Hearing God Laugh When Feeling Threatened, Fearful, and Angry

     A little while, and the wicked will be no more; though you look for them, they will not be found. But the meek will inherit the land and enjoy peace and prosperity. The wicked plot against the righteous and gnash their teeth at them; but the Lord laughs at the wicked, for he knows their day is coming. Ps. 37:10-13 (NIV)

Heavenly Father, we so look forward to the day when we’ll actually hear you laugh—a merriment and felicity that already fill the counts of heaven and the chambers of eternity. That will be the Day when every expression of darkness and death, evil and folly, meanness and wickedness will be totally eradicated.

It’s hard to conceive of our world devoid of every semblance of sin and brokenness, and filled to overflowing with your goodness, truth, and beauty. But you’ve promised that Day, and Jesus has secured that Day. Though not as quickly as we’d like, but more certainly than we can imagine, the Day of “all things new” is coming.

And as this Scripture highlights, it’s not the powerful and proud who will “inherit the earth and enjoy great peace“, but “the meek.” Therefore, we praise you, Father, for the meekness of Jesus, who like a lamb (the Lamb) was led to the cross—taking our sin (my sin), defeating the devil, and securing the transformation of all things.

It’s in union with Jesus that, we too, will inherit the earth—as mind-boggling and heart-humbling a thought as that is. And it’s in union with Jesus, that we too become humble and meek, and useful in your kingdom service.

So Father, …

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Peace Replacing Worry in Our Hearts: Philippians 4:6-8

6 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

Heavenly Father, thank you for catching every care we cast in your direction; taking every burden we offload onto your heart; and for welcoming every worry we leave at your throne of grace. You know our needs better than we do, but here are a couple that stand out.

We need to know you are at work in our country, and we need your Spirit to fill our hearts with a fresh sighting of Jesus. After witnessing something more akin to a mud-slinging debacle, than a presidential debate, our hearts are heavy, sad and greatly concerned. All the vitriol, rancor, and contempt are wearing us out and down, Father.

Thank you for what you’ve already done? That’s easy, Father. You’ve given us Jesus—who is our righteousness, holiness, and redemption; and our loving Bridegroom, constant Advocate, and returning King. No matter how this election plays out, this we can say with confidence, Jesus is Lord!

7 Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

We gladly receive the promise and provision of your peace, Father. We don’t have to understand everything. We know your timing is perfect and your ways are incomparable. Guard our vulnerable, wandering, impatient hearts with a greater measure of your peace, wisdom, and kindness.

8 And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts …

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Trusting God with Things We Can’t 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)

Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is remember the gospel. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re forgiven, robed, adopted, and beloved. We feast on a free diet of daily mercies and living water. We praise, bless, and adore you. The birds of the air have nothing on us.

Nevertheless, our weaknesses persist, our anxieties flare up, and our worries get the best of us. So we run to you today, confident of your welcome, and resting in your rule. 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 unnecessary suffering—for ourselves or anyone else.

I’ll start with the obvious, Lord. Tuesday, November 8th, we’ll elect a new president in our country. Every day we have more reasons to feel angst, anger, and anxiety. Help us to really believe you’ve “got this one”—that you actually are …

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The Freedom of Treasuring Jesus

     Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Luke 12:32-34 NIV

Lord Jesus, as convicting as your words are, they are exponentially more comforting. Of course I fear things in life—things over which I have little, if any, control. My list of “what if’s?” is real, and gets longer, if I give worry the microphone. But today, your voice transcends the noise and exposes my fears for what they really are—thieves, brigands, and liars.

What can I work up a good case of worries about? I fear for the future of our country—even the whole world. And yet—so gloriously yet, you are the King of the kingdom the Father has joyfully given us. Indeed, you are the ruler of the kings of the earth, the resurrected and reigning Sovereign over all things—our returning Bridegroom and Lord, actively making all things new. Jesus, I truly want your Kingdom more than I want a lasting city in this world.

Jesus, I can get anxious about the health, stories, and wellbeing of people I love. But you’ve given yourself for our salvation; certainly I can trust you to take care of everything else. Right? Though I wish you promised me a pain-free, stress-free, crisis-free life …

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Zero Fear of Bad News

      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)

Heavenly Father, I’m drawn to the heart King David described in this Scripture like a baby robin to morning’s breakfast; like a hungry trout to an emerging hatch; like me standing in front of a buffet of chocolate. Oh to have 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 heart beat within my chest, Father. Free me to trust more and fret less. You’ve declared me fully forgiven and perfectly righteous in Christ; now make me less shakable when shaky things are going on.

