DAY 21: LORD, HELP ME TO MAKE IT RIGHT – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” – Matthew 5:23–24 ESV

DEVOTION

It was mid-Sunday morning, and I found myself distracted during the worship set at church. At the time, I was a college student in Pennsylvania, and the night previous, I had gotten into an argument with my then-girlfriend, Neena. I stood there in the far left corner of the room, frustrated, as I muttered through the worship song. I knew what the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do, but I was too prideful to do it. Finally, I gave in. I stepped out of the church, stood outside, and made the call. After a few rings, Neena answered, and I apologized for my part in our argument and acknowledged where I had gone wrong. The beauty of the conversation was that Neena listened to what I had to say and forgave me for my shortcomings.

Can I tell you that one conversation changed the energy of how I worshipped the Lord that day at church? I returned with praise on my lips and the peace of the Lord in my heart! By the grace of God, Neena and I would later get married, plant a church, and today we have four handsome little boys. We together practice the instructions from Jesus in Matthew 5:23-24 to this day. If we miss it on one of our ends, we prioritize making it right with each other before bringing our worship to the Lord. If we miss it with someone else we are in a relationship with, as far as it depends on us, we strive to make it right with that person. We cannot control how the other person may respond, but we can control our actions.

Today, I encourage you to re-read the above verse from Matthew 5. Notice the intentional language of Christ: “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you…” (Matthew 5:23 ESV) Jesus was clear that it may not be you that has the issue, but if you remember someone has something against you, He calls you to push pause on bringing your gift of worship to Him and go to that person to make it right.

In your attempt to make a relationship right, you will find the Spirit at work and the Lord’s anointing and blessing around the corner. (Psalm 133) The Massachusetts Evangelist, D.L. Moody, once stated: “I have never known the Spirit of God to work where the Lord’s people were divided.” My prayer is that the Spirit of God will greatly be at work in your life as you prioritize unity and live a life that strives to make it right.

“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.” – Matthew 18:15 ESV

PRAYER

Father, thank You for making it right with me when I was in the wrong. You didn’t wait for me to take the first step; instead, you sent Jesus to save my life. I pray we will respond to Your grace and kindness and be “make it right” Christians. That we wouldn’t take the words of Jesus lightly, but we would instead put His words into action.

Lord, I know Your desire is for Your church to be one, unified, and on mission together. Help us to walk humbly and allow Your Spirit to lead us in times of uncomfortably and confrontation. May we remember You go before us and that You promise to be with us.

I pray Your Spirit anoints our attempts to make relationships right and that our initiation will result in You getting all of the glory! I pray all of this in Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 20: LORD, HELP ME TO CONTROL MY ANGER – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.” – Matthew 5:22 ESV

DEVOTION

I have this memory lodged in my head of a time playing basketball when I acted like a complete jerk. It was an evening-time game, and just a few minutes into the first quarter, I realized it would be a long night. I wasn’t a fan of the referee calling our game, nor was I fond of the team we were playing.

After a few sequences up-and-down the court, I decided to drive the ball in for a layup, and on the way up, I got bumped, thinking surely the ref would call a foul. But after hearing no whistle, I gave the ref a dirty look and could sense my anger rising. Finally, I said a comment to the ref that landed me a technical foul. My coach tried to calm me down, but I was already off the edge. I made one more negative statement, and the ref ejected me from the game. I still remember sitting there on the bench, upset, with a bad attitude, blaming everyone else for my mistakes.

And what were my mistakes, might you ask?

The immediate answer is allowing my anger to control me rather than the other way around. Anger is a tricky emotion because, on the one hand, there is such a thing as righteous anger, where we get angry about the things that anger our Lord. And yet, on the other hand, we learn from David’s words in Psalm 37:8, writing: “Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.” (Psalm 37:8 ESV)

Regardless of where you are on this topic, I would encourage you to lean into the words of James, the brother of Jesus, and Solomon, son of David, in Proverbs 14. View the two Scriptures below:

  • “Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” – James 1:19-20 ESV
  • “Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly.” – Proverbs 14:29 ESV

These two verses declare, from the Old Testament to the New, that it’s wise to be slow to anger. And unfortunately, I’ve found that when we are quick to anger, we typically say something or do something we regret. And not only do we regret it personally, but those around us are also affected.

