A Prayer for Resting in God’s Commitment to Keep & Change Us

Oct 22, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thess. 5:23

     Dear heavenly Father, it’s a source of incredible comfort to know that you are resolutely committed to keeping and changing us—to make us more and more like Jesus. For you’ve promised to bring to completion the good work you began in your children (Phil. 1:6).

     We’d despair if this wasn’t the case, for the disparity between Jesus’ beauty and our brokenness is overwhelming to us at times. The thoughts we think, the things we feel, and the choices we make often contradict the gospel we love. We could never be our own savior, and only a great Savior like Jesus is sufficient for people like us.

     So here’s our peace and joy: As the “God of peace” you’re completely sanctifying us— transforming us through and through—spirit, soul, and body; and you’re not impatient in the process. You don’t roll your eyes, cross your arms, or furrow your brow when you think about us. You are completely at peace with us.

     We will be wholly blameless and shameless, at Jesus’ second coming, only because he took our blame upon the cross, and despised its shame. Even now, our lives are hidden safely in Christ; and when he does return, we will appear with him in glory, for Jesus is our life—our righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:31; Col. 3:4).

     Therefore, our boast is in Christ, for there’s nothing in us that’s boast-worthy. Our hope is built on nothing less, nothing more, and nothing other than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. Hallelujah, many times over.

       Father, as we lean into the rest of this beautiful Fall, we actively surrender to the very active ministry of the Holy Spirit—by whom we’re sealed, with whom we’re indwelt, and through whom we will be safely delivered into your presence. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

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A Prayer for Expressing Our Esteem and Love for Jesus

Oct 21, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen. Rev. 1:5-6

Dear Lord Jesus, John’s words, early in the Book of Revelation, have the feel of a toast to them. It’s as though we’ve just finished a great banquet and have risen to our feet, with glasses hoisted to honor you, we proclaim in a loud voice “To him who loves us . . .” No one is more worthy of honor than you, and we long for the Day when knowing you in part gives way to knowing you as fully as your glorified Bride will.

Truly, there’s no date on the calendar of my heart more anticipated and longed for than the wedding feast of the Lamb—the banquet of which all other banquets are a mere hint; the mercy meal consummating your great love for us; the bodacious blowout inaugurating of our shared life together in the new heaven and new earth. Even so, hasten that Day, O great Bridegroom; hasten that Day.

Until then, please help me grasp the implications of that one enormous little phrase, “To him who loves us. ” How fitting—that this kiss of grace would be found in the opening words to the concluding book of your whole revelation. What a glorious summation of your work on our behalf. What a magnificent affirmation of the central theme in the history of redemption: “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Lord Jesus, keep us from taking your love for granted. Humble us over the cost of your love—the cross. Rescue us when other loves seem more appealing or satisfying. Open our hearts to the immeasurable dimensions of your love. Focus and free us living out the radical implications of your love.

To you be the glory and power forever and ever. Your bride awaits your return. So very Amen we pray, we pray in your matchless name and multiplied mercies.


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A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Scattered

Oct 20, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. Eph. 1:9-10

Dear Jesus, there are days when I’m, as one of my favorites hymns says, “prone to wander—prone to leave the God I love.” When I get dulled and lulled into that place, it’s usually because I haven’t been spending rich, unrushed time with you—gazing upon your beauty, reflecting upon your glory, marinating in your grace, listening for your singing, tasting your delight—all which come to us so freely in the gospel.

That’s when I get enamored, then hammered, with the illusion that you’re not enough—with the foolish notion that someone or something else might make my life more complete. What a maniacal myth, quintessential foolishness, the most dangerous of all, “bait and switch”.

But that’s not what I’m feeling today. I see your goodness in the gospel, and I don’t doubt your love for me, one bit. Right now I’m just feeling scattered, splintered, discombobulated, pulled in a myriad of directions, with a big school of little piranha nibbling away at my energy and focus.

I so long for the day, as this Scripture promises, when “all things in heaven and on earth” will be brought together in you—that is, “summed up,” integrated, reunited—perfectly one. In light of that Day, please meet me in this day. Center and settle me, Jesus. Take my thoughts captive to your perspective; help me to reel in my vacillating emotions; still the clatter and remove some of the clutter from my spirit. Help me choose the best over the good, the necessary over the nice, the essential over the important.

You are my Lord and my life, my peace and my joy, my anchor and my hope. I love being loved by you, Lord Jesus; and I love you only because you first loved me and gave yourself as a sacrifice of atonement and propitiation for my sins. I am presently and eternally grateful. So very Amen I pray, in your sovereign and loving name.


