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prayer

December 26, 2010

You know that I like to go looking for prayers to post on Sunday (or even better, to pray on my own on Sundays). Here is one I came across a few days ago, one that shares the grief and bewilderment of a father’s heart as he ponders the imminent death of his son. It is a prayer that comes from a place of great pain, but one that also comes from a deep-rooted faith that God is good and that God does only what is good. It gives me hope that even in the midst of such pain, God would bolster my faith to trust in him.

Lord, you know my heart; you know everything about me.  It is early morning right now and on this morning, I need you so desperately.  You know I am in knots and anxious; you know I am not the strong one, but You are.  I need you to be my hiding place today; my shelter and the place where you hide me in the cleft of the rock when you pass by and show us your glory.  For today is something I am dreading beyond anything I have had to face.

Daddy, I’m weak.  I have nothing good I can give you; no reservoir of strength within me that would spark any sort of hope to get through what could possibly happen today.

Everything is from you; in you is my breathe, my being, my movement and my reality.  I must confess that though I have wanted to be as strong as others see me as, the very real reality is that I am frail and foolish; you are the strong One.  For you are my tower, my fortress, my rock that I cling to today.  I know in my weakness, in my poorness of spirit, in my emptiness of self you shine through and fill me.  Lord, it is YOU; all you that empowers us and gives us strength.  Let THAT testimony be shouted from the rooftops.  Our GOD IS FAITHFUL.  You have gotten me through yesterday, last week, last year and thus far in my life.  You have blessed others with your Spirit, your breathe, your strength and your comfort in their lifetimes and I trust that you are the same yesterday, today and forever.  You are indeed the Alpha and Omega of my life, and you INDEED created Samuel fearfully and WONDERFULLY in the womb of Kelly.  God, THIS is your truth!

Read More at Loth Blogs.

December 12, 2010

Once again I am going to post a prayer today and once more it is drawn from Scotty Smith’s blog. But this prayer was just what I needed to pray today. “It’s always been easier for me to do ‘productive’ things for you, rather than spend undistracted, unrushed time with you. I confess this as sin.” I know far too much about this, about doing in place of knowing. “An informed mind is not the same thing as an enflamed heart… by any stretch.” Amen! Maybe you need to pray this too.

Gracious Jesus, the juxtaposition of images in the nativity scene are almost too much to wrap my tiny heart around. Your mother, Mary, is just beginning to nurse and know you. Even as I write these words I realize what a holy mystery and immeasurable condescension your incarnation was. You, the very God who created all things… the Lord who sustains all things by the power of your word… the King who is making all things new… as a baby you drew life-sustaining nourishment from a young maiden’s breast. I’m stunned by your inconceivable humility—a humility that marked your life from cradle to cross.

Shepherds ran off to spread the word of your birth, while Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” “Hurrying off” like a shepherd to tell others about you has always been easier for me than sitting still and letting you tell me about yourself. It’s always been easier for me to do “productive” things for you, rather than spend undistracted, unrushed time with you. I confess this as sin, Jesus. This simply isn’t okay, for knowing about you is not the same thing as knowing you. An informed mind is not the same thing as an enflamed heart… by any stretch.

To know you is eternal life, and I do want to know you, Jesus… so much better than I already do. I want to treasure you in my heart and ponder who you are. I want to contemplate your joyful life within the Trinity, from all eternity. I want to marinate in everything you’ve already accomplished through your life, death and resurrection… and everything you’re presently doing as the King of kings and Lord of lords… and everything you will be to us in the new heaven and new earth—the Bridegroom of your beloved Bride.

O, blessed circuit board overloading and breaking glory… there’s so much to treasure and so much to ponder. It’s not as though I’m a stranger to treasuring and pondering. I treasure and ponder a lot of things, Jesus—things, however, that lead to a bankrupt spirit…an impoverished heart… and a spent body.

Jesus, this very Advent season, by the power of the gospel, slow all of us down… settle us afresh… center us on yourself, that each of us might say with awe and adoration, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And being with you, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps 73:25-26).” So very Amen, we pray, in your peerless and priceless name.

December 04, 2010

Yesterday a friend sent me this prayer from The Valley of Vision, one called “Peril.” I’m grateful that he did not send it to me because I am going through such great distress at the moment. But what a great prayer it is when harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief and darkness, when the heart is full of evil surmisings and disquietude. Here is a prayer that begs God for his presence and finds comfort in his sovereignty.

