Although we aren’t always successful, my husband and I try to do a daily family devotion time with my daughter. The way it is supposed to work is that one of us reads the scripture for the day, and we have a discussion about what was read. We mention any new prayer needs, and the same person who reads, prays. Like I said, that’s the way it’s supposed to work.
However, there seems to always be something that gets in the way. Usually, it’s our own tendency for distraction. Ed works nights, so on those days, we try to do it shortly before he goes to bed for the day. On his days off, we shoot for after breakfast, but sometimes we get side tracked. Usually, I remember that we didn’t do it when we aren’t in a position to go do it right then. By the time we are, it’s slipped our minds again. Yeah, I know. We’re pitiful. We do keep trying though.
I probably don’t need to tell you that my teenager is less than enthusiastic about the whole process.
If we miss a day or two, we spend the first ten minutes trying to remember what we read last (we work out of four books at once) and whose turn it is to read. Ed writes it down on his calendar, but sometimes it isn’t right, and we have conversations like “No, it couldn’t be Ezekiel 23* because I read last and I read Psalm 19, and so whoever is reading needs to be reading Numbers!”
After we get it straightened out, we decide how much will be read. Chapter and verse divisions were made by the translators, and are not, in any way, consistent. One chapter may have 30 verses and take up a half a page, and another chapter have 30 verses, and take up three pages. We use chapter divisions most often, but sometimes divide them up over several readings. The idea is not to read a lot, but to grasp what we do read and be able to discuss it.
Sometimes, we are able to draw parallels from life today. Sometimes, we are reminded of another part of scripture. Sometimes, we have to honestly say that we do not understand what a passage means, or why it says what it does. Sometimes, we don’t make connections until hours or days later. When we do have those delayed connections and insights, we always try to share them with each other.
Yesterday we read from Deuteronomy 3
21 At that time I commanded Joshua: “You have seen with your own eyes all that the Lord your God has done to these two kings. The Lord will do the same to all the kingdoms over there where you are going. 22 Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you.” 23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan. 28 But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him, for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.” 29 So we stayed in the valley near Beth Peor. (Deut 3:21-29)
Look at verses 23-27, especially verse 26.
“That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter…”
I know I’ve read this before, but it jumped off the page yesterday, and stuck with me.
God doesn’t always give us what we want, but scripture encourages us to keep asking until we get a definitive answer. I can’t think of another time when God says, “stop asking”.
Paul asked God three times to remove the thorn in the flesh, and God told him no.
8 three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Cor 12:8-9)
Evidently, Paul stopped asking after the third time and changed his attitude toward his problem.
I wonder how many times Moses asked? What lead God to tell him to stop?
As a parent, who has been wheedled by a whining child, I can certainly relate to God’s response.
How many times have I said, “No, and don’t ask me again!”
Often God has used my relationship with my children to help me understand something about His relationship with me. The experience is usually quite humbling.
Yesterday afternoon, Ed and I were talking about something we need to start praying about. Ed said that he had already started praying about it, but more won’t hurt. I said, “No, I really don’t see God telling us to stop asking like he did Moses!”
Ed said, “You know, I kind of feel sorry for Moses.”
I do too.
*If you plan to read Ezekiel 23 aloud with teenagers, you might want to read it first, so that you will be prepared for whatever reaction they have. My then sixteen-year-old daughter looked up from the reading with the most dead pan expression on her face, and said something like “Really…wow…Alrighty then.” We then discussed how God doesn’t sugar coat anything, and calls things as they are, even if it makes us uncomfortable.