A Prayer for the Riches of the Gospel to Stun Us, Yet Again

     But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. Gal. 4:4-7 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, though the immediate circumstances surrounding your birthing experience were less than ideal, everything happened just as you, our Father, and the Holy Spirit planned. “Doing all things well” didn’t just start happening after your resurrection.

     “When the time had fully come” you came—not day early and not a day late. As humbling as it was to be born under the ceiling of a stable, being born under the weight of the law was an incomparably greater burden. Yet that’s exactly why you came into the world—to fulfill every demand of the law for us, by your life of perfect obedience; and to exhaust it’s judgment against us, by your death for us upon the cross. You are our substitute to trust long before you are our model to follow. Hallelujah, so many times over!

      Because you lived and died in our place, we’re no longer slaves, but beloved daughters and sons of the living and loving God. We’ve been completely forgiven and are now robed in your righteousness; we’ve been sealed with …

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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 Rekindling Our Gratitude

     [The older son] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”  Luke 15:28-31

     Dear heavenly Father, though I’d never boast about my “many years of serving you,” nor am I tempted to trust in my works for your favor; nevertheless, at times my ingratitude matches that of the older son. I stand convicted; but I do my best repenting, not by beating myself up, but by preaching the gospel to my own heart, so here goes.

     Father, you are constantly running to me in the gospel—inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace—to enjoy the music of reconciliation, to sing the songs of redemption, to make merry to the glory of God.

     You are constantly saying to my grumbling, complaining, discontented, self-righteous face, “My son, you’re always with me because I’m always with you. Nothing will ever separate you from my lavish love for you in Jesus. I greatly delight in you. I rejoice over you with singing. Everything I have is yours.

     All your sins are forgiven, …

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A Prayer for Learning the Secret of Contentment, Again and Again

     I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

     Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

    Do all things without grumbling. Phil. 2:14 (ESV)

      Dear heavenly Father, there are some aspects of this life of grace for which I seem to need constant refreshment courses. Contentment is one of them. I know you’re not calling us to kill desire, demonize ambition, or decry enjoyment; and yet I totally “get” your warnings about complaining, ingratitude, and discontent.

     So I come to you, Father, once again, acknowledging a need you alone can meet. Grant me the grace of contentment. Whether I have a little or a lot; am well known or forgotten; live in a palace or a garage apartment; feast on filet mignon or yesterday’s mac and cheese. Whether I feel included or left out; celebrated or underappreciated; have discretionary funds for splurging, or literally have to pray for daily bread. Whether my relationships are “rocking” or are rocky; whether I have really good health, or chronic maladies. Father, I want to be content—not passive or in denial, but truly grateful; not immune to pain, …

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A Prayer for Giving Thanks

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

     Dear heavenly Father, thank you for only commanding things that intensify our worship of you—and things that free us from a paralyzing preoccupation with ourselves and liberate us for loving those around us. The command to give you thanks is just such a transforming imperative. And the awesome thing is, that as your children, we have a copious supply of reasons to stay grateful. My list looks like this today:

     Thank you for granting us 100% forgiveness, declaring us righteous in Christ, and hiding our lives in Jesus. You cannot love us more and you’ll never love us less. That’s not cliché, a mantra, or mere gospel-speak: It’s the best news, now and forever.

     Thank you for sovereignly ruling over all things all the time. Though in my weakness I often question your timing and ways, all I have to do is look at Jesus and I am reassured of your heart.

     Thank you for the all the green I saw in Ireland this summer, the kaleidoscopic array of people you brought into my life over the past twelve weeks, and for showing me how alive and well your kingdom and church are throughout the world.

     Thank you for the reassurance that Alzheimer’s and cancer, mental illness and addiction don’t get the last word. Thank you that because the gospel is …

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A Prayer for Giving God Thanks for His Immeasurable Generosity

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

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).

     Dear heavenly Father, my heart is filled with thanksgiving as I begin this day. Thank you for being such an incomparably kind and relentlessly generous God. Though the weakness of my flesh and the whisperings of the devil will try to sabotage my gratitude as the day unfolds, I want to tell you what is presently fresh and real in my heart.

     First of all, thank you for the “indescribable gift” of the gospel. Because of Jesus, no condemnation is left for my sin; perfect righteousness is declared to be mine; and I cannot, and will not, ever experience separation from your love. Hallelujah, many times over!

     Thank you for your commitment to bring your work in me to completion one Day. I so want to be like Jesus, and I’m so not like Jesus in many ways. But I praise you that you love me right now to the degree I’m in Christ, not like Christ, and I’m 100% in, so thank you!

     Father, thank you for being tenaciously at work for my good in all things—in the things that thrill me and the things that annoy me; in in the wounds that still hurt me and the failures that …

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A Prayer for New Growth in Gratitude

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18 (ESV) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17 (NIV)

     One of them (one of the lepers), when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ”Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:15-15 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be more like the healed Samaritan leper that came back to you shouting, “Praise God!” Indeed, I want my whole being to yell with thanks, for all the blessings and benefits I have from knowing you. The heck with measured, polite, or mile-mannered appreciation—I want to overflow with gratitude.

     As Creator and Sustainer, Jesus, I bless you for every good thing you have given (and give) me: Food and clothing, shelter and a bed; lungs and breath, a vocation and vacations; medical care and money to spend, a family to love and friends galore; fish to catch and bread to share. And the list goes on and on.

     As Savior and Redeemer, Jesus, I adore you for living in my place and dying in my …

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A Prayer for Growing a Heart of Contentment

     I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

     Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Heb. 13:5 (NLT)

     And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, these verses are as familiar to me as sunrise and sunset; and yet, like the magnificent way you paint the morning and evening skyline, I can easily ignore the wonder of these words. First and foremost, I bless and adore you for being a Father who will never fail or abandon his children; and, secondly, for being a God who studies our needs, and who answers those needs with riches, not pittance. You are so present and loving, kind and generous.

     Accordingly, Father, like Paul, I do want to learn more about contentment. For the more content I am, the more present I’ll be in relationships—not stressing or even thinking about what I don’t have; and the more generous I’ll become—for I’ll be quicker to acknowledge that everything I have, I’ve received as a gift from you; and the more flexible and spontaneous I’ll be in serving you—not being defined …

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