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Category Archives: Prayer

Hearing and Heeding the Voice of the Holy Spirit

     For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Rom. 8:15-17 (ESV)

     Heavenly Father, it’s an incomparable privilege to be your adopted children and call you “Abba, Father.” We were slaves to sin and death, and selfishness and fear, when you rescued and redeemed us. And now, as this Scripture attests, the Holy Spirit is constantly telling us how much you love us and delight in us. We believe this is true; help us believe it even more.

     Indeed, Father, turn up the volume of the Spirit’s voice—all the way to 11, because so many other voices clamor for our attention. There’s the voice of Satan, who condemns us for sins you’ve forever forgiven. There’s the voice of our vain regrets, haunting us about our past failures and hounding us about missed opportunities. There’s the voice of our worries and anxieties, blasting us with “what if’s” and “if only’s.

     But then, there’s your blessed voice, Father. By the Spirit we hear you say, “I have loved you with an everlasting love and with cords of kindness I have bound you to my heart. I’ve robed you with Jesus’ righteousness, and have sealed you with my …

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Taking Our Joy Seriously

What has happened to all your joy? Gal. 4:15 (NIV)

Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvationPs. 85:6-7 (NIV)

Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. John 16:24 (NIV)

Lord Jesus, we begin our day grateful for your pursuing heart, revealed in the questions, wooing’s, and pleas of these Scriptures. May we take our joy as seriously as you do. We join the chorus of many who cry out, “Revive us again, Lord, restore to us the joy of your salvation.”

In response to Paul’s question to the Galatians, “What has happened to all your joy?” (Gal. 4:15), there’s a wide range of possible answers, Jesus. Some of us may have fallen back into performance-based spirituality—trusting more in our feeble efforts than your finished work. Some of us may have fertilized roots of bitterness in our hearts with Miracle Grow, poisoning our joy with resentment, anger, and unforgiveness.

Some of us may be giving greater audience to our fears and worries than to the gospel and your glory. Some of us are emotionally exhausted from bouts with illness, the price of loving well, or the drains of doing ministry. Some are paralyzed by the condemning accusations of the devil—the consummate faith-thief and joy-robber. Still others of us have been way more preoccupied with the chaos in Washington than the consolation of your enthronement.

For each of these scenarios, the resolve is the same. We need a fresh heart-connection with you, Lord Jesus. In you we …

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Obeying the Command to Enjoy Life and Be Glad

     So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. Eccles. 8:15

Heavenly Father, the past few months have been busy, taxing, and depleting. Thank you for understanding our frailties and our need for refreshment. If you never commanded Sabbath rest, I probably wouldn’t take it; and if you never commended the enjoyment of life, I’d go to the extremes of either taking simple joys for granted or worshiping pleasure altogether.

So today, I’m slowing down enough just to say thank you. Thank you for designing us for pleasure and delight. Thank you for putting sensate responders and nerve endings in our bodies. Thank you for taste buds and aesthetic wiring. You are glorified in our enjoyment. Thank you for intending that joy would accompany us in our work all the days you have given us under the sun.

Thank you for key lime pie and the aroma of really good coffee. Thank you for a Yorkshire Terrier that dances and grandsons that grin. Thank you for Carolina blue skies and low humidity days. Thank you for fish that bite and mosquitoes that don’t. Thank you for unrushed conversations with friends, spontaneous laughs and mutual encouragement.

Thank you for the memory-connecting music of the sixties, bike rides, and college basketball. Thank you for naps, dark chocolate, …

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Good News for the Weary and Faint

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faintJer. 31:25

Heavenly Father, this one little verse is as big as the Grand Canyon. How good, how kind, how compassionate you are. Come, nourish our hearts with the riches of your grace and the wonders of your love.

Thankfully, we don’t have to pretend around you. We don’t have to feign strength or make excuses, buck up or honker down. When we feel a little (or a lot), weary, you meet as a loving Father, not as a disgruntled coach. You meet us with the gospel, not with a scorecard; with a smile, not with a scowl; with encouragement, not disgruntlement. Thank you.

