A Prayer of Über Encouragement

     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)

     Dear heavenly Father, there are many things over which I don’t have any control; many outcomes that remain hidden from me; and many broken stories, broken people, and broken circumstances that may, or may not, get better this side of heaven. But this I do know, because of the finished work of Jesus, our future contains zero judgment and 100% joyful welcome by you you; zero wrath and100% perfect righteousness in Jesus; zero brokenness and 100% perfect relationship with you. It’s all gonna be—not just okay, but bodacious and magnificent, beyond our wildest dreams and hopes. This isn’t sentimental hype; it’s our guaranteed hope.

     Until then, Father, make me a genuine encourager and “builder-upper” of my family, gospel-posse, and friends. 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 mercies, or exhaust …

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A Prayer for a Mary Heart in a Martha World

As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)
Dear Lord Jesus, first of all, thank you for being so welcoming and desirous of our fellowship, just as you were of Mary. Not only do we have access to your throne of grace 24/7, it’s you who greets us there. We’re never a bother to you; we’re never “put on hold”; we never have to “take a number and wait.” We’ll never meet a tired and frustrated you, because you’re always the Bridegroom who delights in his Bride—rejoicing over us with singing, giving us new mercy every day and sufficient grace for every circumstance. Hallelujah, many times over.
We’re the ones who get tired and frustrated. We live in a …

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A Prayer for Being Still and Trusting God to Fight for Us

     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, fear and worry can really do a number on us. I totally get how your children could prefer returning to a life of slavery in Egypt over trusting you in the wilderness of the unknown. I’ve often felt a similar temptation to choose a known brokenness over the promise of unseen beauty. Help my unbelief as I face different battles and skirmishes in life. Help me to be still… and trust that you will fight for me.

     Father, I’m not facing the threat of Egyptian soldiers (thankfully). Often 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 I give people the power to validate me—as though your delight in me is not enough. Continue to free me from my love of the approval of man.

     Many times I battle with trusting you with the hearts and stories of people I love. I resort to ineffective ways of manipulating, spiritualizing, or trying to …

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A Prayer for Days When We Wake Up with a Low-grade Irritability

     If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful. 1 Cor. 13:1-5 (ESV)

      Dear heavenly Father, though there’s a lot more in this remarkable passage about love, but I chose to stop this morning with Paul’s couplet about love not being “irritable or resentful”—because I woke up with a measure of each vying for my day. I need your grace, even before the sun comes up. So I come to you—I run to you, thankful for your ready welcome, new mercies, and sufficient grace.

     Father, I don’t want this to be a bad attitude day, and as tempting as it is to blame and make excuses for my low-grade irritability, I’m not gonna do it. I am canceling my plans for a pity party; and I relinquish my elder-brother attitude of condescension, entitlement, and judgment. Our feelings are to be taken seriously, but our feelings aren’t lord—that would be Jesus.

     So, Father, by your …

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A Prayer for Reaffirming There’s Only One Source of Sufficient Peace

      “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” ”Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to Jesus, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples!” “I tell you,” he replied, “if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out.” As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace.”  Luke 19:38-42 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, the ache within our hearts for peace is intense and unrelenting. Though I already rest in you-plus-nothing for my forgiveness and righteousness, I can still get tricked into thinking a better peace can be found somewhere else.

     Some days I’m like Esau. My peace-lust take over, and in the moment I’ll gladly settle for a bowl of hot porridge over the hope of a future banquet (Gen 25:29-34; Rev. 19). The provision of a snack in hand blinds my eye, deafens my ear, and dulls my taste buds to the fullness I already have in you, Jesus, and the greater fullness of your return.

     Some days I get sucked in the world of “if only.” If only I were 20 years younger, lived somewhere else, had a different body, had more money, had fewer hassles, had never been deeply wounded, could control the decisions of others, had a different family of origin . . .

     But right now I hear you utter the only …

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So Much Encouragement, Peace, and Hope: Praying through Romans 5:1-5

5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 

     Dear heavenly Father, to meditate my way through this whole passage is like standing in front of a fully open fire hydrant of grace. There’s so much encouragement, peace, and hope coming at me. I praise, bless, and adore you for already declaring me to be righteous in your sight. I have peace with you, because you made your peace with me through the finished work of Jesus.

2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. 

     And now, I have perpetual access into your holy and joyful, welcoming and transforming presence. I’m no longer weighted down with guilt because I’m standing in your grace. I no longer fear the future and things I cannot control; I rejoice with hope, because I know that one Day your glory will cover the earth, and that you will, at last, make me fully like Jesus. Hallelujah!

