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A Prayer for a Fresh Work of God in Our Hearts

Apr 18, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise. Jer. 17:14 (NIV)

Restore to me the joy of your salvation. Psalm 51:12 (ESV)

Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Psalm 73:25-26 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, for your welcoming heart, we adore you; for your daily mercies, we worship you; for your promise of renewal, we trust you.

     Your grace finds us where we are; but, thankfully, it doesn’t leave us there. Today, we represent the many different ways it’s possible to get disconnected from a vital and robust relationship with you. But we all share in common a longing to get back on the dance floor of your delight. We long for the music of the gospel to fill the corridors of our hearts, once again. Gracious and loving Father, bring us home. Restore to us our first love relationship with Jesus.

     Some of us are just worn out, spent, and weary from life’s incessant demands. It’s not that we don’t love you, Lord; it’s just that the joy of our salvation has been replaced with sighs of just getting by. Breathe, O breath of God, and bring refreshment and renewal to our tired hearts.

     Some of us are weighted down with broken relationships, or old wounds showing up with fresh power, or new hurts, which have blindsided us and have buckled our knees. We vacillate between sad and mad. Father, hold us close; give us the perspective of heaven; and send grace in the shape of our need. If we’re going to run, may it be in your direction.

     Some of us have “gone off the reservation“, and have made bad and destructive choices. We’ve mishandled our longings, medicate our pain foolishly, and we don’t know the way back home. Grab us, grace us, and rescue us from ourselves, Father.

     Some of us have become self-righteous sticks-in-the-mud—more aware of how others fail us than how Jesus loves us. Father, melt our hearts with mercy; gentle us with your grace; and humble us with our own sin. Restore to ALL of us the joy of your free and rich salvation. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.

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A Prayer for Grace When Things Are Going Well

Apr 17, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die. Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God. Prov. 30:7-9 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, this portion of your Word carries a warning that’s both well founded and timely. Of late, things, for the most part, have been going really well. I’ve been in a steady stretch of encouragement, joy, and hope. It’s not that I’m doing anything differently, or that I’ve deserved a break; it just seems like I’ve been enjoying a little more of the “already” than the “not yet” of our life in Christ. And I hasten to say, thank you, Lord! It’s been great.

     But this “stretch” of oasis-like ease has underscored the sanity of a prayer like this one offered by Agur: “Lord, don’t give me riches, lest I have too much, disown you, or live as though I don’t need you.” Father, that prayer can only be prayed by somebody really secure in your love—somebody that’s probably learned the hard way about the destructively-seductive, soul-desensitizing, heart-deceiving power of money and stuff.

     Father, by your providence, I happen to live in a culture and community of abundance—one in which you can easily become a spiritual add-on—an important add-on, but not as essential or vital as to your most of your children in the world who don’t just say the Lord’s Prayer; they actually pray for daily bread.

     So by your Holy Spirit, please keep me humble, stunned with gratitude, and increasing in generosity. May the gospel continue to change and re-set the price tags in my life, Father. Grant me quick repentances from every expression of entitlement and presumption, spoiled-ness or an unhealthy dependence on creature comforts. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ exalted and treasure-worthy name. 

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A Prayer for Those of Us in Wait-on-the-Lord Mode

Apr 16, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord. Oh, the joys of those who trust the Lord. Psalm 40:1-4 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, we look forward to the day when our weary cry of “How long, O Lord?” becomes an exuberant shout of, “Now that, O Lord!” We come before you, many of us, with sighs, preferring to come before you with songs. Thank you, Father, for meeting us exactly where we are, and for taking us where you alone can.

     We praise you for King David’s story, recorded in this Psalm, and we will trust you for a similar outcome. Though our “muddy, miry pits” differ from his, we are familiar with feelings of exhaustion, exasperation, resignation—even degrees of despair, as we wait upon you.

     Some of us are mired in parenting stories—wondering when, or if, our children will ever rest in your grace, love, and peace. Grant us endurance, hope, and great compassion for our kids—no matter their age, no matter the issues.

     Some of us are in the pit of difficult marriages—wondering where the kindness and connection went. Father—you are the God who raises the dead. Bring the resurrection power of Jesus to our marriages. Bring repentance and forgiveness, courage and gentleness, healing and hope.

     Some of us are covered in the mud of our own poor choices—the consequence of unguarded hearts and soul drift. Like prodigals in a far away country, we remember home with you, but aren’t certain we will be welcome again. Father, help us hope, bring us home. We grieve our sin, blame no one, make no excuses, and throw ourselves on Jesus—the only rock, our only righteousness.

     Still others of us are in pits of failing health or exhausted finances, church messes or vocational challenges, fresh betrayals or old wounds. Father, turn our sighs of unbelief into songs of praise. Grant us a measure of joy even before you grant us stories of relief. Bring glory to your name, by bringing us to yourself. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ trustworthy and worship-worthy name.

