The secrets of their hearts are laid bare, (and) they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” 1 Cor. 14:25
Dear heavenly Father, what an amazing scene Paul describes in this Scripture. What more could we possibly long for in our services of worship than for your presence to be so obvious that even non-believers would be compelled to acknowledge you are powerfully at work in our midst, and in our hearts?
There’s only one reason we’re not afraid for the secrets in our hearts to be “laid bare” today, and it’s because you open wide and laid bare your heart towards us in Jesus. You dealt with Jesus according to our sins and have rewarded us according to his righteousness. Hallelujah, many times over! Only the gospel frees us to fall down and worship you in humility, not humiliation; in gratitude, not groveling; in repentant faith, not uncertain penance; in the assurance of Christ’s righteousness, not the condemnation of our unrighteousness.
Father, grant our church families this same freedom—especially as we gather each Lord’s Day to worship you. In a day when we seem to need more gadgets and gimmicks to create “worship experiences,” free us from needing anything more than the gospel to worship you the way you deserve and delight to be worshiped.
Reel us back in anytime we move away from the “sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:3). Teach us how to be stewards of technology, …
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. Jer. 17:14 (NIV)
Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Psalm 51:12 (ESV)
Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalm 73:25-26 (NLT)
Dear heavenly Father, for your welcoming heart, we adore you; for your daily mercies, we worship you; for your steadfast love, praise you. Your grace finds us where we are, but, thankfully, it doesn’t leave us there. Each of us longs for a renewed and robust relationship with you. We want to get back on the dance floor of your delight, as the music of the gospel fills the chambers of our hearts again. Gracious and loving Father, bring us home. Restore to us our first love relationship with Jesus.
Some of us are just worn out, spent, and weary from life’s incessant demands. It’s not that we don’t love you, Lord; it’s just that the joy of our salvation has been replaced with sighs of just getting by. Breathe, O breath of God, and bring refreshment and renewal to our tired hearts.
Some of us are weighted down with stressed relationships, or old wounds showing up with fresh power, or new hurts, which have blindsided us and buckled our …
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt. 11:28-29 (ESV)
He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Isa. 43:2 (NLT)
Dear Lord Jesus, we praise you for perpetually presiding at the throne of grace, and for doing so with so much joy, gentleness, and burden-bearing love. When we feel our weakest—when we feel like “flickering candles” you don’t judge us us, you lavish compassion on us; you don’t roll your eyes with disgust, you open your arms with delight. You promise us a rest you alone can give, and we are ready to receive.
We bring you the weariness that comes from seeking to love well. We bring you our fatigue born from our stories of grief and loss, care-giving and criticism-taking. Jesus, help us to accept the reality of our emotional depletion and mental tiredness. No aspect of our lives is more delightful and more depleting than our relationships. As parents, spouses, and friends, grant us grace, wisdom, and strength, Lord Jesus. Give us thick skin and big hearts for staying present and engaged.
We bring you the exhaustion we feel from having longer “to do” lists than …
Lord, you poured out blessings on your land! You restored the fortunes of Israel. You forgave the guilt of your people—yes, you covered all their sins. You held back your fury. You kept back your blazing anger. Now restore us again, O God of our salvation. Psalm 85:1-4 (NLT)
Dear heavenly Father, you have an awesome “track record” of rescuing, restoring, and renewing your people. The history of redemption is filled with episodes of your Spirit and love being poured out upon a people who deserve judgment and chastisement. Therefore, we join the Psalmist is crying out, “Do it again, Lord.”
O God of our salvation, be wonderful and merciful, powerful and present, heart-astonishing and knee-buckling. Father, we don’t just want to defend the gospel, we want to delight in it. The heck with status quo, propriety and ecclesiastical decorum; we want to be filled with your Spirit, joy, and praise—in our corporate worship, in our personal relationship with you, and as we live, work, and play in our communities.
One Day we will be finally and fully free, to love you with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Grant us a good measure of our glorious future now, Father. Forgive us when we’re more concerned about making non-believers uncomfortable than we are thirsty to meet with you, be undone by you, and rejoice in you.
