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A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

Nov 27, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

     Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength. Hab. 3:17-19a (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, on this Thanksgiving Day, we praise you for being the only God from whom all blessings flow; our loving Father, who does all things well, even when you don’t do all things easy; and the sovereign Lord, who enthrones and dethrones rulers at your bidding.

King David and the Prophet Habakkuk voice the declaration of our hearts and the cry of our souls. With our whole being, we want to thank you for the multiplied blessings you have lavished upon us in Jesus. You have forgiven all of our sins—the ones which bear the most shame, and the ones we’ll never know about. You now count us righteous in Christ, your beloved daughters and sons, and citizens of the courts of heaven.

You are healing us of every disease, all brokenness, and every heartache; and one Day we shall be completely whole and free. We no longer fear death, and we’re learning not to fear life. We begin each day crowned with your mercies, rooted in your love, and standing in your grace.

But Father, even when our lives are just as full of hard things as good things; even when we feel, in heart and body, more like aging adults, than renewed youth; even when the healing doesn’t come on our schedule; there’s more month left over at the end of the check; and our relationships offer more stress than sweetness, we will rejoice and take joy in you—the Lord of our salvation, the strength of our hearts, the God of all grace. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name.

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A Prayer for Remaining Grateful When Life Is Messy

Nov 26, 2014 | Scotty Smith

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18 (ESV)

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isa. 41:10 (ESV)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, there are some days when it’s good (and important) to remember that you call us to offer thanks in, not for, all circumstances. The gospel isn’t about magic thinking or make-believe-living, spiritual anesthesia or circumstantial amnesia. In fact, the gospel is the only place in the universe where we don’t have to pretend about anything. That’s one of the many reasons we love you, and ARE grateful to be your children.

     Father, strengthen, help, and uphold us with your righteous right hand, in stories that are recipes for dismay.

     For those of us for whom Thanksgiving Day will highlight the brokenness of our family system—grant us grace and freedom to love well in the chaos.

     For those of us bearing the weight of health concerns for ourselves, or those we love—grant us grace, peace, and the assurance of your nearness.

     For those of us weighed down by some combination of the 6 o’clock news, financial pressures, vocational issues, and relational heartache—grant us grace, and a vision of the occupied throne of heaven.

     For those of us who hear the condemning whispers of Satan louder than the consoling voice of Jesus—grant us grace, and fresh assurance that nothing can separate us from your love—that Jesus plus nothing is our righteousness, period.

     Father, in these, and other scenarios of difficult circumstances, reassure us that you are very much at work—for your glory and our good. For you have called us—you have subpoenaed us to an eternal life of intimacy with yourself. You want us, you have us, and you love us. Hallelujah, now and forever we are yours.  So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

    

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A Prayer of Lament and Longing for the End of Violence

Nov 25, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     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 live together? How long, O Lord, how long until the knowledge of your glory will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea?

     Until that Day, Jesus, help us to live by the gospel, not by the sword—by the way of your cross, not by the ways of mere men. You are the Prince of Peace—sovereign over angels and disciples, kings and conflicts. Grant us grace-seed to sow today, in light of the ultimate Day of the harvest of peace. So very Amen we pray, in your strong and loving name.

     

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

Nov 24, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     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 the love, 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 welcome and new mercies.

     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, withdrawal, and judgment. Our feelings are to be taken seriously, but our feelings aren’t lord—that would be Jesus.

     So, Father, by your grace, settle me, center me, and gentle me for the day. I am grateful for your steadfast love, inexhaustible patience, and perpetual kindness. I want to walk in your Spirit today, a whole lot more than I want to “cop an attitude”. May I forgive as you’ve forgive me; accept as you have accepted me in Christ; and encourage others, increasingly, as the great Day of Jesus’ return approaches.

     Once again, I trust you for thick skin and a big heart. Free me to love to your glory, all day long. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ great and grace-full name. 

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A Prayer for Savoring Our Blessed Now and Shameless Future

Nov 23, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, ”Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Rom. 10:9-11 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, this is another day you have made, and I will rejoice in be glad in it. How can I not be glad and rejoice with all my heart? Though there remain many things over which I have zero control—circumstances I’d love to change, people I yearn to be healthier, and stories I wish I could write, nonetheless, my blessings in you far outnumber the broken things in my world.