3 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 

     Father, you even give me grace to rejoice in my sufferings, because in Christ, there don’t have to be any wasted sufferings. As you take me deeper into the riches of this gospel, free me more and more from my whining, complaining, and pouting, Father. Increase my endurance in storylines that …

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A Prayer for Blasting Our Hearts with Gospel Goodness

     To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. Jude 1-2 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, today, like every day, I need a fresh encounter with the wonders of your love, given so freely in the riches of the gospel. By faith, I bring my present thirst to the river of your grace—thankful for your kindness, compassion, and generosity, revealed so clearly in this passage. Jude’s words are life giving and heart-encouraging. Who are we? The called, loved, and kept.

     Father, you didn’t just invite us to become followers of Christ; you called us, with the legal power of a subpoena, and you adopted us as your beloved children. Instead of whining our way through life, we now cry, “Abba, Father”. We didn’t invite Jesus into our lives; you raised us from the dead and hid our lives in his. For your sovereign grace and irresistible power, we praise, bless and adore you.

     And now, through our union with Christ, you love us as much as you love Jesus. Father, nothing is more centering, freeing, and transforming. Today won’t be a day for finding meaning or making a name for ourselves, but for coming more fully alive to the only love that is better than life—the love that you have lavished on us in Jesus. No human being can possibly fill the relational vacuum you’ve built into our …

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A Prayer for Jesus to Tear Down Walls and Bring Peace Between Us

     For he himself (Jesus) is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Eph. 2:14-18 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, we praise, bless, and adore you for making peace between God and us. Through your finished work, we haven’t “just” been reconciled to God, but have become objects of his affection and children of his delight—a people upon whom Abba’s favor rests and for whom heaven is prepared. Hallelujah, many times over!

     And we praise you, Lord Jesus, for tearing down the wall of hostility between Gentiles and Jews. It was always your plan to do so—to make enemies into friends and replace hostility with hospitality, and enmity with empathy, loathing with loving. Indeed, in you, Jesus, distinctions are no longer barriers that exclude, but bridges that unite. Diversity becomes a bouquet of beauty when the gospel is in play. Nothing is impossible for you…

     SO Lord Jesus, we earnestly ask you to do this same enmity-destroying heart-gentling peacemaking in our most broken relationships. …

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A Prayer of Lament and Longing for the End of Violence

     Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so? Matt. 26:52-54 (ESV)

     I will make peace your governor and well-being your ruler. No longer will violence be heard in your land, nor ruin or destruction within your borders, but you will call your walls Salvation and your gates Praise. Isa. 60:17-18 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, we come to you today with cries of lament and sighs of longing. How long, O Lord, until you return and put an end to all violence—whether it’s in the streets of Ferguson or the villages of Iraq? How long before there’s no more no more warring nations, or even divisive personalities—no more sexual assaults or abuses of power? When will the dawn break on the Day or no more arguments between friends, pettiness between spouses, and petulance in our churches? How long, O Lord, how long?

     We yearn for the Day when peace will be our governor and well-being our ruler—when walls won’t be built of bricks and mortar, but of grace and salvation; when gates won’t be locked, to keep others out of our homes—but open, to welcome the nations into the new earth. How long until lambs and wolves …

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A Prayer for Handing Over Our Battles to the Lord

The Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s. (1 Sam. 17:47) This is what the Lord says to you: “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” (2 Chron. 20:15)

     Dear heavenly Father, I love it when you claim things I don’t really want anyway—especially ownership of our battles. Though spiritual warfare is daily, and though you give us armor to wear (Eph. 6:10-18), it’s you we must trust in as the Divine Warrior. Indeed, we don’t do life as disengaged pacifists, but fully engaged worshipers—waiting on you, and beholding your salvation.

     We’re often little David’s facing big Goliaths; but with you, we will not be afraid. But whether it’s a mere skirmish or an all-out assault, our battles belong to you. Fear and discouragement, panic and hiding, are not the order of the day; faith and peace are.

     When events in world history fuel our worry (like ISIS and Ebola)—when it seems like evil and terror will triumph, let us hear the calming laughter of heaven. Let us see your already installed and reigning King—the Lord Jesus. Show us the occupied throne of heaven, and it will shut up our anxieties (Ps. 2; Rev. 4).

     When we’re under attack by the seducer, accuser, and condemner of the brethren, once again let us see Jesus—the author and perfecter of our faith—our wisdom, righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30-31; Rom. 8:1). …

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