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 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 Praising God for Rescuing Us from Various Pits

     I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:1-3 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, your beauty is beyond compare; your love is better than life; your faithfulness is without question; your grace is without limits; and your mercies are new every single day. We praise, bless, and adore you. There is no god like you; there is no God but you.

     We rejoice in your pit-rescuing goodness today. Father, I don’t know what “pit of despair” King David was writing about in this Psalm, but I can name a great number of “pits” from which you have been faithful to rescue us, and others for which we now trust you for rescue.

     We worship you for plucking us out of the pit of graceless religion and gospel-less spirituality. Father, thank you, thank you, thank you for opening the eyes of our hearts to see the greatness of our need and your even greater provision for us in Jesus. There is no life apart from Christ and no hope without the gospel of your …

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A Prayer for Black Friday and Cyber Everyday

If we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 1 Tim. 6:8 (ESV)

So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matt. 6:31-33 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, they should have called it Black Thursday this year, because before we even had our Thanksgiving coffee, the stores were beckoning shoppers with huge savings on giant TV’s, and incredible markdowns other stuff. And I awoke today with more cyber deals in my email inbox than I can possibly shake my credit card at.     

     I judge no one, Jesus, for I am as spoiled and covetous as anyone. I thank you that I’ve never had to be concerned about what I’ll eat, drink, or wear; and I happy that tons of people will get some really great deals the next few days.

     But on this Black Friday, I’m especially grateful for Good Friday, and what you accomplished for us by your life, death, and resurrection. It’s only because of you, Jesus, that we know God as Abba, Father—the God who knows our every need and answers before we ask; the King who gives us all things, richly to enjoy and to freely share; the Lord who satisfies …

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A Prayer for Savoring Our Blessed Now and Shameless Future

     If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ”Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Rom. 10:9-11 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, this is another day you have made, and I will rejoice in be glad in it. How can I not be glad and rejoice with all my heart? Though there remain many things over which I have zero control—circumstances I’d love to change, people I yearn to be healthier, and stories I wish I could write, nonetheless, my blessings in you far outnumber the broken things in my world.

Thank you for giving me the awareness of my need, and the faith to believe, that you are Lord—the Lord of creation and the new creation; the Lord of life and of death; the Lord of all kings and all craziness; the Lord of the environment and all government; the Lord of my days and my hairs; the Lord of my hunger and my feasting; the Lord of my laments and my laughter; the Lord of my justification—indeed my whole salvation.

Lord Jesus, with grace-bought freedom, I once again confess you to be the Lord of lords and King of kings. I do believe in my heart that God raised you from the dead—for my redemption, as well as the restoration of the …

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A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Discontented

     Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 (NIV)

     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)

     Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Ps. 37:4-5 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, I assume that until the Day you either take me home, or send Jesus back to finish making all things new, I’m going to be both a whiner and a worshiper. Some days, nothing feels like it’s enough—people, places, or things. Other days, your love, grace, and presence are more real and satisfying than anything else, and all things combined.

     I want more of those days, Father—more of the days when your love is better than life, your grace is more than sufficient, and your presence is sweeter than honey. But until the Day of nor more whining, discontent, and grumbling, free me, Father, to more fully delight myself in you. Not to get the desires of my heart, but that you may be the primary delight of my heart. I cannot imagine a freer posture in life.


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A Prayer of Thanksgiving, Encouragement, and Hope

     In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:13-14

     Dear heavenly Father, sometimes reading Paul’s letters is like standing in front of a gushing fire hydrant, or under a cascading waterfall. It’s hard to stand up to the rush of so much glory and grace. It’s simply overwhelming.

     For instance, as I read through Ephesians I’m “blasted” with being known and loved before the foundation of the world; chosen in Christ and called in life in him; being justified by faith and declared righteous by faith; and being adopted by Abba, Father, betrothed to Jesus, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I have a completely forgiven past and a present standing in grace.

     But what really encourages me today is knowing that all of this is guaranteed. You’ve “sealed the deal” by the Holy Spirit. You’ve guaranteed our inheritance in Christ. You’ve given us the down payment, the firstfruits, the promise of a future beyond our wildest dreams and asking. I praise you for being so outrageously generous with us, Father.

     There’s no possibility of “bait and switch” or “revoking the warranty.” There’s no factory recalls, no fine print or doublespeak, no possibility of bankruptcy or legal maneuverings. Nothing will sabotage your bringing to …

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