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Trusting God with People and “Stuff” Over Which We Have Zero Control

     “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?’” Matt. 6:25-27 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is consider the incomparable sacrifice you made for us. The birds of the air have nothing on us. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re clothed with the righteousness of God, and freely feast on bread from heaven and living water. We praise, bless, and adore you.

     Nevertheless, our weaknesses persist, our anxieties flare up, and our worries paralyze us. So we run to you today, confident of your welcome and needful of your grace. Please help us with situations we’d love to control, but can’t. We’re not anxious to add a single hour to our lives; but we’d love to minimize unnecessary pain in the lives of those we love.

     Jesus, please reveal more of your beauty and love to our children. If we could give our kids and grandkids anything, it would be to know and love you—to find safe haven in your …

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Accepting and Resting in God’s Timing

      But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you. 2 Pet. 3:8-9 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for being patient with our impatience. You’ve never been late for anything. “Swiss timing” is tardiness, compared to the precision of your faithfulness. You’ll send Jesus back into our world, to finish making all things new, at just the right time. That grand Day will happen not a day, early and not a day late.

And how we long for that Day. No more death, pain, or mourning; no more knowing in part or loving in part; no more goodbyes or good riddance’s; no more disappointing others or being disappointed; no more betrayals or rejections; nor more broken hearts or broken anything; no more heartaches or even heartburn.

But Father, your faithfulness isn’t just tied to the timing of the second coming, but to everything else you’ve promised as well. Indeed, there’s no panic or second-guessing in heaven today. You’re not distracted, agitated, or perplexed about anything—that’s us, not you. Though it’s hard to imagine why you haven’t answered certain prayers with a quick and big “Yes!” nevertheless, you do all things well. You gave Jesus for our sins; certainly we can trust you to give us everything else we really need (Rom. 8:32; 2 Pet. 1:3).

So grant us grace in our waiting, strength in our weariness, and …

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A Prayer for Accepting God’s Decrees Over Our Druthers

     I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hopeJer. 29:11 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, this well known, beloved verse simultaneously confronts us and comforts us. It confronts that part of us that wishes you would simply “baptize” the plans we make for ourselves. We’d write stories that include as little disruption and change as possible; few surprises and no suffering; tons of familiarity and predictability, and very little actual need for faith and waiting. In essence, we’d love for you to be more of a Sugar Daddy than Abba Father. Thank you for your kindness and patience with us.

In our heart of hearts, that’s not what we really want. We don’t really want you to be the clay and us the potter, not really. We trust you; we love you, Father. You gave Jesus to us and for us; of course you’ll give us everything else we actually need (Rom. 8:32).

It’s just that sometimes your plan includes things that, in the moment, don’t really feel like they’re for our welfare at all. There are stretches when it seems like you answer our prayers with a disproportionate amount of “No’s” to “Yes’s”. Healing doesn’t come quick enough (if at all), and there’s more month left over at the end of our budgets. Our kids struggle and furnaces die, cars break down and good friends move on. Instead of grace upon grace, sometimes life feels like disappointment upon disappointment.

And yet—big-time yet, Father, we know better. So grant us fresh grace to wait upon …

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A Prayer for Getting Still and Trusting God to Fight for Us

     Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” Ex. 14:12-14 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, fear and worry can really do a number on us. I totally get how your children preferred returning to a life of slavery in Egypt, over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. I’ve often felt a similar temptation to choose a known brokenness over the promise of unseen beauty. Help my unbelief as I face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help me be still and trust that you’ll fight for me.

Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). Often my biggest battles are within my own heart. You tell me of your great love for me in Jesus—which I really believe is true; yet too often I look to people and circumstances to fill me up. Free me, Lord, free me.

Many times I battle with trusting you with the hearts of those I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to “fix” people. It never works, never. Help me love others as Jesus loves me. Help me to extend your welcoming heart, your merciful acceptance, and your counterintuitive …

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A Prayer for Receiving and Resting in the Peace of God

     Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess. 3:16 (NLT)

     Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:17 (NIV)

     O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works. Isa. 26:12 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, I praise, bless, and adore you for many reasons. Today, in particular, I rejoice in your commitment to give us peace—to center, settle, and encourage our hearts. You never pressure us just to ‘”get over it, buck up, and be strong”. You welcome us in our weakness, confusion, and frailties.

     In Paul’s words, you promise peace “at all times and in every situation.” To know that you are with us and for us, to know that you love us and are in control of all things—that is what we need, more than anything else. So Father, here are some of the “every situations” for which we ask you to “ordain” a good measure of your peace.

