A Prayer for Trusting God with Stuff We Cannot Control

Oct 04, 2015 | Scotty Smith

“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)

Dear Lord Jesus, whenever we’re tempted to wonder about our value to the Father, all we have to do is consider the astonishing sacrifice you made for us. By your life, death, and resurrection, we’re forgiven and clothed with the very righteousness of God. And now we feast on a free diet of bread from heaven and an endless supply living water. We praise, bless, and adore you. The birds of the air have nothing on us!
Nevertheless, our weakness persists, our anxieties flare up, and our worries often get the best of us. So we run to you, confident of your welcome, compassion, and grace. 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 our loved ones to suffer unnecessarily.
Jesus, please reveal more of your beauty and love to our children. If we could give our kids and grandkids anything, it would be for them to know and love you. Keep them restless until they rest in you. May your mercy be a magnet and your grace irresistible to them.
For our friends and family members facing vocation crises and health issues, and relationship challenges and financial messes—Jesus lift the weight of our worries as you give us the assurance of your engagement. Show us how to love well, without meddling and manipulating. Help us to wait on you, Lord. Sometimes that is SO hard.
Jesus, we will trust you—not horses, chariots, or our devices. Grant us grace, fuel our hope, and give us peace. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and strong name.

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A Prayer for Marriages–Friend’s and Ours

Oct 03, 2015 | Scotty Smith

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)

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thess. 5:11 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, failure to pray for and nourish our marriages is like failing to drink water, get sleep, or breath air. The outcome is predictable and not 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, like marriage, that Satan is more determined to crash and burn.
So we come to you today, interceding for marriages—friend’s and ours. Father, forgive us for ever thinking that 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 have made us for yourself, Father; and our deepest, most powerful, and most insatiable longings for relationship can only be met in you—not in any human being. So our prayer is simple and essential. Once again, Father, inundate our hearts and marriages with the only love that is better than life, the only love that will never let go of us, the only love that is enough—your lavish and liberating love for us in Jesus. Immerse and inundate, saturate and marinate our marriages in your grace.
Precisely because we are “chosen, holy, and dearly loved” by you, fill our hearts and marriages with your “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” Free us to forbear with each other, and forgive each other, as you so generously relate to us in Jesus. Until the day you take one of us home, help us to encourage one another and build each other up daily. Help us to outdo one another in kindness and repentance. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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A Prayer for Resting in God’s Enduring Love

Oct 02, 2015 | Scotty Smith

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 helper. Psalm 118:1-7 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, in full view of the instability of world politics and the complexities of human relationships, the unpredictability of the world economy and the ever-pressing needs that stress us, this we can say without flinching or doubting, “Your love, Oh Lord, endures forever.”
The most certain, stable, dependable, and inexhaustible reality in our lives is your love, Abba Father. We could have never deserved it or earned it; and now we can never lose it or reduce it. You love all of your children as much as you love your only Son, Jesus; and there’s really nothing we can do about it but enjoy it and rely on it. Hallelujah, many times over!
In terms of quantity, we’re standing under the Niagara Falls of your affection, flowing out of the bottomless ocean of your grace. In terms of reliability, though it’s cliché, your love is much more predictable than death and taxes. In terms of quality, the love you have for us is the love, passion, and delight you have forever enjoyed with Jesus and the Holy Spirit. In terms of endure-ability, you will cease to be God before you will stop loving your children.
Father, you give and you take away; you fill our lives with good things and you grace our lives with difficult things. You are nearer than our next breath, yet sometimes you seem very far away. We can always count on you, but we can never presume to manage you. And in all of it—in every last bit of the raptures and ruptures of life, your love endures forever; your love endures forever; your love endures forever. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

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A Prayer of Longing for Wholeness and Our Resurrection Body

Oct 01, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18 (NIV)

For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 2 Cor. 5:1-2 (NLT)

