Showing posts with label Bible Prayers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Bible Prayers. Show all posts

March 19, 2019

The Catholic Youth Prayer Book

This second edition of The Catholic Youth Prayer Book, which Saint Mary’s Press kindly sent me to review makes a highly appropriate gift for Easter or any time of the year – not only for Catholic teens and young people but Christians of all ages.

Divided into four sections, the book includes:

Part I Prayers for Daily Life
Part II Prayers from the Catholic tradition
Part III Methods for Personal Prayer
Part IV Liturgical Prayer

Throughout the book, Bible prayers appear, often from the Psalms but also Ezekiel, Matthew, Philippians, 1 Peter, and other books found in Hebrew scriptures or the New Testament. In addition, you’ll find creeds of faith and prayers from spiritual giants such as St. Augustine, St. Teresa of Avila, St. John of the Cross, St. Jerome, Ignatius, and more.

As you might imagine, Part II, Chapter 5, “Prayers and Devotions to Mary,” is most apt to cause concern for non-Catholic Christians, who have assumed the honor given to her is a form of worship, rather than the devotion, respect, and just plain love rightfully due the young woman who humbly and willingly gave her consent to become the Mother of Jesus. Even an angel – a messenger of God – called her “Blessed!”

In those poetic words, which begin the Rosary, we learn to pray through stages of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (If you don’t have a string of beads to help you keep track of where you are in your prayers, you can always use your fingers!) Regardless, the chapter includes instructions and an illustrated “Guide to Saying the Rosary,” which, Catholic or not, has been known to move mountains and help people with insomnia sleep better at night!

“Chapter 6: Prayers about the Holy Spirit” includes an insert, “Scripture Tells Us about the Holy Spirit,” which encourages Bible readings in the epistles and the prophet Joel. For example

“You will do great things! ‘It shall come to pass/ I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh./ Your sons and daughters will prophesy,/ your old men will dream dreams, / your young men will see visions,” (Joel 3:1).

In Chapter 7, “Prayers from the Saints,” you’ll find prayers that speak to or for you so well, you might want to check out other works from those early Christians. For example:

“Take Me, Give Me

Lord, take me from myself and
give me to yourself.”

Saint Catherine of Seina

Or, for another example:

“In God’s Service

Lord God,
whose we are and whom we serve,
help us to glorify you this day,
in all the thoughts of our hearts,
in all the words of our lips,
and in all the works of our hands,
as becomes those who are your servants,
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Saint Anselm

In the third section on personal prayer, the chapters and “methods” include:

Praying the Lord’s Prayer
Praying with Scripture: Lectio Divina
Praying with Guide Meditation
Prayer and Journaling

The final section gives liturgical prayers used in the church community and ones for a month of private devotions too. Typically those personal times of prayer begin with:

“Call to Prayer

God, come to my assistance.
Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.”

And end with a “Closing Prayer,” followed by:


May the Lord bless us
and protect us from evil
and bring us to the joy of Heaven.

Yes and amen.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2019, poet-writer and pray-er

Click to order: 

October 12, 2017

Praying for enemies and other meanies

In Matthew 5:43-44, Jesus taught His followers a different way of looking at things and responding to other people. As He told us, You have heard it said, `You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Do good to those who hate you and pray for those who use you or mistreat you, spitefully.

Thank God, Jesus commanded us to pray for our enemies and love them without demanding something as humanly impossible as liking them!

From a biblical perspective, love has little to do with preferring people to whom we fondly respond. Instead godly love calls for upright actions whereby we act with kindness and consideration for the well-being of others, including unsavory characters and people we dislike.

Wanting to please and obey God would be reason enough for us to love our enemies, but God might have more in mind. For example, loving our adversaries can disarm them, calm them, heal them, and help them to hear what we have to say about our forgiving Father and His Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Even though earthly foes might bully or people abuse, our prayers promptly propel our enemies into a spiritual realm protected by the power of Almighty God. Think of it! What blessings, what spiritual awakening, what new hope of reconciliation could our loving prayers bring to the most unlovable people?

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father of All, forgive us for wishing anyone ill! Help us to convey Your love to everyone with whom we have contact. Give us Your words of blessing, especially to our families, other Christians, and church leaders, but also to those who wish us ill or, worse, who malign You. Protect us, Lord. Help us to do what’s best from Your perspective and become excellent examples of Your forgiving love in Jesus’ Name.

Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2017, from her new book, What the Bible Says About Love


December 13, 2016

Praying Psalm 7

NOTE: The first half of Psalm 7 prays for God’s rescue from adversaries, which, as Christians, we might think of as the nemesis or archenemy of Christ.

O LORD my God, I want to run and hide
inside You!
Save me! Deliver me from ill will
ready to rip my soul apart like a hungry lion,
tearing it to pieces before help arrives.

O LORD my God, if I have done something wrong
or used my hands for a poor purpose –
if I have repaid good will with ill will
or taken something without cause,
then let me be overtaken!
Let my life be trampled to the ground.
Cover my glory in dust.

Arise, O LORD, with wrath
against the fury of the enemy.
Awake and give Your judgment.
Let Your people gather around You.
Rule us from on high.

Psalm 7:1-7, prayer-a-phrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2016, after studying scriptures from the many translations found on Bible Gateway


December 12, 2016

Praying with Psalm 6

O LORD, please don’t scold me when You’re angry
or discipline me in fury.
Have mercy, LORD, for I am suffering.
Heal my trembling, troubled bones.
Even my soul feels shaky!
O how long, LORD, will this go on?

Turn back to me, LORD, and rescue me
with Your unfailing love.
It’s hard to remember You
when I feel dead inside.
How can I lift Your Name in praise, LORD,
when grave worries weigh me down?

My sighs tire me. My sobs wear me out!
My pillow swabs my face.
Grief blurs my vision.
My eyes ache with distress.

Get away from me, you evil thoughts!

The LORD hears my cries.
The LORD listens!
The LORD answers all my prayers.

prayer-a-phrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2016, with scriptures from many translations on Bible Gateway

November 29, 2016

Praying with Psalm 4

Answer us when we call,
O God of our salvation!
Free us from these pressures
and distress!

Show us mercy.
Hear our prayer.

People! People!
How long will our hearts be hard?
How long will we love what is worthless
or chase after lies?

Know this: the Lord takes care
of the faithful.
The Lord God hears our cries.

We can be angry
without sinning.
We can take a rest and really
think about what’s troubling us.
We can do what’s right –
even when it’s hard --
and place ourselves
in God’s hands.

Many say, “I want to see
better times. I want the light
of God’s face to shine.”
But God has filled us
with more gladness
than we’ll ever get
from food and wine.

When we lie down,
we can sleep peacefully,
for You alone, O God
help us to rest in safety.

prayer-a-phrased by Mary Harwell Sayler, ©2016, with scriptures from many translations on Bible Gateway

July 6, 2015

Healing words of Jesus

Mark Five: Red Letter Edition
by Mary Harwell Sayler

Come out, come out
wherever you are!
What is your name?

Go home to your friends
and tell them the things

the merciful things –
the Lord has done.

Who touched My clothes?
You've touched the Son!
Now go, touched in peace.
You have been healed.

You have been healed
of all your fears.
Just trust in Me.

Why are you weeping?
Why do you cry?
The child isn't dead.
She's only sleeping.

Get up, little girl!
Go out in the world.
Go out and become
a young child again.

©2011, 2014, 2015, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. The poem originally appeared in Catholic Lane, Summer 2011 and has been included in the book of Bible-based poems, Outside Eden, published by Kelsay Books in 2014.

November 7, 2014

Praying with the Names of God

When this blog began three years ago, one of the first articles, “Names of God” talked about knowing Who God is and to Whom we pray. That list of “names” or aspects of God goes on and on as Ava Pennington most likely discovered when she researched and wrote Daily Reflections on the Names of God, published by Revell.

Why does this matter? As the Introduction states: “Every name of God revealed in the Bible shows us something about His character and His ways.” And “With each new revelation, it’s as if God whispers to us, ‘Come closer, My child. I have something new I want to tell you about me.’ The more we learn, the easier it is to trust Him and rely on Him.”

Most people have their own ideas of Who God is, but Ava’s book lets us know Who God says God is – names that, with meditation, draw us to look upward, inward, or outside ourselves.

For instance, the first devotional considers the name “Glory” and asks “Are You Ready?” as we look up to this aspect of God. The second devotional turns us inward to see if we’re “Missing The Point,” and the third devotional on “Glory” points outward where “It’s Not About Me.”

This up, in, and out view of each name of God provides a consistent format for the book, beginning with the name being addressed, the title for that particular devotional, a relevant Bible verse, a word on the subject at hand, a prayer, and a pertinent question to consider.

