Use this devo as you are able, in whole or in part. Don’t feel compelled to read it all. Simply read and meditate upon whatever catches your attention. The goal is enjoying time with God through His Word and in prayer. Questions about the devotional elements?
Call to Prayer
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)
Prayer of Confession
Confession is formative. It trains us to recognize the ways our hearts have become de-formed and how Christ is at work bringing redemption in our lives. Pray with this in mind.
Dear Lord Jesus, Advent has just begun, and I am praying it will be a season marked more by hush than rush. If I’m going to be busy with anything, may it be with quieting my heart, focusing my gaze, and setting my affection on things above—especially on you—the Author and Perfecter of my faith; the source and Lord of my salvation; the fountain and fullness of all grace.
Grant me the same intensity and care the prophets invested in searching out the promises of your coming. May old Scriptures come alive in profoundly new ways during this Advent season. Jesus, show me more of yourself throughout the Bible. Humble and gladden my heart with the realization that the prophets were serving me—even me—when they spoke of your coming, your sufferings, and the glories that would follow.
So come, O come, Immanuel, and bring even greater freedom to my heart and glory to yourself. I pray, in the wonders of your love and the trustworthiness of your name. Amen.
Take a moment to confess your sins, knowing that he hears you.
Advent Reading Plan
During Advent this year we are using the He Reads Truth and She Reads Truth Advent Devos. Readings in this plan will cover the whole of Scripture and directly point us to Christ. We will resume our OPC|M Daily Reading Plan on December 26.
This section of the Devo focuses on the passage(s) for Sunday’s sermon. Go ahead and read the following passage(s) and use theParables Reading Plan + Study Guide to journal what stands out and what you have questions about in the passages. Below is a helpful commentary that can help to fill in the gaps.
Read: Luke 11:9-13 + James 1:5-17
James is always so practical. His letter provides us with some of the most helpful, rubber-meets-the-road ways of working our prayers into everyday life. Do you lack wisdom? Ask God! He’s always generous in giving it, and you don’t have to be embarrassed in asking. He won’t shame you for not knowing!
But be the sort of person who prayers with full confidence that their Father in Heaven will respond. Follow James’ logic here a little. If you are hearing his letter read then presumably he has already become your only hope in life and in death. Why not extend this resting in his person and promises to your prayer life as well?
Having trouble resting in Christ in prayer? Are you filled with doubts as to whether or not he’ll come through for you? Well James has a diagnostic for you. Maybe your hope is resting on something or someone outside of Christ? After all, doubt is not the absence of belief but the tension between two opposing beliefs. James’ point is clear: if you go back and forth between putting your confidence in Christ and, say, money or acceptance by others, then you will be a deeply unstable person. And your prayer life will reflect that. In fact, if this diagnoses the condition of your heart, then you really shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord, says James.
If you are experiencing some of this “disputing within yourself” as you pray, then take heart! The Apostle Paul, scholar Doug Moo notes,
“uses the same word in his description of Abraham’s faith. Abraham, Paul says, “did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God” (Rom. 4:20). Paul, of course, is well aware that Abraham did, in fact, doubt God’s promise on at least one occasion, greeting God’s promise about his son with laughter (Gen. 17:15–18). Paul’s point is not that Abraham never entertained any doubt about God’s promise but that Abraham, over many years, displayed a consistency in his faith in God.
James is not, then, here claiming that prayers will never be answered where any degree of doubt exists—for some degree of doubt on at least some occasions is probably inevitable in our present state of weakness. Rather, he wants us to understand that God responds to us only when our lives reflect a basic consistency of purpose and intent: a spiritual integrity.”
So what’s a wave-tossed doubter to do? Hebrews 6:19 provides an answer: get thee an anchor for your soul! Christ needs to be the one who anchors you instead of the opinions of others. Christ must be your anchor and not your power and influence within the political systems of this world. Christ must be your anchor, for nothing else can bear the weight of the human soul.
Evening Prayer of Examen
- Where did you move with or feel close to Jesus today?
- Where did you resist or feel far from Jesus today?
- Where is Jesus leading you tomorrow? Ask for joy as you follow him.
Therefore, let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in the time of need (Hebrews 4:16)