Dear heavenly Father, the current aches and pains in my body give me an opportunity either to whine or worship; and since I know where my whining usually takes me, I think I’ll stay with worshiping you. But first of all, thank you for giving us the important gift of lament and for not despising our sadness. I’ve learned the hard way that if we’re unwilling to grieve our losses then our compassion for others will be significantly stunted. I don’t like pain, Father, but if it tunes my heart to care for others, grant me grace to rejoice in suffering.
That being said, I greatly rejoice in the hope of the new body we will receive when Jesus returns. Our healing will be complete. Father, thank you that Jesus not only secured the perfection of our spirits, but also the resurrection of our bodies. Even as Jesus was raised, so shall we. We groan now, but will be whole forever. Hallelujah! These “light and momentary troubles” are incredibly inconvenient and bothersome; but our exulting will be eternal.
Until that Day, Father, I’ll seek to take care of myself, and will trust you for healing and health. And by the power of the gospel, please help me someone in whom the weak, weary, and broken find understanding and encouragement. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus tender and triumphant name.

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A Prayer for Resting in the Scandalous Goodness of the Gospel

Sep 30, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Rom. 4:4-8

Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture contradicts everything we assume about the way life is “supposed to work”. We expect to get what’s coming to us. We demand fairness—an honest return for our labor, time, and sweat. But the gospel flies in the face of conventionality, predictability, and normalcy—to which we respond with a big “Hallelujah!”
Thank you for not being fair with us. Thank you for being outrageously generous, immeasurably kind, and scandalously good. What we could never earn—your perfect righteousness, you’ve credited to us as a gift. What we fully deserve—to be dealt with according to the wages of our sin, you’ll never do so. What we cannot imagine—that you would justify ungodly people, you’ve joyfully and legally done.
Because of Jesus’ perfect and finished work, our transgressions are forgiven (all of them), our sins are covered (every one of them), and you’ll never hold us guilty for them (none of them). King David called such people “Blessed”. Because we are among “such people,” we are humbled and grateful, and free beyond our wildest imagining.
Thank you for reconciling us to yourself through Jesus, and for placing us in an eternity of your permanent favor. Thank you for, not only removing all condemnation for our sins, but for replacing deserved judgment with your exuberant jubilation. Thank you for not just welcoming us, but for wanting us. Thank you for not just “letting us into heaven one day,” but for delighting in us fully in this very day!
By the power of the Holy Spirit, drive the gospel, this gospel, deeper and deeper into our hearts, that we might live and love to your glory. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus trustworthy name.

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A Prayer for Days When We’re Feeling Weary

Sep 29, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt. 11:28-29 (ESV)

He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Isa. 43:2 (NLT)

Dear Lord Jesus, we praise you for perpetually presiding at the throne of grace, and for doing so with so much joy, gentleness, and burden-bearing love. When we feel our weakest—when we feel like “flickering candles” you don’t judge us us, you lavish compassion on us; you don’t roll your eyes with disgust, you open your arms with delight. You promise us a rest you alone can give, and we are ready to receive.
We bring you the weariness that comes from seeking to love well. We bring you our fatigue born from our stories of grief and loss, care-giving and criticism-taking. Jesus, help us to accept the reality of our emotional depletion and mental tiredness. No aspect of our lives is more delightful and more depleting than our relationships. As parents, spouses, and friends, grant us grace, wisdom, and strength, Lord Jesus. Give us thick skin and big hearts for staying present and engaged.
We bring you the exhaustion we feel from having longer “to do” lists than there are hours in the day. Sometimes the sheer “demanding-ness” of life makes us want to get a one-way ticket to a far away place. But since that would solve nothing, we ask for wisdom and grace, to choose between the critical things and the less important things.
And, Jesus, please grant us the gift of good, deep, restorative sleep; and free us from our reliance on the stimulants of caffeine and sugar, activity and the approval of people. We trust your for all the grace, friends, and strength we will need, for the days and demands in front of us. So very Amen we pray, in your kind and trust-worthy name.

