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Category Archives: Prayer

For Those of Us Who Struggle to Be Patient

Love is patient 1 Cor. 13:4 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, I’m not sure who first warned about asking you for patience, out of fear you’d create difficult circumstances that require patience. That’s not only silly, it misrepresents your Fatherly heart, and grace-full ways. I’m asking you for patience because I have plenty of contexts, situations, and relationships that showcase my need of this fruit of your Spirit.

Father, first of all, thank you for your unlimited patience with me. You’re never hurried, annoyed, or irritated with me; you never roll your eyes, pat your foot, or furrow your brow. So great is your compassion and kindness.

So where is my impatience most likely to rear its ugly head? When people don’t talk fast enough, I help them finish their sentences. When traffic is slow and gnarly, I get annoyed and “testy.” When my emails, calls, and texts aren’t returned as soon as I’d like, I get miffed (as though I should take priority in everybody’s day).

I get impatient when worship leaders talk too much between songs, and pastors preach too little from the text of the Bible (as though you made me the judge and jury of every worship service). When lab results take forever to arrive and people take too long to decide, I can get “turned sideways.”

I get impatient with slow clerks, busy airports, and full restaurants (as though I deserve a hitch-less, delay-less, non-waiting existence). When service appointments run late, guests arrive early, and political candidates spew nonsense, I’m not a “happy camper.”

Father, if confession …

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The Matchless Gift of Eternal Life

     This is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. John 17:3 NIV

Lord Jesus, I awake today filled with awe, gratitude, and joy. Though I’m certainly glad “eternal life” will include living forever in the grandeur of heaven, this one little verse makes it clear that’s not the primary meaning of “eternal life.” Knowing you, and knowing the Father, through your finished work—this is the essence, heartbeat, summum bonum, crux, core, magnificence, splendor of eternal life. Oh, the wonder of it all…

Not merely knowing about you, as informed “church people”; nor merely knowing your teachings, to become educated moralists; nor merely being impressed with your compassion for the poor and commitment to social justice, that we might rally your memory to our cause.

Rather, to know you is to begin the journey of fulfilling our deepest longings for connection, relationship, and intimacy. No mere humans can satisfy these insatiable cravings—not a spouse, not children, not friends, not parents, not co-workers… only you.

To know you is to be known by you—in all of our brokenness, weakness and sinfulness. You know us the best, Jesus, and love us the most. We believe; free us from our unbelief. To know you—as you desire to be known, puts an end to our posing and pretending, posturing and performing. Such freedom, rest, and peace are not possible apart from you.

Your mercy is our welcome; your grace is our salvation; your love is our life; your righteousness …

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When You’re Not Sure Jesus Cares

Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40 (NIV)

I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things. Isa. 45:7 (ESV)

The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. Prov. 16:4 (ESV)

Lord Jesus, when I first read Martha’s question to you, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” my initial reaction was one of self-righteous judgment. I found myself wanting to say to her, “If Jesus doesn’t care, who does?” Or, “Martha, get over your whining and finish the meal.”

But there are other scenarios in life, far more confusing and frustrating than Martha’s kitchen, that lead us to ask the question, “Lord don’t you care?” Grant us grace to steward our confusion, hurt, and anger when that happens.

Jesus when we’d prefer your predictability to your sovereignty, grant us big grace and trusting hearts. When you don’t intervene in the lives of our children and when suicide bombings persist; when floods come, jobs go, health fails, and crooks succeed … help us to accept the fact that you “make well-being and create calamity“, and that you have made “everything for its purpose,” even “the wicked for the day of trouble.”

It’s easy to accept disruptive sovereignty, as long as it doesn’t encroach upon our space, our stories, or our families. But …

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Loving Much Because We’ve Been Forgiven Much

“I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.” Luke 7:47 NLT

Lord Jesus, it’s as simple and profound, daily and real as this: because you’ve forgiven ALL our sins, we should love you with ever-growing awe, perpetual thanks, and indefatigable delight. And a second response to our forgiveness is just as important: we should become the most humble, gentle, and compassionate people in our families, workplace, and neighborhoods. Lord may it be; may it be so increasingly.

So renew and deepen my love for you Jesus, for you alone are worthy of our adoration, affection, and allegiance. Dazzle my heart with your beauty; fill my gaze with your wonder; free my hands with your mercy.

And by the power of your Spirit, keep me constantly aware of how much you’ve forgiven me. Don’t let me minimize the wonder of my forgiveness by thinking my sins are less numerous, egregious, or hurtful than anybody else’s. Don’t let me ever get used to being forgiven by you.

Convict me quickly when I indulge a critical, irritable spirit towards others. Help me respond mercifully and grace-fully to a wide range of scenarios and personalities: Unintentional oversights and very intentional slights; harsh words spoken and healing words left unspoken; being ignored by people I love, or target practice for people I’ll never meet.

Jesus, in my anger, keep me from sinning; in my pain, keep me from blaming; and in my disappointment, keep me from sulking. Only your love is better …

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Staying Thirsty for Jesus: Praying John 7:37-41

37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.

     Lord Jesus, how fitting that you would stand up on the last day of Israel’s harvest celebration, turn up the volume and beckon those of us who thirst, to come to you for relief and refreshment. For all of Israel’s feasts, the whole of God’s Story and every promise God has made find their fulfillment in you.

Why are we thirsty? Because we were born that way—longing for the libation of Living Water you alone can give us. But some of us also carry weariness-generated thirst. We’re tired from the burdens of life and the cost of loving well.

