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LET'S PRAY TOGETHER Lord, let our souls rise up to meet you as the day rises to meet the sun.  Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. May the peace of the Lord Christ go with us: wherever He may send us; Keep us faithful In hard times Never leave or forsake those in need. Dear God make us kind, Now when so many are in need, Ease their trouble and their burdens So your name may be glorified Show us how to serve today. may You guide us through the wilderness: protect us through the storm; may You bring us home rejoicing: at the wonders You have shown us; may You bring us home rejoicing once again into our doors. Amen

MEDITATION But Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray. Luke 5:16 NIV 82% of praying adults most often pray silently and by themselves. Barna Research Poll It is good to pray. We all know that. It is an element of every church service and Christian gathering. As the research above indicates when most Christians pray, they pray alone, in their own heads and hearts. Jesus chose to spend a great deal of time, no matter what else was going on, praying to the Father in solitude. But I wonder if His experience may have looked a bit different than the 82% of praying mentioned in the poll. Like many of you, I pray frequently throughout the day. Short little mental shouts to God, “Thanks!” or “Help!” or “Sorry!” or “Oh, please, not that!” or “Dear Jesus, Help them!” I am curious if this indeed what most respondents to the poll meant. These prayers are real, valid, and heard by God. In fact even if our prayers are completely incomprehensible we are promised that the Spirit will intercede on our behalf (see Romans 8:26). Yet Jesus spent hours praying with God. When was the last time you spent hours praying to God? I have had seasons of deep and joyful fellowship with God that included praying for one, two, even three hours at a stretch.  But it’s been a while. So what created these times of rich communion with God? It was several factors. One, I was involved in prayer groups with more mature Christians who modeled intimacy with God through prayer. Two, I was seeking Him for all I was worth, Three, I was making time both alone and in groups to pray diligently for others and the world. A missionary to Poland said this, “It is the Holy Spirit who gives us strength to pray and to tarry in God’s presence. Without him, we don’t feel attracted to God’s presence. Without him, prayer is an unpleasant chore we want to do away with as soon as possible. With the Holy Spirit, we enjoy sweet fellowship through prayer. We long to come back to rest and be edified in his presence. We are consumed by his love and (filled) with power from above. Prayer becomes a passion instead of a responsibility. It is no more a problem to wake up to spend the early hours of the day with our Master. We seek every opportunity to spend with him. This blessed experience (possible) for every child of God.”* What are we waiting for? *

DAILY SCRIPTURE READING Our daily scripture reading comes from the following link… If you have any insights into our daily readings, please feel free to share them with me. I would encourage you to visit for an overview of Isaiah and for an overview of Paul’s letter to the church in Ephesus. These videos will help with the “big picture” and the main themes. Isaiah 51:17-54:17 In our reading from chapter 51 and then into chapter 52, we will see that God is bringing an end to his judgment. These two chapters bring a sense of hope once more to Israel. I wonder if we overlook the importance of hope. Chapter 53 is another “messianic” text. It’s a great text. How do you see Jesus in these words?  Again, HOPE! Israel has not yet experienced her judgment, and yet God places these messages of hope in the back of her mind, for her to turn to when those difficult days come. What do you cling to for hope? Ephesians 1:1-23 Paul’s greeting to the church in Ephesus comes with some powerful words. Chosen, predestined, adopted. As I read these words this morning, the question that arose for me was, is Paul saying that God has chosen, predestined and adopted individuals, meaning has God selected certain individuals to know his Grace, or is Paul talking about the fact that God has had a plan since before the creation, to provide a way for humanity to be holy and blameless in his sight? We read scripture so often looking for truth for “me,” but are we overlooking the truth for “us?” Psalm 109:21-31 The psalmist this morning, speaks of hope. Where does that hope come from?  

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