The Sixth Day Exercise for September 26, 2016

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September 26, 2015

Psalm 139:7

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

The Sixth Day Exercise

I want to share a couple of prayers with you today that have shaped my life and faith for a lot of years now. A life of prayer works best when at least three elements weave in and out of one another over time. First is the element of Scripture. Scripture provides the proverbial grist for the mill. We want to learn to pray with a biblical imagination. Second is the element of spontaneous prayer. We want to learn to express the condition of our heart before God in plain conversational language. Third, we want to employ “Set Prayers” as they help shape our praying imagination and set our lives in certain trajectories. The Lord’s Prayer is a classic example that brings all three of these elements together.

We tend to teach children set prayers, like, “Now I lay me down to sleep. . . . .” As our prayer life matures, we can easily begin to think that spontaneous heart-felt prayer is the gold standard and leave behind set prayers. My friend and mentor, Timothy Tennent has helped me to recover the practice of “set prayers” as I continue to grow as a person of prayer. He has a set of seven or eight prayers that he prays every day. I’ll ask him if he wouldn’t mind me sharing those prayers with the Daily Text Community. [And while I’m on the subject– I am pleased and honored to report that Dr. Tennent will be guest writing the Daily Text for the weeks between Easter and Pentecost in the spring of 2016. That is something to look forward to.]

Psalm 139, of course, is a fine example of a “set prayer” which is at the same time a direct prayer from the Bible. Now to the two prayers I promised at the outset of today’s post.

The first is known as “The Collect for Purity” and comes from the tried and true Book of Common Prayer. It has been one of the staple prayers of the church for centuries now. I find the words simply cannot be improved on.

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

I commend this prayer to you. Try copying it down in a journal as an exercise in praying it. I want you to learn this one. It captures a marvelous response to the essence of our text today:

Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?

I’ll share the second one next Saturday. Stay tuned. Now on to the Sixth Day Exercise.

DO THE SIXTH DAY EXERCISE HERE.

In case you are new to the Sixth Day Exercise. In case you are just joining us, each week we share in an exercise called “The Sixth Day Exercise.” As Genesis 1 has it, God created human beings in his own image on the sixth day. Genesis 3 shows us the desecration of the image of God in our race which has only compounded itself across the centuries. It’s why the Image Bearer himself, Jesus Christ, came. His life, death, resurrection and ascension reversed the curse of sin and death and created a pathway whereby our broken race could be made gloriously whole again; restored to the Creator’s intent. Paul put it this way:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 1 Corinthians 15:22. 

Given we were made on the Sixth Day, it makes sense that we might stop and assess how it’s going on the long journey of being “remade” on each successive sixth day.

DO THE SIXTH DAY EXERCISE HERE.

P.S. Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge. It’s 40 days, one day per week at a time, over the next 52 weeks. It’s a food only fast. Begins after supper on one day and ends at 4pm the next- 2 meals. Liquids fine. Fasting goes better together. I’ll send you a short weekly encouragement email if you register.– sign up here.

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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com. Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.

All Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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