I don’t want to be oblivious or impervious, filled with denial or dismissive of reality; but less knee-jerk reactionary and less “the-sky-is-falling-ish.” Father, my theology tells me you’ve “got this one,” and everything else, well in hand. Make my theology my doxology—my head’s profession my heart’s possession.

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 bent knees and palms up—not with passive resignation, but with active surrender to the God who does all things well. You are at work in all things for our good… all

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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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A Prayer for Resting in God’s Enduring Love in Our Unstable World

     Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let Israel say: “His love endures forever.” Let the house of Aaron say: “His love endures forever.” Let those who fear the Lord say: “His love endures forever.”  When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? The Lord is with me; he is my helperPsalm 118:1-7 (NIV)

    Dear heavenly Father, in view of the instability of world politics, the complexities of human relationships, and the fragility of world economics, we join the Psalmist’s declaration, “Your love, O Lord, endures forever.”

     The most certain and stable, dependable and inexhaustible reality in our lives is your love, Abba Father. We could’ve never deserved it or earned it; and now we can never lose it or reduce it. You love each of your children as much as you love your only Son, Jesus; and there’s really nothing we can do about it, but marinate in it, rely on it, and share it with others. Hallelujah, many times over!

     In terms of the quantity of your love, we’re standing under the Niagara Falls of your affection, flowing out of the bottomless ocean of your grace. In terms of its reliability, though it’s cliché, your love is much more predictable than death and taxes. In terms of its quality, the love you have for us is the love, passion, and delight you have forever enjoyed with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In …

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A Prayer for Acknowledging Our Fears and Bringing Them to Jesus

     And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, like bookends of grace, the heart-settling command, “Do not be afraid”, accompanies your birth and resurrection (Luke 2:10; Matt. 28:5). Ever since our first parents sinned, fear and hiding have, and been part and parcel of life, and I’ve helped keep the family tradition alive. At times, fear has more power over my life than your love; and though you’ve already clothed me in your righteousness, I still reach into my closet for fig leaves to cover my brokenness and shame.

     But today, I join shepherds in hurrying off to come to you, Jesus, for you alone bring the good news of great joy for which our hearts longs every day. You alone can charm our fears and set us free. My fears aren’t all that noble. I’m not really afraid of angelic hosts and I’m not afraid to die. I’m not …

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A Prayer for Wisdom for Loving Well in Complex Storylines

     If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. James 1:5 (NLT)

Dear heavenly Father, like every day, I begin this day grateful for your daily mercies, eternal kindness, and measureless generosity. Not only have you given Jesus to us as our perfect righteousness, you provide us with everything else we need in life. Today, I need wisdom, and I trust your promise to give it gladly and freely.

Father, I need wisdom for loving well in complex relationships and broken storylines. Please help me know the difference between overlooking a fault and covering up something that needs to be revealed. When does patience turn into denial; turning the other cheek become enabling; and “trying to be nice” morph into unhealthy conflict avoidance? You must show me, Father, I just don’t know.

I know the gospel will always require more of us than I readily give, but grant me wisdom to know what that means, when its just not easy to discern. How do I validate the emotions of others without taking responsibility for those emotions? How do I listen, not with the goal of fixing, but loving? When should I risk losing relationship because of a greater commitment to honor you and protect the innocent? What’s the line between waiting a little longer, and now’s the time to act?

Father, help me with my own emotional triggers. Shame, fear, and anger are always lurking around the corner. Continue …

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A Prayer for Owning Feelings of Vulnerability, Sadness, Anger, and Longing

     How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Hab. 1:2 (NLT)

     Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:21 (NIV)

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

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Psalm 46:1-2 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, the bandwidth of my emotions this morning is as broad as the Pacific Ocean. I need your audience, perspective and grace. Looking at scenes of Baltimore burning stirs up my anger and sense of vulnerability. Help me, Lord, help me understand why those harmed by injustice would become perpetrators of exponential evil and destruction, against their own people, city, and citizens who have been working to make Baltimore a better place in which to live? It makes no sense to me, Lord.

     I understand why you tell us, not to be overcome by evil, because right now I relish the thought of repaying evil for evil and harm for harm; so I’m no different from the very people I’m judging in my heart this morning. Have mercy on my critical, resentful soul, Father. Be with those who are seeking to do everything they can to overcome …

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