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A Prayer for Giving Thanks for Good Friends

Sep 28, 2015 | Scotty Smith

When we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Cor. 7:5-6 (NIV)

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Prov. 17:17 (NIV)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”. Heb. 3:13 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, I’m so thankful for the friends you’ve woven into my life—the brothers and sisters who pursue me, though my default mode is withdrawal; who reach out to bear my burdens, though I feign self-sufficiency and hate to be a bother; who comfort me when I’m downcast, though I struggle to being emotionally honest and genuinely weak in the presence of others.
Father, thank you for friends who know how to encourage me with their presence and words—those who remind me of the gospel and help me get a better perspective on disappointments and hurts. Thank you for those who know how to confront me, and “call me out” from self-pity and cynicism, to faith, freedom, and hope.
Make me the same kind of friend, Father, especially in this next season of life. Whether you give me five, ten or fifteen more years of life, I want to finish my days in this world as an encourager and comforter—as a conduit of your mercy and grace. I don’t need any more stuff and I don’t need to get busier. As I preach it, so may I live it: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.”
Help me to be better at giving presence than answers; tears more so than advice; hope and not spin; my heart, and not just my hands. All of this, and so much more, you so freely give me in the gospel, Father. I’m a rich man because of the way you love me in Jesus. Love through me, to your glory. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ kind and glorious name.

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A Prayer for Esteeming Jesus

Sep 27, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:1-3 (ESV)

Do you love me? John 21:16 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, Isaiah’s words rip at my heart this morning. I am freshly in awe of the love you have lavished on rebels, fools, and idolaters, like me. You, who never sinned, became sin for us, that in you, we might freely receive the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). By your crushing, we are now cherished; by your exile on the cross, we have citizenship in God’s heart; by your consummate wounding, we are becoming completely healthy; by your cruel death, we live forevermore.
It’s precisely because of your great love for us that I feel deeply convicted this morning. I can’t get away from Isaiah’s words, “and we esteemed him not”—and I don’t want to move on quickly. The riches of your grace, move we to grieve the wretchedness of my sin. The truth is, every time I sin, I esteem me more than I esteem you; and when I put it is those terms, sin has never seemed more ugly, empty, and foolish. There is simply no greater indictment against us than a lack of esteem for you, Lord Jesus.
You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. You redeemed us for yourself and you desire us as no one else ever could; yet we still look over your shoulder for other loves and other lovers. You’re coming back for us, with the passion of a Bridegroom for his new Bride; yet we remain shackled to lesser stories and smaller dreams.
By your grace, Jesus, and by the power of your resurrection, refresh, renew and intensity my love for you. I want to esteem you above everything and everyone else, Jesus. You will never love me more than you already do; I want to love you so much more. So very Amen I pray, in your compassionate and all-worthy name.

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A Prayer for Parenting (and Grand-parenting) by Grace, Faith, and Love

Sep 26, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Psalm 127:1-3 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, yet again we turn to you as the designer and builder of all things, including the lives of our children and grandchildren. Thank you for reminding us that our children are a gift, not a project.
At times you’ve had to use a gospel wrecking-ball on my parenting style, in order to build something more lasting and beautiful. That process continues. But even when I’m overbearing or under-believing, disengaged or too enmeshed, I am thankful to know that you remain faithful and loving.
Continue to rescue me from relational “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worth.
It’s the height of arrogance to think our “good parenting” accounts for the best of what we see in the lives of our children; and it’s a lie from hell to assume that our “bad parenting” is the sole reason for the things that break our hearts. Free us, Father, free us, and forgive us. Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of our fear and pride than by your love and grace.
Since our kids are your inheritance, Father, teach us how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners. More than anything else, show us how to parent and grandparent in a way that best reveals the unsearchable riches of Christ. Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Father, we want to love and serve our children, “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). So very Amen we pray in Jesus’ faithful and powerful name.

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A Prayer for a Mary Heart in a Martha World

Sep 25, 2015 | Scotty Smith

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 “Martha world” of many distractions, never-ending demands, and over-stimulation. Lord Jesus, help us—help me cultivate a Mary heart in a Martha world. My problem isn’t the world I inhabit, but the heart that inhabits me. So I make King David’s prayer mine, “Give me an undivided heart that I may live in awe of your name,” Jesus (Ps. 86:11). You are the “one thing worth being concerned about”; you are the “one thing” that will never be taken from us, Jesus.
My “must get done list” isn’t going to change; but as you refresh and deepen my communion with you, I’m certain I can live with a quieter, gentler, kinder heart. By the compelling wonder of your beauty and the relentless power of grace, I trust you for that work in my heart. In the gospel, I hear you say, “Come away, my beloved, my desire is for you.” To which I respond gladly, Lord Jesus. So very Amen I pray, in your compassionate and welcoming name.

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