Unlike many one-year devotional guides, this unique format helps us to direct our focus, not on calendar dates, which have been omitted, but on “The LORD Who Heals” and each part of the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

To give you an example of the wisdom and insight in each devotional, we look up to the name “Jesus” and ask, “How can I honor the name of Jesus today?” Then we look inward and see:

When we come to God “in Jesus’s name,” we are really saying, “Father, this is what Jesus would ask if He were standing here in my place.”

We’re then reminded how “Jesus never wanted what His Father did not want.” Then the devotional closes with a question prefaced by this brief prayer:

Heavenly Father, forgive me for the times I have come to You invoking the name of Jesus, when I really spoke in my own name.

This trio of devotionals ends with an outward word that says: “The last thing the enemy of our souls wants to hear is Jesus’s name, unless it is spoken with hostility or trampled in irreverence.” Therefore, we’re wise to pray in agreement with this prayer:

Lord, give me discernment to know how to speak
of my precious Savior today.

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler, reviewer

Daily Reflections on the Names of God, paperback

August 18, 2014

In review: Ask, Seek, Knock

When NavPress sent me a review copy of Ask, Seek, Knock, I realized the author, Tony Jones, had accomplished what I have been hoping to do in the Bible Prayers blog:

• Provide a working definition of prayer.

• Show prayer at work.

• Give people a glimpse of the infinite healing power of God.

• Highlight Bible prayers or prayer principles that will help us to draw closer to Christ in the loving relationship God wants and we need!

©2014, Mary Harwell Sayler

Ask, Seek, Knock, paperback

June 4, 2013

Bible Prayers, then and now

The prayers recorded in the Bible help us to:

form our prayer life
in-form our faith
re-form or revise our thinking on spiritual matters

More importantly, Bible prayers can re-unite the Body of Christ and empower us as we agree in prayer, claiming Holy Scriptures and praying Bible prayers for people, places, and events around the world.

Our churches, families, and communities need this prayer power too, and so do we – as individuals facing discouragement or hardships of some kind. So, Lord willing, we’ll resume our search of biblical prayers – from Genesis to Revelation but also as the Holy Spirit leads us into prayers found in the Daily Bible Readings.

May God bless us, guide us, and give us the prayers to pray in Jesus’ Name.

©2013, Mary Harwell Sayler


March 14, 2013

The Holy Spirit prays for us!

“Likewise the Spirit also helps our weakness for we know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit makes intercession for us with sighs too deep for words. And God who searches the heart knows the mind of the Spirit, who makes intercession for the people of God according to God’s will,”
Romans 8:26-27

Holy Partner in Prayer
by Mary Harwell Sayler

When our hopes recede
and faith weakens,
and we do not even know
how to pray as we ought,
the Holy Spirit
intercedes for us
with sighs too deep for words.

And God,
Who searches our hearts
and minds, finds
the very prayers heard
to align with God’s Own will
when the Holy Spirit
prays for us – right then –
and is praying still.

© 2013, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved, prayer-a-phrase poem of Romans 8:26-27


January 8, 2013

A parent prays for a child's healing

Background: Jesus came to Cana, the area in Galilee where He had previously attended a wedding and, at His mother’s request, changed water into wine. Meanwhile, in Capernaum the son of a royal official had neared the point of death when the father came to Jesus with this request, a prayer:

Lord, please be with my child
before he dies!

The Lord answered this prayer, saying the child would live, and the man believed Jesus. Obeying the Lord’s instructions to go home, the royal official met his servants along the way who told him the child had begun to recover – at the very hour Jesus had said, “Your son will live.”

©2013, Mary Sayler, prayer-a-phrase from John 4:46-54


January 1, 2013

New Year begins with God’s Blessing

The Daily Bible Reading starts the New Year with the prayer the Lord gave (and still gives!) leaders to pray over the people of God, blessing them and us with God’s shine.

The LORD spoke to Moses,

Speak to the leaders
and say,

Let this be the way
you bless My people, saying:

May the LORD bless you and keep you.

May the LORD cause His face
on you

to shine.

May the LORD be gracious
to you,

and lift you

into the image of God
and give you peace.


In this way, the leaders
may bless the people of God
with the Name of God,

and on each of them
the LORD’s own
“God bless” will rest.


