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

Mar 27, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     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. Where high dividing walls (with barbed wire on top and shards of glass) have been built between husbands and wives, children and parents, in friendships and churches—thick walls made with bricks of pain and pride, betrayals and busyness, abuse and neglect, come and tear down our walls, Jesus. You alone are Redeemer and Reconciler—our peace and Peacemaker.

     One Day, we will love perfectly as you love us, Jesus. May we, in this day, give concrete evidence of that sure and coming Day. So very Amen we pray, in your merciful and mighty name.

    

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A Prayer for Seasons When Trusting Is Hard

Mar 26, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. Psalm 20:7 (ESV)

Those who trust in themselves are fools, but those who walk in wisdom are kept safe. Prov. 28:26 (NIV)

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. Psalm 56:3 (NIV)

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. John 14:1 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, every difficult season of life is anticipated in your Word—all the exigencies and emergencies, disheartening crises and devastating crucibles, broken promises and broken trust. Thank you for your warnings and wisdom, and today—especially, thank you for your welcome. Few things hurt as much as broken trust. Help us Lord, help us trust you when trusting is really hard.

     We trust a chair will support our weight when we sit down, a bridge won’t collapse when we drive across it, the food we bring home from the market is safe, the diagnosis we get from our doctor is right, and people we love won’t harm us. Father, we’re not naïve. We live in a broken world, as broken people. If we stay in any relationship long enough, we will be a disappointment and we will be disappointed. Today, however, we ask you to meet us in the raw and lingering pain of broken trust.

     In our fear, and with our troubled hearts, we want to trust you, Father, completely. Where else can we go. What else, who else can we trust?  If we trust in ourselves, we are foolish, for our pain will dictate a course contrary to your heart. If we trust in chariots of revenge, then we will ourselves will be destroyed, under the weight of our anger and spite. If we trust in horses to take us far away, we will end up in a desolate, lonely place—exactly where Satan wants us to drive us.

     So, Father, we come to you today, and we collapse on Christ—the only One who can sustain the weight of our hurt and the wait of our longing. Hold us, help us, and heal us. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.

    

    

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A Prayer for Hours, Days, or Weeks When Temptation is Raging

Mar 25, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. 1 Cor. 10:13 (NIV)

     When the devil had finished tempting Jesus, he left him until the next opportunity came. Luke 4:13 (NLT)

     The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. John 10:10 (ESV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I praise you for the daily-ness of your warnings, and the persistence of your woo-ings. Everyday, sometimes every hour, we have life and death choices set before us. Satan intends to steal, kill, and destroy us; but you give limitless mercy, abounding grace, and abundant life. The very fact that we often pause between these two choices underscores our weakness and vulnerability; and just how much we need you as this day begins and will continue.

     Jesus, some of us are highly tempt-able right now. Grab us and grace us. Temptation is raging and it looks pretty appealing. Whether from weariness in well doing or the exhaustion of difficult relationships; the ache of unfulfilled longings or the pain of living in craziness; the quest for new adventure or the lure of old memories; a plan to out-hurt those who have hurt us, or unguarded moments of carelessness—we are weak and we need you.

     Thank you for your promise, that with every temptation we face in life—every one of them, you will always provide a way out and grace to endure. Show us what that looks life today—especially when our cry for relief is much stronger than our cry for a changed heart. Like Esau, sometimes a bowl of hot oatmeal in hand looks a lot more satisfying that the promise of a future inheritance.

     Help us make redemptive choices today—choices that celebrate the abundant life you freely give us. Help us, Lord Jesus, for your honor, glory, and praise. So very Amen we pray, in your powerful and precious name.

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A Prayer for Avoiding the Deadly Toxins of Bitterness and Resentment

Mar 24, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many. Heb. 12:15 (NLT)

Resentment kills a fool. Job. 5:2 (NIV)   

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4:31-32 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, these Scriptures cut to the chase and bring conviction to our hearts. We are your beloved daughters and sons, but today we are also your “busted” daughters and sons; for resentment comes to us as quickly as someone steals our parking place, or eats the saran-wrapped piece of cake we hid in the “frig,” or fails to include us in some social event. It’s amazing how quickly a little slight can launch us into a big spite. Have mercy on us, Lord, and grant us fresh grace, thicker skin and bigger hearts.

     But Father, being slighted is one thing, but being assaulted by the betrayals and failures, deceit and lies, attacks and abuse of others, is an altogether different matter. These aren’t things to shake off, but deep wounds, broken hearts, and incredible pain to bring to your throne of grace. You’re not calling us to denial, but to yourself. Have mercy on us, Lord, have big mercy; and grant us wisdom, strength and tons of grace.

