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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A Prayer for Those of Us Who Struggle with Impatience

Love is patient 1 Cor. 13:4 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, I’m not sure who first warned about asking you for patience, out of fear you will create difficult circumstances that require patience. That’s nonsense; but worse of all, it’s an utter misrepresentation of your Fatherly heart and grace-full ways. I ask for patience because I already have plenty of contexts, situations, and relationships that showcase my patent need of this fruit of your Spirit.

First of all Father, forgive me for my impatience and for loving poorly. Love is patient, and a lack of patience is a lack of love. Secondly, thank you for your consummate patience with me. You’re never hurried, annoyed, or irritated with me. Thank you!

Where is my impatience most likely to rear its ugly head? When people don’t talk fast enough, I walk to help them finish their sentences. When traffic doesn’t move along quick enough, I make my poorest choices as a driver. When my emails, calls, and texts aren’t returned as soon as I’d like, I get annoyed (as though no one has anything else to do in their day but respond to my communications).

I get impatient when worship leaders talk too much between songs, and preachers talk too little from the text of your Word (as though you made me the judge and jury of anybody’s service of worship). I get impatient with indecisiveness that inconveniences me (as though I deserve a hitch-less, delay-less, non-waiting existence). I get impatient when checking out of any store, …

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A Prayer for Trusting God When Bad News Comes

     Surely the righteous will never be shaken; they will be remembered forever. They will have no fear of bad news; their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord. Their hearts are secure; they will have no fear. Psalm 112:6-8 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, I am SO drawn to the heart reflected in this Scripture—a steadfast heart beating in a circumstance-tested body; a fearless calm when surrounded by difficult people and threatening events; a Good News heart in a bad news world.

By the truth and power of the gospel, make that my heart, Father. Free me to trust more and fret less. You’ve made me righteous in Christ; now make me less shakable when shaky things are going on. I’m not wanting to become more oblivious or impervious; but less knee-jerk reactionary, and more accepting that you’ve “got this one,” and all things, well in hand.

Help me to accept bad news (or shocking or disappointing news, or anger-fueling or joy-depleting news), not with a shrug of my shoulders, but with a bend in my knees—not with passive resignation, but with active surrender to the God who does all things well. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.

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We Can Trust God and Everything He Does: Praying through Psalm 33:1-5

Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.

     Dear heavenly Father, though I don’t have an awesome singing voice, I do trust an awesome gospel. I am godly only because you have hidden my life in Christ, and I am pure only because you have robed me in the righteousness of Jesus. Hallelujah, many times over! At least my heart can sing with gratitude and robust joy.

Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

     Father, you are the quintessential artist, and you have given us the gift of music and gifted musicians to express our love to you, and deepen our enjoyment of you. For the arts and the artists in our communities, we praise, bless, and adore you.

For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.

     But what really fuels my worship this today, is this reminder of the truth of your Word and the trustworthiness of your heart. Though we don’t understand everything you do, we can trust you with all things. Though we often wish you’d adjust your timeline to fit our druthers, we can trust you are doing all things well. Though we’ll only understand some things in heaven, we can totally trust you now. Though we’ve experienced the pain of broken trust, you …

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A Prayer for Off-loading Our Burdens onto Our Gracious Father

     Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves. Psalm 68:19-20 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, what a promise you’ve made, what a hope we have, and what a God you are. Thank you being the kind of Father who bears our burdens—as opposed to ignoring, minimizing, or resenting them. And to know that you bear our burdens on a daily basis frees us to be honest with you about the things that tend to wear us down and wear us out. Indeed, you are the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-5).

     You are the God who saves us—not just from eternal separation from yourself, but also in the present realities of life. Father, some of us are overwhelmed with marriage, parenting, and family burdens. Helplessness isn’t bad, if it will drive us to you. Help us to want you and your glory, more than we want relief and a different story. Protect us from all counsel that might medicate our pain, but not identify the real issues.

     Father, some of us are fearful, fretful—even rage-full over the political landscape of our country, the legislative shifts in our culture, and the nuclear madness of our world. Lift these burdens from our hearts, as you remind us that the throne of heaven is presently occupied (Rev. 4); that Jesus is currently the ruler of the kings of the earth …

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When We’re Feeling Sensitive and Defensive: Praying through 1 Peter 2:21-25 (NLT)

21 God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. 22 He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone.

Dear Lord Jesus, I need every truth so beautifully crammed into this one small portion of the Word. First of all, don’t let me ever forget that you are my substitute before you are my example. You suffered in our place on the cross, once-and-for-all; and now, we follow you into the fellowship of suffering in our world.

Because you never sinned, we have the resources of the gospel when we do sin. And “testy,” provoking, conflictive relationships are the fertile soil in which I can super-grow weeds of defensiveness, self-righteousness, and a bad attitude. Jesus, grant me a thicker skin and a bigger heart.

23 He did not retaliate when he was insulted, nor threaten revenge when he suffered. He left his case in the hands of God, who always judges fairly.

     Jesus, if anyone ever had a right to get hair-trigger defensive and vengeful, it was you. Your sufferings were entirely unjust, and yet, they fulfilled the demands of perfect justice for us, forever. Hallelujah, many times over!

     Because you “left your case in the hands of God,” you have won salvation for your whole Bride, including me. And now, through your finished work, I know God to be Abba, Father—the one I too, can trust in difficult moments, stories, and relationships.

24 He personally carried our sins in …

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A Prayer for Letting Go of Trying to Be the 4th Member of the Trinity

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Rev. 22:13 (NIV)

When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul. Ps. 94:19 (ESV)

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Isa. 26:3 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, it’s time for me to shift my focus from the immediacy of a big disappointment to the permanency of who you are. It’s one thing to be lovingly concerned about a matter, and another to angrily obsess about it; one thing to pray without ceasing and another to vex without sleeping; one thing to engage sacrificially and another to be enmeshed unhealthily.

     So with palms up, I release my burden to you, Lord. I’m not going to shift into a snarly, “I could care less” attitude; but I will care less, and trust you more. You are God, and I am very much not so. You’ve begun a good work in each of your children, and in every sphere of your creation, and you’re neither AWOL, disinterested, bored, or negligent. You’re going to complete your story to your glory, in your time, on your dime, and in your way. Hallelujah!

     You are the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, and everything in between. Hallelujah, many times over! You are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—perfect Trinity, and not looking …

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