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A Prayer for Reaffirming and Resting in God’s Sovereignty

Apr 15, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases. Ps. 115:3 (ESV)

Remember the things I have done in the past. For I alone am God! I am God, and there is none like me. Only I can tell you the future before it even happens. Everything I plan will come to pass, for I do whatever I wish. Isa. 46:9-10 (NLT)

“I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. Job 42:2 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, though I am quite capable of fretting, carping, and lamenting about how out of control things seem, the truth is, nothing could be farther from the truth. I may not always see your hand, discern your heart, or like your ways, but you are God and there is no other. Hallelujah, many times over.

     Italy has her three tenors, but your Word gives us these three magnificent voices today, all affirming the same glorious truth: You are God, and we are not. You were sovereign over King David’s challenged rule, crazy family, and personal failures. You were sovereign over Isaiah’s difficult ministry and the outlandish promises you gave him to proclaim. You were sovereign over Job’s loses and betrayals, misery and waiting. Indeed, no purpose of yours can be (or will be) thwarted.

     Surely, therefore Father, I can trust you with however you choose to write my story. You give and you take away—but always and ever to bring glory to yourself. You work in all things for your glory and our good—no exceptions. When you wound, ultimately it’s to heal. When you enrich, it’s to make me generous. When you wait, it’s not to frustrate me, but to consecrate me to the mystery and bigger purpose you have planned. When you say “No” to my “good” requests, it’s because a better “Yes” is waiting in the wings.

     Father, continue to renew my thinking, gentle my heart, and deeper my worship. Once again, in this season of life, I humbly and gladly affirm: You are God and I am not. Until the Day “knowing in part” is over, supersize my experience of your grace. Make the gospel bigger and sweeter, that I might whine less and trust more. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ sovereign and loving name.

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A Prayer for Grace to Love Hard to Love People

Apr 14, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36 (ESV)

Dear Lord Jesus, I need to meditate on this Scriptures regularly, because there are few portions of the Word that are more “daily” and necessary than this one. First and foremost, I’m stunned by what I already know to be true: “God is kind to the ungrateful and evil.” I know this to be true because God is über kind to me—every day, in every way. My ingratitude confronts me on a daily basis—about every good thing I have in you, and for all the creature comforts I take for granted.

And my evil thoughts (no exaggeration) show up in the form of envy about what others have and are; pride over who I think I am and what I deserve; revenge towards others who have “dissed” or hurt me; lust for pleasure and comfort outside your will and provision. I throw no stones today at anyone. I just throw myself upon the mountain of your mercy.

Jesus, help me love the ungrateful and fellow-evil people in my world. Grant me quick repentances when I judge others harshly; plenty of mercy to share, the kind lavished on me in the gospel; more awe of your love for me than irritation and anger over the ways people fail me; and compassion rather than reaction towards fellow sinners like myself. You are my reward, Jesus. Help me to love well in this one day the way you love us everyday. So very Amen I pray, in your kind and exalted name.

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A Prayer for Those Days When We’re Feeling a Bit Scattered

Apr 13, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     And this is the plan: At the right time he (God) will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth. Eph. 1:10 (NLT)

     Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Col. 3:1-2 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, I awoke today feeling scattered, unfocused, and pulled in many directions. There’s nothing heavy on my heart, major on the horizon, or haunting me from the past. I just feel the need to settle and center. I want to live today in light of the great Day when everything will be summed up and united in Christ.

What a blessed Day that will be! No more divided self, but a united heart; no more fractures in anything, but the unity of all things; no more much-ness and many-ness, but the order and ardor of your peaceful kingdom; no more rush, but the hush of a centered world; no more schedules to keep, but a Triune God to love with everything we have and are. I cannot wait…

So today, Father—in this very moment, I choose to set my heart and thinking on Jesus—the author and perfecter of my faith; the Lamb of God and Lord of all things—alone worthy of my affection, adoration, and allegiance. The more I center on Jesus, the more clearly I will see my way through the unsettledness and disquiet I’m feeling, as this day begins.

Indeed, Father, every care we have you ask us to cast on you. Lord Jesus, you have commanded us to bring our weary selves and heavy-laden-ness to you. Holy Spirit, you are committed to witnessing to our sonship and beloved-ness, all day long. O blessed Triune God, I praise you for the overabundance of grace you will lavish upon us this very day. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ loving and powerful name.

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A Prayer for Great Rejoicing in the Greatness of the Gospel

Apr 12, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     But our High Priest (Jesus) offered himself to God as a single sacrifice for sins, good for all time. Then he sat down in the place of honor at God’s right hand. There he waits until his enemies are humbled and made a footstool under his feet. For by that one offering he forever made perfect those who are being made holy. Heb. 10:12-14 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, our hearts our stunned and overwhelmed, made glad and happy, filled with peace and praise, as we consider what you have done for us. We have a need we could never meet; an illness we could never heal; a debt we could never pay. And by one single sacrifice, you took care of everything. Your death upon the cross was “good for all time,” and now we are “righteous for all time” in you. Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah!

