Category Archives: Prayer

A Prayer for Preparing to Love All Kinds of People This Thanksgiving

     And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:16–19

     Lord Jesus, this passage underscores our calling to love all kinds of people in all kinds of situations—including holiday gatherings like Thanksgiving. No calling exposes our need for the gospel more than the command to love well, and no calling better positions us to trust you to do way more than we can ask or imagine.

     Because of your great love for us, Jesus, we don’t have to be afraid of anything—dying or living. We’re thankful we can rely and draw upon the great love you have for us in the gospel. May your perfect love continue to drive out all our fears—including the fears related to the demands and risks of love.  

     Help us love our family members in fresh and creative ways. Fill us with your kindness, compassion, patience, and forbearance. Nobody in our families is beyond the need or reach of your grace. Don’t let us forget this; don’t let us disbelieve it.

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A Prayer for Remembering Things for Which We Are Grateful

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you1 Thess. 5:18

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me. Psalm 50:23

Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Eph. 5:20

Dear heavenly Father, before we have a chance to whine today, we want to worship you; before we start counting our disappointments, we want to declare our encouragements; before we fall into fretting and blaming, we cho0se to rejoice and give thanks. You have given us ample reasons to do so.

First and foremost, we bless you, Father, for your steadfast, unwavering, and enduring love. Most of our gripes can be traced back to not believing you love us as much as you say you do. We look to people and stuff, circumstances and storylines to fill the agape-shaped hole in our hearts. It never works, and we only end up making ourselves and other people miserable. By your Holy Spirit, renew and supersize our core conviction of the utter sufficiency, and immeasurable wonder of your love for us in Jesus. Hallelujah, the gospel is true!

And Father, we also thank you (by faith) for circumstances we can’t control, people we can’t change, and regrets we can’t undo. For these things drive us to Jesus in ways we, otherwise, wouldn’t choose for ourselves. Though we’d rather be self-sufficient, you …

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A Prayer in Praise of Our Father Who Loves to Encourage Us

     May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word2 Thess. 2:16-17 

     Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hopeRom. 15:4

     Dear heavenly Father, I praise you today for your compassion-driven, wisdom-laden, Swiss-timed commitment to encourage us. You could delegate a legion of angels or you could send a raven to feed us breakfast—either of which would be cool, but instead, you personally come to us in the Scriptures by your Spirit.

     Indeed, the Bible is such a gift to us—a treasure trove of hope, an artesian spring of refreshment, a perpetual supply of redemptive surprises, an always-working GPS for return trips to gospel sanity; for it’s the “cradle of the Christ,” not a manual for self-reform. It shows us that wisdom is a Person—the Lord Jesus, not a formula for success. It reveals the depth of our need, so we might boast in the riches of your provision—the gospel of your grace.

     Father, may the “eternal encouragement and good hope” of the gospel free us for a week of gratitude, not grumbling; blessing, not cursing; giving, not grabbing; encouraging, not criticizing—loving one another as Jesus so radically loves us.

     As this day begins (and …

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A Prayer for the Beginning of Thanksgiving Week

     So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Col. 2:6-7 

     Dear Lord Jesus, on this Lord’s Day before Thanksgiving, we declare our desire to give you the quality and quantity of thanks of which you are eternally worthy. Not like a slow drip, babbling brook, or a meandering stream, but joyfully erupting and overflowing thankfulness.

     Our motivation is manifold. From the nanosecond we trusted you as Savior and Lord, we were fully forgiven, and firmly rooted in your righteousness and love. Just as we can’t add one iota to your righteousness, we can never be separated from your love. You’ve already rescued us from the penalty of sin; you’re continually setting us free from the power of sin; and one Day you’ll deliver us from the very presence of sin.

     Jesus, we now live in you, and are being built up and strengthened by you—maturing by the same grace that saved us; being liberated for the race that you’ve set before us; loving others as you so radically love us.

     You’ve freed us from our little stories and fiefdoms of self, and have written us into your big Story of redeeming love and cosmic restoration. You’ve made us citizens of heaven, and heirs of life in the new heaven and new earth. Your generosity is …

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A Prayer for Marinating in the “In-All-Things-Goodness” of Jesus

     And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Rom. 8:28-32

     Dear Lord Jesus, every word of the Bible, in one way or another, is ultimately about you. Every command drives me to you. Every promise is fulfilled in you. Every story “whispers your name,” points to your glory, and proffers your grace. Yet there are some Scriptures that have become “homeroom” to me—like a favorite chair, pub, walking path, or scenic view. To go there puts everything into perspective. Romans 8:28-32 is just such a place. The hopes and fears of all our years converge in these shockingly glorious words.

     Jesus, your presence and your presents are all that we need, much more than we realize, and way beyond all we could have ever hoped for or imagined. You are working in all things for your glory and for our …

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A Prayer for Greater Freedom from “Me-First-Ness”

     I have written something to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, does not acknowledge our authority. So if I come, I will bring up what he is doing, talking wicked nonsense against us. And not content with that, he refuses to welcome the brothers, and also stops those who want to and puts them out of the church. 3 John 9-10

     Dear Lord Jesus, how humbling—being chronicled in the Bible, by name, as someone “who loves to be first.” Yikes… I don’t know the circumstances, but Diotrephes’ story certainly invites me to look at mine. Jesus, please convict me and free me from the ways I too love and seek to be first.

