Psalm 81:8-10

Hear, O my people and I will warn you— if you would but listen to me, O Israel! You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not bow down to an alien god. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.

Mold and strengthen me

Reading the Lord’s admonition to Israel, I wondered, how do how do I pray on this? I finally thought to look up the meaning of the word Israel.

The most cited meaning is “one who struggles with God.” Israel is the name given to Jacob following his all-night encounter with the Angel of the Lord.

However, I found an alternate meaning I prefer: one who has become a receptable (a clay vessel hardened by water) in which God can be received and retained.

My thoughts on the second verse first went to the sin in our world that comes from those who follow a person, leader or group with an ideology or actions that are foreign to God’s plan.

After further reflection, I looked inward: What changes can I make to better receive and retain God? Which of my thoughts, words and actions are alien to God’s plan and distance me from my better self and others?

Lord, mold and strengthen me to be a vessel that that is open wide for you to fill. Help me to recognize and change what I can to bring my life closer to your will.

—Neil Pedersen

Prayer: O Lord, we pray for your guidance and support. Help us to better receive and retain you in our hearts and minds. Help us to shun things that are foreign to your plan. Guide us to use our time to better serve others and reveal your kingdom here.

To ponder: What can you do or change today to live out God’s will for your life?