January 19 Devotional

Come to Stillness: Take a few minutes to allow your mind and heart to be still before God.

Opening Prayer: Lord God, give me open hands and not clenched fists as I walk with you and for you in the midst of this day - that I might be able to live with a true sense of freedom from the need to grasp desperately for love and value from those I come into contact with. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Scripture Reading for the Day: Mark 10:17-31

Reading for Reflection: Praying is no easy matter. It demands a relationship in which you allow someone other than yourself to enter into the very center of your being, to see there what you would rather leave in darkness, and to touch there what you would rather leave untouched. Why would you really want to do that? Perhaps you would let the other cross your inner threshold to see something or to touch something, but to allow the other into the place where your most intimate life is shaped - that is dangerous and calls for defense.

The resistance to praying is like the resistance of tightly clenched fists. The image shows a tension, a desire to cling tightly to yourself, a greediness which betrays fear. A story about an elderly woman brought to a psychiatric center exemplifies this attitude. She was wild, swinging at everything in sight, and scaring everyone so much that the doctor had to take everything away from her. But there was one small coin which she gripped in her fist and would not give up. In fact, it took two people to pry open that squeezed hand. It was as though she would lose her very self along with the coin. If they deprived her of that last possession, she would have nothing more, and be nothing more. That was her fear.

When you are invited to pray you are asked to open your tightly clenched fists and give up your last coin. But who wants to do that? A first prayer, therefore, is often a painful prayer, because you discover you don’t want to let go. You hold fast to what is familiar, even if you aren’t proud of it. (With Open Hands by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Reflection and Listening: silent and written

Hymn for the Day

Prayer: for the church, for others, for myself

Paul and Karan Davis have been working with TEAM in France since 1978 in church-planting ministries. They have planted churches in the southern suburbs of Paris, northwestern suburbs of Lyon, and more recently in the Alps region around Albertville. Pray today for the final stages of renovations on a building for the church in Pontcharra to be completed soon.

Langham Partnership (formerly John Stott Ministries) is a global fellowship working in pursuit of the vision God entrusted to its founder, John Stott, to strengthen the growth of the church in maturity and Christlikeness through raising the standards of biblical preaching and teaching. Pray today for Chris Jonah, Langham’s preaching coordinator for Sierra Leone, who is on the front lines of ministering to those afflicted with the Ebola virus.

Closing Prayer: Open my hands, and my heart, O Lord, to all that you desire to do in and through me. For the sake of Jesus. Amen.