Steve Macchia Blog

Praying Biblical Prayers – 5. David

praying hands

 

What would it look like for you to join some of your favorite biblical characters in the prayers they once prayed and which God has preserved for us in the Scriptures? As you ponder the great prayers of God’s people, give yourself permission to personalize the words and make them your own prayer too. For example, when Moses prayed very simply “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (Exodus 33:13), simply join Moses and pray for God’s favor over your own life today. Praying the Scriptures in this way will bring health and vitality to your heart and soul.

 

Today…

 

Join David and pray for God’s renewal (Psalm 51: 1-12)

 

Have mercy on me, O God,

according to your unfailing love;

according to your great compassion

blot out my transgressions.

Wash away all my iniquity

and cleanse me from my sin.

For I know my transgressions,

and my sin is always before me.

Against you, you only, have I sinned

and done what is evil in your sight;

so you are right in your verdict

and justified when you judge.

Surely I was sinful at birth,

sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb;

you taught me wisdom in that secret place.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean;

wash me, and I will be whiter than snow.

Let me hear joy and gladness;

let the bones you have crushed rejoice.

Hide your face from my sins

and blot out all my iniquity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God,

and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

Do not cast me from your presence

or take your Holy Spirit from me.

Restore to me the joy of your salvation

and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me…

 

 

Behold the splendor of the Lord – Believe the promises of his love – Belong to those who unreservedly trust him – Become prayerful in all you are and do.

 

 



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Praying Biblical Prayers – 4. Daniel

 

praying hands

What would it look like for you to join some of your favorite biblical characters in the prayers they once prayed and which God has preserved for us in the Scriptures? As you ponder the great prayers of God’s people, give yourself permission to personalize the words and make them your own prayer too. For example, when Moses prayed very simply “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (Exodus 33:13), simply join Moses and pray for God’s favor over your own life today. Praying the Scriptures in this way will bring health and vitality to your heart and soul.

 

Today…

 

Join Daniel and pray for God’s forgiveness (Daniel 9: 3-19)

 

So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes.

 

I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed:

 

“Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong. We have been wicked and have rebelled; we have turned away from your commands and laws. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.

 

“Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame—the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you. We and our kings, our princes and our ancestors are covered with shame, Lord, because we have sinned against you. The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him; we have not obeyed the Lord our God or kept the laws he gave us through his servants the prophets. All Israel has transgressed your law and turned away, refusing to obey you.

 

“Therefore the curses and sworn judgments written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out on us, because we have sinned against you. You have fulfilled the words spoken against us and against our rulers by bringing on us great disaster. Under the whole heaven nothing has ever been done like what has been done to Jerusalem. Just as it is written in the Law of Moses, all this disaster has come on us, yet we have not sought the favor of the Lord our God by turning from our sins and giving attention to your truth. The Lord did not hesitate to bring the disaster on us, for the Lord our God is righteous in everything he does; yet we have not obeyed him.

 

“Now, Lord our God, who brought your people out of Egypt with a mighty hand and who made for yourself a name that endures to this day, we have sinned, we have done wrong. Lord, in keeping with all your righteous acts, turn away your anger and your wrath from Jerusalem, your city, your holy hill. Our sins and the iniquities of our ancestors have made Jerusalem and your people an object of scorn to all those around us.

 

“Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary. Give ear, our God, and hear; open your eyes and see the desolation of the city that bears your Name. We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. Lord, listen! Lord, forgive! Lord, hear and act! For your sake, my God, do not delay, because your city and your people bear your Name.”

 

Behold the splendor of the Lord – Believe the promises of his love – Belong to those who unreservedly trust him – Become prayerful in all you are and do.

 

 



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Praying Biblical Prayers – 3. Nehemiah

praying hands

 

What would it look like for you to join some of your favorite biblical characters in the prayers they once prayed and which God has preserved for us in the Scriptures? As you ponder the great prayers of God’s people, give yourself permission to personalize the words and make them your own prayer too. For example, when Moses prayed very simply “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (Exodus 33:13), simply join Moses and pray for God’s favor over your own life today. Praying the Scriptures in this way will bring health and vitality to your heart and soul.