© 2013, Mary Harwell Sayler, prayer-a-phrased poem from Numbers 6:22-27


December 27, 2012

Praying for the glory of God

“Then Moses prayed, ‘Show me Your glory,’

“and the LORD replied:
‘I will bring My goodness before you,
and I will give you My Name, The LORD,
and I will
show grace and mercy
on whom grace and mercy will show,
but you cannot face Me fully now
(and still stand to live on earth.)

“And the LORD continued, ‘See!
Beside Me
you have a sure place
to stand,
and as My glory goes before you,
I will keep you safe
in the cleft of the rock,
and I will guard and shield you
with My hand.”

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, Bible prayer-a-phrase, Exodus 33:18-22

October 22, 2012

Taking a new tack with Bible Prayers

Plans for my one-year book of devotionals to coordinate with All the Prayers of the Bible went awry, so I’ve been praying and waiting to see what tack to take before continuing with a new posting. Since many churches have begun to use the Revised Common Lectionary to guide sermons, Bible lessons, and readings of Holy Scripture each week, postings here will also aim toward that goal. Oh, what power we'll have as Christians from all denominational backgrounds pray in one accord!

This week, for instance, Psalms 126 provides a timely theme followed by Questions for discussion in your Bible study group or use in your private devotions.

“When the Lord returned us to Jerusalem, we were like those who dream. Our mouths filled with laughter, and our tongues with singing until even the heathens said, ‘The Lord has done great things for them!’

“Yes! The Lord has done great things for us, and, oh, we are so glad!

“Please restore us now, Lord, as You restore a dry desert with water. Let those who sow in tears reap in joy. Let those who go forth, weeping as they sow, come again rejoining, bringing in the sheaves.”
(Psalm 126)

Questions: Do you ever feel as though you’re held in bondage to something or someone? In what ways has God freed you from captivity?

Personal Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for freeing me from sin in the power of the risen Christ and for restoring my relationship with You in Jesus’ Name.


© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved, but pass it on!


March 23, 2012

God calls Moses to answer the prayers of the people

Background: In Egypt the Hebrew people groaned to God, praying for a savior from slavery. They did not know that God had been preparing Moses for that job ever since his birth. But then, neither did Moses!

From the start, Moses knew the love of godly parents in a godly home. In early childhood, he learned how to get around the palace of his adoptive grandfather, Pharaoh. He learned of the important political and cultural events in Egypt and experienced the academic excellence available to him as the adopted son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

Moses had surely seen how leaders lead, too, and, during his years of exile, he learned, as a shepherd, how to get wayward, frightened sheep to follow him through the desert terrain. What more could he possibly need?


Moses did not yet know that, but God did, and God took the responsibility of responding to Moses before Moses even knew to call on God. Amazing! But that’s how it often works.

So how did God get Moses’ attention? God set fire to a bush that kept on burning without burning up!

It worked. Moses turned to look – really look. And then God spoke.

“From the middle of the burning bush, God called, ‘Moses, Moses.’

“And Moses said, ‘Here am I’,” Exodus 3:4.

Questions: When God spoke to Moses, what were the very first words? Have you ever had the impression that God was calling you for a particular task? In what way does it matter that the Almighty God personally knows your name?

Prayer: LORD God, Heavenly Father of all and Creator of every good thing in me, thank You for knowing my name and everything else about me. Thank You for getting my attention and reminding me to talk with You throughout the day and during the night. Help me, Lord, to listen, hear, and obey You in carrying out the good work to which You have called me in Your Holy Name.

For more about this subject, see “God hears groans as prayers.”

© 2012, Mary Harwell Sayler, all rights reserved. If your church or Bible study group wants to use these articles as a study guide, just let everyone know where to find the blog. For articles on a variety of Bible topics, see Blogs by Mary.


March 17, 2012

Joseph, Judah, and an unusual prayer

Background: Jacob (Israel) had one daughter and a dozen sons. Of the twelve, Joseph was clearly the favorite and everyone knew it, including Joseph. Eventually, the brothers got tired of his spying and tattling on them but were probably even wearier of being ignored and undervalued by a father prone toward favoritism.

The older brothers had had it with the little prince, whom their dad dressed in a colorful coat with long sleeves totally unsuitable for work! But, instead of killing the kid, as Cain would have done, they sold Joseph into slavery.

The familiar story begins in Genesis 37 and keeps going until Exodus while Joseph continues to have faith that God favored him. Not so with Judah, who winds up with two sons so wicked that God took them out of the family line!

