dreadful day.” We pray for God to deliver us in the hour of death and at the day of judgment…It was therefore with great surprise that I first noticed how the Psalmists talk about the judgments of God. They talk like this; ‘O let the nations rejoice and be glad, for though shalt judge the folk righteously’ (67:4), ‘Let the field be joyful…all the trees of the wood shall rejoice before the Lord, for he cometh to judge the earth (96:12-13). The reason for this soon becomes very plain. The ancient Jews, like ourselves, think of God’s judgment in terms of an earthly court of justice. The difference is that the Christian pictures the case to be tried as a criminal case with himself in the dock; the Jew pictures it as a civil case with himself as the plaintiff. The one hopes for acquittal, or rather for pardon; the other hopes for a resounding triumph with heavy damages…In most places and times it has been very difficult for the “small man” to get his case heard. The judge (and doubtless one or two of his underlings) has to be bribed. If you can’t afford to “oil his palm” your case will never reach court…We need not therefore be surprised if the Psalms, and the Prophets, are full of the longing for judgment, and regard the announcement that “judgment” is coming as good news. Hundreds and thousands of people who have been stripped of all they possess and who have the right entirely on their side will at last be heard. Of course they are not afraid of judgment. They know their case is unanswerable—if only it could be heard. When God comes to judge at last it will…Christians cry to God for mercy instead of justice; they cried to God for justice instead of injustice. The Divine Judge is the defender, the rescuer…I think there are very good reasons for regarding the Christian picture of God’s judgment as far more profound and far safer for our souls than the Jewish. But this does not mean that the Jewish conception must simply be thrown away. I, at least believe I can still get a good deal of nourishment from it.


Written by Jill Weber, a contemporary spiritual director and the director of Houses of Prayer.

God, I ask your forgiveness for all the times I’ve gotten it wrong as I try to navigate my love for righteousness and need for mercy. God, purify my motives. Show me the stone in my own hands, help me let it go, and lean into your mercy for myself and for others. God, I am in need of your mercy. I repent of those times I have allowed judgment to triumph over mercy. With gratitude, I receive your mercy today and I step onto the path of righteousness.

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God Speaks


Written by Dallas Willard (1935-2013), an American philosopher and writer on Christian spiritual formation.  This is an excerpt from his work “The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God.”

The God who hears is also one who speaks. He has spoken and is still speaking. Humanity remains his project, not its own, and his initiatives are always at work among us. He certainly “gives us space,” as we say, and this is essential. But he continues to speak in ways that serious inquirers can hear if they will. We need not stagger onward in darkness concerning what is truly good and really right. We need not fly upside down. There is a right-side-up, and we can find it. But we don’t have to. We are free. For now.


Written by Clare of Assisi (1194-1253), the founder of the Poor Clares, a community dedicated to poverty, simplicity, and service.

What you hold may you always hold. What you do, may you always do and never abandon. But with swift pace, light step and unswerving feet, so that even your steps stir up no dust, Go forward, the spirit of our God has called you.

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When God Seems Silent


Written by Courtney Joseph, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from her work “What to Do When God Seems Silent.”

Do you ever pray and God seems silent? God speaks to us through his word, through prayer, through his Holy Spirit, through godly counsel, and through our circumstances. So what do we do when God seems silent?  In Isaiah 58, the Jewish exiles had returned from Babylon to rebuild the temple. Though they had returned, they were still caught up in the sins of idolatry, hypocrisy, and indifference – essentially their hearts were rebellious…God’s people were acting like a nation that was doing all the right things. They seemed to be a people delighting in the nearness of God but they did NOT want the nearness of God. They gave the appearance of being serious about their faith but they were simply hearers of the word and not doers. It is easy to sit and listen to sermons or read our Bibles but to actually be a doer of the word – now that is hard. That is real faith. Some church attenders hear the word and equate that with doing the word. That’s wrong. We hear God’s word so we will be equipped to DO God’s word…God explains the reason for his silence. The problem was the way they were treating each other. If they were truly seeking the Lord they would not be fighting. They were just going through the motions externally while their hearts were far from God.  The prosperity gospel teaches that if we do all the right things then God will bless us – God will answer our prayers yes. It’s a manipulative relationship with God where you do what he wants to get what you want. That is not how God works. As a matter of fact, if you try to live out your relationship with God that way, you will be frustrated. You will feel like you do all these spiritual things and wonder – what’s the benefit for me? Where are the results? God does not want us to selfishly seek him. God wants your genuine love. God wants your heart…God is not impressed with fake religious behavior. And so in verses Isaiah 58:6-7 God says, share your bread, bring homeless into your house, do not ignore your own flesh and blood. Treat others right! This is the real fruit of a real Christian. You cannot love God and hate people. Your relationship with God will affect your relationships not just one day a week on Sundays — but 7 days a week! And when you get this right – look what Isaiah says will happen: “Then shall your light break forth like the dawn, and your healing shall spring up speedily; your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard. Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer; you shall cry, and he will say, ‘Here I am.” Real repentance is like the dawn of a new day. God gives you light and guidance in your life. Spiritual healing comes quickly with repentance. And God protects you. He will go before you and he’s got your back.

