A PERSONAL PRAYER
OK God, I’ll admit it. I’m kind of confused. On the one hand, my rabbi Jesus tells me in his sermon on the mount that I am supposed to be a light to the world, so people will see my good works and give you glory. Then, in the very same sermon, Jesus tells me to do my charity work in secret, so secret that my right hand doesn’t even know what my left hand is doing. (Sometimes I just want to say to Jesus, as he talks in parables, “make it plain, preacher, make in plain!”)
God, I recognize that I seem to need the approval of other people. I want to be liked, included, a part of the group, and certainly respected. I want to feel that I matter, that I am significant. Surely that is a need that you have placed in the human soul. You made us to be social beings, and put us in families and communities to shape us. But I recognize that too often, my need to please others is an insatiable need, and the minute I feel approved I am afraid that I will do something to lose that approval. And too often, I find myself becoming what other people want me to be, and lose myself in the midst of it.
God, I pray today that you would set me free from approval addiction. At the same time, set me free from the selfishness that says “I will do what I want, no matter what anybody thinks.” Ground me in my identity in Christ, and help me to believe that I am your beloved son, with whom you are well pleased. Tune me into your voice helping me to grow and become my true self, and give me the sensitivity and discernment to recognize when you use others to shape me into the likeness of your son Jesus. I know that when the Son sets me free, I will be free indeed. (John 8:36)
In the name of Jesus, the one who was rejected on my behalf, I pray, Amen.
SOME THOUGHTS TO SHARE
This Sunday night, January 27, join us for the Family Reunion – A Church Conference, at 5:00 in The Story Houston Building. All of our ministry centers – The Story Houston, St. Luke’s, and Gethsemane Mission will come together to reflect on 2018 and look forward to 2019! We will worship together a bit, approve our 2019 budget and elect our 2019 officers, approve candidates for ministry, as well as look at our goals and our new vision and mission statements. It is gonna be great! Please come!
Don’t forget 2019: the Year of Gratitude! We are challenging one another to write 365 thank you notes or other expressions of gratitude, one each day, offered for what someone has done or who they are. These expressions should be beyond expected common courtesy. If you haven’t started yet, start now, and just aim at one each day. If you quit, just come back and start again, and keep at it. The practice of thanksgiving builds a heart of gratitude. Send me some of the thank you notes you have written to others, so that we might use them to encourage one another.
This Sunday, January 27, we continue the sermon series “A Diet of the Mind.” We have looked so far at our appetites for money and possessions and for sex and connection, and this week, we will look at our appetite for approval. What is your approval rating? How many “likes” do you get on social media? How well do you fit in with your chosen tribe? Remember the words of John Nash, “Like a diet of the mind, I choose not to indulge certain appetites.” Come and worship with us on Sunday!
Sunday, January 27
Dear God, we are blessed in so many ways. You give us such a beautiful world to see every day with sunrises and sunsets so amazing, no one could have painted them but you! Help us to see the beauty in every day, in every circumstance, and in every person we meet. Make our hearts truly grateful. Be with those who are having difficulty seeing the beauty in your world today. Amen.
Monday, January 28
Dear God, we take great pride in setting human goals and achieving them, but somehow, we remain unfulfilled even after achieving our goals. Help us to learn that true fulfillment is found only in you, in your presence, and in your love. When we experience your divine presence, we realize that we want and need more of you. Grant us the gift of your powerful presence in all that we do. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Tuesday, January 29
God of light, shine your light on me so that I may see your truth. Shine your light before me so that I may see your path of righteousness. Shine your light in me so that I may be your light to others. Amen.
Wednesday, January 30
Heavenly Father, use my mouth to speak your words of wisdom and love. Use my mind to think thoughts of your compassion and understanding. Use my heart to share others burdens. Use my hands to make a difference for others in your name. Amen.
Thursday, January 31
Heavenly Father, you are the King of Kings and we are your children. Help us to know that we are royalty and that we have access to your almighty power. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.
Friday, February 1
Lord, gratitude is the only word that describes my feelings for the blessings bestowed upon me by the Holy Spirit and your son, Jesus Christ. For these gifts, I am truly thankful and pray that all people recognize they are blessed with special gifts. In Jesus Christ’s name, I pray. Amen. -Prayer by Pat Hendon
Saturday, February 2
Dear God, as we stand at the beginning of a new year, we confess that we need your guidance. In this time of resolutions, help us make a new covenant to you. May our minds focus on things that magnify your Kingdom – walking with humility, talking with you in prayer, responding with compassion to those who are in need. We all have our own hopes for the year to come, but only you know what it holds for us, and only through you can we find the strength and wisdom we require. May all that we do in 2019 give you honor. We thank you for the promise of new beginnings. With faith and confidence, we look forward to the blessings of 2019. Amen. -Prayer by Collin Cox, St. Luke’s Board of Trustees