     Indeed, by your one offering, you guaranteed the Father WILL complete the good work of salvation that he has begun in us. Nothing can derail the process or snatch us from your hand; nothing can separate us from your love or take your Spirit from us. This outrageously good news doesn’t make us passive or indifferent about our holiness, just the opposite. We now want to love and worship, obey and serve you with everything we have and are. How else could we possibly respond to such mercy, grace, and goodness?

     And right now, you’re not pacing the corridors of heaven vexed and worried; you’re sitting beside our Father, reigning over all things, awaiting the Day of the eradication of all evil and the coronation of your Bride. Forgive us for our vexations, consternations, and palpitations of heart, that reveal just how little we understand the gospel; how blind we remain to your glory; and how small our grasp is of your present reign. Jesus, continue to heal, change, and liberate us, all for your glory, solely by your grace. So very Amen we pray, in your majestic and loving name.

     

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A Prayer for, Once Again, Boasting in Our Weaknesses

Apr 11, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2 Cor. 12:9 (NLT) 

     We ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. 2 Cor. 4:7 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, I wish I didn’t have to keep learning this same lesson, over and over and over: Your grace is all I need and Christ’s power is released through my weakness. This way of life is so counterintuitive and paradoxical, and, at the same time, so wondrously glorious and freeing.

     O to be done with the foolish quest for competency and control, self-sufficiency and self-anything. I know that Day is coming, but well before the second coming of Jesus, Father free me to boast in, not bemoan about, my weaknesses. Father, grant me grace to accept my limitations and quirks, my body pains and heart wounds.

     Free me to be more excited with being a fragile jar of clay, releasing the aroma of grace, as opposed to be a swaggering vessel of togetherness, dispensing impressive insights. Free me from comparing myself to anybody, by intensifying my awe of the beauty and magnificence of Jesus. May Jesus increasingly become my treasure; the gospel my delight; and grace my sufficiency.

     For this one day, Father, I trust you for the freedom to be invisible and irrelevant, and given over to the needs of my neighbors and strangers. Thank you for your endless patience, inexhaustible forbearance, and your great delight in us, your children. May your love be the most compelling and transforming influence in my life today. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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A Prayer for Those Days When We Need a Little Perspective Adjustment

Apr 10, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Rom. 5:3-5 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, multiple difficulties + waiting is an equation that often results in wrong thinking and poor choices. My heart goes out today to friends whose trials seem to be increasing, in both frequency and intensity. When this happens, it’s hard not to conclude either something is wrong with us, for which it’s “cosmic payback time,” or, something is wrong with you—you’re choosing not to be merciful and mighty on our behalf.

     Thus, these words from Paul come as mind-balm and heart-salve. Just when we start heading into a downward cycle of either self-contempt or heavenward railing, you send your Word, and grant us much needed perspective. Thank you, Father, thank you. Though you don’t promise to explain the reasons for our extended seasons of problems and trials, you do promise us a hope that will not disappoint us, and a greater experience of your love.

     Father, it seems to me that it’s your love that makes this hope palpable, so I beseech you; please pour fresh and copious amounts of your love into the hearts of my friends who are tired and weary, spent and used up, vulnerable and easy targets for the lies of the enemy. By your Holy Spirit, give them a supernatural sense of your hand and heart at work. Instead of feeling abandoned, may they sense their adoption—the reality of their being your beloved children. Turn their cries of “Why me Lord?” into “Abba, Father.”

     I’m enough of a rescuer, Father, that if you gave me a magic wand, I’d simply try to relieve the pain and change their circumstances. But you’re promising something much better than relief; you have promised yourself. May it be, Lord, may it be. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus mercy-full and grace-full name.

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A Prayer for Treasuring and Stewarding Our Friendships

Apr 09, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. Prov. 17:17 (NIV) Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble. Prov. 13:20 (NLT) A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. Prov. 18:24 (ESV) As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Prov. 27:17 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, I treasure the gift of friendship more than ever—good friendship. I neither want to grow older and alone, nor older and more foolish. Thank you for the friends you’ve put into my life who love at all times: The times when I’m easy and fun to be with, and the times when I’m a “pill,” disconnected, and would otherwise choose to isolate myself.

     Thank you for friends who can just as easily horselaugh with me, as sit with me when I am overwhelmed with grief and disbelief; buddies who love to fish for men and fish for fish; a gospel posse that knows how to lash one another to the mast of your mercy and grace, when the siren of sin is tempting and seducing; colleagues in kingdom dreaming and servant loving.

     Father, by the grace and truth of Jesus, make me a better friend. I want to offer a sharpening presence in the lives of my “buds”, not a dulling one. I don’t want to make it easier for my friends to sin, but more likely that we’ll love Jesus more and more the longer we walk together. You haven’t called us to fix one another as friends; but neither have you called us to fertilize foolishness in each other’s lives. Help me to know how to call out your glory in my friends—to encourage them and all the more as we see the great Day of Jesus’ return approaching.

     Father, thank you that Jesus is a friend of sinners—the real and only friend that sticks closer than a brother. May his love, grace, and glory shape all my friendships and all my “friend-ing.” So very Amen I pray, in his tender and triumphant name.  

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