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Days 1 - 10

Day 11

Day 12

Day 13

Day 14

Day 15

Day 16

Day 17

Day 18

Day 19

Day 20

Days 21 - 31

From Signposts Daily Devotions
by Renée Miller

Days 11-20

Day 11

Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint: preserve my life from the dread enemy. —Psalm 64:1

As the Backstabbers sing in one of their songs, we would like it to be a perfect world. We would like everyone to care about each other and treat each other with kindness, care, and respect. In fact, we regularly conduct ourselves as if this were the case. Then we are stunned when seemingly from out of nowhere, we are betrayed, we are left ‘hung out to dry,’ we are undermined while someone else has stolen the advantage. Sometimes we actually find ourselves face to face with our destructive enemy. We can see the maliciousness in the deep pockets of their eyes; taste their breath brushing eerily on our skin. And we know that it is not a perfect world.

Life carries with it the risk of being hurt. Even prayer will not always protect us from the possibility or reality of having to deal with enemies. But prayer can massage our soul, calm our fear, and give us the ability to respond to our enemies through the heart of heaven rather than through personal vendetta and revenge. When we pray, we are placing ourselves in the space of eternity, and in that space we are ultimately protected and safe. The prayer we pray is not merely to be freed from the hand of our enemies, but to be kept safely in the hand of heaven.

O God, let me find in your timelessness, the truth of my security.

Day 12
Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. —Psalm 62:8

Our lives, our decisions, our relationships, our culture exist in the context of fluidity. In other words, we are always affected by movement and change. New patterns and shapes constantly emerge as we shift and sway like water splashing over rocks in a trickling stream. This fluidity runs through the fabric of our being. We change jobs, we change partners, we change diets, we change ideas and opinions. It is the nature of things for us.

So, it is difficult for us to imagine how we could do anything at all times. Yet the Holy One tells us to do what is counter-intuitive: to trust in heaven at all times. Not just when we are in trouble. Not just when we are feeling particularly spiritual. Not just when we are grateful for some unexpected gift or grace in our lives. Not just when we glimpse the magnificence of a stunning sunset or the miracle of a budding flower in spring. And not just when we feel like it, or when we feel guilty for not doing it. But at all times. At all times.

When we exercise trust in God through prayer, we are showing our confidence in the character of God. That is, we are actively living out the truth that God not only exists, but is intimately involved in every aspect of our lives. Surprisingly, when we make this bold leap of trust, we find a sure and stable place in which to stand—where fluidity can, for a moment, be halted. We stand completely still in the field of heaven, held in the grasp of God.

O God, deepen my trust when all around me is shifting sand.

Day 13
From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I...—Psalm 61:2

We can actually feel it, taste it. It shivers through our body like a snap of cold air on a blustery winter morning. On the one hand we silently try to deny its reality, and on the other, we do all that we can to make sure it does not become real. The fear and pain are too great when our heart is broken, tested, cracked—left in utter despair. When our heart is overwhelmed, we feel like a rocky shoreline over which tempestuous and uncontrollable waves swell and crash. We feel ourselves sinking—left gasping for the breath of life.

As horrible as such a situation is, it is perhaps the easiest time to pray. Prayer comes naturally—it is the only sound that our broken souls seem capable of making. We don’t think about the prayer, we don’t think about whether it will be heard, we don’t try to craft it in fine language, we aren’t obsessed with our unworthiness. We simply cry out— in words simple and true—from wherever we are. In that moment, we finally understand that we are not God, and we give ourselves to the One who is God. In that moment when earth and heaven meet, we take a fresh breath of life.

O God, when the bottom of my world falls out, let me fall into the safety of your arms.

Day 14
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us. —Psalm 67:1

Sometimes it is a surprise. Sometimes we wait in anticipation for it. Sometimes we make sure we have an east- or south-facing window, so we’re sure to be the recipients of that wonderful shaft of light that emanates from the sun in early morning. It filters through the atmosphere and bursts through the window in rays so wondrous we catch our breath. While the rest of the room is bathed in dusty, dusky tones of color, the sun’s rays break in and spread out in our midst, and we stop in awe.

