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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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A Prayer about Health Concerns and Healing

Nov 17, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the LORD. Jer. 30:17 (ESV)

     Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. 3 John 2 (NIV)

     Stop drinking only water, and use a little wine because of your stomach and your frequent illnesses. 1 Tim. 5:23 (NIV)

     We who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies. 1 Cor. 15:52-53 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, my stuffed-up head and slightly sore throat are mere irritants, compared to the health crises many of us face as this day begins. How we long for the Day of no more cancer, no more dementia, no more heart disease, no more respiratory issues, no more Ebola and AIDS, no more disease of any kind—the Day of perfect health.

     Thank you for the promise of a resurrection body that will never get sick, wear out, or die. Thank you that our life in the new heaven and new earth will not include visits to the ER, health insurance, medical bills, hospitals, nursing homes, palliative care, or funeral homes. Hasten that Day, Father, hasten it.

     Until then, we will pray for healing—thankful that Jesus’ finished work has secured the redemption of our whole being—mind, body, and spirit. Though we’d love for you to answer all of our prayers affirmatively, and on our timetable, we will trust and love you when you grant us sufficient grace instead of instant healing (2 Cor. 12:7-12).

     Father, we will also seek to take care of these “tents” in which we live (2 Cor. 5:1-5). Thank you for good food, opportunities for exercise, the gift of sleep, clean water—gifts you’ve given us by grace—gifts you intend us to share with others. Indeed, Father, may our suffering make us more sensitive to the sufferings of others. Even as Jesus joyfully fulfilled the law for us, grant us great joy in fulfilling the law of Christ (Gal. 6:2), as we bear one another’s burdens. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name.

     

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A Prayer for Worshiping and Trusting the God of Hope

Nov 16, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom. 15:13 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)

   Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:13 ESV)

    Dear heavenly Father, I begin this day so very thankful for your Word. As I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, I’m deeply grateful you chose to reveal yourself to us with words we can understand and trust. Though we don’t worship the Bible, we worship you because of the Bible.

     Today, in particular, I’m thankful to know and worship you as the God of hope. In a world of predictable unpredictability’s; unsettling circumstances; and broken people, places, and things, it is a source of immeasurable joy and peace to know that you love us and are in control of all things. And thank you that you intend for us to abound in hope; and not just have enough hope to get by on.

     We don’t have to be afraid or be dismayed by anything or anyone, for your righteous right hand has a firm hold on us, and your grip is the grip of grace. You are fully with us and you are completely for us. We know this to be true because of your gift of Jesus. You loved us so much you gave your one and only Son, so that, instead of perishing, we would have eternal life. Father, thank you that the gospel is true, and that you really do love us this much.

     Because you have already given us so much grace in Jesus, I choose to obey you and set my hope fully on the grace yet to be given—the even greater grace we receive when Jesus returns. Father, thank you for being so very generous—so hope igniting and peace fueling. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.

    

    

     

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A Prayer for Accepting the Changes that Come with Aging

Nov 15, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isa. 46:4 (NIV)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV)

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Cor. 4:16 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, a brief conversation with aging friends yesterday reminded me of the inevitable—we’re all getting older. And with the increase of years, comes changes over which we have little, or no control. Those changes are either going to drive us to you; or to denial, self-absorbing sadness, or foolish ways of medicating our pain and fears. I choose option #1.

Thank you for your promise to sustain us—when our energy is abating; to carry us—when we cannot carry as much as we used to, or even carry ourselves; and to rescue us—when we get entangled in ways of thinking and choosing that contradict your great love for us in Jesus.

Father, thank you for the promise that age doesn’t preclude flourishing and fruitfulness. By your Spirit and grace, keep us ever full of “sap and green”. You are our Rock and righteousness—our stability and standing in grace are inviolate.

Though outwardly we are “wasting away”, we will not lose heart—in fact, we will thrive in heart; for you will bring to completion the good work you began in us. As our eyesight grows dimmer, let us see the beauty of Jesus with increasingly clarity. As our hearing gets fainter, let us hear your voice louder than ever, declaring us to be your beloved children of grace—in whom you delight, and for whom you’ve prepared an eternity beyond anything we can hope or imagine. So very Amen we gratefully pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name.

 

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A Prayer of Praise for the Scandalous Goodness of the Gospel

Nov 14, 2014 | 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 cry, “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 have credited to us as a gift. What we fully deserve—to be dealt with according to the wages of our sin, you will never do so. What we cannot imagine—that you would justify ungodly people, you have 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. 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 When Feeling Relationally Vulnerable

Nov 13, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     With much seductive speech she persuades him; with her smooth talk she compels him. All at once he follows her, as an ox goes to the slaughter, or as a stag is caught fast till an arrow pierces its liver; as a bird rushes into a snare; he does not know that it will cost him his life. And now, O sons, listen to me, and be attentive to the words of my mouth. Let not your heart turn aside to her ways; do not stray into her paths, for many a victim has she laid low, and all her slain are a mighty throng. Her house is the way to Sheol, going down to the chambers of death. Prov. 7:21-27

     Dear Lord Jesus, we were made for you, and have been redeemed to connect with you deeply—to enjoy an intimacy, union, and communion, of which our best relationships are only a hint, a whisper, a symbol. But alas, like all good things, our longings get hijacked and sabotaged by sin and death. Thus, the relevancy of the Scripture.

     Samson and King David aren’t exceptions. Each of us is capable of relational compromise. We need the gospel to keep us sane, centered, and satisfied. There are many lonely husbands, many lonely wives, many lonely single people who are primed for a fling, targets for an affair—aching, yearning, reaching for a few minutes of pleasure to medicate months, years, even a lifetime of disconnect and emptiness. It may never become physical, but emotional affairs offer exhilaration bordering on intoxication—an intoxication that can lead to addiction; and an addiction whose GPS is set on our destruction.

     So we turn our hearts to you, Lord Jesus. You, who have won us, are constantly wooing us in the gospel, saying, “Come away, my beloved. My desire is for you and my banner over you is love.”

     Who do we have in heaven but you, Lord Jesus, and being with you, who or what could we possibly desire more on this earth?  Should our wildest fantasy be realized, it wouldn’t be enough. You alone have words of eternal life, grace sufficient for our souls, peace that passes all understanding, and the joy we desperately crave. So very Amen we pray, in your loving and holy name.

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