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prayer

September 13, 2010

Take Words With YouA few months ago my friend Tim Kerr, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Toronto gave me permission to share Take Words With You, a prayer manual he has written. It is a small book that contains over 1600 scripture promises and prayers meant to help God’s people pray more effectively. The promises are arranged around the cross—its purposes and rewards.

Tim recently updated the book to a new edition. It includes a useful defense of why God loves it when we pray his promises back to him and it also includes a guide on how to best use the manual in prayer.

Take Words With You is ideal for printing and using during times of private or corporate prayer. In fact, you’ll see that you can easily print it in 8.5” x 6.5” format and spiral bind it if you so desire. Here is how Tim introduces this little book:

Many years ago I discovered a precious truth regarding prayer: God loves to hear his own words prayed back to him! When a small child crawls up on the lap of their father and says, “Daddy when are you going to take us to the zoo like you promised?” the father smiles and assures his child he has not forgotten and is very much looking forward to doing what he promised (when the time is right). In the same way, our heavenly Father delights to hear us remind him of his promises to us. The Bible is in fact a great big prayer manual that should fill and guide our prayers each and every day.
It is hoped that the many promises of God written here will be prayed back to God in prayer as we seek to enter into God’s purposes accomplished for us through Christ’s cross. Sometimes we remember the gist of a promise but cannot remember what was said or where it is found in Scripture. This manual has been written to make that process easier by organizing the promises of God by categories and themes.

Click below if you’d like to download it for your own use. Feel free to pass it around or print it as you see fit.

September 05, 2010

Last week I shared a prayer by Matthew Henry—one that was drawn from A Method for Prayer. This week I want to share another, this time one that is a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer. Do you find that you pray the Lord’s Prayer by rote, without thinking about the familiar words? Then try praying it in this way…

Our Father in heaven, we come to thee as children to a Father able and ready to help us.

We beseech thee, let thy name be sanctified; enable us and others to glorify thee in all that whereby thou hast made thyself known, and dispose of all things to thine own glory.

Let thy kingdom come; let Satan’s kingdom be destroyed, and let the kingdom of thy grace be advanced; let us and others be brought into it, and kept in it, and let the kingdom of thy glory be hastened.

Let thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven; make us by thy grace able and willing to know, obey, and submit to thy will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread; of thy free gift let us receive a competent portion of the good things of this life, and let us enjoy thy blessing with them.

And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive them that trespass against us. We pray that for Christ’s sake thou wouldst freely pardon all our sins, and that by thy grace thou wouldst enable us from the heart to forgive others.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Either keep us, O Lord, from being tempted to sin, or support and deliver us when we are tempted.

For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Lord, we take our encouragement in prayer from thyself only and desire in our prayers to praise thee, ascribing kingdom, power, and glory to thee: And in testimony of our desires and assurance to be heard through Jesus Christ, we say Amen.

August 29, 2010

This week I came upon a prayer written by the Puritan Matthew Henry. This prayer comes from his book A Method for Prayer and is meant to be used “At the entrance upon the public worship on the Lord’s day, by the master of the assemblies.” What is most notable to me is how the prayer is almost entirely Scripture; it moves from one verse to the next, all the while seeking God’s blessing upon the worshipers. It’s a beautiful thing.

Thou, O God, art greatly to be feared in the assembly of the saints, and to be had in reverence of all them that are about thee. O give us grace to worship thee with reverence and godly fear, because thou our God art a consuming fire.

This is that which thou hast said, That thou wilt be sanctified in them which come nigh unto thee; and before all the people thou wilt be glorified. Thou art the Lord that sanctifiest us, sanctify us by thy truth, that we may sanctify thee in our hearts, and make thee our fear and our dread.

July 25, 2010

During my recent vacation I came face-to-face with my own prayerlessness and, just as discouragingly, the realization that in many ways I don’t even know how to pray. One aspect of training myself to pray more and to pray better is to write out some of my prayers in a journal. It’s a tough discipline, that. Prayer is intimate, it is private, and here I am writing it out on paper. It seems so very foreign. To make it less strange and to help me learn how to do it, I’ve been reading other people’s written prayers.

This week I was drawn to this one from Scotty Smith, whose entire blog is written prayers. He titles this “A Prayer About Being Oblivious to the Obvious.” What i like about Scotty’s prayers is the lack of pretension. They are not full of fancy words or unnecessarily formal language. He prays to God as a son petitions his father. And I think there is a lesson for me there.