Sovereign Commander of the Universe,
I am sadly harassed by doubts, fears, unbelief,
    in a felt spiritual darkness.
My heart is full of evil surmisings and disquietude,
    and I cannot act faith at all.
My heavenly Pilot has disappeard,
    and I have lost my hold on the Rock of Ages;
I sink in deep mire beneath storms and waves,
    in horror and distress unutterable.

Help me, O Lord,
    to throw myself absolutely and wholly on thee,
    for better, for worse, without comfort,
    and all but hopeless.
Give me peace of soul, confidence, enlargement of mind,
    morning joy that comes after night heaviness;
Water my soul with divine blessings;
Grant that I may welcome that humbling in private
    so that I might enjoy thee in public;
Give me a mountain top as high as the valley is low.
Thy grace can melt the worst sinner, and I am as vile as he;
Yet thou hast made me a monument of mercy,
    a trophy of redeeming power;
In my distress let me not forget this.

All-wise God,
Thy never-failing providence orders every event,
    sweetens every fear,
    reveals evil’s presence lurking in seeming good,
    brings real good out of seeming evil,
    makes unsatisfactory what I set my heart upon,
    to show me what a short-sighted creature I am,
    and to teach me to live by faith upon
        thy blessed self.

Out of sorrow and night
    give me the name Naphtali -
    ‘satisfied with favour’ -
    help me to love thee as thy child,
    and to walk worthy of my heavenly pedigree.

November 27, 2010

Here’s another of Scotty Smith’s prayers that I particularly enjoyed. As I’ve said before, what I like about these prayers is how real they are; they’re not full of fancy words and Christianese. They’re not too polished or perfect—they’re just heartfelt prayers. If you didn’t read it a couple of days ago, be sure to read A Prayer About My Dad’s Welcome Home.

In the meantime, here is “A Prayer About Jesus’ Tenacious Questioning.”

Jesus, we’re always vulnerable to the destructive power of sin, but it seems like we’re especially vulnerable when there’s some kind of emotional upheaval in our hearts. Like Cain, when we’re angry and sulking about something or someone (Abel), we can be easily “had” by sin, giving into its desire—its seductive and destructive ways. O for the Day when the season of sin’s pleasure will be ended forever (Heb. 11:25; Rev. 21:1-5).

Jesus, thank you for tenaciously pursing us and asking searching questions like, “Why are you angry?”, or, “Why are you so downcast?”, or “What do you fear?”, or “Why are you so quiet and distant?” Though you know the answer to these and every question you ask, we probably don’t. Gracious heart-knower, show us our hearts… show me my heart. What are these emotions really saying? What sins are waiting to take these feelings and have a destructive field day?

I wish we only had to think about the sin that’s crouching just outside the door—the tempter and temptress without just waiting to pounce. But the truth is, Jesus, until you return to finish making all things new, we’ve got to be wise to the sin that’s crouching inside of us, as well. Like Paul, the very things we don’t want to do, we still do… and the very things we want to do, they’re not easily done. We long for more freedom to live and to love as we’re loved by you.

How I praise you there’s no condemnation hanging over me for my sin… for you hung on the cross in my place. How I praise you that to be tempted is not an act of sin, for even you, Jesus, were tempted. I would despair if this were not the case. You have mastered sin for us. You’ve exhausted its penalty and broken it’s power. Sin will not have dominion over us ever again.

In this good news… in this gospel.. I trust today. As you show me my vulnerable heart, Jesus, show me your compassionate and loving heart ten times over. That will more than meet my need. So very Amen, I pray, in your strong, present and redeeming name.

November 21, 2010

As you know, I often post a prayer on Sunday morning—a prayer drawn from any number of sources. This week I’m turning again to Scotty Smith, pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, TN. This week he wrote one and posted it to his blog. He titled it “A Prayer About God’s Delight and Our Hope.” It’s a prayer I found myself praying to the Lord on my behalf, for the struggle Smith confesses here is a struggle I fight through as well.

His pleasure is not in the strength of the horse, nor his delight in the legs of a man; the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love. Psalm 147:10-11

Compassionate Father, once again, I come before you as a repeat offender… a man suffering from doxological dementia… one of your beloved children who gives you multiplied opportunities to demonstrate the wonder of your “unlimited patience” (1 Tim 1:16). I’m a perpetual candidate for summer school in the gospel. I demonstrate this in many ways.