To draw back to my basketball example above, I’m still bothered by how I let my teammates and coach down in that situation. I not only embarrassed myself, but I embarrassed my team. Anger will not only let you down but also embarrass you along the way. Benjamin Franklin, the Founding Father of the United States, once stated: “Whatever is begun in anger, ends in shame.” So, today take time to repent of any unjustified anger in your life and acknowledge to the Lord times when you are quick to anger. In those moments, pause what you are doing, intentionally breathe, speak the gospel over your soul, and be reminded that God is still in control.

“Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil.” Ephesians 4:26–27 ESV

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for Your kindness and gentleness toward me. Thank You that You are no longer angry with me through my faith in Christ. Thank You for paying the debt for my sins and giving me fresh grace daily. I ask You for Your help and power in controlling my anger. I know at some point today, something or someone will anger me. In that instance, please empower me to be slow to anger and quick to bring whatever the situation may be to You! Help me to have eyes to see people the way You do. So, Holy Spirit lead me on this journey. Calm my spirit. Fill me with Your character, and may Your emotions become mine emotions. We pray all of this with confidence, in Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 19: LORD, HELP ME TO SHINE – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:14 ESV

DEVOTION

Have you ever thought about what the brightest city in the world is? There’s some debate surrounding the answer; however, many researchers believe it to be the city of Las Vegas, NV. My hometown! With over 12,000,000 bulbs glowing daily, National Geographic writes, “From space at night, Las Vegas is the brightest city on Earth.”

One of the bright and beautiful parts of Las Vegas is the Las Vegas Strip, featuring over 30 different hotels and casinos. Now, imagine the Las Vegas strip with all those buildings and millions of lights, but this time envision them powered OFF. Two “w” words come to mind: “weird” and “waste.” It would be weird to have that many beautiful and extravagant buildings and not showcase them with great lightning. And it would seem like a waste to have everything you need to light them but choose not to use them.

Allow this picture to draw your attention to the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:14-16, where He tells His disciples, “You are the light of the world.” Jesus expected His church to shine amid the darkness. Not to blend in or lessen our brightness but to be the light where God has placed us. Failure to do so can come off as weird and wasteful. Jesus illustrates this by referencing an oil lamp equipped with a guiding flame that suddenly one decides to place under a basket to diminish it.

As followers of Jesus, let’s pray to walk as children of light. (Ephesians 5:8) Through our faith in Christ, we are no longer bound by sin and darkness but are now adopted into the family of God. Day by day, we are being conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29), and may we remember that it was Him first who said: “…”I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”” (John 8:12 NIV) The great Prince of Preachers, Charles Spurgeon, shed light on this topic, stating, “The Bible is not the light of the world, it is the light of the Church. But the world does not read the Bible, the world reads Christians! “You are the light of the world.” O, Lord, help us shine!

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” – Ephesians 5:8 CSB

PRAYER

Father, thank You for waking me up today and filling me with breath in my lungs. Thank You for creating light and darkness and for putting Your light in me. Please help me to shine Your light today. I know that, left to myself, I would walk in darkness. I’m not bright, strong, or wise enough to do this on my own. I ask You for Your supernatural strength and guidance to help me be the light wherever You place me.

When I’m feeling weak or tempted to turn my light down, Lord help me find the endurance to shine through it. Lord, use me to bring brightness to someone elses day today. Shine through me, for Your glory, in Jesus’ name, amen! 

FITNESS

DAY 18: LORD, HELP ME TO HAVE FLAVOR IN MY LIFE – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” – Matthew 5:13 ESV

DEVOTION

I recently discovered a newfound liking for the tree nut pistachios. I’ve never been one to just snack on a handful of peanuts, but something about pistachios changed the game. I have a bag in my office that I’ve been working on, and recently I learned another thing about pistachios that was eye-opening for me. One thing that makes these small green-looking nuts so good is when they’re seasoned with salt! 

During these 21 Days of prayer and fasting, I decided to go with the non-salted bag of pistachios as a part of my fast. Can I tell you that salt makes a significant difference? I quickly wanted to abandon the non-salted bag for the previous salted ones because they lacked so much flavor! 

