Grow Deep: Praying With Jesus Edition, Week 2
Week 2 – May 13-19
Praying for Your Neighbors
“Honor your father and mother—which is the first commandment with a promise—so that it may go well with you and you may enjoy long life on the earth.” Ephesians 6:2-3
Today is Mother’s Day—a holiday that has been celebrated in our country and in countries around the world for more than 100 years. It is a day set apart to honor Motherhood. In 1868, Ann Jarvis established a “Mother’s Friendship Day” for the purpose of reuniting families divided by the Civil War and to work for world peace. The first “official” Mother’s Day celebration was May 5, 1908, in Grafton, West Virginia. In 1914, Congress passed a law designating the second Sunday in May to be a day to honor mothers whose sons had died in war.
As Christians celebrating Mother’s Day in 2018, we need to be mindful of not making the commercialization of the day our focus. God created families, and He gave mothers a unique place in the family. Though all human mothers are both saint and sinner, the Bible gives us examples of the powerful prayers of godly mothers: Mary, who prayed with love and obedience; Hannah fervently prayed for a son, Samuel; Jochebed whose communication with God saved the life of Moses; Leah poured out her heart to God in prayer; Rachel was persistent and passionate in prayer … and many others.
So on this Mother’s Day, we remember our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, teachers, mentors and every woman who has prayed on our behalf or influenced our lives. Our remembrance of these faithful women should motivate us to pass on the blessings we have received to our children and to children in our own neighborhoods and in other cultures. There are many mothers today who struggle to make ends meet. There are grieving mothers whose children have serious illnesses, have been victims of a senseless crime and/or have died. There are mothers in other cultures who have no legal rights.
As we celebrate with our own families, how should we respond to these needs? We can pray; we can give of our time and treasure to help where we see a need or God urges us through His Spirit. Who in your neighborhood needs your help and prayers?
Sunday, May 13
Read: John 17:11-19
In these verses, Jesus is praying for His disciples; His time on earth will be coming to an end. Jesus asks the Father to protect His followers and to keep them safe from the world and from the evil one. Jesus also asks the Father to sanctify His followers just as He was sanctified by the Father.
Reflect: Just as Jesus prayed for His disciples who were with Him on earth, He intercedes for us today. He knows that as His followers, we live in the world but are called to be different from those in the world who do not believe in Jesus as Savior. Our job is to pray for those who do not believe in Jesus whether they be family, friends, co-workers or people in non-Christian countries. Have your prayers changed and grown as your faith has matured? How?
Monday, May 14
Read: Psalm 139:13-18
The psalmist, David, praises God that he is “fearfully and wonderfully” made by God. Even before his birth, God knew him and had a plan for his life—“all the days ordained for me were written in Your book before one of them came to be.”
Reflect: How do these verses speak to our society’s willingness to terminate a life? God is the Author of all life, and He has a plan for each of our lives. How, then, should we take care of our bodies? How do we share God’s reverence for life with others?
Tuesday, May 15
Read: Psalm 8:1-2
God is so majestic and powerful that even the voices of little children praising Him are strong enough to silence unbelievers.
Reflect: What is our responsibility as Christians for the youngest and most vulnerable in our society? Is there some way that you can help young parents in the nurture of children? How can you share God’s love with them?
Wednesday, May 16
Read: Psalm 82:1-4
In the Old Testament, one of the most important jobs of kings and judges was to protect the powerless against all who would exploit or oppress them. Asaph, the author of this psalm, asks how long the kings and judges (those with power) would continue to defend the unjust and the wicked and fail to protect the powerless. Because we are sinners, we deserve God’s wrath, and that is one reason we should “number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
Reflect: Just as it was in Asaph’s time, there are people who use their power today to exploit the poor, to enrich themselves at the expense of others, to ignore the voiceless, the homeless, the mentally challenged and the children raising themselves. We may not be people “in high places,” but we have a responsibility to use our voices and our votes to bring change to our communities. Pray for God to show you someone in your community you can help.
Thursday, May 17
Read: Psalm 90
This prayer of Moses is familiar to us because of its poetic language and its truth about our lives. It affirms what we know—God is from “everlasting to everlasting” and man is like “new grass, green in the morning and dried and dead by evening.” We are sinners and deserve God’s wrath. That is one reason that God tells us to “number our days that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.”
Reflect: The words of the psalmist are a clear call to repentance. We know that sin brought death, and that life on earth ends with physical death. Our comfort is in the promise of life after death. How is repentance practiced in your home? Forgiveness? Praying with thanksgiving to God who forgives us and gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ?
Friday, May 18
Read: Romans 9:9-21
In verse 15, God speaks to Moses saying, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion. Therefore, mercy does not depend on man’s desire or effort.
Reflect: We can do nothing on our own to merit God’s mercy Can the clay tell the potter what to do? It is only through the grace Jesus earned for us on the cross that we can live our lives as disciples and live with the hope of life in heaven. In view of His mercy to us, how does God expect us to treat those who are “unlovely” and difficult to love? Think of some of those “unlovely” people in your life. Pray and ask God to help you demonstrate mercy and love to them.
Saturday, May 19
Read: John 17:20-26
This is a continuation of the prayer we read on Sunday. Jesus is praying for His disciples and for His disciples’ disciples and on down through the ages for all who have come to believe in Jesus. Each has heard the Word and believed. Jesus loves us and wants us to be in heaven so that we, too, may be in the presence of God and experience His glory.
Reflect: The story of Jesus, the Savior of the World, has been shared with generations in a great part of the world over the past 2,000 years. God’s plan of redemption has been passed on by people who believed and told others who then believed and told others who then believed …. This is perhaps the greatest example of “paying it forward.” Pray that the Holy Spirit will put people who need to experience the gift of God’s love and grace on your hearts. Ask Him to give you the opportunity, the wisdom and the words to share the Gospel message with them so that they, too, will become a part of God’s family.