Step #2: Meditatio / Meditate
Use the following meditation to help you reflect more deeply on the Scripture (you may want to read the passage again).
I’m a fairly avid reader of the Bible, and have read most of it numerous times. However, there’s one section in which I feel I’ve barely scratched the surface—the prophetic books.
I believe I shy away from reading, learning from, and praying with the prophetic books due to their complexity. However, in today’s information age, an abundance of resources are available to help us all unpack and be inspired by God’s divine word, passed along through the prophets. The Bible Project YouTube Channel offers some helpful summary videos, and the St. Paul Center offers more in-depth studies. Even non-religious sites like Wikipedia and Cliffnotes offer secular synopses that may ultimately be helpful in unpacking the text.
My last argument for giving the prophetic books a shot is that there’s a deeper satisfaction and appreciation to be gained from working hard to reach the truth. Many of us enjoy other forms of media that have a layered messages in which we need to piece the puzzle together (think movies by Christopher Nolan). If we take the same approach to studying the prophets, I think it will become a delight rather than a chore.
Today’s first reading looks at a scene in which Isaiah and his son approach Ahaz, King of Judah, who was facing a dual threat from the King of Syria (Aram) and King of Israel (also known as Ephraim). One might be wondering why Judah is warring with Israel. It’s because at this time in history, the 12 Tribes of Israel had divided, shortly following the reign of King David, and only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin ultimately remain faithful to the line of David. They come together to form the kingdom of Judah.
Though we hear Judah and it’s territory of Jerusalem stood firm in battle, we can learn from the book of Chronicles (28:6) that 120,000 men from Judah were lost in the fight. Isaiah is sent by God to proclaim some inspiring words to Ahaz:
“Take care you remain calm and do not fear; do not let your courage fail before these two stumps of smoldering brands, the blazing anger of Rezin and the Arameans and of the son of Remaliah” (Isaiah 7:4).
God’s message is to simply trust and be faithful to him, and he will help you.
I’ll leave it to the reader to do their own research into the rest of Ahaz's reign and whether or not he remained faithful. As we go into prayer, let’s keep God’s message from Isaiah in our hearts and remain calm, do not fear, and do not let our courage fail.
Step #3: Oratio / Pray
These questions are to be used to talk to God; have a conversation with the Lord about these questions and what is going on in your heart as you pray today.
What are some of the reasons I shy away from reading Scripture? How does the Lord desire to work in my life through his Word?
What are the very real temptations I face in not remaining faithful to the Lord? How can I learn to depend on, and follow, God more faithfully?
Where in my life do I need to ask the Lord for courage?
Step #4: Contemplatio / Contemplate
In this step, you listen. Stop talking, let God speak to your heart. You may repeat one of these short phrases to focus your mind on the Lord.
"Help me to remain calm in difficulties."
"Take away my fear."
"Grant me courage."
Step #5: Actio / Act
In light of today's reading and your time spent in prayer with the Lord, what concrete action or actions will you take to let this encounter with the Lord bear fruit in you today?
In light of your time in prayer today, think of one specific area of your life where you are asking the Lord to give you courage. Do a quick Google search for scripture verses (or even whole books of the Bible) that give encouragement in that area. If it's a new book that you haven't read or aren't familiar with, make a commitment to read through it in the coming weeks, asking the Lord to supply you with the grace for which you are asking.
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Today's Prayer was prepared by Liam Brady, an accountant in Chicago.
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