After his wife also dies, Judah is seduced by a woman he thinks is a prostitute but is really the widow of both of his sons! In high contrast, the beloved Joseph refuses advances from his master’s wife, keeping his high moral standards and his faith, even though the decision got him thrown into jail!

Because of those choices, everybody knows about the moralism, wisdom, and strong faith of Joseph. Everybody clearly knows that God was with him as he rose to the top position of power in all of Egypt, second only to the Pharaoh. And, everyone knows, as Joseph did, that the providence of God had allowed events that led to his keeping his entire family from starving to death during a 7-year famine. In short, almost everyone on earth has heard of Joseph, while even devout Christians and Jews often look puzzled by the name of Judah.

So, what about Judah? Who was he? What was he like, and why should we care? No, he’s not the lost tribe of Israel, but he is important to us today because he is the forefather of Christians and Jews.

Genesis 38 and 43-49 will give you the primary source of information about Judah, but here’s my somewhat shortened version:

After selling Joseph into slavery, Judah “departed from his brothers” (Genesis 38:1) and moved into an area southwest of Bethlehem later called the land of Judah. This self-imposed parting from his family may indicate grief, guilt, or growing sense of right and wrong, centuries before the law of Moses. For example, after hearing that his long-widowed daughter-in-law was expecting a child, Judah proposed that she be burned to death! When, however, she identified herself as the woman assumed to be a prostitute, Judah admitted “she’s more righteous than I.”

That might not sound like a big deal today, but at the time, even Bible patriarchs were not apt to admit any wrongdoing of any kind. People were also not likely to be more concerned about other people as they were about themselves. Remember, for example, how Lot had been perfectly willing to throw his unwed daughters to the men of Sodom and Abraham to risk Sarah’s safety in order to protect his own.

Not Judah.

For the sake of his father and brother, Judah made a unique choice that foreshadows the redemption brought by his direct descendant, Jesus Christ. Judah offered to place his own life in jeopardy as surety for the safety of his youngest brother to keep his father from dying with grief.

As Genesis records this episode, “Judah came close to Joseph and said, ‘O, my lord, let your servant speak, I pray thee, a word in your ears, and let not your anger burn against me, for you are as Pharaoh himself,’ Genesis 44:18.

“And now, I pray thee, let me, your servant, remain with you as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy go home with his brothers, for how could I possibly return to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Surely this would bring my father inconsolable grief and misery,” Genesis 44:33-34.

Question: What do you think of God’s choosing Judah over Joseph as the family line through whom the Son of God would come?

Prayer: Dear LORD God, Heavenly Father, thank You for knowing who to choose for the tasks You have given. Strengthen our faith, LORD. Help us to hear You, accept Your faith in us, and follow Your leading in whatever You want us to do for Your heavenly kingdom.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved


Jacobs wrestles an angel and becomes Israel

Background: When Jacob fled from home after wrestling his father’s blessing from Esau, he vowed to worship God if everything happened as promised. It did, of course, since God does not and cannot lie. However, many years went by before Jacob felt free to go home.

After the long journey began, God sent angels to greet Jacob. In turn, Jacob sent his servants to meet, greet, and make peace with his older twin brother Esau of whom he was greatly afraid (Genesis 32:7.) To protect himself and his family, Jacob divided the people and livestock into two camps, thinking that, if Esau destroyed one, the other would be able to escape. (Genesis 32:8.)

Then Jacob prayed: “O, LORD God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, You told me, ‘Return to your land and the place of your birth, and I will do well for you.’ But LORD, I am not worthy of the least of Your mercies or of Your truth which You have fulfilled for me, Your servant. With only my walking stick, I passed over the Jordan River, and now I’m going home with a household big enough to fill two camps! Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother Esau, for I am greatly afraid he will come and kill my wives and children. But You promised to treat me kindly and multiply my descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered,” Genesis 32:9-12.

The next morning, Jacob set aside livestock for his servants to give to Esau – one group after another – as a peace offering. When everyone had safely crossed over the river, Jacob alone remained in camp. As he tried to sleep, he wrestled all night with an angel of the Lord or man of God.

When the man saw he would not win the match, he wrestled Jacob’s hip out of its socket, then said, “Let me go for the dawn is breaking!”

“But Jacob said, ‘I won’t let you go unless you bless me’.”

