“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth.” Proverbs 16:23
Isn’t it curious how in the midst of a nasty family argument we can shake our bad mood the instant the telephone rings or a neighbor knocks on the door? Have you ever been brought up short by a small voice questioning such a sudden turn to peaches and cream after twenty minutes of fire and brimstone? Sometimes we treat those we love the worst, and kids are quick to recognize this hypocrisy.
Mark Hatfield, a longtime senator from Oregon and the father of four, said his wife once stung him by saying, “I just wish you were as patient with your children as you are with your constituents.” He isn’t alone. We’re all guilty at times of what might be called “split vision”— treating acquaintances with forbearance while losing patience or even heaping contempt on those under our own roof. We assume the worst. We pounce on every shortcoming. We never miss an opportunity to harangue. In the process, we wound the people we care about most.
It’s time we cut one another a little slack at home. If we say our spouses, children, and parents are the most significant people in our lives, we can prove it by showing them the same kindnesses we would bestow on our most honored guests.
Just between us…
Father, open our eyes to see one another the way You do. Forgive us for the laziness and selfishness that so easily sour our family relationships. Help us guard our words and actions so that we may be pleasing in Your sight. Amen.
A Prayer to Pray before Studying God’s Word
By Christina Patterson
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” – James 1:5
The Bible compares the Word of God to a double-edged sword showing its ability to cut the heart and change lives forever. (Hebrews 4:12) Whenever I pick up my Bible I feel the weight of this sword and its power. It makes me feel like a little girl holding a weapon too big to carry. Handling something so powerful is exciting yet intimidating at the same time.
So I never go into studying God’s Word lightly. We never should. The Word of God has the power to change minds, heal hearts, and cut out sin. However, something so powerful handled the wrong way can also cause harm. I never want to be the one using God’s Word to cause hurt, pain, or confusion. And I’m sure you don’t either.
For this reason, before I open my Bible and heart to the Word of God I first open my mouth in prayer to request specific things from God. And over years of studying my Bible God has faithfully answered this prayer. I want to share my prayer with you in hopes it will increase the quality of your time in God’s Word and help you to handle it’s truths with clarity and confidence.
I always start off praying for discernment and wisdom. James 1:5 tells us:
“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” (NIV)
Coming across a scripture I do not understand can be discouraging. But I’ve found that unlocking the mysteries of scripture starts with prayer. All wisdom, knowledge, and correct understating come from God and He is ready to grant us understanding if we are willing to ask. This also ensures that I am receiving God’s understanding and intention about a scripture and that I am not relying on my own understanding.
“Lord, thank you for this time you’ve given me to open your Word and discover who you are. Thank you that you don’t leave us in the dark about who you are and what you are doing in the world, but that you have revealed yourself and your will through the Bible, your sacred words to us. Lord, I need wisdom as I read your Word. You promise us in James 1:5 that we only have to ask for wisdom to receive it. Lord, please give me your wisdom now as I approach your word. Help me discern the truth of this text. Help me not rely on my own understanding. Thank you God for the clarity, encouragement and hope your Word brings. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”
Editor’s Note: Portions of this devotional were taken from Christina Patterson’s article, 3 Prayers You Should Pray before Reading Your Bible. You can find that article in full here.