 

Today…

 

Join Nehemiah and pray for God’s redemption (Nehemiah 1:5-11)

 

“Lord, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments, let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer your servant is praying before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel. I confess the sins we Israelites, including myself and my father’s family, have committed against you. We have acted very wickedly toward you. We have not obeyed the commands, decrees and laws you gave your servant Moses.

 

“Remember the instruction you gave your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the nations, but if you return to me and obey my commands, then even if your exiled people are at the farthest horizon, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place I have chosen as a dwelling for my Name.’

 

“They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great strength and your mighty hand. Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of this your servant and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give your servant success today by granting him favor in the presence of this man.”

 

Behold the splendor of the Lord – Believe the promises of his love – Belong to those who unreservedly trust him – Become prayerful in all you are and do.

 

 



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Praying Biblical Prayers – 2. Jonah

praying hands

 

What would it look like for you to join some of your favorite biblical characters in the prayers they once prayed and which God has preserved for us in the Scriptures? As you ponder the great prayers of God’s people, give yourself permission to personalize the words and make them your own prayer too. For example, when Moses prayed very simply “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (Exodus 33:13), simply join Moses and pray for God’s favor over your own life today. Praying the Scriptures in this way will bring health and vitality to your heart and soul.

 

Today…

 

Join Jonah and pray for God’s mercy (Jonah 2)

 

From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. He said:

 

“In my distress I called to the Lord,

and he answered me.

From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help,

and you listened to my cry.

You hurled me into the depths,

into the very heart of the seas,

and the currents swirled about me;

all your waves and breakers

swept over me.

I said, ‘I have been banished

from your sight;

yet I will look again

toward your holy temple.’

The engulfing waters threatened me,

the deep surrounded me;

seaweed was wrapped around my head.

To the roots of the mountains I sank down;

the earth beneath barred me in forever.

But you, Lord my God,

brought my life up from the pit.

“When my life was ebbing away,

I remembered you, Lord,

and my prayer rose to you,

to your holy temple.

“Those who cling to worthless idols

turn away from God’s love for them.

But I, with shouts of grateful praise,

will sacrifice to you.

What I have vowed I will make good.

I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’”

And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land.

 

Behold the splendor of the Lord – Believe the promises of his love – Belong to those who unreservedly trust him – Become prayerful in all you are and do.

 

 



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Praying Biblical Prayers – 1. Hannah

 

 

praying hands

 

What would it look like for you to join some of your favorite biblical characters in the prayers they once prayed and which God has preserved for us in the Scriptures? As you ponder the great prayers of God’s people, give yourself permission to personalize the words and make them your own prayer too. For example, when Moses prayed very simply “If you are pleased with me, teach me your ways so I may know you and continue to find favor with you” (Exodus 33:13), simply join Moses and pray for God’s favor over your own life today. Praying the Scriptures in this way will bring health and vitality to your heart and soul.

 

Today…

 

Join Hannah and pray for God’s provision (1 Samuel 2: 1-3)

 

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;

in the Lord my horn[a] is lifted high.

My mouth boasts over my enemies,

for I delight in your deliverance.

There is no one holy like the Lord;

there is no one besides you;

there is no Rock like our God.

Do not keep talking so proudly

or let your mouth speak such arrogance,

for the Lord is a God who knows,

and by him deeds are weighed.”

 

Behold the splendor of the Lord – Believe the promises of his love – Belong to those who unreservedly trust him – Become prayerful in all you are and do.

 

 



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My Green Patch…of Weeds

green patch

 

My dad had a green thumb…not sure what color mine is, but it ain’t green.

 

I’ve been watering this patch of green for nearly a month…each morning and evening. The result: some grass, several dirt patches, and lots of random weeds.

 

My so-named professional (as in: he gets paid) told me he dug up the area, put down good loam, lots of seed, and necessary fertilizer.  All I had to do was add water.

 

So every day I have faithfully watered and waited; watered and waited…until my eyes were finally enlightened: “wait a minute, where’s the grass?!”

