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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A Grace-Bombardment on Our Unbelief and Small Thoughts of the Gospel

     But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Tit. 3:4-7 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, to meditate on your Word is to submit to a grace-bombardment on our unbelief. This passage from Titus is a perfect example. What an all out assault these verses wage against our inadequate thoughts of you and incomplete view of the gospel.

     You’re so much kinder than we can imagine, and so much more loving than we ever hoped you’d be. Like Abraham, we weren’t seeking you when you found us. Your kindness and love appeared to us out of nowhere—actually, out of heaven. It was entirely an act of measureless mercy and sovereign grace on your part.

     As surely as we had zero part in our first birth, so we contributed “zilch” to our second birth. We didn’t “show promise”; you just kept your irrevocable promise to redeem a family as numerous as stars, sand, and dust (Gen. 12-17). Hallelujah, for the mathematics of mercy!

     And how generous you were, and remain, Father. You didn’t just “dribble” a little Holy Spirit on us; you poured him out on me “liberally through Jesus”—copious amounts of heart washing, soul-engaging, whole-being-satisfying goodness. By your grace, we’ve …

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The Gospel Continually Heals Us and Frees Us

     Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, as surely as you spoke the words to a dead Lazarus, “Come out!” and he was raised from the dead, so when you spoke the gospel to our hearts, we too were raised to newness of life. We have passed from death to life, from condemnation for our sins to the righteousness of faith; and from life in the kingdom of darkness to life in the kingdom of God. For your sovereign, irresistible, resurrecting grace, we shout Hallelujah!

Yet as surely as Lazarus needed to be freed from his grave-clothes, so do we. The smell and signs of death still cling to us, bind us, and trip us up. There are many areas of our lives for which we long for greater freedom.

Jesus, grant us greater freedom from the fear and awe of man. Some people have way more power over our hearts than they deserve. Their criticism and rejection can devastate us; and their praise and appreciation can make us. May your great love for us, and delight in us, shift the center of our relational world.

We also crave freedom from our self-centered worries and our soul-sapping anxieties. Jesus, you have the hearts of all kings in your hand—as well as all of our days and wounds, longings and burdens. …

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A Prayer for Being Gathered and Protected by Jesus

      O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you would not! Luke 13:34

     Dear Lord Jesus, of all the metaphors you used to help us understand your love and kindness, “mother hen” has to be the most surprising. And yet as I ponder the image, it profoundly endears you to my heart. It makes me want to know and worship you all the more.

     That you chose such a metaphor says much about the depths of your affection and the intensity of your engagement in our lives. It also reveals how fragile, vulnerable, and foolish we are as your “chicks”.

     Jesus, I praise you today for your ongoing commitment to gather me, because I am “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it; prone to leave the God I love.” Keep running after me, Jesus—when I drift naively or roam wantonly; when I run scared or am hiding in my pride; when I’m in the far country of self-indulgence, or in the near ghetto of my self-righteousness.

     Jesus, I praise you today that like a mother hen, you gather us and place us under your wings—next to your heart. There’s no place in history or the cosmos I’d rather be. You’re such a compassionate, kind, tender Savior. How foolish I am to think otherwise, even for …

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A Prayer for Repenting of Our Unbelief

     “He (Peter) went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.  Acts 12:12-16

     Dear heavenly Father, thank you for chronicling this rather comical prayer meeting. Though is exposes our unbelief, in a far greater way, it highlights your faithful commitment to do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. I relate to this scene. I often dutifully pray, but faithlessly doubt. Forgive my unbelief; override my unbelief.

     Father, I’d love to hear “Peter knocking at the door,” with regards to these matters weighing on my heart. I pray for persecuted churches and believers, and their leaders. Evil hates beauty, and Satan hates you and your church. Strengthen, encourage, and grant miracles of provision and deliverance. Cause the gospel to spread like wildfire in the face of evil. Grant those in harm’s way, an extraordinary measure of your presence and peace.

