Tag Archives: Murray

The Highest and Holiest Name | Bible Gleanings – May 15-16, 2021

The Highest and Holiest Name

As I turned the dial in search of some tunes to pass time on the interstate, an ad from a prominent law firm played between songs: “Name recognition matters, so let the biggest and best name in Alabama represent you and your personal injury claim. Contact our office today!” They boasted of the millions of dollars recovered for their clients, and assured that clients only pay, “if and when we win your case.” However, their greatest appeal was that no law firm in the state was as recognizable as they were. Insurance companies would sweat and shudder when they heard the name. The defendant’s lawyer would melt like wax. And the client could have unshakable confidence in their ability to win the case because of being represented by the most popular name in law.

They were right—name recognition does matter, and who you chose to present your case before a judge is crucial. Who you chose to represent you before the throne of God in the heavenly court on the day of judgment is far more important, however. One day the books will be opened and God will judge you according to what is written in them (Rev. 20:11-15). And you need the highest and holiest name in all the universe to win your case before God so you can spend eternity in heaven. This Man’s name is the most exalted “in heaven and on earth and under the earth,” so much so that every knee will one day bow at the mere mention of His name (Phil. 2:9-11). Who is this man? John the apostle told us: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1).

As a sinner, you stand condemned before God (John 3:18). Your sins are piled higher than your head and your guilt reaches the heavens (Ezra 9:6). The good news is, if you have believed on Christ, He is your defense attorney before God. He is your Advocate, the One who pleads (and wins) your case. The only defense sufficient to cover your sins is Jesus Christ and His shed blood. Ironically, Jesus is also the one who will do the judging: “[God] will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him [Jesus] from the dead” (Acts 17:31).

The greatness of your name doesn’t matter, and neither does the name of the church you belong to—there’s only one name that saves: “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Buddy Tape | Bible Gleanings – May 8-9, 2021

Buddy Tape

“The doctor said this ‘Buddy Tape’ will help my fingers heal,” my mother told me recently. She fell on the squeaky back deck of my parents’ house, and her ring and pinky fingers took a hit. Both were broken beyond healing. The doctor gave her two options for healing: surgery, or Buddy Tape, which is a stretchy Velcro wrap that promotes healing by keeping her fingers together.

She chose the latter, and her broken fingers were bound together in this miniature cast. The catch is, without surgery, they will never be completely healed—but they are better off joined together. Left to themselves, both fingers would suffer more, and neither could be useful to the hand any longer. But yoked together, they could help each other straighten out. In other words, mutual support would do the job.

This reminded me of what King Solomon wrote: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10). You and I are broken people, also because of a fall—a fall from grace into sin, which happened when our first parents sinned in the Garden (Genesis 3). And although will never be completely healed of our spiritual brokenness in this life, we are better off joined together with other believers who can help straighten us out. Without mutual love, prayers, and support for each other, we all suffer—both we and our fellow brethren are left to face our brokenness alone.

God’s desire is that we stick close together as a spiritual family in the local church so we can lift each other up. As Paul put it, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2). The Lord also wants you to administer grace and support to fellow believers when they’ve had a hard fall. In fact, you have an obligation to do so: “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up” (Romans 15:1-2).

You also have an obligation to seek support and love from other believers to help you in your own weaknesses. Isolation from other followers of Jesus is dangerous: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment” (Proverbs 18:1). It is not good for man to be alone (Genesis 2:18).

Who are you joined together with in the Christian life?


Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Turn Around | Bible Gleanings – May 1-2, 2021

Turn Around

“NO SERVICE.” Those are the last words you want to see on your cellphone when you’re on an unfamiliar road. But they appeared on my screen as I drove through the grassy glades of Mark Twain National Forest in the Show-Me State. I was counting on John Denver—hopefully the country roads would indeed take me home, because without access to my phone’s GPS, I was lost.