So what makes us weary, Father? Where do we start? Well there’s political madness and too much meanness; cancer in our friends and heartaches in our breasts. Then there’s the normal process of bones aching and the ill-timed moments of stuff breaking. Christians that can’t get along, and friends who simply move on; transitions in our vocations, and the long overdue need for a vacation.

Thank you for not calling us “whiners” when we tell you the things that burden us. Thank you for not castigating us for having cares, but bidding us to cast them on you.

Father, we so look forward to the Day of no more pettiness or petulance; no more hard-heartedness or fragile temperaments; no more hurt feelings or bullying egos; no more communicating in part or conflicting to win; no more passive aggressiveness or active indifference; no more innuendo …

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The ONLY Love That Is Better Than Life

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Song of Sol. 7:10 (NIV)

And Jesus said to them, “The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Luke 20:34-35 (ESV)

“Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. Rev. 19:6-7 (NLT)

Lord Jesus, in our culture, it’s called Valentine’s Day—a day for celebrating the gift, kindness, and wonder of romantic love—a love for which we give you great praise. But on the calendar of grace, it’s another day for coming alive to the only love that is better than life, your great love for us in the gospel—the love that answers the deep longing of our hearts for perfect intimacy, unbroken joy, and eternal completion.

Indeed, no human being (or any number of them), no great romance, no torrid love affair can fill the vacuum inside of us uniquely reserved for you. Our best relationships are just a hint and whisper of what belonging to you actually means.

Jesus, grant us grace to grow a deeper and richer experience of belonging to you, for you are the ultimate Spouse, the one we always wanted—the one with whom we will enjoy perfect connection, bliss, and joy forever. Make this good news more than our theology; make it our doxology—our song of joy and über-delight.

Restore to us …

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100 Words of Healing for Every Harmful Syllable

The words of the reckless pierce like swords, but the tongue of the wise brings healingProv. 12:18 (NIV)

Gentle words are a tree of life; a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit. Prov. 15:4 (NLT)

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthlessJames 1:26 (ESV)

Let your conversation be always full of grace. Col. 4:6 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, this tapestry of Scriptures reminds us that nothing carries more power for hope and harm, building up and tearing down, giving life and killing beauty than our words. Therefore, as this day begins, we choose to steward our words, even more so than our money.

Since our lips reveal the preoccupation of our hearts, help us fix (and keep) our minds and hearts on Jesus—who alone is worthy, whose beauty is incomparable, and who loves us more than anyone else. Father, thank you for hiding our lives in Christ, for he is our guarantee of complete forgiveness, perfect righteousness, and citizenship in heaven.

No matter what else is going on in our world, in Christ, you’ve given us riches beyond measure, peace beyond understanding, and life, truly abundant. We praise and bless you. May this good news win the day, seize our hearts, and shape our words. We dare not relinquish the lordship of our words to our pain or anger, selfishness or pettiness, idols or whims.

Today, we’ll probably experience difficult people and disappointing circumstances; challenging relationships and unplanned for interruptions; provoking tweets and irritating news bites. Help us respond with mercy and wisdom, patience and kindness. …

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No Condemnation for Sin, but Plenty of Conviction by the Spirit

     That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punishJoel 2:12-13 (NLT)

Heavenly Father, yet again, your Spirit has fueled our conviction and your kindness now leads us to repentance. Because the gospel it true, we hate our sin, not ourselves; and we groan in grace, rather than groveling in contempt. There is no other god like you—so holy and so merciful, so welcoming and so eager to redeem, so patient and so filled with unfailing love. Hear our confession.