 

Too many times in life we think we have all the right ingredients for success…in family, business, church, ministry and in our personal life. But weeks, months, even years later we wake up and realize “there are more weeds here than grass”!

 

Any part of your life look like this weedy patch today? And you probably think everyone else has nothing but nice thick turf, right? Yup, everyone else looks well groomed, successful, and at the top of their game…and you got weeds.

 

Well, friend, be comforted today by the reality that life…all of life…has its green grass, it’s brown patches, and lots of weeds. How you handle them is what matters most.

 

After realizing I was growing more weeds than grass I had a choice: keep watering “as is” or make some changes. My options: do some weeding, add some additional seed and fertilizer, cover the ground from getting too much bright sun, keep watering, remain patient, and wait for the new growth to occur.

 

What can you do about your weeds today? Prayerfully consider a readjustment of heart, soul, mind and/or strength…the weeds don’t have to last forever. Feed the areas of your life that are good for your soul – read the Word, pray, reflect, enjoy creation, spend time with friends. Weed the areas that need to be removed – remove attitudes and actions that keep you from loving and trusting God. Till the areas that need renewal – consider fresh starts, returning to practices and people that once were life-givers but have recently been neglected.

 

Your life with God can indeed become less weedy and patchy, if you make the right choices for the sake of the abundance of your soul today.

 

Behold the Maker of heaven and earth…believe that an abundant life is God’s desire for your patchy and weedy areas…belong to those who daily till the soil of the soul…become vibrant in growth for the glory of your Maker.

 

 

 



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Leadership Transformations is 12 Today: July 1, 2015

LTI-Logo_LTI-logo-tagline-VERT

“Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name…” (Psalm 103:1)

 

On LTI’s 12th Anniversary Day, I’m praising God for his manifold blessings on the ministry of Leadership Transformations, Inc. It’s hard to comprehend that it was 12 years ago today when Ruth and I took the biggest risk of our lives…which has become one of the most amazing steps of our journey to date. God has blessed and multiplied the prayers of our hearts and the work of our hands beyond what we ever thought, dreamed or imagined…praise the Lord, my soul.

 

So, what are the top 12 blessings of the past 12 years?

 

  1. Our prayer warriors – those who believed in our vision for coming alongside leaders and teams in the care and nurture of their souls;
  2. Our financial partners – those who have stood by us with their loving generosity and financial support…from one donor to many on the team today;
  3. Our faithful board – those who said yes to serving as our founding board and those who are currently helping us lead LTI into a flourishing future;
  4. Our ministry team – those who God has gifted and called to join the LTI ministry team, Selah faculty, and Pierce Center team – amazing colleagues;
  5. Our retreat participants – those who came to soul care retreats without really knowing what they were getting themselves into…and were changed;
  6. Our program participants – those who have become active in our Emmaus spiritual leadership communities and Selah spiritual direction training program;
  7. Our CHAT partners – those who signed up their churches (nearly 400 churches to date) so that leaders can listen better and cultivate healthier congregations;
  8. Our spiritual friends – those who are in the wider spiritual formation community across the country, with whom we have aligned ourselves in this calling;
  9. Our seminary community – those who are a part of the Pierce Center at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary as well as other seminaries we are serving;
  10. Our regional offices – those who pioneered our LTI ministry presence in places like New England, Colorado, Texas and Arizona, with more on the way;
  11. Our publishing projects – those who trusted our message and published our materials, like Baker Books and InterVarsity Press, as well LTI’s creative efforts;
  12. Our online presence – those who search for all things spiritual formation, looking for materials to deepen their spiritual life and grow as servant leaders.

 

I look forward to all of our future labors of love for the Kingdom of God with those whom we have yet to meet but look forward to serving in the coming months and years. Today is indeed a terrific day of celebration and joy – and I am filled to overflowing with a grateful heart for YOU, my dear friends and partners in this incredible journey – praise the Lord, o my soul!



