ODJ: Healing Prayer

August 13, 2016 

READ: Isaiah 38:1-20  

Think of it—the Lord is ready to heal me! I will sing his praises with instruments every day of my life in the Temple of the Lord (v.20). 

After learning that a 7 year old boy dying of leukaemia wanted to be a police officer, several members of the Arizona Police made every effort to make his wish come true. Just days before he died, they made him an honorary officer—including his own law enforcement hat and junior-sized police uniform. That one wish launched a movement. Make-A-Wish, an international organisation that grants the wishes of seriously ill children, was established in 1980.

Since then, Make-A-Wish has granted wishes to more than 254,000 children afflicted with life-threatening medical conditions. Sadly, there’s one wish they’ve not been able to grant—the wish to get better. Regardless of age, it’s the wish we all find ourselves praying for when an illness threatens our lives.

Sickness wasn’t a part of God’s original creation. So it’s only natural that we call out to our Creator to make us well. As we pray, it’s helpful to keep in mind that the Scriptures reveal a God who provides healing for some and grace to all.

The Old Testament records the Lord answering King Hezekiah’s desperate prayer for healing by allowing him to live 15 more years (Isaiah 38:1-5). The apostle Paul got a different response when he “begged” Jesus three times to remove something painful from his life—perhaps a physical affliction. Instead of healing Paul, Jesus said, “My grace is all you need” (2 Corinthians 12:8-9).

The good news of Jesus declares that a day is coming when there will be no more sickness or death (Revelation 21:4). Until then, it’s okay to hope and pray for healing. Jesus provides the grace we need to live faithfully in the present until the time comes when our full and permanent healing will be realised.

—Jeff Olson

365-day plan: Luke 14:15-35

Read Philippians 4:19 and consider how God can meet our needs, even when we don’t experience healing. 
Why is it important for us to bring our pain and suffering to God? How can we pray in a way that acknowledges God’s compassion and sovereignty? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: Voicing Lament

July 3, 2016 

READ: Psalm 13:1-6  

O Lord, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? (v.1). 

Most of us know someone who finds life particularly hard. Maybe they live with chronic pain, have faced the loss of a child or have faced multiple adversities. Perhaps you’ve been in this place too. If so, you’ll know that dealing with these challenges can be spiritually depressing. We want God to intervene, but He hasn’t. And that can leave us feeling sad, lonely and angry.

Surprisingly, these very feelings are found in Scripture. Almost half the book of Psalms is made up of what are called “psalms of lament”—cries of protest, doubt and complaint. “How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?” David cries out while under attack (Psalm 35:17). “All night long I prayed,” Asaph says, “but my soul was not comforted” (77:2). “Remember how short my life is,” cries Ethan, “how empty and futile this human existence!” (89:47). As the Spirit inspired these writers, He felt no compulsion to leave out their raw emotions—even when they were directed at God.

Lament is about being honest with Him. At times we may feel He has let us down. Like the psalmists, we can voice our laments.

This can make us feel uncomfortable. Aren’t we supposed to be respectful to God and simply trust Him? Yes. But we can still be honest about our pain. Psalm 13 is a helpful guide here. David begins in despair, saying, “O Lord, how long will you forget me!” (v.1). But he ends with hope, saying, “I trust in your unfailing love” (v.5). In between, he expresses anguish, sorrow and frustration (vv.2-4).

“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?” Jesus cried out, uttering a psalm of lament on the cross (22:1; Matthew 27:46). We too can bring our laments to our loving, listening God.

—Sheridan Voysey

365-day plan: Matthew 7:1-12

Read Psalm 90:13-14 and consider what Moses was seeking from God. 
How comfortable are you in being completely honest with God? How can voicing our lament lead to hope in Him? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

ODJ: Greater Work

May 12, 2016 

READ: Acts 12:1-24 

The word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers (v.24). 

In just a few short hours, my husband and I learned that—although our lives were soon to be united in marriage—we wouldn’t walk identical paths. We had been dating for over a year when each of our fathers entered the hospital on the same day, though in two different facilities. One man breathed raggedly in his final stages of cancer; the other lay bleeding internally on the operating table after an open-heart procedure—two lives hovering between heaven and earth. The next day, one remained; the other did not.

Nothing sifts our prayer life quite like hardship or suffering. When difficulties arise, we clutch at Scripture that declares our desired results—verses like Luke 11:9, John 16:24 and James 5:14-15. We don’t doubt the reality of God’s ability. Leaning on biblical truth, we understand the sufficiency of the cross in not only cancelling the power of sin but also in its ability to eradicate its consequences (Colossians 2:13-15). It’s in the appropriation of those victories here on earth where the battle ensues. Why do the outcomes sometimes not line up with our hopes? Do our actions (or lack thereof) move the hand of God to a particular result?

