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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.


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.

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.

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.