Closing the Gap 7.31.18

Week 30 Day 2

Pray:

Ask God to reorient you to Himself. Confess any known sin. Thank Him for His forgiveness. Be still and reflect on Jesus and His sacrifice for you. Ask the Holy Spirit to open your heart and mind to God’s Word. Pray for others in your life that they, too, would know and love God today.

Read:

1 Kings 19:2-14 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the tree and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” He looked around, and there by his head was a cake of bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night. And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.” The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, broken down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

Reflect:

Elijah prayed an honest prayer, but it was a foolish prayer, “Take my life.”  The Bible records what did happen, but not always what should have happened. In his model, Jesus “prescribed” how to pray.  Elijah’s prayer here is “described,” but it is not a model for how we should pray. Of course, gut-level honesty is essential to praying.  But that honesty is best coupled with biblical-intelligence. This was an honest, but not intelligent, prayer in regard to how Elijah should have seen his situation.  At any rate, God did not despise him in his desperation. He was kind to him, providing for his needs. Notice that the answer to his prayer “take my life” was not, “Elijah, you know better than that!”  It was not a theological treatise on suicide, or even a word of encouragement that all will be well. Instead, God let Elijah sleep. Then when he awoke, the angel of the Lord (angel comes from a word that means “messenger”) delivered this message, “get up and eat.”  Then after eating Elijah fell asleep again. The messenger of God then delivered the second message, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” It was only after resting, eating, and drinking that Elijah finished his journey and went to the place where God was going to speak directly to his questions.  What do we learn about prayer from this narrative? We should always speak from our hearts, but we must realize that what is in our hearts is not always what is real or true. We are spiritual/physical hybrids. When the physical “us” is worn down, no amount of “willing spirit” will be able to make up for that fact.  God made Elijah and you and me. He knows what we need. Elijah did not need truth at that desperate point in his journey. He needed rest and food and drink first, and only then would he be positioned to actually hear and absorb the truth when it was given. Sometimes we must have the wisdom to know when we do not have wisdom in our perspective.  Sometimes the struggles in our minds and hearts are best answered by sleep and food. Do not fail to see the physical in your spiritual struggles. Do not fail to see the spiritual in your physical struggles. Pray as a “whole” person. Be honest with what is in your heart, but realize that what is in your heart may at times be out of sync with what is actually real and true.  Sometimes the answer to your heartfelt prayers may be, “sleep, eat…then we will talk more later.”

Pray:

(Personalize this prayer today; make it specific to the circumstances that face you.)

Ask God to lead you through His Spirit as you go through your day. Ask Him to bring to mind the truth of the gospel and its implications for what you will encounter today. Tell Him “Yes” to His will and ask Him for His power and protection to live this “yes.” Ask God to create and reveal opportunities to proclaim the good news today.

 

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