Whenever I feel disconnected from you or get disappointed with me… whenever I experience the accusations and condemnation of the enemy… whenever I see other believers more zealous… missionaries more passionate… young converts more committed… or friends more generous… my default mode is to lace up my running shoes and get busy for you.

Instead of coming to you for fellowship and renewal in the gospel, I start running to do something to fuel my pride and tame my conscience. I put my good feelings ahead of your declared delight. I put pleasuring me ahead of pleasuring you.

For as you tell us in this Scripture, you don’t find any pleasure or delight in the strength and movement of our “legs”—in what we can do for you. You find great pleasure as we put our hope in what you’ve done for us in Jesus. Indeed, where can we find your unfailing… unwavering… unending love? Only in the gospel of your grace. This is counterintuitive and contrary to the way I’m wired and the way the world works… literally the way the world works.

Astonishing… to fear you is the beginning of wisdom… and we fear you the most when we hope most fully in your unfailing love for us in Jesus. Father, should we forget where we parked our cars… the address of our homes… or even our own names, may we never forget this glorious gospel. So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ most merciful and grace-full name.

November 14, 2010

I very much appreciated this prayer written by Pastor Scotty Smith. It’s a prayer that teaches theology in an area where there is great confusion—the will of God. I won’t introduce it any further than that.

In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps. Proverbs 16:9

Sovereign Father, this promise brings me immeasurable peace, humility, and joy. You’re vitally engaged in determining and directing every one of our steps. You’re working all things together after the counsel of your will. You’re working in all things for your glory and for our good. You open doors no man can shut and you shut doors no man can open. Indeed, you’re no mere life coach, you’re the Lord of all things… including me.

Many years I labored under the arrogance and anxiety of assuming that if I prayed hard enough and long enough… that if I was really filled with and “tuned” into the Holy Spirit, I could know the specifics of your will for my life… well in advance of any decision that needed to be made. Of course, my assumption was that if I was in your will, life would be enjoyable, pleasant and hassle-free.

If I bought the right car, it would never break down…If I bought the right house, the roof would never leak… If I married the right person, we would never disagree… If I went to the right college I’d get the right job and life would be all-right... If I sent my kids to the right school, they would never act out and would end up on the mission field. If all of this was true, I wouldn’t really need you.

Father, you’re certainly honored when we work hard to make good plans, in keeping with our understanding of the Scriptures. It’s important for us to seek and heed, wise prayerful counsel of good and godly friends. But help us to live with more confidence that Jesus is the Good Shepherd, not a consulting partner… a very present Lord, not an absentee landlord… the reigning King, not an impotent bystander. Because of Jesus, I’m confident your will is being done… on earth as it is in heaven.

Free us to accept that many times your will leads to great suffering and pain. It’s called the cross. But the cross and resurrection go together. Hallelujah! What a most glorious and gracious Father you are. So very Amen, we pray, in Jesus’ exalted and very present name.

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October 31, 2010

This week I received Heart Cries to Heaven, a new book from DayOne that is a compilation of prayers composed by David Campell, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Carlisle, PA. One of those prayers stood out to me as I considered the week to come in which Americans will head to the polls and elect their new representatives. Here is a “Prayer for Godly Leaders.”

*****

Our great and gracious God,

We pray that you will give us leaders who fear your name. We ask for those who are in authority over us

that they may be men and women of Christian integrity,
men and women imbued with the principles of the Word of God,
who will themselves walk in your ways and set an example in public office.

We ask, Lord, that you will not give us up to the sway of those who care nothing for you and for your laws.

Give us godly leaders, we pray.

We pray, too, for godly leaders within the church.

We pray for the reformation of the visible church and for great revival within its midst. May those who are in the positions of leadership manifest the same qualities that we see manifest supremely in our Lord Jesus Christ, and that, under the leadership of such men, your church would flourish.

Give us all grace, we pray,

Everyone who is a member of this congregation or of another congregation, to be a good and faithful servant of Jesus Christ, each one of us. We pray that you will bless our time together to that end.

We pray that you will stand with your servant as he opens up the Word,
That you will put words in his mouth,
That you will give to us illumined minds and hearts,

and we pray that you will make that Word
written upon our hearts
and make our time together to be truly
a means of grace,
that we, in this week that is before us, may
walk in your ways.