God answers prayer. God answers – yes, no, or wait. And when we don’t get what we want and he says no or wait – he gives us the peace to trust him in the waiting. Friends, I know how painful it is when God says no. I have begged God for things and sometimes thought that I was getting silence — when really, God was answering my prayers with a “no”. Like a toddler who begs their mom for candy – I have not wanted to accept no for an answer. But when God says no, we need to trust him. He knows what he is doing…Trust God. He has not left you alone. He is with you and he hears your prayers. God loves you! Keep walking with the King.


Written by Gwen Smith, a contemporary Christian author, speaker, and coach.

Holy Lord, Thank You for grace. Please help me move beyond the hurdles that trip me up and give me the strength and wisdom to look up and see the hope I run toward in Christ. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.ungry.

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A Right Heart


Written by Timothy Keller, a contemporary pastor, author, and speaker. This is an excerpt from his book “Generous Justice.”

Justice is not just one more thing that needs to be added to the people’s portfolio of religious behavior. A lack of justice is a sign that the worshippers’ hearts are not right with God at all, that their prayers and all their religious observance are just filled with self and pride. In Isaiah 29:21, when the people are charged with “depriving the innocent of justice,” God’s conclusion is that “these people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me.” Jesus’ criticism of the religious leaders in Mark 12 was identical…Behind their excessive religious observances are lives that are insensitive to the vulnerable classes. In Jesus’ view, this revealed that they did not know God or his grace at all…Jesus taught that a lack of concern for the poor is not a minor lapse but reveals that something is seriously wrong with one’s spiritual compass, the heart…Biblical scholar Joel Green explains it this way: “The disposition of one’s possessions signifies the disposition of one’s heart.” The purification of the heart through grace and love for the poor are a piece; they go together in the theology of Jesus.


From the United Church of Christ Book of Worship.

Pray for those who are hungry. Pray harder for those who will not feed them.

Pray for those who struggle each week to pay their bills. Pray harder for the wealthy who do not care.

Pray for those who are homeless. Pray harder for those who deny them shelter.

Pray for the sick and lonely. Pray harder for those who will not give them comfort.

Pray for those who cry out for dignity. Pray harder for those who will not listen.

Pray for those oppressed by unjust wages. Pray harder for those who exploit them.

Pray for those who bear the yoke of prejudice. Pray harder for those who discriminate against them.

Pray for those whose basic needs are denied. Pray harder for public officials who cater to the greedy and ignore those bound unjustly. Amen.

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Written by John Piper, a contemporary theologian, pastor, and educator.

I long for God to be glorified in our pursuit of holiness and love. But God is not glorified unless our pursuit is empowered by faith in his promises. And the God who revealed himself most fully in Jesus Christ, who was crucified for our sins and raised for our justification, is most glorified when we embrace his promises with joyful firmness because they are bought by the blood of his Son. God is honored when we are humbled for our feebleness and failure, and when he is trusted for future grace. So unless we learn how to live by faith in future grace, we may perform remarkable religious rigors, but not for God’s glory. He is glorified when the power to be holy comes from humble faith in future grace. Martin Luther said, “[Faith] honors him whom it trusts with the most reverent and highest regard, since it considers him truthful and trustworthy.” The trusted Giver gets the glory. My great desire is that we learn how to live for God’s honor. And that means living by faith in future grace, which, in turn, means battling unbelief in all the ways it rears its head.