Thank you for giving me the awareness of my need, and the faith to believe, that you are Lord—the Lord of creation and the new creation; the Lord of life and of death; the Lord of all kings and all craziness; the Lord of the environment and all government; the Lord of my days and my hairs; the Lord of my hunger and my feasting; the Lord of my laments and my laughter; the Lord of my justification—indeed my whole salvation.

Lord Jesus, with grace-bought freedom, I once again confess you to be the Lord of lords and King of kings. I do believe in my heart that God raised you from the dead—for my redemption, as well as the restoration of the entire universe. In you, I have complete forgiveness. In you, I’m counted perfectly righteous. In you, I have citizenship in heaven. Hallelujah, many times over!

You have born my shame, and you will eradicate all remaining vestiges shame in my life. Anyone and everyone who trusts in you will never be put to shame. For so great a salvation, I praise you. For so liberating a hope, I adore you. For being such a sovereign and loving Lord, I worship you. So very Amen I pray, in your strong and compassionate name.

 

 

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A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Discontented

Nov 22, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 (NIV)

     Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

     Do all things without grumbling. Phil 2:14 (ESV)

     Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Ps. 37:4-5 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, I assume that until the Day you either take me home, or send Jesus back to finish making all things new, I’m going to be both a whiner and a worshiper. Some days, nothing feels like it’s enough—people, places, or things. Other days, your love, grace, and presence are more real and satisfying than anything else, and all things combined.

     I want more of those days, Father—more of the days when your love is better than life, your grace is more than sufficient, and your presence is sweeter than honey. But until the Day of nor more whining, discontent, and grumbling, free me, Father, to more fully delight myself in you. Not to get the desires of my heart, but that you may be the primary delight of my heart. I cannot imagine a freer posture in life.

     And help me know the difference between redemptive discontent and destructive ingratitude. To remind us that we’re not “home” yet, you’ve placed a limit on how much satisfaction anything or anyone can give us. Thank you Father for doing so. This means our idols will always fail us, eventually.

     Father, I can claim “godliness” unto contentment, only because you have hidden my life in Christ—who is my righteousness and sanctification, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). May this profoundly good news impact the way I enjoy my food, put on my clothes, and relate to other people. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.

 

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A Prayer When You’re Feeling Conflicted about Decisions

Nov 21, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Prov. 16:9 (NLT)

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Rev. 3:7 (NIV)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, some decisions are “no brainers,” and some require nothing more than sanctified common sense. But there are other decisions in front of us that tie us in knots, rob us of sleep, and keep us second-guessing. Today I’m praying for myself, and friends, who find themselves in that third category. We need your peace to rule in our hearts, as we seek to choose wisely (Col. 3:15).

It’s incomparably comforting to know that you are the God who determines our steps, even as we nervously punch an address on the GPS of our hearts. This doesn’t mean we are to be passive in our decision-making, but to realize that you are very present—opening doors we cannot shut, and shutting doors we cannot open. We praise and bless you, for your sovereign, comprehensive, and constant engagement in our lives.

We certainly have every reason to trust you with all of our hearts, Father, because you loved us with all of your heart when you sent Jesus into the world to be our Savior. Since you’ve given Jesus to us and for us, we can depend on you to give us everything else we need (Rom. 8:32). So leaning away from our own understanding, we now lean fully, upon your heart and hands.

Father, make our ways straight as we seek to honor you with decisions that concern our children; decisions about employment and financial matters; decisions about health care—for ourselves and those we love; decisions required in messy and broken relationships; decisions generated by unexpected circumstances and fresh heartache; decisions with a deadline staring us in the eyes.

Father, thank you for teaching us that life isn’t primarily about making the right decisions, but trusting the right Lord—and that would be you. Your name is Redeemer, and you do all things well. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

 

 

 

 

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A Prayer for Those of Us with Loved Ones Impacted by Memory Loss

Nov 20, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isa. 49:15-16 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, though Isaiah used the image somewhat metaphorically, mothers and fathers do forget the children they have brought into the world. I know this quite well, having lived through the journey of watching my dad forgetting my name, then my face, then everything about me. The process was very painful, yet you met us time and again, with your mercy and grace.