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Spiritual Misophonia

 

Lighthouse

A few of my family members suffer from “misophonia” – have you ever heard of it? Also known as selective sound sensitivity syndrome, it crops up when, for example, the sounds of other people eating – chewing, chomping, slurping or worse yet, scraping teeth over a fork or spoon – sends them into instantaneous, irrational frustration. Like fingernails on a chalkboard, these sounds really bother them to the point of distraction. Chewing gum loudly, crunching pop corn obnoxiously, even the erratic breathing of another can bring on an impatient response.

 

I’ve recently thought: what would spiritual misophonia look like?

 

I experience a mild-moderate case of it when I’m on a silent retreat and there are those present who consider it okay to talk on their cell phone in hallways or in the room next door. Or, when I’m trying to have a quiet time and a family member has the television on or they’re busy on the phone or attending to an activity in an adjacent room. It occurs when I enter a church minutes before the service begins and there’s laughter, chatter and banter…no prayerful preparation there. It can also happen when I’m praying and my own inner voices of concern, distraction or anxiety emerge, and I’m incapable of listening attentively for the still small voice of God. These erratic sounds during times of prayerful meditation can eat away at my soul…if I let them.

 

What will it take to overcome this spiritual condition?

 

Although not the only suggestion, but one that certainly merits full consideration, is very simply: trusting rest. “My soul finds rest in God alone” are 7 words that will change your life. When I make every effort to create spacious rest for my body, mind and soul, I do whatever it takes to silence all the sounds around and within me in order to find God alone. However, when I let other sounds interrupt and crowd out or negate the voice of God, I am letting the enemy of my soul carry the upper hand. Instead, even when sounds occur and seek to distract, I can choose to whisper those 7 simple words…my soul finds rest in God alone.

 

Saying no to external and internal voices is a good starting place. But even in shutting down those voices my soul can remain in a troubled state. My frustration can emerge which then feeds my spiritual pride. Instead, my longing is to be spiritually present amidst the sounds, and ideally absent from them, so that in my physical presence my soul can experience the richest of food…the living Word of God, the loving voice of God, the ever-presence of God, and the gentle leading of God. That’s what my soul longs for the most. What about you?

 

Behold God in wide-open, spacious places of rest…believe Christ’s promise to abide in you as you abide in Him…belong to the Spirit who resides within and around you…and, become fully released from your soul’s unwanted anxiety through the megaphone of spiritual misophonia. My soul finds rest in God alone.

 

 

 



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The Gift of Laryngitis

sunrise 1

 

Today was my first experience of laryngitis. It was odd trying to have a meeting on the phone this morning with my board chairman…he did all the talking and I did all the listening; the meeting didn’t last very long without my input on our most important topics. It was especially uncomfortable attending a significant lunch meeting downtown with some key supporters of our ministry and I had to rely on my colleagues to speak for me. Later in the day I was on skype with our senior vice president and whispered each of my contributions to the discussions. Dinner with my wife was enjoyable, mostly because our love was shared by making the meal together and enjoying one another’s companionship even with our limited verbal interactions.

 

I can only imagine what it was like when God allowed Zechariah to wait for the birth of his son John in silence. He questioned with disbelief the angel Gabriel’s birth announcement, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” For the next nine months he would serve his priestly role without words, using sign language and writing out his words. When the child was born and prepared for his circumcision both Elizabeth and Zechariah declared his name would be John. Then Zechariah’s voice returned. And he praised God. His soul must have been bursting with anticipation of the day he could voice his devotion once more.

 

What followed was the song of his heart, as he declared his praise to God as one filled up with the Holy Spirit. “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people…he has raised up a horn of salvation…to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant…in holiness and righteousness…because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.” (Luke 1: 67-79).  Out from his months of silence, his words were laced with praise.

 

Did Zechariah experience community, prayerfulness and worship amidst his muted months without words? I’m convinced the answer is a resounding “Yes!” Why? Because it’s absolutely amazing how much community and depth of soul can be experienced without saying many words. Try going for a full day without verbally expressing yourself and instead devote the day to pondering, reflecting, wondering, and noticing. It’s amazing what you’ll see, hear, taste, smell and touch as if for the very first time.  Let your senses come alive in God and then give him all the glory, honor and praise.

