Yesterday we learned about the importance of APPLYING what we are reading. James, the half brother of Jesus, reminded us to read Scripture while not applying is “only fools ourselves” (James 1:22, NLT). Application is vital! However, for some it can be easy to fall into another trap.
The final step for our S.O.A.P. method of reading and applying scripture is PRAYER. Anyone who has ever tried to live in a way that was different than previously has experienced the frustration of trying to make changes. Paul knew this quite well:
15 I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate.Romans 7:15 (NLT)
In some ways, new information provides the course correction needed to begin new ways of thinking and living. The realization that we have been adopted into the family of God (Ephesians 1:15) is profound and life changing! But for most, we’ve spent years and even decades practicing a life that is uninformed by the power of the Gospel. To skip Prayer in this process is to agree that information alone can transform us!
One of my favorite activities, especially in the warmer months is cooking on our outdoor grill. While the process of heat to food is important, the food would be rather bland if it weren’t for the spices and sauces used before the grill. One of our favorite dishes has a marinade that bathes the meat for almost 24 hours. One day, in a hurry I basted the chicken in a rush as I placed it on the grill. Needless to say this family favorite was bland enough that the usually empty plate sat fairly full with leftovers for a few days. While we read scripture and make plans for application, it is through prayer that we allow the Holy Spirit to speak, to encourage, and to empower us for the road ahead. This process takes time. Our first instinct is to move on with our day when we feel like we’ve received what we need, but Prayer invites us to sit and receive what God wants to GIVE! Here are a few prompts that will help us with prayer:
- Gratitude: While we will have requests for God, take a moment and sit in gratitude for what God has already done. One of the byproducts of gratitude is an anticipation for how God will move in the future. Let your hopes arise as you remember how faithful God has already been!
- Confession: Many times our new applications are a course correction to our thoughts or our actions. Is there something you need to ask God’s forgiveness for?
- Request: As we determine to make changes through application, ask God to empower you, to fill you, and to give you wisdom. Change is difficult; however, God through the Holy Spirit is the engine of transformation!
- Wait: Our fast paced world can cause us to think of prayer as a fast food drive-thru. “We’ve got our food, let’s get out of here!” Some of my most profound moments of feeling the Lord’s presence have been after doing my devotion sitting in quiet allowing the Lord time to speak to my heart. Sit in the silence for at least 5 minutes. Remember, our goal is not just to receive what we think we need, rather to receive what God wants to give us.
I personally write all of my prayers out. For me, writing connects me to my thoughts and also gives me the ability to look back and see how God has answered my prayers! As you move throughout the devotions today remember the process for S.O.A.P.:
- Find a quiet place and read the passage of the day. Read it again. Read it slowly. Read it outloud!
- What do you observe? What does this passage teach you about God or yourself? Do you have any questions?
- How will you live your life differently today in light of what you just read? Be specific!
- Let it marinade. Take some time to thank God, to confess any shortcomings, and to ask to be empowered. Sit for a few moments and see if God has anything else for you.
Here is today’s passage:
8 You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. 9 The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls.1 Peter 1:8-9 (NLT)
We are praying for you!