I am so thankful that the gospel is a living hope, not sentimental hype. I am so thankful that long after dad forgot you, you never forgot him. I am so thankful that dad’s memory has been healed, and that he now knows and remembers perfectly. Above all, I am envious that he now knows you perfectly, while I am bound to the world of knowing-in-part.

As someone who found you to be the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, in a story of dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s an honor to pray for others in that same painful journey. Father, grant spouses and children, family members and friends, a profound sense of your presence, and courage to love well.

Grant them freedom to grieve their mounting sense of loss; the grace to accept the changes in their loved one; and power to stay as present as possible, when doing so becomes increasingly difficult. Grant them wisdom for each stage of the journey, trustworthy and compassionate medical care, and the necessary financial and emotional resources.

Lastly, Father, I pray you will help all of us, impacted by memory loss, to treasure being known and remembered by you. If we should forget you, in our journey to life in the new heaven and new earth, we will never outlive your love and grace for us. The only things you’re not going to remember, is our sins against us. Hallelujah, many times over. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

 

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A Prayer for Delighting in the Love and Faithfulness of God

Nov 19, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever; with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known through all generations. I will declare that your love stands firm forever, that you have established your faithfulness in heaven itself. You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, ‘I will establish your line forever and make your throne firm through all generations. Psalm 89:1-4 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, I have no clue who Ethan the Ezrahite was, to whom authorship of this Psalm is attributed, but I love his heart, words, and worship. I too, want to sing and make music in my heart to you today, Lord, for the steadfastness of your love and the rock-steadiness of your faithfulness.

     Because of what you have done for us in Jesus, we can live with the absolute assurance that your love will not be attached to any contingencies today—or anything in us. You won’t be using a scorecard, thermometer, or scale to measure our performance. There’s no chance we’ll inform, surprise, or shock you by anything we think, say or do today.

     You only deal with us according to Jesus’ righteousness—with which you have blessed and robed us. And when you discipline us, it’s never out of irritation or exasperation, but only by the favor and affection you have lavished on us in Christ. Such kindness moves us to repentance like nothing else, Father. Such love compels us to love and serve you with everything we have and are.

     Equally, Father, I praise you today for your inviolate sovereignty and unwavering faithfulness. Nothing, and no one, can resist your will, alter your plans, or derail your decrees. As I think about global and cosmic matters, and issues in my own heart and family, this assurance gives a joy that cannot be found anywhere else.

     David’s throne has become Jesus’ throne; and there will be no end to the increase of his government and peace (Isa. 9:7). That you love us, and that you are in control of all things, is enough, Father. May I live today to the praise of your glorious gospel and more-than-sufficient grace. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ trustworthy and worship-worthy name.

    

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A Prayer for Using Our Words to Bring Healing, not Harm

Nov 18, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. James 1:26 (NLT)

     There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18 (ESV)

     Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone. Col. 4:6 (NIV)

      The mouth speaks what the heart is full of. Luke 6:45 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, nothing is more daily and revealing than our words—the conversations we carry on in our minds, and the communications we share with one another. That is both sobering and encouraging to me, as I begin this day. Sobering, for obvious reasons. I don’t want to contradict my love for you by an irresponsible use of my words. I don’t want to speak like a man thrusting a sword; I want my words to bring healing and grace.

That’s where the encouragement comes in. That which fills my heart will shape my words. So before I have my first interaction with anyone today, Father, I want to set my mind, heart and affection on you. Before I speak, I want to listen to what you are constantly saying to us, your beloved children. I want my heart to be so full of your grace it will be difficult not to speak with grace-seasoned words today.

Father, thank you that it was with everlasting love and tenderness you drew us to yourself. Thank you that it was your kindness that led us to repentance. Thank you for giving Jesus on our behalf, and for hiding our lives in him. We are now forgiven and righteous, desired and enjoyed, known and secure. Praise your holy and generous name.

Nothing we can do can separate us from your love, cause you to regret saving us, or put you in a bad mood towards us. Your love is the most dependable and unwavering thing in our lives. Nothing can alter your gospelicious plan for our lives, or for the entire cosmos. From the overflow of such amazing grace, we will purpose to speak to others today. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ great and gracious name.

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