 

Behold the abundant life of God, but today do so without words. Believe that the spiritual life is something far deeper than the noisy world around you. Belong to those who’ve been silenced for a while in order to contemplate God more deeply. Become a person who experiences the Triune God in all the richness of fellowship and with all your senses coming alive from the inside out. Wait upon the Lord, even if it means a lot more silence along the way. Praise be to the Lord, who has come so that we can have fullness of life now and for all eternity.



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The Deeper Life

Hands Holding a Seedling and Soil

 

The winter of 2015 was Boston’s snowiest on record. From late January until early March, we had 108.6 inches of the white stuff fall from the sky and blanket all corners of our landscape. The snow was incredibly deep everywhere…roadways, walkways, driveways, and pathways, curtailing most (sometimes all) forms of transportation. It also consumed our lives, which came to a near standstill for those debilitating 6 weeks as the snow became our daily focus of attention…and obsession.

 

When I finally got someone to help me shovel about 4-6 feet that had accumulated on our roof, it took a strapping young 25 year old (and me!) the better part of a day to clear just the back of the house. We struggled to make our way from the driveway to the side of the house where we could place the ladder, inching our way through waist high snow one laborious step at a time. We chopped ice dams, raked high points, and hand shoveled the rest. The piles below were ginormous, and we worried further about the net negative impact on our home. With little sunshine and very few above freezing temperatures, it took forever to melt. Today we’re getting insurance estimates and contractors to repair the damages inside and out…it’s been quite the ordeal.

 

What’s interesting about the depth of this year’s snow is that it became deeper and deeper because of accumulation. And, the more it piled up the deeper it became and the greater the distraction it created for most aspects of our lives.

 

So it is in our world today: depth is encouraged by the pursuit of accumulation of “more, more, more” as the ongoing goal. It’s also become true in the church world. We’ve succumbed to the belief that the more people we serve, the more programs we sponsor, the more dollars we raise, the more hours we labor, and the more buildings we erect, the greater our chances of success. Deeper pockets occur by accumulation; and accumulation of wealth (in any form) is what tends to create the most distraction. The end result: the more the distractions, the greater the distance we experience with God.

 

Therefore, we need to look carefully at the term “the deeper life” and define it biblically. Depth of soul, or the deeper life, has nothing to do with accumulation of the tangible. Instead, it has everything to do with simplifying our lives down to the “one thing” that matters most, which is the intangible affection we have for God and God alone.  If you continue to pursue more and more accolades, accomplishments, achievements and the accumulation that follows, you will not experience the deeper life. If God chooses to encourage you with any form of tangible blessing, that’s his choice and not of your making.

 

When Jesus walked planet earth he had his followers and his detractors. Those who chose to listen, obey and submit to his love and leadership entered the inner circle of intimacy with Christ. In that inner circle they were taught to love with their whole heart, die to their false selves, and release the ways of this world that hinder complete access to the love of God. In other words, they were wholeheartedly urged to walk away from worldly aspirations for accumulation and embrace instead a Kingdom mindset focused on sweet surrender to the extravagant love of God.

 

The deeper life is what we’re asked to consider each time Jesus teaches about the Kingdom of God. And the deeper we go with God the deeper we enter into the geography of the soul via hiddenness, humility, submission and wholeness. These places are activated by a longing for more of God’s empowering presence, more of the spiritual practices that lead us into a life of prayer, more of the Sabbath rest he commands, and more of the fulfillment of our God-ordained purpose for which we’ve been placed on this earth to fulfill. What is your response today? Will you reconsider a life of accumulation and distraction, and instead pursue a life of intimacy, love, and the delightful inheritance that awaits you now and forever?

 

Behold the deeper life Jesus lived with every breath he took and every word he spoke, and believe once more that what he asked of his disciples then he requires of us today. Belong to the inner circle community of the faithful ones and become a Christ-follower who is willing to abandon the pursuit of accumulation and embrace instead the one thing that matters most to your soul and the Kingdom of God.

 

 



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