Make the good news of the gospel fresh news in our midst. Show us more of the …
Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Heb. 12:15 (NLT)
Resentment kills a fool. Job. 5:2 (NIV)
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4:31-32 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, these Scriptures cut to the chase and bring conviction to our hearts. We are your beloved daughters and sons, but today we are also your “busted” daughters and sons; for resentment comes to us as quickly as someone steals our parking place, or eats the saran-wrapped piece of cake we hid in the “frig,” or fails to include us in some social event. It’s amazing how quickly a little slight can launch us into a big spite. Have mercy on us, Lord, and grant us fresh grace, thicker skin and bigger hearts.
But Father, being slighted is one thing, but being assaulted by the betrayals and failures, deceit and lies, attacks and abuse of others, is an altogether different matter. These aren’t things to shake off, but deep wounds, broken hearts, and incredible pain to bring to your throne of grace. You’re not calling us to denial, but to yourself. Have mercy on us, Lord, have big mercy; and grant us wisdom, strength and tons of grace.
Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:1-3 (ESV)
Do you love me? John 21:16 (NIV)
Dear Lord Jesus, Isaiah’s words rip at my heart this morning. I am freshly in awe of the love you have lavished on rebels, fools, and idolaters, like me. You, who never sinned, became sin for us, that in you, we might freely receive the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). By your crushing, we are now cherished; by your exile on the cross, we have citizenship in God’s heart; by your consummate wounding, we are becoming completely healthy; by your cruel death, we live forevermore.
It’s precisely because of your great love for us that I feel deeply convicted this morning. I can’t get away from Isaiah’s words, “and we esteemed him not”—and I don’t want to move on quickly. Because of your grace, I grieve. The truth is, every time I sin, I esteem me more than I esteem you; and when I put …
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matt. 5:13-16
Dear Lord Jesus, at times I fantasize about running off to Switzerland to live in a community of chalets, inhabited by non-codependent Christians, with few emotional needs and plenty of discretionary cash. We’d enjoy good music, food and conversation, without any of the crazy-making of an ingrown church, or the voices of political pundits, or the traffic of a big city, or the taxes of a wasteful government. That’s actually a confession of sin, not a prayer request.
For starters, I know I couldn’t afford to pay for such a selfish fantasy. More importantly, I realize this isn’t the lifestyle for which you’ve redeemed us. The church belongs to you, Jesus; she’s your beloved Bride—as broken as she is. Yet, as with everything else, we often take the church into the idol factory of our hearts and …
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:20-21
Dear heavenly Father, I love Paul’s beautiful and bold affirmation of your omnipotence. Indeed, you can do exceedingly beyond and immeasurable more than all we can ask or imagine. But today, I have no need to test either the limits of my imagination, nor the measure of your ability. There are plenty of things I CAN imagine that I’m bringing to the throne of grace. Bring glory to yourself as you work in these stories and hearts.
Father, continue to reveal more and more of Jesus to each member of my family, and extended family. I can imagine that, and greatly long for it. May none of us be satisfied with our current experience of the gospel; and for who have yet to experience the only Love that is better than life, grant the gift of new life in Christ. Open the eyes of our hearts to see just how worthy Jesus is of our affection, adoration and allegiance.
Father, I can imagine a mighty movement of your Spirit among many broken relationships in my larger community. Having lived in the Nashville area for 35 years now, I’ve seen too many church split, marriages disintegrate, and good friends get disconnected—even becoming …
Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation. Ps. 85:6-7
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s amazing what one really good rain can do to transform my dry, browning yard into a garden of fresh, green life. I begin this day grateful for the showers of the last couple of days. I can run my sprinkler endlessly, but there’s just something about the water that falls from the sky that brings refreshment and renewal like nothing else.
Jesus, our hearts are no different. When we get dry on the inside—when our rejoicing in you is displaced with complaining about you (and others and anything); when our delighting in you fades into detachment from you (and from others, and eventually from our own heart); when our love for you wilts into fading memories of you (and then into all kinds of distorted thoughts about you)—we are powerless to change, and are shut up to your provision. There’s no hose, fire hydrant, or reservoir of our own making that can even begin to make a dry heart “green”.
So we cry out with the Sons of Korah, “show us your unfailing love, O Lord, grant us your salvation.” Jesus, just as it was your unfailing love that first brought life to our deadness; likewise, your unfailing love will bring refreshment to our dryness. You have promised to “satisfy our needs in …