     Father, I pray for the courageous men and women who are laboring …

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A Prayer for Marinating in God’s Incomparable Kindness

     But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  Eph. 2:4-7

     Dear heavenly Father, reading these words from Paul is life giving, heart encouraging, and hope fueling. Scriptures, like this, that remind me you are so much more patient, loving, and grace-full than I could have ever imagined. I believe, help my unbelief. I receive; increase my capacity to receive even more.

     But today, what really arrests my attention is the image of our being raised from the dead and seated in Christ so that throughout eternity you might demonstrate your kindness to us in Jesus. Forever and ever, in the perfection of our life in the new heaven and new earth, our experience of your kindness will increase. This promise overwhelms the circuit board of my understanding, throws fuel on the fire of my longings, and reveals the paucity of my faith.

     Father, the revelation of your kindness touches something deep inside of me in this season of life. Maybe it’s because of how little kindness I see in the world today. Maybe it’s because of how much …

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A Prayer Asking God to Override Our Unbelief

     ”He [Peter] went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. Acts 12:12-16

Heavenly Father, thank you for chronicling the events of this comical, and all-to-common, prayer meeting. As much as it exposes our unbelief, in a far greater way it highlights your faithful commitment to do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. This story describes the kind of praying I’m way too familiar with. I dutifully pray, but I faithlessly doubt. Forgive my unbelief; override my unbelief; let me behold the salvation of the Lord.

There are many things I’m praying about right now for which I want to hear “Peter knocking at the door.” I have no need to be considered a great prayer warrior. I’m not looking for wonderful stories to tell others as a testimony to my faith. I simply want you to bring a whole lot of glory to Jesus. Astonish us, Father; astonish me with your mercy and might.

Father, …

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A Prayer for Repenting of Political Cynicism and Unbelief

     Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority, or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people. Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. 1 Pet. 2:13-17

     I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior. 1 Tim. 2:1-3

Dear heavenly Father, these Scriptures convict me—they expose my unbelief, my lack of prayer and my bad attitude. I stand convicted of how little I’ve prayed for our past presidents and how very little I pray with faith for our sitting president. Forgive me, and by the power of the gospel, give me a better attitude.

I confess, I’ve been more of a cynic than your servant with respect to supporting our government. I haven’t been living with the confidence that you set up and sit down kings, presidents, premiers, and governors at your bidding. At times, I’ve been more irritated by the Oval Office than comforted by the occupied throne of heaven.

In many …

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A Prayer for Trusting Jesus for Peace-making Grace

And he [Jesus] came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. Eph. 2:17-18

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

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Cor. 5:18-19    

Glorious Prince of Peace, you who one Day will reconcile wolves and lambs, leopards and goats, calves and lions—give us the desire, the humility, and grace to live as peacemakers. To the extent possible, empower us for living as mediums of your healing mercies, conduits of your kingdom kindness; agents of your reconciling love (Rom. 12:18-21).

Indeed, what is Christmas? It’s you coming as near as possible to us in your incarnation, bringing the peace for which we are desperate; the peace that passes all understanding; the quintessential peace which required both your cradle and your cross.

You are our peace, Lord Jesus, for you have destroyed the hostility between God and us. God has made his peace with us in you. Hallelujah, for such a rich standing in grace. We no longer have to fear or be in doubt about what God thinks of us!

Now, in your resurrection glory, you’re the one who is constantly …

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A Prayer for Offering a Redemptive Presence in Our Culture

    “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matt. 5:13-16

     Dear heavenly Father, understandably, emotions and conversations we’re all over the map yesterday, in response to the presidential election. Many of us were hoping for significant changes a new president might bring; others for an opportunity to give our sitting president a chance to make good on his original promises; others of us were completely ambivalent about this election—feeling conflicted about not having a candidate, from either party, we could really get excited about.
     Once again, providence drives us to you and to your Word—for perspective, peace and hope. How we praise you, Father, that with you, there’s an abundance of each. Please help us make our racing thoughts captive to Jesus’ wisdom; help us bring our piqued emotions to Jesus’ mercy; and help us surrender our next choices to Jesus’ kingdom.
     Father, this one portion of the Scriptures offers …

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