Jesus, in Matthew 5:13, makes a similar parallel to our lifestyle as Christians. He calls us the “salt of the earth.” We will either have a Christ-like flavor to our lives that people are attracted to and desire more of, or we will be flavorless people, repelling others away. When you study Christ in the gospels, people couldn’t get enough of Him wherever He went. Whether it was His teaching, miracles, or overall personality, it’s no secret that people wanted to be around Jesus. He had an attractive flavor to His life! 

In a moment of self-examination, ask yourself today whether or not you resemble that same Christlikeness. Is He continuing to attract the world to Himself through you? Or, if you were honest, would you say your Christianity is quite bland, eventless, and has little to no flavor or excitement to it? If that’s the case, today is a great day to begin asking the Lord to help you regain a sense of purpose, passion, and flavor in your life! Dr. John Stott, the famed Christian theologian from England, once stated: “We should not ask, “What is wrong with the world? for that diagnosis has already been given. Rather we should ask, “What has happened to salt and light?” O, Lord, let us be the saltiness that attracts the world back to Christ! 

“Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” – Colossians 4:6 ESV

PRAYER

Father, I want to pray Your words in Matthew 5:13 over my life. I know I’m the “salt of the earth,” but I don’t always feel like it. I want more people on this earth to see and experience Jesus through me! Lord, enrich my saltiness. Reignite my flavor. Give me new dreams, passions, and thoughts that lead to greater joy, evangelism moments, and discipleship encounters!

I also thank You for Your activity of grace in my life. Your presence is full of rich flavors for my thirsty soul, and You are beyond anything this world offers. I worship You because of it. Walking with You is a joy-filled adventure, and I pray I will only experience more of You and Your presence along the way. Make me into a disciple that carries that same Christ-like flavor that more people can eat off of and grow closer to You through.

I pray all of this in Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 17: LORD, HELP ME TO BE A PEACEMAKER – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” – Matthew 5:9 ESV

DEVOTION

Did you know that God has called you to ministry? I recognize that may feel like a heavy thought, but if you weren’t aware, I want to encourage you with this reality. Notice the words of Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian Church: “All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…” (2 Corinthians 5:18 ESV)

The word reconcile means “to restore to friendship or harmony.” (Webster’s Dictionary) Where we once had animosity with God the Father, we now have peace through our faith in Christ. (Romans 5:1) Jesus, by His grace, restored peace between sinful man and holy God and has directly placed a calling on us to do the same for others. We are all called to the ministry of reconciliation.

In Matthew 5:9, Jesus continues his mini-sermon on how to live the blessed life, stating: “Blessed are the peacemakers…” In this text, Jesus affirms that we should actively look for ways to cultivate peace where it has been broken and constantly point people to make peace with God by placing their faith in Jesus. Paul states in Ephesians 2:14: “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…” (Ephesians 2:14 ESV)

I want to make the distinction here that Paul is not calling us to be peacekeepers, for peacekeepers can quickly become “yes-men” who will go at all costs to avoid conflict. On the contrary, peacemakers are initiators. They don’t sit back, crossing their fingers, hoping for peace. Instead, they go out and make peace where it is lacking. Christ did this for us, and He now gives us the calling and power to do the same toward others. So if today you know of a relationship in your life that lacks the peace of God on it, I want to encourage you, based on Matthew 5:9, to strive to make peace with that person. In the long run, you’ll be glad you did! 

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” – Romans 12:18 ESV

PRAYER

Father, thank You for restoring peace between us by sending Your Son. I don’t know where I would be or what I would do today if it weren’t for Christ. Thank You for loving me more than I ever knew and for giving me Your supernatural peace.

I take up my calling today to be a peacemaker, not just a peacekeeper. Please help me to live out Romans 12:18, and strive for peace with all. Where relationships are broken, please help me have the humility and wisdom to know how to make peace with that person and do it. I know I don’t have time to sit back and wait on them. I need to be the peacemaker You are calling me to be, and I, again, ask for Your help in doing that. Lord, thank You for Your peace and calling on my life to be a reconciling peacemaker. In Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 16: LORD, HELP ME TO HAVE A PURE HEART – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” – Matthew 5:8

DEVOTION

I wonder how it must have felt to be Jacob after wrestling with God in Genesis 32. Or how Moses felt in Exodus 33:11 when he spoke to the Lord “face to face.” Or how about the twelve disciples? How would it have felt to do a three-year internship under King Jesus? These three examples have in common that they all were able to see God in their lifetime and catch a glimpse of His activity in their lives. Maybe you would say, “Yeah, well, that was good for them, but what about me?” Upon the authority of God’s word in Matthew 5:8, you can also have a “see God” moment!