Others of us are feeling sin-generated thirst. Fortunately, our broken cisterns have failed us, yet again. And some of us are thirsty because our hearts are dry from self-righteousness, a critical spirit, and lack of fellowship with you. Still others of us are thirsty just because you’re turning up the heat in our lives—not to shame us, but to claim us for yourself. Thank you, Lord, thank you, thank you, thank you.

38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

No matter the generation of our thirst, you promise copious amounts of the healing waters of the gospel, the heart-liberating draught of …

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Hallelujah! The Gospel Breaks the Power of Our Shame

Heavenly Father, drive the good news of these Scriptures deep, deep, deep into our hearts, for shame has marked and marred many of us. Heal and free us, by the power and truth of the gospel.

“Fear not, for you will not be ashamed; be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth.” Isa. 54:4 (ESV)

The eradication of all shame is one of the things I’m most looking forward about our life in the new heaven and new earth. Never again will we feel “dis-graced,” only “fully-graced.” Never again will we remember the shaming events of our childhood, or of our youth, or of our adult years. Never again will we feel the disintegrating and paralyzing power of shame, or the need to hide and cover up. Hallelujah!

The Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Rom. 10:11 (ESV)

And there’s only one reason for such a hope: Because Jesus bore the full weight of our guilt and has broken the eviscerating power of our shame. To believe in Jesus is to trust in the One who was shamed for us on the cross—the One who doesn’t despise our weaknesses or our insecurities; nor does he turn away from us when we feel fractured or fragile; painfully self-aware or the pain of self-contempt. Indeed, Jesus has clothed our vulnerable nakedness with the garments of his grace. Hallelujah!

Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Rom. 5:5 (ESV)

Father, thank you …

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Parking Marriages at the Throne of Grace

     Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Col. 3:12-14 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, failure to nourish and pray for our marriages is like failing to drink water, get sleep, or breath air. The outcome isn’t pretty. There’s no other relationship on earth with greater power to expose our brokenness and reveal your grace, tap into our longings and frustrate us beyond measure—all at the same time. And there’s no other relationship Satan is more determined to crash and burn.
So we come to you today, interceding for marriages—friends’ and ours. Father, forgive us for ever thinking there was only one person in the history of the world we were “supposed” to marry. No marriage can sustain that expectation. And forgive us for ever thinking that if we’d married the “right” person, it’d be enough. No marriage can carry that burden.
You’ve made us for yourself; and our deepest, most powerful, and most insatiable longings for relationship can only be met in you—not in any human being. You’ve presented Jesus as our Ultimate Spouse, and no other spouse can take his place.

So our prayer is simple and essential. Once again, Father, inundate our hearts and marriages with the only love that is better …

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The Battle for Our Hearts

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God. Psalm 20:7 (ESV)

Heavenly Father, the battle for our heart’s trust is relentless, often vicious, and quite deceptive. As this day begins (and continues), we affirm that only you are worthy of our worship, love, and trust; but we also want to name the people, places, and things to which we often look for deliverance, instead of you. In David’s day, it was chariots and horses; in our day many other pseudo-saviors claim our trust.

Some trust in their goodness and discipline, and niceness; but we trust in the finished work of Jesus and the gift of his perfect righteousness.

Some trust in their spouse’s attention and affection, and their children’s success and “intactness”; but we trust in the steadfast love and great delight you have for us in Jesus.

Some trust in their stock portfolios, cash margins, and “stuff”; but we trust in the immeasurable riches of Christ and the inviolate treasure kept for us in heaven.

Some trust in their physicality and their sensuality; but in sickness and health, in our youthfulness and our aging, we trust in the truly beautiful and all-powerful One—Jesus.

Some trust in being smart, wise, and right; but we trust in Jesus, who is our wisdom from God—that is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption.

Some trust in being in included in special groups, circles, and clubs; but we trust in the gift of our union with Christ, and the ongoing communion we enjoy with the …

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Longing for an Increase in Our Gospel Joy

     They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”  John 3:26-30

Lord Jesus, I want nothing to do with a wardrobe of camel’s hair clothing, and a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4), but I DO want more of John the Baptist’s joy—the joy of your increase and my decrease. Even in his mother’s womb, John leapt for joy before you (Luke 1:39-41). I want to be that free, that glad, and that peace-full in your presence.

Then, like John, I’d be freer to make much of you, and have less “need” for people to notice, appreciate, and “get” me. I’d serve more and whine less, and encourage more and criticize less. I’d more readily accept that you, my Lord, give AND take away (Job 1:21)—believing that both come as sovereign appointments from a throne of grace.

Such joy would free me for a life of contentment—because it’s anchored in you, not determined by circumstances or possessions, politics or …

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Choosing Peace in the Midst of Busyness

     This I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lam. 3:19-24 (NIV)

     You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isa. 26:3 (ESV)

     We are merely moving shadows, and all our busy rushing ends in nothingPsalm 39:6 (NLT)

Heavenly Father, I woke up today with more things to do than there are hours in the day. That’s what makes these Scriptures so precious and timely. Jeremiah, Isaiah, and David offer wisdom with which I want to fill this day.

So even before the sun comes up, I choose to remember what matters, and Who matters. Even before I fix my breakfast, I choose to feast on your new mercies. Even before I put on my jeans, I choose to put on garments of grace. Fill me with your Spirit, your Word, and your grace.

Father, thank you for your steadfast, irrepressible, life-defining love. Life isn’t about getting everything done, but knowing you, walking with you, and enjoying you. I won’t add a day or hour to my life by stress and worry. Far better do to a few things well, with a spirit of peace and kindness, than to rush through my list and run over people. Help me to remember—all day long, “the only thing that counts is faith …

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