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A Prayer for Handing Over Our Battles to the Lord

Oct 19, 2014 | Scotty Smith

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). Most assuredly (and gladly), our boast is in Jesus, not in anything in ourselves.

     When we get pulled into petty fights—in our marriages, churches, and circle of friends, center us quickly with the gospel and bring us back to faith expressing itself in love (Gal. 5:6).

     When we’re in the presence of evil, and dangerously broken people, keep us calm and rooted in the gospel. Some of these conflicts require extraordinary wisdom. When our divided hearts wages war inside of us, come to us in the storm, Jesus, and make peace and be our peace. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and triumphant name.

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A Prayer Regaling God’s Everlasting Love & Unfailing Kindness

Oct 18, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jer. 31:3

     See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

     Dear heavenly Father, not just in the past, but in the present—in this very moment, you love us with an everlasting love. We cannot add to your love for us, nor take away from it, because it’s entirely generated, maintained, and guaranteed by what Jesus has done for us. Oh, the peace and joy, freedom and focus this gives us.

     Indeed, such astonishingly good news doesn’t turn us into spiritual narcissists—spending most of our time pondering how “special” we are. Rather it compels us into a life of living and loving to your glory. The more convinced and secure we are in your love, the less we obsess about what others think about us; the less we foolishly look to success, stuff, and sex to fill up the God-shaped hole inside of us.

     The more we are alive to your lavish love for us in Jesus, the less we worry, and the more we worship; the less we criticize others, and the more we humble ourselves; the less we manipulate, and the more we minister; the less busy and irritated we are, and the more unrushed, uncluttered time we spend with you.

     Father, we also bless you for your perpetual kindness towards us today, and everyday—every nanosecond of every single day. Your kindness first drove us to repentance—that we might receive Jesus as our righteousness; and your kindness continues to drive us deeper into your commitment to make us like Jesus. Hallelujah, many times over!

     By light of the Day, when you will complete your good work in us, we purpose to live this day to your glory. Free us to fully enjoy, and generously share, your love and kindness with others, all day long. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus magnificent and merciful name.

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A Prayer for Knowing God Is at Work in Our Pain

Oct 17, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11

     Heavenly Father, there’s no other god as merciful, gracious, and engaged as you. Your forbearance is immeasurable; your kindness is inexhaustible; your plans are irrepressible. When your people received this letter of encouragement from Jeremiah, they were in exile in Babylon. How could they not feel bereft, bewildered, even betrayed by you?

     Yet we know by your own testimony, Father, that when you lead us into difficult seasons, it’s not to punish us but to prosper us. When you send hardships, it’s not to bring us harm but to give us hope. When you discipline us, it’s not to send us into the “doghouse” of your displeasure but to guarantee our good future.

     You know exactly what you’re doing with your people and everything else in the world, and you always act congruent with the gospel. You know the plans you have for us—individually and corporately. There’s no happenstance in heaven. You don’t make up things as you go along. You’re not a God who reacts out of irritation, but one who always acts out of great affection. There are no coincidences, just providences. “Stuff” doesn’t just happen; sovereignty is always happening.

     Father, this way of thinking would be utter madness if you never sent Jesus—a big-time spitting into the wind; the spin of all spins; delusional at best, demonic at worst. But Jesus is the “Yes” to every promise you’ve made. His life, death, and resurrection are the guarantee of our gospel prosperity, living hope, and glorious future. Apart from Jesus there is only unimaginable hopelessness. Because of Jesus there is joy unspeakable.

     So bring the truth, grace, and power of this gospel to bear upon our personal stories of pain, the brokenness our local churches, and the multiplied needs of our communities.

     Turn our sighs into songs, our cynicism into servanthood, and our grumblings into the rumblings of the Day when everything sad will become untrue. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and compassionate name.

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A Prayer for Understanding the “Gift” of Affliction

Oct 16, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees. (Ps. 119:71) Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. (1 Pet. 4:12)

     Dear heavenly Father, only a humble certainty about your love could have moved King David to praise you for the “gift” of affliction. The same is just as true for any of us. I well remember the years I spent trying to spiritually finagle my way out of hardship’s way—believing that if I just claimed the right verses, prayed the right prayers, did the right things, then I’d have an “abundant life”—filled with “blessings” and very few difficulties.

