Wow. It has been almost a year since I last posted on this site. I know my life has been busy, but one post a year is ridiculous; therefore, I’m making a new commitment. While attempting to post one new entry per week, I will commit (I need to be realistic) to posting a minimum of one entry per month. As I mentioned, I’ve been very busy, so many of my submissions to this blog will be “cut & paste” copies of articles from a previous online venture which I deem relevant to the Organic Church topic. The following is one such article. It is called The Prayer of Jephthah.

{The following selection first appeared on suite101.com.}

No religious library would be complete without a prayer devotional. If you have had the opportunity to visit a Christian bookstore in the last few years, there is little doubt that you have encountered devotionals on scripture based prayer. By scripture based prayer, I am referring to those teachings that outline (and sometimes slightly modify) the actual language of prayers found in the Bible so they can be applied to various modern situations. These teachings tend to retain the spirit of the prayer, while allowing for diversity of its use.

Yet I noticed that most of the Biblical prayers used for these devotions only address standard issues, such as faith, holiness, prosperity, protection, and physical needs. This observation has led me to search the Bible for prayers that can be used as outlines for those sometimes overlooked areas of today’s modern Christian. One particular prayer I found in the eleventh chapter of “Judges” seems to have incredible relevance for all those involved in Christian service who struggle with the delicate balance between ministry and family obligations. I developed this prayer into a type of “prayer-devotional” and decided to share it with you. I call it “The Prayer of Jephthah.”

The prayer of Jephthah, found in Judges 11:30 & 31, is a tremendous devotional for today’s busy minister who happens to have a family. It concerns a warrior named Jephthah, who prayed a vow to God in order to secure his victory over the Ammonites. The prayer is recorded as follows:

If thou shalt without fail deliver the children of Ammon into my hands, then it shall be, that whatsoever cometh forth of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the children of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering. (KJV)

In other words, for those who struggle with King James English, Jephthah asked God for victory in battle, promising to sacrifice the first thing that came out of his house to greet him, if that victory was granted. What happened after the prayer was prayed may be unsettling to many. Although Jephthah won the battle, the first person to come out of his house to greet him when he returned was his daughter. Terribly grieved, Jephthah nonetheless fulfilled his vow by sacrificing his daughter to the Lord.

While Jephthah’s petition was made for a specific situation in another time and place, I believe it can be used as a sample prayer for those engaged in modern Christian ministry. You see, many who are “called” to “The Ministry” often sacrifice their children through neglect, for the sake of success. This prayer could greatly reduce feelings of guilt, and criticisms of others, by purposefully offering up one’s children. The prayer could be modernized as follows:

Dear God. If you grant me success in my church (or ministry, or Sunday school, etc.) and increase the numbers of those who attend and/or support it, I will sacrifice to you whatever gets in the way, including members of my own family. Amen.

By praying this prayer daily one can avoid that nagging guilt which often accompanies watching one’s family fall apart while building a successful ministry. Christian businessmen, musicians, writers, athletes, or other professionals who deem family neglect to be a necessity can also use it. I am sure this brief “prayer-devotional” will become a favorite among religious professionals of all types.