Dear Lord Jesus, every time I read this story about two of your apostles and their mom asking for a position of privilege and power in your kingdom, I find my incredulity meter going berserk. How in the world could James and John possibly think such a request would ever be at all appropriate, given the three years of mentoring and modeling you gave them? Everything you taught and the way you lived your entire incarnate life absolutely contradicted such a notion and request. How dare they, how could they be so oblivious to the obvious? What’s with these power-hungry ingrates?

But just as I climb onto my hobby-horse of disgust and judgmentalism, the gospel of grace dismounts me, and I find the freedom to ask myself these questions: How am I just like James and John? When do my words, attitudes and choices contradict the very gospel that I love and defend? Whose incredulity meter am I forcing into overdrive? Those who live with me… those who work with me? Those who taste my impatience when I’m behind a steering wheel? Those who overhear my idle chatter and self-indulgent banter in any of a number of settings? Those most exposed to my unbelief, my fears, my rudeness, my driven-ness, my insincerity, my irritability?

Lord Jesus, that I’m even in your kingdom is a testimony to greatness of your mercy and the riches of your grace. The heck with sitting on your right or left, I’m just humbled and grateful to be in your hand… in your heart… in you. I could never drink the cup you alone drank for me on the cross.

The cup I now drink and the bread I now eat, remind me of your death… unite me to your life… call me to your likeness. Lord Jesus, I don’t want to be incredulous over anyone’s sin but my own. And, through the gospel, please make me less and less oblivious to my patently obvious need for more of your transforming grace.

Jesus, you came to serve not to be served, and to give your life as a ransom for many. May your servant’s heart be cultivated in me and demonstrated through me. So very Amen, I pray, in your patient and forbearing name.

June 13, 2010

Last Sunday I posted a great Evening Prayer. This week I want to post an accompanying Morning Prayer. As with last week’s, this one comes from the Canadian and American Reformed Churches web site. I suppose at some point I should write about the value in praying written prayers. But for now, consider making this your prayer this morning:

Merciful Father, we thank You that in Your great faithfulness You kept watch over us during this past night. Strengthen and guide us by Your Holy Spirit, that we may use this new day and all the days of our life in holiness and righteousness. Grant that we in all our undertakings may always have Your glory foremost in our minds. May we always work in such a manner that we expect all results and fruits of our work from Your generous hand alone.

We ask that You will graciously forgive all our sins according to Your promise, for the sake of the passion and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Your grace we are heartily sorry for all our transgressions. Illumine our hearts, that we may lay aside all works of darkness and as children of light may walk in the light and live a new life in all godliness.

Bless the proclamation of Your divine Word here and in the mission fields. Strengthen all faithful labourers in Your vineyard.

We pray for those whom You have set over us, that as servants of You, the King of kings and Lord of lords, they may rule according to the calling You give them. Give endurance to all who are persecuted because of their faith and deliver them from their enemies. Destroy all the works of the devil. Comfort the distressed. Show Your mercy and help to all who call upon Your holy Name in sickness and other trials of life. Deal with us and with all Your people according to Your grace in Christ Jesus our Lord, who assured us that You will do whatever we ask in His Name. Amen.

June 06, 2010

As you know, I enjoy looking for written prayers to pray as my own. I found this one at the web site for the Canadian and American Reformed Churches. It is a prayer meant to be prayed in the evening before retiring to bed. And it’s a good one, I think. It thanks God for the day, it seeks to add his blessing on all that has been done, it seeks his forgiveness for what has been sinful, and it asks for his continued blessing.

Merciful God, in whom is no darkness at all, we come before You at the end of this day. We thank You that You have given us strength for our daily work, and have guided us safely through this day. Bless what was good in our labour and conduct.

Since You ordained that man should labour during the day and rest at night, we pray You to give us peaceful and undisturbed rest so that we may be able to take up our daily task again. Command Your angels to guard us and cause Your face to shine upon us. We cast all our anxieties on You, for You take care of us.

May 05, 2010

It is the Lord’s delight to grant us what we ask of him in prayer. Like David, we all ought to pray, “O God, hear my prayer; give ear to the words of my mouth” (Psalm 54:2). If Christians did not believe in the effectiveness of prayer, there would be no reason for us to ask anything of God. He is the one who tells us that we can have confidence that our prayers ascend to him. “And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him” (1 John 5:14,15). While as Christians we pay lip-service to the superlatives in that sentence (“whatever” and “anything”), how often do we really believe it?