     Father—through the power of your Holy Spirit, the truth of the gospel, and the gift of community, don’t let our appropriate anger morph into destructive revenge. Don’t let our raw hurts become a band of vigilante marauders, not just bent on getting even, but upping the ante—repaying harm for harm, evil for evil, and death for death.

     Don’t let our vulnerable hearts become gardens for the planting of roots of resentment and bushes of bitterness; and keep us from medicating our pain foolishly. Father, as Jesus has forgiven us, so help us to want to forgive others. Write stories of redemption and restoration with the ink of our hurt and your grace. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ tender and triumphant name. 

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A Prayer for Relying on the God of Resurrection for Our Hardest Stories

Mar 23, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 2 Cor. 1:8-9 (NLT)

Dear heavenly Father, what a joy it is to call you the God of Resurrection, for that is who you are. Death died and evil received a mortal wound the Day you raised Jesus from the grave. On your time schedule, everything sad will come untrue and everything broken will be made new; resplendent beauty will replace of forms of ugly and everlasting symphony will silence all cacophony. This is our peace, joy, and hope.

Father, it is because of your mercy and grace for us in Jesus that we freely bring to you the things that have the power to overwhelm and crush us. Though the details differ from Paul’s story, we too know what it feels like to question our ability to endure much longer. So, forsaking all self-reliance, we collapse on Jesus today and ask you to bring life and light into these stories of death and darkness. We bring our friends, and ourselves, to your throne of grace.

Father, we pray for the persecuted church, throughout the world. We live in a day in which martyrdom is becoming normative rather than episodic. Father, grant heroic grace and peace, and supernatural protection, especially for children in the crosshairs of evil. And our cry is, “How long, O, Lord?”

Father, we pray for marriages that are already 4 feet down into a 6 feet deep grave. May the toxins of hurt and anger, give way to a season of truce, then humility, wisdom, and healing. Whoever and whatever you choose to use, replace the growing stench of death with the aroma of grace and life.

Father, we pray for families marked by mental and emotional illness. Whether the cause is genetic, demonic, trauma-based—or otherwise, we pray for sufferers and caregivers alike. Bring glory to yourself, by bringing the power of Jesus’ resurrection to bear.

Most gracious and sovereign Father, bring other stories to mind and heart, as our day unfolds. Empower us for praying without ceasing, hoping without doubting, and loving without fearing. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name.

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A Prayer for Resting in Jesus and Crying Out to Our Father

Mar 22, 2015 | Scotty Smith

      Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. Ps. 62:5-8 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, nothing compares with the peace we have, born from the certainty of your love for us. No more wrestling with “he loves me, he loves me not”—for we now live in your permanent favor and unwavering delight. You have set your affection on us, for you have made Christ’s righteousness ours. Jesus is our Sabbath Rest, our Year of Jubilee—our mighty rock and loving refuge.

Our honor and hope depend on you, Father, not on what people think or say about us; not based on our productivity or usefulness; and not based on how much we are like Christ, but on how much we are in Christ—which is totally. This really is what we believe, Father, what we really believe the Bible teaches; and we are thankful and truly grateful.

SO, Father, here is our prayer and cry. Hear it, as we pour out our hearts to you today. May all these legal gospel rights become personal liberating delights. We want our correct theology to be our transforming doxology. We want to be freer, much freer, Father. We want to live out of the riches our rest, and less from the restlessness of our stress.

We want to shake off slights quicker. We want to be more comfortable with the unresolved, unhealed parts of our stories. We want longer fuses and shorter memories, when it comes to the failures of others. We want your mercy to tame our traumas; your grace to trump our unbelief; and your Spirit to empower us to love in the messy places of life. We want all of these things, Father, and we want them all for your glory. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ mercy-full and trust-worthy name.

 

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A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling a Mild Case of the Blahs

Mar 21, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint. Isa. 40:28-21 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, there’s nothing major going on—no foreboding issues in front of me, or recent disappointments dogging me. I’m just feeling a bit tired and “blah-ish,” as this day begins. So this Scripture comforts me on many levels. First of all, I’m glad to be reminded that even youths get faint and weary, and young men get exhausted, because I’m neither a youth nor a young man. So thanks for the freedom to accept my limitations and humanity—a freedom I need to access more regularly.

But more importantly, Father, I’m thankful for what this passage reminds me about you. You are tireless in your care, everlasting in your mercies, and generous with your grace. You anticipate our weakness and meet us right there. When we get worn-out, you don’t roll your eyes and call us “couch potatoes,” but beloved children.

Father, thanks for your promise to renew our strength. Thanks for the calling to wait on you, and not simply get up and get busy. Since you have perfect understanding, I will quiet myself before you, and let you refresh my heart and replenish my resources. With the gospel at my core, I don’t feel any condemnation or guilt, just the need for a less busy, quieter, distraction-less stretch of a few days. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ kind and powerful name.