The good thing is, I always have a backup plan (although it doesn’t always work). An ancient suction-cup GPS the size of a VHS tape never leaves my vehicle. Speaking of VHS tapes, it’s about as old and outdated as they are, so it’s always a risk to trust it. Nevertheless, I typed “H-O-M-E” in the search bar and made a beeline for home.

That is, until I was abruptly commanded to turn left onto an older highway that apparently hadn’t seen a car in ten years. The poor road was afflicted with potholes and was a dump for motorist’s trash. Even from the dead end sign you could see that this road led nowhere but to death, for nothing lay at the end but a heap of lifeless tree limbs, broken concrete, and shattered asphalt.

I had a moment of realization that I was going down the wrong road, and listening to my unreliable GPS was the problem. Therefore, I made the decision to turn around, ignore my GPS, and go the right way instead. Turning around to drive on the right road was the only solution. Stepping out to repair the wrong road wouldn’t help me. Pretending like I wasn’t on the wrong road wouldn’t get me on the right road. And feeling remorse for being on the wrong road wouldn’t do any good either.

The same is true if you want to go to heaven and take the right road that leads to eternal life (Matt. 7:14). You must first have a Spirit-induced moment of realization, which the Bible calls “conviction,” where God the Spirit says to you, “Look—you are on the wrong road!” Since the GPS of your heart is wired by sin to command you, “Turn away from God” (Romans 3:11), you are born driving on “the way [that] is easy that leads to destruction” (Matt. 7:13).

Once you understand that you are on a hellbound highway, you need to turn around and drive towards Jesus. This is what Scripture calls “repentance.” Repentance is turning away from sin and the wrong road, and turning toward Jesus, the only way that leads to the Father (John 14:6). Improving yourself with good works and spiritual resolutions won’t take you off the wrong road. Feeling sorry for being on the wrong road won’t turn you around. Pretending like you’re not on the wrong road won’t do it either. “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19).


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Let It Go, Monkey | Bible Gleanings – April 24-25, 2021

Let It Go, Monkey

Monkeys may be smart but they are also selfish. That’s what African poachers have observed as they’ve lured and captured hundreds of unsuspecting primates in order to smuggle and sell them illegally. According to one wildlife conservation organization, about three-thousand chimpanzees, gorillas, bonobos, and orangutans are unlawfully seized or killed every year. And from Cameroon to Zimbabwe, these criminal hunters have discovered one fail proof method for snatching a monkey: taking advantage of the monkey’s greed.

Colorful and appealing items like bananas are placed inside the cages that poachers litter across monkey-populous rainforests and grasslands. Of course, this entices the monkeys, but they have become smart enough over time to know better than to enter the cages. Instead, they try to steal the bait from the outside. They reach inside through the bars, tighten their grip, and try everything from chewing to screaming in an attempt to seize the enticing object. However, trappers hiding nearby are well aware that their gnawing and squealing leads only to their capture, as the bait object is intentionally too large to pass through. The monkey is then hopelessly trapped by his refusal to let go. He remains enslaved as long as he has a death grip on the bait. If the monkey would learn to let go, he could avoid captivity and happily roam the jungle.

Unfortunately, it is our sinner-tendency to act like a monkey when it comes to forgiving others of their trespasses against us. Although Jesus directs us to forgive those who have wronged us (Matt. 6:14-15), our natural impulse is to clamp down on their offenses. We think to ourselves, “Until I feel you have repaid me for the wrong you’ve done, I will never let this go!” The worst part about it is we actually become sin’s monkey when we refuse to forgive. If you are withholding forgiveness from a wrongdoer in your life, you are the one in captivity. As long as you have a relentless grip on someone’s offense or debt, you will remain captured by the prison of unforgiveness. And what God wants you to do, for your own benefit, is let go. 

You might be thinking, “But I can’t forgive—I just can’t.” Can I tell you something surprising? You are absolutely right. The first step in forgiving someone is recognizing that you can’t do it on your own. Unforgiveness is part of your nature as sin’s monkey—forgiveness is contrary to it.