     In my church family—when I take more than I give; am more likely to complain about the music than serve the members; criticize the sermons more than I pray for my pastor.

     In the general population—when I rush through the day, “to-do-list-driven,” with little eye contact, and no obvious effort to extend your welcome to others.

     In my vocation—when fellow workers experience me as more preoccupied with my success, than dedicated to caring and serving as a member of a team.

     In my marriage—when I’m more aware of the things that annoy and disappoint me than I’m committed to encouraging and serving, listening and loving my spouse.

     In my friendships—when my “need” to be remembered and appreciated, is more pronounced than my commitment to stay in touch with, …

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A Prayer for Grieving Death and Resting in the Hope of the Gospel

Jesus wept. John 11:35

     Dear Lord Jesus, this is the shortest verse in the Bible, but it’s immeasurably long in terms of comfort and encouragement.  Your hot, compassionate tears, shed outside of Lazarus’s tomb, are one of the greatest showers that ever fell upon the face of the earth. You wept a waterfall of mercy and grace; a river of kindness and peace; and a torrent of tenderness and strength.

     You knew that within a matter of moments, your friend would breathe again. You knew he’d walk again. You knew you’d enjoy Lazarus’ company very soon. And yet you wept full-heartedly, as you allowed yourself to feel the implications of his death. Those privileged to see your sacred fury and great sadness, offered profound commentary, “See how he loved him!” (John 11:36)

     Jesus, we’re so glad you are such a tenderhearted Savior. I begin today grieving the death of a dear friend, and many of us are facing the death of a loved one. Some of us have recently buried a friend, a parent, a spouse, or most painfully, a child. Others of us are coming upon the painful anniversary of great loss. Thank you for validating the pain, the emptiness, the confusion, the great sadness we feel.

     At times, like Lazarus’ sister, we cry, “Lord, if only you’d been there”, and you don’t wince, roll your eyes or shame us. You never glibly say to us with impatience, “Get over it.” Rather you say with …

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A Prayer for an Increase in Our Joy by a Decrease of Ourselves

     They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”  John 3:26-30

     Dear Lord Jesus, I want nothing to do with a wardrobe of camel’s hair clothing, and a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4), but I do want more of John the Baptist’s joy—the joy of your increase and my decrease. Even in his mother’s womb, John leapt for joy before you (Luke 1:39-41). O, to be this impacted and liberated by your promised and abiding presence.

      Jesus, I want your Spirit to increase my joy so I won’t expect, or “need,” people to make anything of me. Indeed, slay the “approval suck” beast in my life—giving people too much power over my heart, either to “pump me up” or tear me down. 

     Such joy would free me to grieve when people don’t love and honor you—more so more than when they …

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A Prayer for Those in the Grip of Grace and the Valley of Fear

     When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Ps. 56:3-4

     If one part (of the Body of Christ) suffers, all the parts suffer with it. 1 Cor. 12:26

     Dear heavenly Father, as the reach of the internet keeps expanding, the world feels smaller than ever, and the stories and struggles of our family in Christ are much more real to us. We have brothers and sisters, around the world, for whom this Scripture about fear and trust is a daily reality.

When King David prayed this prayer, he was a prisoner of Philistines in Gath; as we pray, Father, here are some other fear-producing storylines, we bring to your occupied throne of grace—confident of your mercy and might.

We pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan—the five countries in the world where Christians are most likely to be singled out for daily persecution. Father, may your perfect love tame their fears and deepen their trust. As they suffer, we suffer, because we’re family.

The Psalmist asked, “What can mere mortals man do to me?” To which we respond, “Plenty,” but in view of eternity and what really matters, very little. As these Christians live out the story of your redeeming love in Jesus, grant them the same grace and courage you gave Justin Martyr. When facing “mere mortals” who would take his life, …

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A Prayer for Rejoicing and Resting in God’s Sovereign Rule Over All Things

     At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, And he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?” Dan. 4:34-35

     Dear heavenly Father, I need to “bookmark” this passage and return to it often, for it doesn’t just tell the conversion story of a pagan King; it’s the ongoing story of my heart. Your sovereignty is our sanity; your rule is our rest; your dominion is our delight. Navel-gazing and circumstance watching, and talk-radio-fixating and political-pundit-feasting never serve us well.

     Father, help us to understand the glorious implications of your perpetual enthronement. Your dominion is the only eternal dominion. November elections and political insurrections; temperature instability and terrorist insanity don’t affect your reign one micro-bit or one nanosecond.

     For your kingdom endures from generation to generation. There never has been, nor will there ever be, any nervous sweat, furrowed brows, or anxious pacing in heaven. There’ll never be one moment of consternation or vexation in the corridors of paradise; no need for a contingency plan to emerge from the “big boardroom in the sky.”

     Father, you do as you …

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