Category Archives: Prayer

Longing and Working for Peace

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Matt. 5:9

Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:18 

If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Rom. 12:18

Lord Jesus, irrespective of our gardening skills, there’s at least one kind of gardening for which there’s no possibility of crop failure. When we sow in peace and seek to live out stories of your reconciling love, you guarantee a harvest of ample, delectable, righteous fruit. It may take longer and cost more than we wish, but we are never foolish to long for and to work for peace, where there is strife, disconnect, and brokenness.

O, that certain relationships didn’t get so dicey, messy, and complicated. We miss the innocence of Eden and long for the perfections of heaven, Lord. Thank you that we don’t have to pretend with you; thank you that we can bring our exhaustion and frustrations, and reaffirm our hope and trust in you.

Jesus, you are our peace and the ultimate Peacemaker. While we were God’s enemies, you died for us—destroying the hostility, and replacing the enmity with your great affection and perfect peace. You reconciled us to our Father, through the cost of your life and the currency of your love. There is no greater expression of love than the gospel. Never let us forget, or doubt, the reconciling power of the gospel, never.

Give us your patience when peacemaking requires more emotional currency than we have, and demands more forgiveness than we want to offer. Give us courage when you send …

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The Encouragement of Hope

     God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him. Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:9-11 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, this Scripture lands on our hearts today like 72 degree low humidity morning after a month of sweltering heat. Hallelujah, for the encouragement producing, perspective giving, heart refreshing power of your Word.

There are many things over which we don’t have any control; many outcomes that remain hidden from us; and many broken stories, broken people, and broken circumstances that may, or may not, get better this side of heaven. But this we do know, because of the finished work of Jesus, our future contains 0% judgment and 100% joyful welcome by you; 0% wrath and 100% perfect righteousness in Jesus; 0% brokenness and 100% perfect relationship with you. Everything’s going to be—not just okay, but magnificent, right, and beautiful… beyond our wildest dreams and hopes.

Until then, Father, make us genuine encouragers and “builder-uppers” of our families, friends, and neighbors. Thank you for the privilege we have of bearing one another’s burdens; showing up in one another’s stories; holding one another accountable for believing the gospel; giving each other hope-fueling perspective at low times, and life-giving rebukes at wandering times.

Father, thank you that, whether we die before Jesus returns, or live to see that blessed Day, we are your beloved children, now and forever. Nothing can ever separate us from your love, deplete your …

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Believing for Our Friends

When Jesus saw THEIR faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.” Luke 5:20 NIV

Lord Jesus, first of all, we praise bless and adore you for forgiving all our sins—past, present, and future sin; sins of thought, word, and deed. May we never take this standing in grace, rootedness in love, lavish-ment of love for granted.

This story also reminds us that someone believed for us, and in us, long before we believed for ourselves. Thank you for family members and friends, pastors and peers who brought us to the throne of grace long before we willingly came running on our own legs of faith. Again we say, thank you for working so faithfully in our stories to bring us into the riches of your mercy and grace.

So today we gladly return the favor for the benefit of others. Jesus, hear our prayers for those who cannot, or will not, believe for themselves… yet. Certainly, at the top of our list, are the people we long to enjoy a saving relationship with you. Jesus, show them the depth of their need of a Savior—their need for you; and then make the gospel irresistibly beautiful and unmistakably free to them.

We also pray for our friends who DO know you, but who are in various places of brokenness, frozenness, and cluelessness. Jesus, some people saw the degree of our heart disconnect and depth of our woundedness, the paralysis of our shame and the stronghold of our fears long before we did. And they …

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Grace Strengthened Hearts

It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace… Hebrews 13:9

     Lord Jesus, what will it profit us if we only eat organic foods from Whole Foods and can run an 8-minute mile at age 80, have a cholesterol count of 125 and a resting heart rate of 59, and yet have a heart that is weak in grace?

     So, take us to the gym and training table, the sauna and spa—indeed, lead us to the regimen which will cause our hearts to grow stronger and stronger and stronger in your grace. For the more our hearts are strengthened by grace the more they’ll beat for your glory; the quicker and deeper will be our repentances; the less room there’ll be for idols, and the more fully we’ll love you with delight and abandon.

     As our hearts are strengthened by grace, we’ll throw more gospel parties and less pity parties. We won’t think less of ourselves; we’ll just think less often about ourselves. We’ll keep shorter records of the ways others fail us and longer records of your faithfulness to us.

     We’ll make a bigger deal about things that really matter, and a lesser deal about things that simply go with life in a broken world filled with broken people. We’ll live more missionally and less obsessively, more generously and less miserly, be more in the moment and less in a stew. We’ll worship more than we whine, bless more than we curse, …

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Praying for Friends in Hard, Broken, Messy Places

     Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Col. 4:12 (NIV)

     Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Rom. 8:26 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, quite literally, sometimes all we can do is pray for those living in the vortex of mental and emotional illness; and for others who are willing participants in their destructive addictions; and still others whose rage, pain, and trauma have more power over their lives than the Trinity; and also for those who are throwing caution to the wind and relationship with you to the curb, and are choosing to fulfill their lusts and longings anyway they jolly well please.

It’s heartbreaking and frustrating, fear and anger fueling. Father. Help us to know what our limits are in these situations, what loving well in dark brokenness and the craziness of sin looks like, and what resources are available to us. Teach us how, like Epaphras, to wrestle in prayer for people for whom we care so deeply. Some situations are beyond reason, conventional care, or safe interactions. Help us Lord; help us.