Therefore, what you need in order to forgive is something divine: the grace of God. It’s no surprise, then, that when Paul wrote to Philemon about forgiving his wrongdoer, Onesimus, he prayed first that God would grant him the grace to forgive: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philemon 3).

Forgiveness is not something to monkey around with. If you don’t let go by God’s grace, unforgiveness will never let you go.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Cleaning the Old Battlefield | Bible Gleanings – April 17-18, 2021

Cleaning the Old Battlefield

It had become a war zone all over again. Acres of once-luscious pine forests had turned to ash. Four hundred homes were obliterated or rendered uninhabitable by the scorching blaze. Peals of crackling thunder echoed through the country as landmines detonated. Bullets popped back and forth for hours on end. A dense cloud of sulfuric smoke loomed over the land. And as always, people ultimately paid the price—a significant number were injured, some went missing, and worst of all, seven people died. 

This was no ordinary war, however, since the bearer of blame was an act of nature. This war zone was created by a wildfire. According to the New York Times, a wildfire burned out of control in Ukraine last October, and as it burned through green hills and dry woodland, remnants of an old conflict reignited. Because of the heat, thousands of lost bullets, unexploded artillery shells, and anti-tank mines erupted. The fires of war rekindled because the fragments of an old war were never properly removed. The rump and remains of past battles that were forgotten and neglected eventually reignited and started another kind of war.

And the same thing will happen to us when we fail to clean up old battlefields of our past by forgiving those who have trespassed against us. You’ve had bullets of harsh words and hurtful comments fired at you before, haven’t you? I’ll bet a few grenades of slander and malice have been tossed towards your trench a time or two. If you’re like me, then you’ve also had landmines of betrayal scattered on your path by those you thought you could trust. We all have an old battlefield with someone that we need to clear up—and the way you do is through forgiveness.

Forgiveness is not forgetting the battle ever happened and it’s not pretending as though it didn’t. Forgiveness is looking at someone who has wronged you and saying, “What you did was wrong—these bullets and landmines are yours—but I am clearing it up. I am not holding this against you. I am absolving you of what you’ve done. And I’m cleaning up this old battlefield so it doesn’t reignite in the future.”

The Lord Jesus commands you to do this. He stated that you should forgive your trespassers every time you pray (Matt. 6:15; Mark 11:25). He even said that you should forgive someone four-hundred and ninety times if you have to (Matt. 18:21-22). But here’s the hard truth: if you refuse to forgive a person, the remnants of your past conflict will eventually rekindle. The longer you withhold forgiveness, the more you will end up hurting yourself. Forgiveness is certainly hard but unforgiveness is even harder in the long haul. By the grace of God, do the right thing and clean up the old battlefield. You’ll be glad you did.


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Forgiven but Unforgiving | Bible Gleanings – April 10-11, 2021

Forgiven but Unforgiving

“My lord, please, I don’t have any money. Is there another way?” he begged, as he prostrated himself before the king. The poverty-stricken man was penniless and poor. Bankrupt and beggarly, he owned only the shabby and moth-eaten clothes on his back. He had run out of money and could not outrun justice, for the king of his country had come to collect a debt. “Then you leave me no choice,” thundered the king. “Guards—seize the man, his family, and his possessions—prison shall be his home until payment is made.”

Sapped of strength at this awful verdict, the man dropped to the ground, hugged the king’s feet, and implored him while tears rushed down his dusty cheeks. “O, noble king, this mammoth debt is mine to pay, down to the last penny. But my pockets are depleted. I beg you for mercy.” The sight of his misfortune and suffering made the king’s heart quiver with compassion. “Then it is done—I shall have pity on you, my servant. The entire debt is forgiven,” the king assured. The man, overcome with joy, sprouted from the dirt and kissed his family, overwhelmed by the mercy that had been shown to him.