“‘What is your name?’ the man asked.”

“‘Jacob,’ he replied.”

“‘Your name will no longer be Jacob. From now on you will be called Israel because you have wrestled with God and men and have won’.”
(Genesis 32:26-28.)

When Jacob then saw Esau coming with a large company of men, he fell to the ground as his brother came near. Esau ran to meet him with an enormous hug! Jacob blessed his brother, but the two soon parted – most likely relieved by each other’s response yet wary. When Jacob then found a field to buy, he pitched his tents and built an altar to call upon the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac, and, now, Israel.

Question: Do you expect God to keep His promises to you in person or in general? Do you expect the same from yourself and other people too? With whom or what do you wrestle?

Prayer: Almighty God and Heavenly Father of all, we praise You for being The One in Whom we can always put our total confidence and trust. Forgive us, Lord, for the times we have been wary of You and unforgiving of ourselves and others. Help us to talk to You about everything and to listen – especially as we toss and turn in sleep and in mind when it’s hard to make a decision or know what You would have us to do. Lead us, LORD, with Your Word and heavenly greetings as we come home to You.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.


Blessing, vow, pledge, and promise

“Isaac called for Jacob, blessed him, and said, “Do not marry a Canaanite woman but hurry to the house of your grandfather in Paddan-aram and marry one of your uncle Laban’s daughters. May God Almighty bless you with many children, and may your descendants become many nations. May God pass on to you and your descendants the blessings promised to Abraham, and may you possess this land where you now live as a stranger, for God gave this land to Abraham,” Genesis 28:1-4.

After getting the family blessing he had deceptively wangled from his twin brother Esau, Jacob obeyed his father and set off on a journey of a few hundred lonely miles to find a wife.

And so, “Jacob left Beersheba and traveled toward Haran. Before sunset he arrived at a good place to stop for the night and set up camp. When he found a stone for a pillow, Jacob lay down to sleep, and as he slept, he dreamed of a ladder (or stairway) reaching from earth to heaven with angels of God going up and down. At the top of the ladder stood the LORD, Who said, ‘I Am the LORD, the God of your grandfather Abraham and the God of your father Isaac. The ground you are lying on now belongs to you. I Am giving it to you and your descendants, who will be as numerous as the dust of the earth. They will spread in all directions—to west and east, to north and south. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you and your offspring. More importantly, I Am with you, and I will protect you wherever you go. Someday I will bring you back to this land, but I will not leave you until I have given you everything I promised.’ Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely the LORD is in this place‘," Genesis 28:10-16.

“The next morning Jacob got up early and carefully placed the stone pillow as a pillar to remind him where he had been visited by God. He then poured olive oil over the stone and named the place Bethel (meaning house of God) even though it had previously been called Luz. Then Jacob made this vow, ‘If God will indeed be with me and if He will protect me on my journey, and if He will provide me with food and clothing, and if I get safely back to my father’s home, then the LORD will be my God. And this memorial pillar I set up will become a place to worship God, and I will present to God a tenth of everything He gives me.” Genesis 28:18-22.

Even though Jacob deceived his father (at his mother’s suggestion!) he inherited the blessings God had promised Abraham. God honored this, too, by giving the young man a vision of heaven and by renewing the covenant He had made with Jacob’s family on earth.

As it’s been said, God has no grandchildren. And so, this vision let Jacob see that, like his father and grandfather, he, too, now had a direct relationship with God, even though his ambivalent response did not include worship but wariness.

Question: When you make a promise to God, does it contain contingencies or escape clauses as did the “if’s” of Jacob? Do you think Jacob showed lack of faith by delaying worship and acceptance of the LORD as his God? Or did he believe God meant exactly what He said? After all, God Himself had promised to stay with Jacob until He had fulfilled His promises, which then gave the young man plenty of time to decide!

Prayer: Dear LORD God Almighty, thank You for honoring Your promises whether we deserve such an honor or not! Thank You for Your faithfulness and devotion to us even when our faith ebbs and we put off devoting time to You. Forgive us our uncertainties about You, and help us to worship You in Spirit and in truth – forever but also right now.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.


Getting very specific in prayer

Background: Long after Abraham prayed for God to favor Ishmael, he and his wife Sarah brought up their son Isaac to become the heir whom God had named. Sometime before the young man turned thirty, his mother died and was buried in a cave that Abraham had purchased at full price near Mamre (also known as Hebron) in the land of Canaan. Despite the family ties to that area, Abraham did not want his son to marry a Canaanite woman. He was so adamant in fact that he made his chief servant swear to go to Abraham’s homeland and find Isaac a wife among their own kin.