The challenge is for ordinary people like you and me to see God; we must first have a pure heart. Jeremiah the Prophet declared, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:8 ESV) Our sick and deceptive hearts are fogged up with impurities, insecurities, and ego. So, although we may desire to see God, our hearts are distracted by looking at everyone and everything else and often consumed with ourselves. It’s for these reasons that Solomon wisely wrote in the Proverbs: “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” (Proverbs 4:23 NIV)

Jesus communicated that having a pure heart leads to having pure eyes. The word pure means: “unmixed with any other matter.” (Webster’s Dictionary) It’s the imagery of having a glass of water that is not tainted or mixed with anything. It’s simply clear and unpolluted. This position is where Jesus wants our hearts. Clear of lust, negativity, pride, selfishness, hatred toward others, and anything else that may rob your heart of purity. When our hearts fill up with impurities, those are the things we focus on and, in turn, see. The opposite principle is also true. When our hearts are pure and filled with the things God, He becomes the One that we see, and His hand becomes the thing we see move.Oh Lord, we want to see You move!

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.” – Psalm 19:14 ESV

PRAYER

Father, it’s our deepest desire to see You move in our lives! We want to see and experience Your activity afresh. Help us to have pure hearts and pure minds. Help us take an inventory of all we allow going through our minds and hearts and what we allow our eyes to see. If it’s not pure, help us to remove it. Please give us a new taste for things that our pure and a distaste for impurity—May things we once enjoyed become bland and sour. And may the things of God become fresh and sweet!

Lord, I also ask that in the battle of purity, You empower me with the grace, strength, and wisdom I need to defeat sin and the flesh. When I feel tempted, don’t let me give in. I pray I will pick you everytime. Jesus, thank You for picking me while on the cross. Thank You for dying for my sins and impurities and rising from that grace; I want to see You, Lord, help me to have a pure heart. In Jesus’ name, amen!

FITNESS

DAY 15: LORD, HELP ME TO BE MERCIFUL – PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

By 21 DAYS OF PRAYER, FASTING, AND FITNESS

PASTOR HEIDEN RATNER

SCRIPTURE

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” – Matthew 5:7 ESV

DEVOTION

When you think about the attributes of God, what are some words that come to mind? Consider writing them down. Meditating on God’s attributes can lead to a renewal of worship while deepening your confidence in His character and ability. Revivalist A.W. Tozer once wrote, “If we take away any of the attributes of God, we do not weaken God but we weaken our concept of God.” It’s in thinking deeply about who God is that we remind our hearts of His goodness.  

One of my favorite attributes of God is that He is a merciful God. Mercy is God choosing not to give us what we deserve. What a gift from above! Find joy not just in God’s giving but also in His withholding. This morning, God chose to give you fresh, Heaven-sent, dipped in grace, mercy. How, might you ask? By not counting your sins against you through your faith in Christ.

We arrive at Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:7, as He reminds His audience that showing mercy is not a sign of weakness but a mark of blessing. Mercy is like a boomerang, Jesus adds. When you give mercy, you get mercy. Prayerfully ask the Lord where you need to show mercy in your life today. Are there some offenses you can let go of and show someone mercy how it has been shown to you? Doing so may bless your life more than you may know!

“The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” – Lamentations 3:22–23 ESV

PRAYER

Lord, thank You for extending Your mercy to me. Day by day I wake up experience your mercies and grace again. I don’t deserve it, but still You give it and I’m humbled by that. I pray I would never grow cold or callous to the familiarity of Your mercy.

Father, help me not to just receive Your mercy, but to show it, as well. I want to be a mercy dispenser. Help me let things go that I don’t need to hold onto any more, and please give me the ability to love people with Your unfailing love. If it’s a forgiveness issue, help to me forgive as You have forgiven me. And by doing so, may people experience Your mercy through me and give the You glory. Thank You for Your mercy, Lord. In Jesus and amen!

FITNESS