The following morning, a familiar fellow passed by his home and he rushed out to stop him. “I know you, and you owe me money! Pay up right now!” Then said the fellow, “Alas! Sir, I am meager and moneyless. Please, have patience and when I am able, I will pay every cent of this small debt.” But the man shook the passerby and even began to choke him. “If you can’t pay me, then you will pay in prison,” he said, and he ordered the authorities to put him away.

The townspeople chattered about this damnable hypocrisy until it reached the king. Infuriated with the man’s double-dealing, he sent for him to be brought before the throne. “What have you done?” he roared. “I forgave you because you pleaded with me, and you showed no mercy to your neighbor who owed only a little? Be gone and live the rest of your days in chains!”

I wish this story were an original, but this is actually a parable Jesus told in response to Peter’s question about forgiveness (Matthew 18:21-35). Obviously, I have added details for emphasis, but the point is clear: because the man was forgiven a gargantuan debt, it should have been easy for him to forgive one who owed him a smaller debt. Likewise, if God forgave the multitude of your sins against Him, you ought to forgive others when they trespass against you. Dire consequences await if you don’t (see v. 35). Therefore, forgive others as God in Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32). If God has given you mercy, give mercy to others.


Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

What’s Under Your Roof? | Bible Gleanings – April 3-4, 2021

What’s Under Your Roof?

The woman’s home and land had the kind of beauty and elegance that instantly made you think, “Oh yeah—this person is loaded.” The two-story home was decorated with charcoal-colored brick with a gleaming texture. Vivid flowers surrounded the house and every bush was flawlessly whittled down. The exposed aggregate driveway wound aesthetically through the yard, weaving through the gorgeous green and hilly property. Speaking of green, I’ll bet that not one blade of grass was improperly trimmed.

This heavenly home was also the workplace of an accredited tax preparer my father and I had visited to pay our dues to Caesar.1 My mouth dropped in awe at the enticing appearance of the outside. However, my mouth dropped even farther as we were welcomed through the front door. Mountains of paperwork smothered the tables and countertops. Another mountain was in the sink—a pile of dirty dishes that would have tumbled had one more fork been laid on top. And a tornado of children had obviously blown through every room, as Barbie dolls and soldier toys lay far and wide.

Now—I’m not being critical—just take a look inside my home! The point is, looks are deceiving. What was under the roof contradicted what was outside of the walls. The condition of the inside was completely different from the appearance of the outside. And appearances only go so far—what really matters is what’s inside.

Apparently, the Lord God agrees: “For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b). God cares about the condition of the inside, that which is “under your roof,” within your heart. And it doesn’t matter if the lawn of your life is perfectly trimmed if the living room of your heart is a sinful mess. External conformity to Scripture is meaningless without internal purity. As Jesus once said, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matthew 23:27-28). Jesus also said that upkeep of the outside is foolish if we neglect maintenance on the inside (Luke 11:39-40).

The truth is, none of us have our house in order—we all need the Spirit of God to make the inside clean. That is why you must be washed and regenerated by the Spirit as you take hold of Christ by faith alone (Titus 3:5). And after your heart has been purified by the Spirit, you must continually pray: “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me” (Psalm 51:10). So, what’s under your roof?

  1. This story is from many years ago, in a location far away from Murray. That’s why I thought no harm would be done in sharing this account. Plus, I know the woman referenced and she would get a kick out of this story as she is a faithful believer in Christ.

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Training Together | Bible Gleanings – March 27-28, 2021

Training Together

“It’s hard to be by yourself,” said Kyra Christmas, a 23-year-old athlete who plays on Canada’s national water polo team. Like most professional sports players, she was devastated by the emergency lockdowns last year which upended team sports and stifled training for competitions. Water polo is a game that requires team effort and cooperation, just like baseball, football, or any other mainstream sport. She shared her griefs in a New York Times article titled, How to Train for Team Sports Alone, and made the case that there is no substitute for being together. When it comes to team sports, you simply have to train as a collective body.

