***Please see special note at the end of this devotion!
Picture the story of Christ’s encounter with the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, found in Luke 24. The lives of these two friends of Jesus had been in a tailspin ever since receiving the devastating news of Jesus’ crucifixion three days earlier. Now they were heading away from Jerusalem, back to their home a few miles away, rehearsing yet again the heartbreaking chain of events, and trying to make some sense out of it all. A stranger came alongside and joined in their conversation, asking them questions, and reminding them of scriptures promising that these days would come, and explaining the meaning of these events for the salvation of the race. Their hearts were touched by what he said and when they reached home, they pleaded with him to come in and stay the night, because darkness was already falling; besides, they didn’t want this evening with him to end. He accepted their invitation. Later, when dinner was served, he took his place at the head of the table, blessed the bread, broke it, and gave it to them. He, their guest, became the host. They were in the presence of Divine Love. He offered them hospitality, cared for their needs, showed them His lavish kindness. By His simple actions, faith was awakened and they realized the real identity of this mysterious Person.
This historical event is, at the same time, a helpful metaphor of what happens in contemplative prayer. The Risen Christ comes to us continually, in the experiences of our lives, in scripture, in relationships with others, and so forth. We may have an inkling of His presence in any given moment, but we must choose to respond. Like the disciples Jesus met on the road, we also long for His companionship, but Jesus awaits our invitation. He treasures unrushed moments with us. They are important, not just because of the love He receives from us, but because of the love He longs to give.
When we awaken to God’s presence in some passing moment, or step aside from our endless activities to carve out some space for Him, we are actually opening the door of our heart to our deepest Friend. We may have thought of Him as our guest, and we His host, orchestrating these moments. But soon we experience the great reversal. It is not so much that we welcomed Him; He invited us. Our conscious turn in His direction, our prayer, was actually our response to His Spirit’s nudge. When invited, Christ assumes
His place as host, because our heart is actually His home and we, His invited guests. He invites us because He wants to meet our needs, show us His love, nourish our fainting hearts, and share His unfathomable peace.
–Adapted from Giving Ourselves to Prayer: An Acts 6:4 Primer for Ministry (Chapter 33, Contemplative Prayer by Reg Johnson).
Risen Christ, Forgive my distracted thoughts and activities that keep me from keeping company with You all the days of my life. I invite You to make Your lovely presence known to me continually! Open my spiritual eyes to recognize Your gracious hospitality as You become the host of my heart. It awes me that You long to pour out Your love, strength, provision and peace into my life as I yield myself to receive it!
Praise the God of peace. Thank him for making available that “peace at all times and in every way” (2 Thess. 3:16). Confess ways in which you have added to an argument or refused to let God’s peace be established between you and another person. Commit to being at peace with God and others by being both pure in heart and a peacemaker (Mt. 5:8-9). Ask God to spread the wholeness of his salvation through you.
Pray for any marriages or parent-child relationships among family and friends where God’s peace is not being experienced right now. Ask God to help you know how and when to speak, be quiet, mediate, etc.
“Front-line prayer meetings are battle stations in which the prayer warriors themselves are changed.” —The Praying Church Sourcebook
–Prayer Points taken from Patterns for Prayer by Alvin VanderGriend
***Special Note for upcoming devotions September 28 – November 6 (Election Day): Prayer is critical to any nation, especially a nation that proclaims a connection to God. The United States historically had claimed such a connection. But things have changed. We are living in days that most call post-Christian. The drift from our Judeo-Christian foundation is evident in almost every aspect of our society. That leads us back to prayer. It’s time to pray for America. For the next 40 days, Connection! will be focused upon praying for our nation leading up to Election Day, November 6.
Each day’s devotion will be adapted from the new book, Desperate for Change: 40 Days of Prayer for America by David Butts. The book is not time sensitive, so these devotions can be prayed over and over again for America in this critical hour. Each devotion is based upon a passage of Scripture. The author states, “The Scriptures used here must be used carefully. Sometimes a promise was made particularly to Israel as a theocracy (a nation whose leader was God). Because of this, you cannot just pull any promise made to Israel and automatically apply it to the United States or any other nation. But many of these promises are based on spiritual principles that can be carefully applied to our nation. I have attempted to do so, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.”
Our prayer is that you will be blessed and our nation will experience spiritual awakening!