If the light from the sun can stop our breath, surely the light from the face of the Holy One has the potential of completely altering our soul. We would never think to doubt that the sun will put forth her beams day after day. Yet we may doubt that the brightness of God’s face will shine on us when we sit in expectation of it. But what if we stood in prayer and waited for the brightness of God’s face? What if we were so convinced of God’s mercy and blessing, that each day we closed our eyes, and faithfully anticipated that glorious light to descend upon us?

Why not try it? Sit for five minutes each morning for the next week, and in your heart pray for the mercy and blessing of God. There in the stillness, with your eyes closed to the distractions of the room, just see if you don’t recognize the glorious light of heaven breaking through the dusty, dusky tones of your soul and filling you with the treasure of heaven.

O God, let me trust in your light as much as I trust in the light of the sun.

Day 15
Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent. —Psalm 71:9

It’s always happening. From the moment of our birth, we begin to age. From the moment of our birth, we begin to die. Much of our unresolved angst throughout life is directly related to this bare truth. We do not consciously spend excessive thought on the truth, but always it lies beneath the surface, like a sliver of fog that keeps things just hidden from sight. We are all familiar with comments we hear from people around the time of their birthdays.

Some feel particularly anxious around the birthdays that occur at ten-year intervals. Others attempt to stop counting birthdays. Others say, "It’s not how old you are, but how old you think you are.” Then there are those who begin to count backwards after a certain age. At some level, we all have some disquiet about aging, not only because we are trying to avoid our mortality, but also because we are afraid we will be forgotten, abandoned, ignored, thought to be useless in our old age.

The prayer asking God to hold on to us during our aging years—to stay by our side even when our strength fails—is a plaintive cry to be spared the terror of abandonment. The prayer is not really a request so much as it is a vocalization of our fear. Perhaps if we began praying the prayer for others and ourselves no matter what our age, we would find our fear subsiding and our souls gaining confidence that God’s loving shadow will never be withdrawn from us like a stolen cloak in the night.

O God, my time is in your hand, and I rest safely under the shadow of your wings.

Day 16
We give thanks to you, O God; we give thanks; your name is near. People tell of your wondrous deeds. —Psalm 75:1

We are often most thankful for that which we don’t expect, that which we don’t deserve, that which shocks us out of our complacency and robotic lives. It might be in the instant when we feel cool wet rain shuttling through the air, falling like salve on our thirsty skin. It might be waking in the deep darkness of a winter morning to find the ground blanketed with snow so soft it melts under the warmth of our breath. It might be sinking our toes into the ocean’s sand; so wet, thick, and heavy every step demands effort. It might be the diamonds in the sky that glimmer only in the blackest darkness. It might be the howl of a coyote on a night when the moon is swollen with the desire to light up the earth.

Each day, indeed each moment, the works of God are interrupting our lives, and every time we are awake to the movement of God’s hand in creation, our hearts inflate with thanksgiving. It is not that we set out to pray a prayer of thanksgiving. It is that the very surprise catches our breath, and what escapes from our heart are words of thanks. The prayer may be little more than, “Wow!” or “Ah!” Or, there may be no words at all—we may only notice the quickened beat of our heart that calls out our gratitude with each thump.

We cannot really plan for such prayers of thanks for the wondrous works of God in creation. We can only attempt to keep our eyes and ears open, our heart enlarged, our soul awake. And even if we are unable to do that, God will still surprise us, and we will inevitably give thanks.

O God, let my soul be attentive to the mysteries of the universe that will fill me with humility and gratitude.

Day 17
Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he in anger shut up his compassion? —Psalm 77:9

“When it rains, it pours,” so the saying goes. Our lives can sometimes feel like a soaking dishrag being squeezed and painfully twisted to extricate every last trace of moisture. We feel as if heaven has closed its door, shut down its communication tower, and left us alone to battle the demons that are attacking us on every side. We feel abandoned, left to tumble into the abyss from which there is no release.