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A Prayer for Remembering the Connection Between Forgiveness and Love

Mar 20, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Then he turned to the woman and said to Simon, ”Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer me water to wash the dust from my feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing my feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint my head, but she has anointed my feet with rare perfume. I tell you, her sins—and they are many—have been forgiven, so she has shown me much love. But a person who is forgiven little shows only little love.”  Luke 7:44-47 (NLT)

Dear Lord Jesus, I would do well do meditate on this passage once a week, at least. Because nothing is more daily that the call to forgive; nothing is more scandalous than the way you forgive; and nothing is more important than the way that I love.

Jesus, I show up in this story in so many places. I’m Simon the self-righteous Pharisee. I often see people through the lens of criticism and judgment—especially if their actions have hurt or inconvenienced me, or if their sins are different than mine. I am so sorry, Jesus, forgive me of my arrogance and hair-trigger self-righteousness.

Jesus, I’m also this broken woman at your feet. My sins are just as ugly and numerous as hers, just not as public or notorious. I believe this; by your Holy Spirit, convince me even more that it is true. My creed is that you have forgiven ALL of my sins—past, present, and future. Thank you, thank you, thank you. But I’m desperate for my heart and conduct to match my creed and profession. Jesus, help me, change me, and free me.

I truly want to forgive others as you have forgiven me. I want to love you much because you love me more than I can possibly imagine—as much as the Father loves you. May the tears of gratitude I offer at your feet become the water of mercy with which I wash the feet of fellow sinners, like myself. Grant me big grace, Jesus, especially for the people who have caused me the biggest hurt, shame, and pain. So very Amen I pray, in your kind and powerful name.

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A Prayer for Acknowledging Our Performance-ism and Perfectionism

Mar 19, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     When I first came to you, dear brothers and sisters, I didn’t use lofty words and impressive wisdom to tell you God’s secret plan. For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified. I came to you in weakness—timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. 1 Cor. 2:1-4 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father… how I need this Scripture today. Paul’s model of relying on the Spirit—and nothing in himself, is both indicting and inviting. By your grace, Paul was so over himself. These verses are indicting because they expose the performer and perfectionist in me. I still get “sucked into” trying to gain and maintain people’s approval by what I do. Likewise, I often consider a day “good” or “bad,” based on the quality and quantity of my production. Rather than boasting in Christ alone, alas, I want to find something boast-worthy in me.

     That’s where this Scripture moves from indicting me to inviting me to a better, more beautiful way. Father, thank you for intending, and securing, our freedom by Jesus’ performance. Perfection can only be found in one place—in Christ. Your approval is all that really matters, and you’ve already given that to us fully in Jesus.

     Of course, what other’s think about us—and how we think of ourselves, is going to impact us. We’re human, not robotic. But you’ve given us the same gospel and the same Spirit you gave Paul. Thank you, Father. So, owning my weakness, I’ll seek to rely on the Holy Spirit all day long today; and forsaking all scorecards, I’ll seek to make Jesus my primary boast.

     Father, I’m trusting you help me be really present with people today. Grant me quick repentances, good listening, and words for building others up—according to their needs. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus loving and powerful name.

     

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A Prayer for Humbling Ourselves When We’d Rather Not

Mar 18, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:10 NIV) When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom. (Prov. 11:2 NIV) Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Eph. 4:2 NIV) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt. 5:9 NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, “being right” is so much more fun than being humbled; remaining defensive is so much easier than offering kindness; getting even is more instinctive than getting low. Alas, I find myself again in the need of fresh grace as this day begins. Thank you for convicting me without condemning me.

I know you resist the proud, but give grace to the humble—and the last thing in the world I want is to experience your resistance, so, Father, I humble myself before you today. Bring glory to yourself, as you bring me back to the ways of the gospel.

Forgive me for trying to justify my haughtiness, coolness, and withdrawal. Nobody’s failure to love well can excuse my own. Forgive me for investing more energy in propping up my reputation than in working towards peace and reconciliation. Forgive me for confusing the self-righteous monologue I’ve been carrying on in my head with prayer. I’ve been talking to myself, not to you.

Forgive me for relishing the thought of being right, when there’s been everything wrong with my attitude. Forgive me for “processing” the broken situation with others, when it’s really been closer to gossip. Forgive me for being passive in the face of a potential messy confrontation, rather than active as a peacemaker.

Have mercy on me, gracious Father, have mercy. As the day unfolds, please grant me humility, kindness, and courage to move towards the situation. Bring glory to yourself, gentleness to my heart, and a good gospel outcome. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name.

 

 

 

 

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