Individual training is crucial but it is no replacement for conditioning together as a group. She recalled training alone and watching videos of past games—imagining competing in the water alongside her teammates—but it wasn’t sufficient. Finally, in mid-August of last year, her team was able to resume training. “It felt so good to be together again,” she remarked.

Likewise, you must train together with other believers in order to win in the Christian life. To be sure, Christian living is not a game—it is warfare—but it is meant to be lived in the community of faith. In order to live a life of godliness, you must be surrounded by other godly people in the local church. There is no substitute for church membership and participation. When it comes to walking on the straight and narrow, you cannot train yourself or train by yourself—it’s a team effort. As you run the Christian race with endurance, nothing is more beneficial than running that race with other believers.

It is within the local body of assembled believers that you discover and use your spiritual gifts—the abilities God gave you to be an efficient teammate (Romans 12:3-8; 1 Cor. 12; Eph. 4:7-16; 1 Peter 4:10-11). It is only by cooperation with other Christians that you may fulfill your chief goal of making disciples—remember, it is called the Great Co-Mission for a reason (Matt. 28:16-20). You need a faithful congregation to lift you up when you fall and support you when your burdens are too heavy to bear (Gal. 6:1-2). True Christian love is expressed exclusively within the gathered body of Christ—loving “one another” requires that you know and interact with “another” to love (1 John 3:11-24). It is solely within the family of God that gratitude and praise reach their highest levels of expression (Col. 3:16). The Bible even says that you are prevented from being hardened by the deceitfulness of sin through the encouragement and reproof of the church (Hebrews 3:13).

Friend, it’s hard to be by yourself. Find and join a faithful church where you can train for the Christian life with other “teammates” who are aiming at the goal of God’s glory. 


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

Proof of Residence | Bible Gleanings – March 20-21, 2021

Proof of Residence

Ryegrass had sprouted in the driveway. The parking lot was void of vehicles. There were no tricycles or children’s sneakers piled by the doors. The creamy white paint was chipping off the building. There were no signs of life at this apartment building. I drove there to deliver a meal that a customer ordered online. I had received an order to deliver lunch to this address, when I was, for a brief time, employed by a food delivery service.

Upon arrival, every internal alarm sounded off—something wasn’t right. Even from my vehicle, I could see an aged eviction notice fastened to the outside door. I proceeded up the rusty steps and knocked firmly on the door—nothing. Through the grimy window, I could see that the lights were off and the television was blank. This home was hollow and vacated—unoccupied and uninhabited. The online profile claimed that so-and-so lived at this exact residence, but the evidence contradicted the claim. There was no evidence of life—no proof of residence.

Unfortunately, many who claim to be Christians have no evidence that the Spirit of God lives in and occupies their heart. But the word of God clearly declares that when the Holy Spirit dwells within you, there is always undeniable proof of residence. When the Spirit settles in your heart, it shows. All the signs of life are there—the lights are on, the house is clean, and maintenance work is being done. There is activity on the inside and the outside. If you truly possess the Spirit, no one can drive by the house of your life and say, “There is no proof of residence here.” You might claim to be a true believer—a church membership card or Facebook profile might say so. But the claim is always corroborated by evidence if it is true, and if you truly possess the Spirit of God, the truth will come out.

The Spirit demonstrates proof of His residence in your heart in a variety of ways. He speaks through you (Matt. 10:20; Mark 13:11), He bears fruit (Gal. 5:22-23), He teaches you (John 16:13), He emboldens you to witness (Acts 4:31), He leads you (Rom. 8:14), He assures you of sonship (Rom. 8:16; 2 Cor 1:22; Gal. 4:6), He gives gifts (1 Cor. 12:11), He transforms you (2 Cor. 3:18), and He helps you fight the flesh (Gal. 5:16-18).