It’s heart wrenching to watch people we love become people we fear. It’s unnerving to hear threats of self-destructive behavior, and to feel helpless and hopeless in the midst of the …

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Living as An Encourager

     Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another on to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing nearHeb. 10:23-25

Lord Jesus, as I meditate my way through this “let us” patch of gospel admonitions, a few things jump out at me. I’m convicted about the importance of holding onto the hope you’ve won for us—a living hope, an anchor of hope, a glorious hope. Our hope is certain, but I need to hold it like a treasure—often pondering and relishing it. Hope must not be ignored. Because of the gospel, not hoping is not an option.

Jesus, I’m thankful that we don’t hope in hope; we hope in you. It’s not about crossing our fingers, but seeing your cross and everything you’ve already accomplished for us. It’s about seeing our future nestled down into your merciful and mighty palms; for you’ve made promises you alone can keep. It’s about abandoning ourselves to the advancing of your kingdom, not being preoccupied with our little fiefdoms.

Jesus, this Scripture also convicts me about the importance of being a lot more intentional about bringing encouragement to friends, family members, and those you put in my way. As the great Day of your return approaches—the Day when “hoping in part” will give way to …

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Worship Trumping Whining: Praying Psalm 103:1-4

Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise his holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits—

Heavenly Father, King David captures the desire of our hearts, which is to love, praise, and bless you, with everything we have and are. If you never gave us anything, you would still be worthy of my whole-soul worship. But in fact, you have been outrageously generous. Here are a few of your grace-gifts we remember today.
who forgives all your sins

Through the finished work of Jesus, you’ve forgiven all our sins—not just the 4% we’re aware of, the other 96% as well. Though we will be more like Jesus one Day, we’ll never be more forgiven than today.

and heals all your diseases,

     Though you don’t always heal on our timetable, nonetheless, by the gospel, you have secured for us perfect health forever. One Day, every expression of our brokenness will give way to the fullness of Jesus’ beauty, joy, and life. All the ways sin and death have impacted our bodies, emotions, and thinking—it’s all going to be healed and made new. No more gunk, only glory. Hallelujah!

who redeems your life from the pit

Not only have you redeemed us from the ultimate pit of death and judgment, you also rescue us out of other kinds of pits—pits we naively fall into; pits we get pushed into; and pits into which we foolishly jump.

Waterless pits like self-pity and self-righteousness; dark holes of seething bitterness and soul-sucking resentment; caverns of toxic shame and vain regrets; the bottomless craters of hopelessness and the dark dry prison of unbelief. Continue your rescue pit-rescuing mission …

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Speaking Grace, Life, and Encouragement to Each Other

A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. Luke 6:45 (NLT)

Jesus, this Scripture is the bottom line, the “skinny,” and the chase to which we must always cut, when it comes to stewardship of our words. The main issue isn’t tongue control, but heart fullness. Whatever I treasure in my heart will be reflected in the stream of my words.

This is why we must preach the gospel to ourselves every day—long before any other storyline or crisis, disappointment or aggravation, worldview or agenda grabs the attention of our hearts.

The tongue has the power of life and death. Prov. 18:21 (NIV)

How important is this issue of our words? Jesus, may this one little verse stay ever before us. We’re capable of bringing destruction and resurrection, eternal good and long-standing harm with our words. Help us to choose wisely today, Jesus; help us choose to live and speak as a means of your life-giving grace.

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. Eph. 4:29 (NLT)

Jesus, you never command anything you don’t resource, so when you tell us not to emit any foul or abusive language, you’ve not exaggerating. That’s not the law of performance, but the way of freedom. Never let us get used to hurting people with our words, never.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Prov. 16:24 (ESV)

Jesus, no words …

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When We See Things Differently

     Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man’s faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. Romans 14:1-4 (NIV)

     Jesus, the more this election year unfolds, the I realize just how diverse the Body of Christ is. We see many matters and issues, and doctrines and mission quite differently. The result is often critical attitudes and dismissive labeling, death-doling words and party-spirit diatribe.

So I find great comfort in the last affirmation of Paul’s words in this text. We will stand on the Day of Judgment, not in our “rightness” but in your righteousness. You will cause us to stand, and for this we will praise you eternally. The good work of the gospel will come to a perfect completion, in each of us (Phil. 1:6).

But until then, it’s complicated. I have a fresh appreciation of the challenges Paul faced in serving the multi-cultural and poly-perspective, socially complex and theologically diverse churches of Rome. The continuum of “weak faith” and “strong faith” has never felt broader to me, or more pronounced.

Tensions between “meat eaters” and “non-meat eaters” are growing, …

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Be Still… The Lord Fights for You

     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, as this Scripture demonstrates, fear and worry, feeling helpless and powerless really do a number on us. I understand how your children preferred returning to a life of slavery in Egypt over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. Sometimes a known brokenness is more real than the promise of unseen beauty. Help our unbelief as we face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help us to get still and stay still… and trust that you are fighting for us.

Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). 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 the delight, or disdain, of mere people has more functional power over my heart than the riches of your grace. Free me.

I also battle trusting you with the pain, stories, and future of people I love. Instead of praying in faith and releasing them to you, I assume responsibility you never gave me. It always leaves me emotionally exhausted. Help …

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