Relentless questions clutter and clamor inside our mind. We want to know why it has happened, why God has withdrawn care and compassion from us. We wonder why we encounter such suffering if God loves us, or why God does not unravel the knotted threads that have a hold on our life, our heart, our soul. Our prayer is often more for answers to the questions than for freedom from our suffering.

Even when no answers come, God’s ear is open to our cry. Always God sees our suffering and weeps. God does not leave us alone and solitary to endure the vagaries that randomly sweep through our lives, even when it feels to us that God has become silent. It is in those moments when it seems heaven is deaf to our lament that our soul is made ready to trust in the truth of, rather than the sound of, God’s voice. It is in those moments that our soul is most ready to see miracles unfolding in our lives. It is in those moments that we are closest to the gate of heaven.

O God, let your silence lead me ever deeply into your heart of love.

Day 18
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to fear your name. —Psalm 86:11

We are accustomed to asking God for help in our lives and in the lives of those we love, and God hears and answers those cries for help. But we can begin to think that prayer is little more than a shopping trip through heaven. The more important purpose of prayer is to deepen our relationship with the Holy One. It is meant to change us—to bring us more and more into the heart of heaven where we can find our true meaning, our true purpose, our true hope, our true passion, our true love. It is meant to shape and re-shape, form and re-form us, so that we actually become the prayer we pray.

But, even this does not happen unless we pray for it. God does not maneuver situations in our lives or manipulate us into developing a relationship with heaven. It is always our choice, our decision to seek out that relationship. When we begin to feel a seed of discontent within ourselves, when what used to make us happy leaves us feeling as dry and empty as an ancient rotted root, when we feel our soul lunging, lurching toward what cannot even be named, it is time to pray the prayer for deep relationship with the Holy One. In the instant our heart prays that prayer, the Holy One pulls us close and life begins anew.

O God, let me know my empty restlessness to be my signal to reach toward your embrace.

Day 19
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!
—Psalm 25:7

Under the cover of silence we carry within us the indiscretions, failures, betrayals, and sins that we have committed throughout the course of our lives. We are adept at cleverly disguising these personal collapses, so that we appear acceptable and upright to the rest of the world. But, in the silent darkness of our own soul, those collapses can assert themselves relentlessly.

We remember the situations, we re-live our responses, we spiral into the depth of sorrow for what we have done that cannot be undone. It is these collapses that are often responsible for our unwillingness to spend time in the world of our spirit. We want to avoid, deny, or retreat from those memories that leave us feeling as if we are impostors in our daily lives.

The freedom for us lies not in avoidance, denial, or retreat. The freedom is found when we open the door to our soul and sit with the collapses. There in that terrifying space, we can whisper the prayer that God will place a blanket of forgetfulness over all that we have done that is less than we would have hoped for ourselves. That prayer always melts the heart of God, and in every instance that blanket is carefully laid over all that has kept us feeling diminished and unworthy. It takes only a whispered prayer.

O God, give me the courage to face myself, then entrust the truth I see there to your mercy.

Day 20
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror. —Psalm 6:2

Sometimes we can hardly speak or lift our heads, for the trouble and sorrow that overwhelm our lives. We are in a wasteland—an empty, vast plain where nothing grows, where nothing is useful, where nothing flourishes. We seem to have been abandoned and shoved, against our will, into an exile where the ground beneath us, the sky above us, and the crashing wind that blows through us are the only things that hear our voices. We stand in that stark wilderness in fear—fear that we will always be left alone. Fear that the very emptiness around us will swallow us up and no one will ever know or ever care. Our eyes feel wet with salty tears, our energy is depleted, meaningful life seems to be slipping from us, and even the organs and bones within our body shake.

Oh, how we would avoid this wasteland—this wilderness. Yet, it is there, in that place of utter despair, that we are most able to recognize and accept the touch of the Holy One. Our prayer becomes so pure and simple that even demons flee in fear. Without the slightest doubt, we freely fall, like a drape of heavy cloth, into the hands of the Holy One who cradles us until the time of trouble and sorrow are past.

O God, let my heart stand so still and sure in your presence that no wasteland can ever overcome me.


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