Written by Basil the Great (330-379) of Caesarea, an influential theologian and pastor. He was one of the Cappadocian Fathers. This is a prayer from the Coptic Liturgy of St. Basil.

O Lord our God,

you are great, eternal,

and wonderful in glory.

You keep your covenant and promises

for those who love you

with their whole heart.

You are the Life of all,

the Help of those who flee to you,

the Hope of those who cry to you.

Cleanse us from our sins,

secret and open,

and from every thought displeasing to your goodness.

Cleanse our bodies and souls,

our hearts and consciences,

that with a pure heart and a clear soul,

with perfect love and calm hope,

we may venture confidently

and fearlessly to pray to you;

through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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God With Us


Written by Sarah Young, a contemporary author. This is an excerpt from her book “Jesus Lives.”

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you. I want you to trust in My protective Presence even while deep waters of affliction are rising around you. Remember that you are precious in My sight and I love you. I will never, ever abandon you! Though you may lose sight of Me, I am constantly aware of you and your circumstances. When you cry out to Me for help, I am already fully apprised of your situation. So you don’t need to take time telling Me what is happening or what you think I should do. In the midst of emergencies, short pity prayers are extremely effective: “Help me, Jesus!”  “Show me Your way.”  “Your will be done.” 

Do not be overly concerned about your feelings during emergencies. The most important thing is that you turn to Me, trusting that I am indeed with you. When you cannot sense My presence, it is enough to know that I love you with compassionate, unfailing love. If your heart is sinking under waves of panic, don’t focus on those feelings. Instead, look up to Me! As your soul clings to Me, My right hand will uphold you – keeping you safe in turbulent waters.


Written by Jill Weber, a contemporary spiritual director and the director of Houses of Prayer.

Father God, thank you that you do not remain on mute forever. You speak; in so many ways and at just the right time. I choose to stop to be quiet and listen today with great expectation. Holy Spirit, thank you that you do not leave me to pray alone, but you pray with me and through me. Jesus, I am “open-eyed with wonder” that you’re with the father, right now, praying for me. Choose to put your trust in me today. Amen.

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Written by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892), an English preacher. This is an excerpt from the devotional “365 Days with C.H. Spurgeon.”

Faith makes the crown of eternal life glitter before the believer’s eye; it waves before him the palm branch. Sense pictures the grave, loss, suffering, defeat, death, forgetfulness: but faith points to the resurrection, the glorious appearance of the Son of Man, the calling of the saints from every corner of the earth, the clothing of them all in their triumphant array, and the entrance of the blood-washed conquerors into the presence of God with eternal joy. Thus, faith makes us out of weakness to become strong. Let me remind you that the essential ingredients of faith’s comfort are just these: faith sees the invisible and beholds the substance of that which is far off: faith believes in God, a present, powerful God, full of love and wisdom, effecting his decree, accomplishing his purpose, fulfilling his promise, glorifying his Son. Faith believes in the blood of Jesus, in the effectual redemption on the cross, it believes in the power of the Holy Spirit, his might to soften the stone and to put life into the very ribs of death. Faith grasps the reality of the Bible; she does not look upon it as a sepulcher with a stone laid thereon, but as a temple in which Christ reigns, as an ivory palace out of which he comes riding in his chariot, conquering and to conquer. Faith does not believe the gospel to be a worn-out scroll, to be rolled up and put away; she believes that the gospel instead of being in its dotage is in its youth; she anticipates for it a manhood of mighty strugglings and a grand maturity of blessedness and triumph. Faith does not shirk the fight; she longs for it, because she foresees the victory.


This prayer is from the Gelasian Sacramentary, a book of Christian liturgy, which is the oldest western liturgical book that has survived. The book is linked to Pope Gelasius I and was compiled near Paris around 750.

Almighty and eternal God,

the Comfort of the sad,

the Strength of sufferers,

hear the prayers of those who call to you in any trouble,

that they may rejoice to know

your mercy is with them in their afflictions;

through Christ our Lord. Amen.

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