The key, however, to the Spirit demonstrating proof of His residence in your life is by being filled with the Spirit—submitting to His influence and relinquishing control of your heart to Him: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). Is there proof of His residence in your life?


Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).

“The Prayingest Prayer I ever Prayed” | Bible Gleanings – March 13-14, 2021

Prayer Posture

It was a sweltering and sultry summer day—an unpleasant ninety-five degrees—when five local clergymen convened for an afternoon of enriching fellowship. The baking heat outdoors paled in comparison, however, to the steam in the meeting room. These residential ministers—deacons and pastors both—had begun to argue. Not long after the exchange of pleasantries and mutual spiritual check-ups, the men engaged in a respectful but conviction-driven debate about the proper way to pray.

“The proper way for a man to pray, and the only proper attitude, is down upon his knees,” said Deacon Keyes. His proposition was immediately met with retort from Reverend Wise. “No, I should say the way to pray, is standing straight, with outstretched arms, and rapt and upturned eyes,” he remarked. Elder Slow, who couldn’t bear this heresy, corrected: “Oh no! Such posture is too proud! A man should pray with eyes fast closed and the head contritely bowed.” Having heard enough nonsense, Reverend Blunt observed, “It seems to me his hands should be austerely clasped in front, with both thumbs pointing toward the ground.”

After everyone zealously preached their opinions, Brother Cyrus Brown decided to preach his experience. Leaning back with his thumbs in the straps of his overalls, he recounted, “Las’ year I fell in Hodgkin’s well head first, with both my heels a-stickin’ up, my head a-pointin’ down; and I made a prayer right then an’ there—best prayer I ever said, the prayingest prayer I ever prayed, a-standing on my head.”1

Cyrus made his point loud and clear: there is no correct physical posture for prayer. As long as you are an adopted child of the heavenly Father (Gal. 4:6), God will hear your prayers at anytime and at any place. Moreover, people in Scripture were heard by God whether they prayed kneeling (2 Chron. 6:13; Dan. 6:10), prostrate (Neh. 8:6; Matt. 26:39), with lifted hands (Ps. 141:2; 1 Tim. 2:8), or lying down in bed (Ps. 6:6). What matters in prayer is not your physical posture, but your spiritual posture—not the position of your body, but the position of your heart.

In the passage famously known as The Lord’s Prayer, but more fittingly called The Disciples’ Model Prayer, Jesus explains what the right heart position is for prayer (read Matthew 6:5-13). First, the motivation of your heart must be right. You ought not pray only for the approval and applause of others (vv. 5-6). Don’t pray to be seen by men—pray to be seen by God, who “sees in secret.” Second, the mindset of your heart must be right. God is omniscient and “knows what you need before you ask Him,” and therefore you do not need lengthy liturgical prayers and mindless religious repetitions to get His attention (vv. 7-8). Don’t try to impress God when you pray—just be humble and honest before Him. Finally, there is a model you must follow in order to orient your heart in the right position (vv. 9-13). Jesus instructed that your prayers should begin with a focus on God, His kingdom, and His will (vv. 9-10). After expressing praise to God and submission to His will, you should pray for your physical and spiritual needs (vv. 11-13).

Take it from Cyrus Brown—the prayingest kind of prayer depends, not on where you are, but where your heart is.

  1. This story is modified from a poem by Sam Walter Foss. Some say the poem stands by itself, some say it is adapted from an anecdotal story. This is just how I’ve told the story through the years, though it is not entirely original.

Bible Gleanings is a weekend devotional column, written for the Murray Ledger & Times in Calloway County, Kentucky. In the event that the column is not posted online, it is be posted for reading here.

Brandon is the founder and main contributor to Brandon’s Desk, the blog with biblical resources from his ministry. He is proud to be the pastor of the family of believers at Locust Grove Baptist Church in Murray, Kentucky. He and his wife Dakota live there with their three dogs, Susie (Jack Russell), Aries (Aussiedor), and Dot (beagle).