Day One: Teach Us to Pray
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
- Luke 11:1-4
Reflect: What has your experience with prayer been?
Would you say that you pray regularly? Daily?
What tends to be the focus of your prayers when you do pray?
The first thing we should find comfort in is that prayer is something that is taught. You may find yourself saying, “I can’t pray (especially out loud) because I’m not good at it.” No one is naturally good at praying, no more than they are naturally good at talking. You have to learn how to do both.
The second thing we should find comfort in is that Jesus wants to teach us how to pray. Jesus wants us to communicate with him. If you’re decent at talking, you will be decent at praying, because that’s what prayer is…talking to God.
The first line of this prayer that Jesus taught his disciples was revolutionary! He starts out by saying, “Our Father,” immediately creating a familial and relational connection to the all-powerful, all-knowing God. Every relationship is built on communication, and Jesus is saying that God wants that with you!
There is much more wisdom packed into this model prayer that Jesus taught, but for today, simply communicate with God, your Father, what is on your heart.
Pray: Tell God what you love about who he is and what he’s done. Ask him for the needs that are in front of you this day or week. Let him know about the problem areas you recognize in yourself and ask him for guidance and wisdom.
Take some time to be alone and practice saying your prayers out loud or writing them in a journal. This is my preferred method of prayer. It’s encouraging to be able to look back through your journal and see God’s movement in answering your prayers.
Day Two: Teach Us to Work
Jesus said, “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
- John 17:4
Jesus made his purpose very clear for why he came. The work Jesus did gives us a glimpse of what the kingdom of heaven looks like on earth. He worked in such a way that made God’s kingdom come and carried out God’s will on earth as it is in heaven…sound familiar?
Jesus modeled this for us so that we, too, would work in such a way to bring God glory.
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John 15:8)
Tim Keller’s book, Every Good Endeavor, talks about connecting our work to God’s work. We do this any time that “our work further develops, maintains, or repairs the fabric of the world.”
Reflect: In your current role, career, or position (at work, home, or community), how are you able to develop, maintain, or repair the fabric of the world? How do you experience your work connecting with the work of God?
Day Three: Teach Us to Rest
“...Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace...”
- Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)
Most of us live pretty busy lives. The pace of our life and work has only increased because of technology. People have greater access to us through multiple platforms. We often find ourselves needing to be in two places at once. There doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day or coffee in our cups. Go, go, go!
While God calls us to do good work and bear much fruit that lasts, he also calls us to rest. This has been modeled for us throughout the Bible, with the first instance being in Genesis 2:2. Here we read, “and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had done.”
It would be wrong to interpret Genesis chapter 2 as God being worn-out from all his work. God doesn’t get tired and doesn’t require rest. So why did he rest? How should we rest?
One of the problems we face is that we don’t know how to rest very well. We mainly think of rest as a time to unplug or put our minds and lives in neutral.
In Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller cites Josef Pieper, who argues that, “leisure is not the mere absence of work, but an attitude of mind or soul in which you are able to contemplate and enjoy things as they are in themselves…” and that we need to make worship and devotion, soul-time with Jesus, a regular part of how we rest.
“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good...”
- Genesis 1:31
Reflect: What are the things about your work that you are able to take a step back from and enjoy? Where can you say, “It is very good”?
Pray: Tell God how thankful you are for the opportunities he gave you to partner with him to do good work today. Ask God to fill you with his peace and rest as your day is coming to an end. Allow yourself to feel an appropriate amount of pride in the work God has called you to do—recognizing it is from him, for him, and through him that you have done it.
Day Four: Teach Us to Be Great
Luke 22:7-38, Mark 10:43-45, John 13:1-17
Picture yourself sitting at a table with Jesus and his disciples sharing a meal together. And not just any meal, but the Passover meal, a time of celebrating God’s mercy and love.
Candles are lit, and the smell of herbs and spices fills the air. You are seated at the table in the presence of Jesus and his closest friends. Jesus is sharing some life-giving words and you feel included and welcomed by the disciples. You are eating fresh-baked bread, rack of lamb, and drinking a fine red wine (or fresh grape juice—your preference).
*Pause for a moment to imagine this scene*
The conversation begins to change direction. A dispute breaks out around the table about who should be considered the greatest. You hear each of the disciples bring up their accomplishments and positions. They actually start putting you and one another down, explaining why you couldn’t possibly be the greatest. You feel singled out, so you speak up to defend yourself as you join the argument.
Imagine Jesus getting up from the table, taking off his outer garment, and wrapping a towel around his waist. The arguing continues. The disciples don’t seem to notice that Jesus got up from the table.
Jesus brings a bowl of water to the table. He sets it down at your feet. The arguing begins to digress. Jesus gets on his knees and takes off your dirty sandals. The room gets quiet. Jesus starts washing your feet. After he washes your feet, he moves on to the next disciple. And the next one. And the next one. Soon he has washed everyone’s feet.
Jesus cleans up and sits back down at the table. The silence is uncomfortable. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords has just washed your feet and your friend’s feet. And then, Jesus speaks:
“Who is greater, he who sits at the table or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves. You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, has washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. Whoever among you wants to become great, you must become as one who serves, and to be willing to serve everyone.”
- What did it feel like to be in the presence of Jesus?
- How did you feel when the arguing broke out?
- Have you ever been in a position where you had to argue for something you felt you deserved?
- Would you be comfortable having Jesus wash your feet? Why or why not?
- Where do you feel Jesus asking you to serve?
- Whose feet would Jesus ask you to wash?
- How is Jesus’ teaching on greatness different than our culture’s definition?
- Songs We Sing
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