    We confess under-believing the gospel and over-trusting in ourselves
    We confess binging on fear and worry, rather than feasting on your grace and sovereignty
    We confess thinking more about how people disappoint and fail us, than how we are to love and serve them
    We confess being more preoccupied with our comfort and safety, than with the spread of the gospel and advancing of your kingdom
    We confess hoarding our brokenness and weakness, rather than letting friends enter our pain and suffering
    We confess we’re more emotionally impacted by the “what if’s” and “if only’s” of life, than by the “now that’s” and “will be’s” of the gospel

Have mercy on us, Father, have mercy on me. If you dealt with us according to our sins, …

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This Life of Radical Grace

It is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Phil. 2:13 (NIV)

But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Cor. 15:10 (NIV)

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Psalm 138:8 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, the peace, freedom, and joy we have through Jesus are immeasurable. Indeed, the gospel sets us free from all spiritual “navel-gazing”—from being concerned about earning or deserving, personal failure or self-aggrandizement.

For the gospel has put an end to performance-based living, merit-based blessings, and fear-laced doing. Because of Jesus’ bold declaration, “It is finished,” we now do our good works in response to his perfect work.

And Father, thank you for the “inside job” you’re accomplishing in us. As Paul stated, you are the one who both motivates and empowers us for a life of loving obedience. Such good news doesn’t make us passive, but active—not complacent, but surrendered to the Spirit. The focus is on Jesus, where it should be, and not us. We matter, but we’re not the point. Hallelujah!

Father, to whatever extent you’ve already accomplished anything through us that’s been of eternal consequence, we gladly affirm with Paul, it wasn’t us, but “the grace of God that was with me.” And looking ahead, our prayer remains the same. May your grace have even greater effect, in us and through us—wherever we live, work, and …

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Trusting God with Our Messiest, Okay, and Healthiest Relationships

     How wonderful and pleasant it is when brothers live together in harmony! For harmony is as precious as the anointing oil that was poured over Aaron’s head, that ran down his beard and onto the border of his robe. Harmony is as refreshing as the dew from Mount Hermon that falls on the mountains of Zion. And there the Lord has pronounced his blessing, even life everlastingPsalm 133 (NLT)

Heavenly Father, in response to this wonderful Psalm, we bring our relationships to the occupied throne of grace today—praying for the “wonderful and pleasant” harmony you commend. We’re not naïve; we realize that until Jesus returns Satan will continue his assault on our friendships and marriages, families and churches, where we work and where we play. He’ll do anything to sabotage unity and sow dissension, raise suspicions and erode trust, create disconnect and fertilize division.

Father, for your glory, we’ll resist him tenaciously, just like we’d resist a thief trying to break into our homes; for that’s who Satan is—the intruder who’s come to “steal, kill, and destroy” (John 10:10). We will “make every effort to preserve the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).

And the best way we can do that is by constantly marinating in the gospel and abiding in your love. For the more we stay alive to your affection for us in Jesus, the less we’ll tolerate our pettiness and indulge our self-righteousness; the less fights we’ll pick or conflicts we’ll avoid; the more we’ll overlook and the less we’ll resent.

So …

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The Shocking Surprise of God’s Grace

     “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table. Mephibosheth bowed down and said, “What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?” 2 Sam. 9:7-8 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, this story underscores why you alone are worthy to be worshiped and adored, loved and served. We have much in common with Mephibosheth. Though we’ve never been “dead dogs” to pity, we have been dead in our sins and trespasses, helpless and hopeless.

Grace should shock us just as much as it stunned Mephibosheth. For you have demonstrated the greatness of your power and the kindness of your heart to us. You raised us from the grave of our sin, and gave us a new heart, a new story, and a new future. We feast today, and forever, at your table of grace. Hallelujah!

Indeed, Jesus is the greater Jonathan. For Jesus’ sake, you have been extravagantly generous to us. Because of his finished work, you have lavished your love upon us—not dribbled it. Our hope is built on nothing less, nothing more, and nothing other than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. We are no longer afraid of you; we delight ourselves in you. The gospel is this true and this good.

And now, Father, you don’t “put up with” us; you enjoy us and greatly delight in us. May this good news …

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