The fact is that our prayers are often hindered. There are times when it feels like our prayers are reaching the ceiling and going no further; times when we are lying face-down on the floor and feel that our prayers are rising no higher than the fibers of the carpet. While we can be sure that God does hear our prayers, there are times when he chooses not to heed or answer them. The Bible gives us at least six reasons God may not heed our prayers.

It is important to know from the outset that I am the only one who can hinder my prayers. You are the only one who can hinder your prayers. I cannot hinder your prayers anymore than you can hinder mine. And while we may have done much to hinder our prayers, we are not necessarily even aware of this. So let’s look at these as six warnings from Scripture.

May 02, 2010

After a while I start to feel lazy when posting quotes and prayers from other people. But this prayer from Scotty Smith is a good one. I love his prayers for their humanness. I like The Valley of Vision as much as the next guy, but somewhere along the way the prayers take on a kind of formality, presumably in the antiquated language. But here in Scotty Smith’s prayers there is something I can identify with much more. There an informality, a hesitation (check out all those ellipses) that seems just like the way I pray.

This prayer is premised on Isaiah 26:3-4: “You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD, the LORD, is the Rock eternal.”

Most kind and trustworthy Father, you haven’t promised me a storm-less, hassle-free disappointment-empty life. You offer me no formulas for decreasing the probability of sad things happening around me or disillusioning things happening to me. But you have promised me something that transcends the chaos and fear of uncertainty.

April 18, 2010

Here is another prayer from pastor Scotty Smith. This one deals with Christ’s active advocacy as he sits (or stands) at the right hand of the Father.

Most loving Lord Jesus, this scene in Stephen’s costly discipleship profoundly underscores what a wonderful, merciful and engaged Savior you really are. At the climax of his stoning he sees you standing at the right hand of the Father—rising for the very occasion of his greatest challenge, and soon to be realized death. Oh indeed, you are the Good Shepherd who cares, not the wicked hireling who disregards the plight of your lambs…

May this image supplant every wrong notion I’ve ever had about you “sitting at the right hand of the Father.” Your “sitting” doesn’t speak of passivity or inactivity. On the contrary, you are “sitting” as one in session—as the One already enthroned as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. When you completed your work of redemption for us on the cross, then and only then, did you take your seat at the right hand of God the Father, celebrating the victory of your cry, “It is finished!” And since that time all of your enemies are becoming your footstool, as your kingdom advances in time and space (Hebrews 10:12-13, John 19:30).

Jesus, forgive me for ever thinking that you’ve forgotten about me… don’t really care about me… or have even abandoned me. I confess that sometimes, especially when life seems the hardest… most unfair… most alone… most broken, in those times I entertain these foolish, unfounded, disbelieving notions.

So, God the Holy Spirit, continue to work in my life as you did in Stephen’s. Open the eyes of my heart to see more and more of the glory and grace of Jesus. Let me always be seeing “heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God,” no matter if the sky is filled with the most foreboding, dark, threatening clouds imaginable, or if the sky is totally cloudless and is as Carolina blue as it is capable of being… just let me see Jesus, and it is enough.

And as I pray this for myself, I also include friends and family who are in the midst of very hard providences or the seductions of ease and prosperity. Glancing at Jesus will never be enough for us… ever keep us gazing. So very Amen, I pray, in Jesus’ most glorious and grace-full name.

March 27, 2010

My friend Tim Kerr, pastor of Sovereign Grace Church in Toronto has given me permission to post the manual for prayer he has titled Take Words With You. It is a small book that contains 1600+ scripture promises & prayers to help God’s people pray more effectively. The promises are arranged around the cross—it’s purposes & rewards.

It is ideal for printing and using during times of private or corporate prayer. In fact, you’ll see that you can easily print it in 8.5” x 6.5” format and spiral bind it if you so desire. Here is how Tim introduces this little book:

Many years ago I discovered a precious truth regarding prayer: God loves to hear his own words prayed back to him! When a small child crawls up on the lap of their father and says, “Daddy when are you going to take us to the zoo like you promised?” the father smiles and assures his child he has not forgotten and is very much looking forward to doing what he promised (when the time is right). In the same way, our heavenly Father delights to hear us remind him of his promises to us. The Bible is in fact a great big prayer manual that should fill and guide our prayers each and every day.

It is hoped that the many promises of God written here will be prayed back to God in prayer as we seek to enter into God’s purposes accomplished for us through Christ’s cross. Sometimes we remember the gist of a promise but cannot remember what was said or where it is found in Scripture. This manual has been written to make that process easier by organizing the promises of God by categories and themes.

Click below if you’d like to download it for your own use. Feel free to pass it around or print it as you see fit.

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