While not answering all our questions, the story of James’ and Peter’s separate imprisonments reminds us how our trust in God and, just as important, our understanding of prayer shouldn’t be based on what we see with our physical eyes (Acts 12:1-24). James died, but Peter lived (vv.1-2,7-10).

For us, our expectation is often defined by what is least painful. But from God’s perspective, the greater thing is the supernatural work of His kingdom in us, whether through death or life (Philippians 1:21).

—Regina Franklin

365-day plan: Psalm 1:1-6

Read 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 and consider how our intimacy with God, His continued work here on earth, and our view of heaven should shape both our perspective and our prayers. 
When we hear about what God did for someone, why shouldn’t we expect the same outcome from our prayers? What life experience has most challenged your understanding of prayer? 

(Check out Our Daily Journey website!)

3 Reasons Why I Pray

Photo Taken by Ian Tan

I was 11 years old when my family went on a holiday to Beijing; that was my first trip to China. One morning, my brother became ill and had to stay in the hotel to rest. As my mum had to be with him, she told me to buy breakfast from the food store in front of the hotel. She assured me that she would be right by the window, watching over me.

Had I been back home, it would have been a simple task. But the unfamiliarity of the environment and my inexperience turned it into a highly challenging experience that I still remember vividly today.

The dumpling shop had an endless flow of people coming and going. Some were eating their breakfast, some were waiting for their takeaways, and the rest were shouting their orders above my head. I had no idea what to do or say. To add to the confusion, there was not even an actual queue.

Overwhelmed and on the verge of tears, I suddenly recalled what my mum had told me. I stepped out of the shop and looked up. True to her word, she was by the fifth-floor window, giving me the thumbs-up. I was immediately comforted.

Although she wasn’t right by my side, knowing that she was nearby gave me the assurance and courage to complete the task.

This scene played out in my head recently as I was reflecting on why I need to pray.

1. Because God is always with me.

Sounds clichéd? It’s true. Often, I go back to being that little girl again—in the midst of the unknown, when I’m overwhelmed by the situation, I forget that God is watching over me.

God is always with us, although we cannot see Him. In times of trouble, all we have to do is to turn to Him in prayer. He may not always intervene in the way we want Him to, such as to give us good exam grades or to heal our loved ones who are ill, but nothing happens outside His will.

Jesus promised that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). It is this promise that keeps me praying day after day—sometimes even year after year, presenting the same request to Him. I know that He’s there, He hears my prayer, and He cares.

2. Because I am doing His Work.

Being presented with more than 20 different dumplings and steamed buns was overwhelming. On top of that, the menu was written in Chinese, with half the characters unrecognizable to me. In that moment, bewildered, I forgot my task. My mum had given me very simple instructions—buy six steamed meat buns—but amid the unfamiliarity and chaos, her voice was drowned out and I was at a loss as to what to do.

In this world, there are many voices calling out to us, demanding our attention and telling us how we ought to look like, behave, and live our lives. These voices are often so loud and so overpowering that they drown out our Maker’s voice and perplex us.

But God has designed us for a specific purpose. He entrusts us to rule and to take care of the world He created, as well as to make disciples of all nations. This is the role He gave to Adam, the disciples, and to all of us. Jesus himself said that His food was to do the will of His Father who sent Him. Ephesians teaches me that I am God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God himself prepared in advance for me to do (Ephesians 2:10). And so I pray, because it is His work that I’m doing.

3. Because I am a citizen of the kingdom of heaven.

Looking back on that episode, I realize that the biggest challenge I faced was being out of my comfort zone. I had no idea what to do, how to order, or whom to give my orders to. Had I been back at my favorite stall back home, the aunty behind the counter would have already known what I wanted—two char siew buns, two big chicken buns, and two red bean buns. The errand would have been a breeze.

And even if I could read the menu in that Beijing shop and make my orders heard, my accent and my clothing would have given me away. I was clearly a very lost foreigner in a local crowd.

Have you ever felt that being a Christian meant sticking out like a sore thumb? It’s inevitable. Try as we might to blend in, this world is not our home. This earth is not our final destination; we are merely passing through. So the best way to navigate life is to turn to Jesus, the Lord of our lives. I pray because I need His guidance.

When I get to heaven, I will spend hours walking in the garden and talking with my Lord. But for now, while I am here doing His work, I find that the only thing I can do is pray. “Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”