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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

“Unless the Lord builds the house,

   those who build it labor in vain.

Unless the Lord watches over the city,

   the watchman stays awake in vain.

It is in vain that you rise up early

   and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

   for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

-- Psalm 127:1-2

My children love to bake with me. While I do not particularly enjoy baking, every once in a while I am struck with a maternal desire to bake with my children. I get out stools for them to stand on, so they can reach the counters. I lay out the ingredients and measuring utensils, and I painstakingly take the children through each step of the recipe. Each child gets to crack an egg, inevitably requiring me to fish shells out of the dough. Next, each child takes a turn at stirring the dough, with my arm actually stirring, their tiny fingers simply resting on my hand. What would typically take me 15 minutes to do alone somehow takes an hour when I include the children. And when the cookies come out of the oven, I am greeted with satisfied and proud, self-congratulatory noises. Once, my eldest, who was only 6 at the time, even commented, “Good thing you have us to bake you cookies!”

I am often reminded of this very scenario when I think about our work for the Kingdom. God needs us for ministry just about as much as I need my children for baking. And when I think of our work here on earth in those terms, I am at once awash with a sense of relief and of God’s love, and I am convicted of my pride. I am relieved that God’s Kingdom work does not rest on my shoulders but rather on His. His shoulders carry not only my burdens, but they carry me. I am filled with awe in knowing that He would love me enough to take the time to include me in His work and train me to become more and more like Him. I am then so grieved that, in my pride, I have made everything about me. That I somehow thought I was doing God a favor, as though He could not have baked this particular batch of cookies without my help. I am humbled by and grateful for this God who forbears with my pride and takes the time to patiently train me up to see more of His glory and beauty each day. For this God will indeed build the city and keep watch, so that the builders and the watchmen will not labor in vain. This God gives sleep to His beloved because He “neither slumbers nor sleeps” (Psalm 121:4).

Ava Ligh
Ministry Fellow at Columbia
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