Say a little prayer for you.


Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 63; 149, 2 Samuel 12:15-31, Acts 20:1-16, Mark 9:30-41

Because David and Bathsheba’s child was conceived in treachery, murder, and ingratitude for all the Lord had given him, the Lord told David the child would not be permitted to live. For a week David fasted, wept, and pleaded. Afterward he returned to his normal routine. His servants, confused that he seemed less grief-stricken than before, asked what was going on.

He said, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept; for I said, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me, and the child may live.’ But now he is dead; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.”

That’s … practical. And there’s something to be said for being able to make peace with things the way they are. It’s also admirable that David took time to worship when his vigil ended; he wouldn’t have been the first or last person to reject God in disappointment.

But still. Where were his prayers when he was tempted to chase Bathsheba in the first place?

It’s not like David wasn’t a prayerful man – he’s credited with seventy-three of the psalms. However like many of us, he seemed to believe that when we want something, it’s better to beg forgiveness than ask permission. Have you ever had (or perhaps been) that friend or family member who asks for advice except for when they’ve already made up their mind to do the wrong thing? They (or we) frequently aren’t as hesitant to ask for help or sympathy cleaning up the inevitable mess.

Writer Anne LaMott characterizes her favorite prayers as “Help, Thanks, Wow.” It’s important not to think of them as three discrete prayers triggered by different events. Had David been consistently grateful and seeking God’s guidance, he might have been better prepared to handle the sight of Bathsheba’s beauty without succumbing to his lust.

It’s our everyday relationship with God that prepares us for life’s more extraordinary circumstances. If we turn our hearts over to God before the mess begins, we may avoid it entirely.

Additional Reading:
For thoughts on today’s reading from Acts, see The Ledge.
For thoughts on today’s passage from Mark, see Career Advice.

Comfort: We’re going to make mistakes, and God will see us through. 

Challenge: Let’s at least try to make them faithfully, though. If you don’t have a regular prayer routine, find one that works for you.

Prayer: O God, you are my God, I seek you, my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. (Psalm 63:1)

Discussion: By the end of today’s passage from Samuel, David and Bathsheba have moved on and had another child whom God loved. How do you think people who have done terrible things find the strength and love of God to bounce back from them?

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