Hear us, O God, we pray, and these prayers and the many others that in the silence of our hearts we would lift to you, the omniscient God.

Hear us, for Jesus’ sake.
 Amen.

October 03, 2010

Today I have two unrelated quotes for you. Each of these caught my eye this week. The first is a prayer from Augustine of Hippo (a.k.a. St. Augustine).

O my God,
let me, with thanksgiving,
remember, and confess unto you
your mercies on me.

Let my bones be soaked with your love,
and let them say unto you,
Who is like you, O Lord?

You have broken my chains in pieces.
I will offer unto you the sacrifice of thanksgiving
And how you have broken them, I will declare;
and all who worship you, when they hear this, will say:
Blessed is the Lord in heaven and in earth!
Great and wonderful is his name!

A brief prayer, but an important one. (HT:TW)

And here is a prayer (or a kind of prayer) from George Whitefield:

“Yea…that we shall see the great Head of the Church once more … raise up unto Himself certain young men whom He may use in this glorious employ. And what manner of men will they be? Men mighty in the Scriptures, their lives dominated by a sense of the greatness, the majesty and holiness of God, and their minds and hearts aglow with the great truths of the doctrines of grace. They will be men who have learned what it is to die to self, to human aims and personal ambitions; men who are willing to be ‘fools for Christ’s sake’, who will bear reproach and falsehood, who will labor and suffer, and whose supreme desire will be, not to gain earth’s accolades, but to win the Master’s approbation when they appear before His awesome judgment seat. They will be men who will preach with broken hearts and tear-filled eyes, and upon whose ministries God will grant an extraordinary effusion of the Holy Spirit, and who will witness ‘signs and wonders following’ in the transformation of multitudes of human lives.”

September 26, 2010

Yeah, I know that I posted a prayer yesterday. But this is another great one I came across (one drawn from The Valley of Vision but which I stumbled across while reading some other web sites). It is titled “Continual Repentance.” I think these lines are particularly good: “I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness.”

O God of Grace,

You have imputed my sin to my substitute, and have imputed his righteousness to my soul, clothing me with a bridegroom’s robe, decking me with jewels of holiness. But in my Christian walk I am still in rags; my best prayers are stained with sin; my penitential tears are so much impurity; my confessions of wrong are so many aggravations of sin; my receiving the Spirit is tinctured with selfishness.

I need to repent of my repentance; I need my tears to be washed; I have no robe to bring to cover my sins, no loom to weave my own righteousness; I am always standing clothed in filthy garments, and by grace am always receiving change of raiment, for you always justify the ungodly; I am always going into the far country, and always returning home as a prodigal, always saying, “Father, forgive me,” and you are always bringing forth the best robe.

Every morning let me wear it, every evening return in it, go out to the day’s work in it, be married in it, be wound in death in it, stand before the great white throne in it, enter heaven in it shining as the sun.

Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, the exceeding wonder of grace.

September 25, 2010

A prayer to pray after you finish praying—it’s a bit odd, I admit, and yet it makes some sense. At least it makes sense when you read it and pray it on your own. Who hasn’t felt like this when they pray?: “O God of grace, I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers; their poverty adds sin to my sin.” Have you ever wanted to pray better? Have you ever realized just how poor you are at praying? Then read and pray this prayer from The Valley of Vision:

O God of grace,
I bewail my cold, listless, heartless prayers;
their poverty adds sin to my sin.
If my hope were in them I should be undone,
But the worth of Jesus perfumes my feeble breathings, and wins their acceptance.
Deepen my contrition of heart,
Confirm my faith in the blood that washes from all sin.
May I walk lovingly with my great Redeemer.
Flood my soul with true repentance that my heart may be broken for sin and unto sin.
Let me be as slow to forgive myself as thou art ready to forgive me.
Gazing on the glories of thy grace may I be cast into the lowest depths of shame.
and walk with downcast head now thou art pacified towards me.
O my great High Priest,
pour down upon me streams of needful grace,
bless me in all my undertakings,
in every thought of my mind,
every word of my lips,
every step of my feet,
every deed of my hands.
Thou didst live to bless,
die to bless,
rise to bless,
ascend to bless,
take thy throne to bless,
and now thou dost reign to bless.
O give sincerity to my desires,
earnestness to my supplications,
fervour to my love.

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