     Looking back at some of the early teaching I received, I can see how I was led to believe you were more of a “sugar daddy” rather than “Abba, Father.” I wasn’t thinking about learning your decrees, but about escaping discomfort. I wasn’t preoccupied with your glory being revealed among the nations, but with no unnecessary obstacles cluttering my week. I’m embarrassed as I remember that season, but encouraged as I remember my Savior.

     Lord Jesus, you took all the afflictions I deserved as a sinful rebel; now I’m only afflicted as a beloved son. Because of you, Jesus, I’m not afraid of God as my judge, but I revere and love him as my Father. Only because of you, Jesus, I no longer despise or dread the decrees of God, but I delight in them. I now understand that God’s law isn’t a set of rules by which I earn anything; they are the wisdom by which I learn about everything—everything I need for life and godliness.

     Holy Spirit, continue to make God’s glory my supreme passion, over my default mode of wanting a predictable, “safe”, manageable, hassle-free life. This short life is too precious to waste on little fancies and even smaller dreams. Because the gospel is true, help me to seek first the kingdom of God—even this very day. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ name and for his glory.

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A Prayer for Being Gathered and Protected by Jesus

Oct 15, 2014 | Scotty Smith

      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 a nanosecond.

    Though a nursing mother may even forget her suckling child (Isa. 49:15), you’ll never forget or forsake one of your chicks. Because the gospel is true and powerful, I live under the shelter of your wings. May the assurance of your love and protection, free me for a day of loving others as you love me. Give me your mercy and compassion, for friends and strangers alike. So very Amen I pray, in your great and gracious name.

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A Prayer for Offloading Our Anxieties and Cares on God

Oct 14, 2014 | Scotty Smith

Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

     Dear heavenly Father, it’s centering and settling to begin this day knowing how much you care for us, your children. This is always good news to me, but especially this week. The combination of what I’ve taken on, plus the burdens that have been laid at my feet, are way too much for me to carry. I need your kind heart and broad shoulders.

     So, by faith, I offload my cares upon you, gracious Father. Carry my burdens for the people I love—dear friends I so wish I could help or change. Sometimes I foolishly think if you’d only let me be the 4th member of the Trinity for fifteen minutes, I could do a lot of good in the lives of a lot of people. What arrogance. You haven’t called me to fix anyone, but to love as Jesus loves me. And you haven’t called me to vex about anyone; as though you’re not aware, don’t care, or need me to pester you.

     Receive my anxieties about living in a world with a fickle economy, the daily-ness of terror, and the threat of diseases, like Ebola. Father, I cannot add one minute to my life through worry. In fact, I can take a lot away from my life through trying to carry burdens you alone can carry. Turn my “What if’s?” and “If only’s”, into “Now that’s”—now that Jesus has risen from the dead, everything has changed.

     Father, you’ve numbered our hairs and days, and you know our fears and bottle our tears. You have the hearts of every king in your hand. Nothing catches you off guard or by surprise. There are no wrinkles in your brow or second-guessing in your courts. You give and you take away—blessed be your name, O Lord.

     Whenever I am tempted to doubt your burden-bearing care, may Jesus’ cross loom large in my gaze. For it was there, Father, where you bore the greatest of all our burdens—my sin, and demonstrated the incomparable extent of your care. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ matchless and merciful name.

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A Prayer for Growing Thick Skin and a Big Heart

Oct 13, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with goodRom. 12:17-21

     Dear Lord Jesus, apart from your grace and Spirit, the admonitions in this one passage mock our sensibilities. We cannot live this way without you, Jesus. Everything within us instinctively wants to get even when we are hurt by others.

     Whether it’s a “lighthearted” insult or an outright assault, our forgotten birthday or a remembered failure; whether we’re excluded from a party or included in someone’s gossip, relational pain hurts like nothing else. And too often, the pain we feel gets recycled and redistributed to others.

     Jesus, we ask you for thick skin and a big heart. We want to love well—when it’s easy and when it’s not. Help us remember that your name is Redeemer, and that when appropriate, you will repay, you will avenge.    Indeed, more clearly than we see those who hurt us, let us you—the one who cherishes us. More than we desire to see burning coals heaped on their heads, let us see you, crowned Lord of all. We can overcome evil with good only because you have crushed evil under your feet.

     And Jesus, where we’re just too sensitive, too easily offended, too quick to keep a record of wrongs done to us, too slow to overlook the failures of others, have mercy on us. Free us to do the right thing in the moment—the gospel thing.

     Show us how to make peace, guard peace, and nurture peace with everyone—as far as we are able. All of this is simply impossible apart from you, Jesus—our peace and Peacemaker. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and sufficient name.

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