Daily Bread July 21

Who Are You Going to Listen To?
By Steve Bolie of Clive, IA, USA

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.'” -Matthew 4:1-4

After a deep spiritual experience at his baptism and 40 days of solitude, Jesus encountered the tempter who tested him. The key words in the story for me are “If you are…” I can imagine the tempter saying, “Ha! You think you’re so special with God? Prove it.”

As Jesus responded to God’s call and prepared for ministry, he must have had times of doubt and vulnerability. Perhaps I think this way because it’s the kind of temptation I experience so often. The dark side of me says, “You call yourself an elder, but you can’t even…” or, “You want to be nonviolent, but you actually think…” or, “You think you are a good husband (or father or grandfather), but…” These temptations catch me when I’m already at a low point and hardly need more questioning of who and what I am.

On the other hand, God says, “You are my beloved in whom I am pleased.” And, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.”

So whose view am I going to listen to, God’s or the tempter’s? Sometimes it’s hard to hear God’s encouraging words over the raging self-doubt, but with God’s grace I am able to get back on track to be the person God is creating me to be. May we all hear God’s words of affirmation when we need them most.

Prayer Phrase

“Awake, my soul!” (Psalm 57:8 NRSV)

Spiritual Practice

The Prayer of the Heart

Early Christian disciples desired to take seriously the scripture mandate to pray “without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the heart invites us to pray “continuously” by repeating and returning to a prayer phrase planted for intentional reflection and deepening. Choose a word or phrase (from scripture, hymnody, or personal reflection) that has meaning for you. The Jesus Prayer is one form of the prayer of the heart: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me” (Luke 18:35-43). Invite this simple phrase to repeat in your heart throughout the day, awakening your soul to God’s presence.

Today’s Prayer for Peace

Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.

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