     Grant us peace, as we trust you with the hearts and futures of our children. No matter the age of our kids, we still want to write their stories. Forgive our unbelief; free us from our “meddling”; and grant us all season grace to love, accept, and encourage our daughters and …

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A Prayer for the Day after Christmas: Whether It Was Fun or Hard

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told themLuke 2:20 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, it’s the day after Christmas, and many of us have over-munched and under-slept; but above all, we’re grateful for the gift of Jesus. For our favorite Christmases, and our most difficult ones, all need your grace. The “after Christmas sales” began a week before the actual day, clearly signaling that we’re always yearning for something more.

For those of us for whom the day was “nearly perfect,” we worship you as the God from whom all blessings flow and good gifts come. For those of us for whom the day was a constant reminder of how much we long for the Day when wolves and lambs will lie down together in peace, we worship you as the God who has secured that very Day through Jesus.

When the shepherds left Jesus’ manger, they were still shepherds. They still couldn’t worship at the temple; they still couldn’t give testimony in a court of law; and they were still “profiled” as untrustworthy members of the community. And a five-star inn didn’t open up the next morning in Bethlehem for Mary and Joseph, with angels serving as round-the-clock nurses.

Father, thank you, that as followers of Jesus, we don’t have to pretend about anything. Jesus came into a broken world for broken people, and we all qualify. You call us to believe, not to make-believe—to delight in you, not to deny reality. …

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A Prayer of Lament in Response to the Terror Attack in Paris

     Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:7-11 (ESV)

   Dear heavenly Father, another day of terror-making darkness, evil-doing madness, and life-taking sadness. How long, O Lord, how Lord before you send Jesus back to eradicate all evil? How long before the wicked will be no more? How much longer is “just a little while”?

     It’s hard not to fret. It’s hard not to feel fearful and angry when women and children, the young and old are mercilessly slaughtered in the city of Paris; when restaurants, concert halls, and sports areas become the venue for the perversion of religion and the murder of your image bearers.

     Father, we offer our prayer, not in self-righteous judgment, but as your weary children—longing for the Day when the knowledge of your glory will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14)—when perfect peace will replace every expression of evil.

     Until that Day, free us from all bitterness and a lust for revenge. Vengeance belongs …

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A Prayer for Trusting God with Things We’d Love to Control but Can’t

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Ps. 20:7

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6

The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. Nahum 1:7

     Dear heavenly Father, though it’s not a fun thing, it’s an essential thing. Actually, it’s a freeing thing to realize how little control we have over people, places and things.

     For only by acknowledging the limits of our humanity will we rest in the beauty of your sovereignty; only by giving up trying to control our difficult circumstances will we come to rejoice in your well-ordered providences; only by accepting messes as a part of life will we turn to your mercies in the midst of our strife; only by crying “Uncle!” will we learn to cry “Abba!”

     Father, as this day begins, (and continues), settle our restless hearts, and relax our white-knuckled grip on stories, hearts and situations we’d love to fix. We turn from trusting in our version of “horses and chariots,” and acknowledge that our trust is in you.

     By the truth of the gospel, the pledge of your faithfulness, and the power of your Spirit, we trust you with people, for whom we have great concerns—even fear and anger. May “faith expressing itself in love” (Gal. 5:6) trump our penchant for “worry expressing itself through meddling”.

     We trust …

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A Prayer for Getting Still and Trusting God to Be God

 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, thank you for commanding our stillness, for otherwise, we wouldn’t choose it—especially when we’re a little bit (or a whole lot) anxious. Help us to cast our cares upon you, as we quiet our hearts before you.

     Confirm in our hearts, yet again, that you are in complete control; that you are working all things together after the counsel of your will; that you are working in all things for our good; that we cannot add one minute to our lives by our worry or change one broken story by our fears.

     Father, we long for the magnificent, über-glorious, all-things-new Day, when you will be exalted among the nations. But we also long for you to be exalted in situations that weigh heavy hearts in this day.

     Be exalted in our health care stories. Some of us are waiting for our MRIs and scans to be read; some of us just got disappointing lab reports back for people we love. Father, whether we live or die, whether we have twenty more years, or twenty more minutes, we belong to you through Jesus—and we are ever so thankful. Grant us grace and peace, for however you choose to write our stories.

     Be exalted in our family stories and relationships. Nothing fuels our gratitude, and our anxieties, more …

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A Prayer for Trusting God with Stuff We Cannot Control

“That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” Matt. 6:25-27 (NLT)

Dear Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is consider the astonishing sacrifice you made for us. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re forgiven and clothed with the very righteousness of God. And now we feast on a free diet of bread from heaven and an endless supply living water. We praise, bless, and adore you. The birds of the air have nothing on us!
Nevertheless, our weakness persists, our anxieties flare up, and our worries often get the best of us. So we run to you, confident of your welcome, compassion, and grace. Please help us with the things we’d love to control, but can’t. It’s not so much that we’re anxious to add a single hour to our lives; it’s more that we don’t want our loved ones to suffer unnecessarily.
Jesus, please reveal more of your beauty …

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