A Montrose Church Lent Devotional by Pastor Rick
Lent Day 1: Ash Wednesday
Today's reading: Matthew 18:1-9
In a recent IRA (inner room appointment), I discovered a prayer of a pastor from the twentieth century whom I greatly admire. Samuel Shoemaker prayed,
O God, in all ages you have imparted yourself to man and set alight the fire of faith in his heart; grant to me the faith which comes from search. Cleanse my life from all that negates and crushes faith, and fill it with the purity and honesty which foster it. Cleanse me from the evil which makes unbelief its friend, and drive it far from me, so that, being willing in all things to do your will, I may know the truth which shall set me free. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
- quoted in "Disciplines for the Inner Life," Bob Benson and Michael W. Benson, Word Books: Waco, Texas, 1985, page 9
"Grant to me the faith which comes from search." This should be a daily prayer for followers of Jesus, and especially a prayer for Lent. It makes me wonder about the spiritual life of the disciples who came to Jesus asking, "Who…is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" (Matthew 18:1). What kind of person would ask that? Why would it be important to know? Why would I want to know the answer?
Have you noticed how much we all like to be affirmed and noticed and appreciated and endorsed? Maybe it goes with the turf of being human. Jesus, however, wanted little to do with such a question and diffused it by rerouting it to more important matters – humility, self-denial, simplicity of faith. And, he uses a child as His model.
In essence Jesus tells those seeking status not to worry themselves about it. Instead, he calls them to focus their lives on what God is doing, and to live in light of what they see in God. People seeking status probably have quit growing. Jesus calls us not to seek status but to seek the simplicity of faithfulness, and to let God take care of the rest. So, the simple prayer, "Grant me the faith that comes from search."
Who cares who gets the credit as long as God gets the glory! Earlier Jesus had said, "Come to me... Learn from me… I am gentle and humble in heart…" (Matthew 11:28-30). Don’t try to climb some ladder of success. Just look to God. Be faithful. Be teachable. Become all you can be in Jesus. Let Him take care of the promotions. Just show up and live in the love of God. "Come, follow me" (Matthew 4:19), Jesus said. That’s all. Then, let the God of the universe lead you and guide you and direct you into whatever it means for you to be caught up in God’s "good, pleasing, and perfect will" (Romans 12:2).
Eternal God, you have been the hope and joy of many generations, and who in all ages has given men the power to seek you and in seeking to find you, grant me, I pray you, a clearer vision of your truth, a greater faith in your power, and a more confident assurance of your love.”
- John Baillie, A Diary of Private Prayer
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