The servant gave no objection to the request but showed concern for the success of his mission. When he asked Abraham what to do if no woman wanted to come home with him to meet Isaac, his master said, “The LORD God of heaven will send an angel before you,” Genesis 24:7-8. Abraham further assured the man that, if God did not take care of everything, the chief servant would be released from his oath. The man promised to obey his master’s request, and then, with ten camels loaded with gifts, the servant set off in the right direction.

When he reached the town of Nahor, he made the camels kneel near water as he stood to pray:

“’O LORD, God of Abraham, grant me success and show Your kindness to my master. Here I am, standing beside this well where the young women of the town come to draw water. So when I ask someone to let down her jar to give me a drink and she says yes and offers to give water to the camels also, oh, let her be the one You have chosen! This will let me know, too, that You have favored my master with a wife for his son Isaac.’

“Before the servant had finished praying, Rebekah came out with a water jug on her shoulder,”
Genesis 24:12-15.

Questions: Does God ever answer our prayers before we even finish praying? Does God honor specific requests, especially if the answer enables us to do the very thing our Master wants?

Prayer: LORD God, sometimes I think I am the only master of my life! Forgive me, Lord, for treating You as my Servant, ready to do my bidding. Help me to keep my promises to You and anyone else to whom I have made a vow. Give me success, Lord, in obeying You and accomplishing everything You want me to do and be.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.


Lot prays for a place to run and hide

Background: The people of Sodom had become so ungodly that God did not find even ten upright citizens throughout the entire city! Although Abraham’s nephew and family lived there, Lot may have sensed that he did not belong, or maybe he hoped to change the current conditions. Regardless of his reasons, he was sitting at the main gate – the traditional hang-out for city leaders – when he saw the approach of two of the angels who had just visited Abraham and Sarah.

Immediately, Lot hopped up, eager to offer the visitors fresh water, food, and a place of rest as, unbeknown to him, his uncle Abraham had done earlier. The angelic beings agreed, but later that evening, all of the men in Sodom – young and old – gathered around Lot’s house and demanded that he send out the two visitors, but instead, Lot came out– one man against the whole crowd.

Trying to reason with the unreasonable mob, he begged, “Oh, please, brothers! Do not give my visitors such terrible treatment!”

“Man!” the angry crowd yelled at Lot. “You came to our town as an outsider, and now you’re acting like our judge! Enough! We’ll treat you worse than those visitors you’re hiding!”

Before the crowd could attack though, the two angels snatched Lot inside, bolted the door, and blinded everyone outside! The next morning, as soon as Lot and his family had enough light to travel, the angels seized them by the hand and rushed them outside the city, telling them to run for their lives without looking back.

The mountains looming ahead must have seemed scary, dark, and wild to Lot, and so he prayed:

“’Oh, please, no, my lords! You have been kind and gracious and saved my life, but if I go to those mountains, I’m doomed to die! See that village over there? It’s close enough for me to reach. Please, let me escape to that little place, and my life will be saved.’

“’All right,’ one of the angels said. ‘I will grant your prayer, and I will not destroy that little place, but you must hurry, for I cannot do anything until you safely arrive.’ And so the village was named Zoar (which means little place),”
Genesis 19:18-22.

Questions: How well can a person of principles fit into any place or among any group of people who do not know God?

Apparently, the people of Sodom thought Lot was judging them, which made them furious, but was he? Or was he standing up for the values in which he believed?

The people of Sodom showed no regard for human rights, which, in this case, ignored even the rights and treatment of angels! Does anything like that happen today? What problems, large or small, occur because one person or group does not respect the life of another? Could this be the cause of bullying, gangs, and wars?

The angels visited Sodom to put an end to the wickedness there, but they told Lot that they could do nothing until he’d gotten completely away from the destruction sure to follow. Wow! What power! What control!

Does protecting Lot show a lot about God?

Prayer: Dear Most High God, I praise You for your almighty power, mercy, and love. Thank You for protecting me, as You did Lot, even when I’m not aware of Your shield around me. Help me to stand up for my beliefs and Your values. Thank You for giving me what I need to obey You and go where I need to go.


© 2012, Mary Sayler, all rights reserved.