Category Archives: Prayer
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8
Dear Jesus, change is hard. I love to come home to the normal and known, predictable, and user-friendly—like one of my old, broken-in pairs of Birkenstocks. Grant me grace to accept change, because there’s so much change going on everywhere I look.
Another new grave of an old friend; a field of wildflowers and grazing cows, bulldozed for 400 new homes; the coffee shop which served awesome java, rich conversation, and an ambiance of welcome was razed to become a huge concrete complex. I don’t like it, Jesus. Change is disruptive. Precious things don’t become vintage things overnight.
How thankful we are that there’s one part of our lives that will never change, and that’s you, Jesus. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. That certainly doesn’t make you predictable, and even less so manageable. But it does mean that we can trust you without any reservations whatsoever.
You are the one who puts change into perspective. Change has no sovereignty. Only you are Lord. Nothing is random in this world. Nothing catches you off guard. The scary becomes the sacred when we’re wearing the lens of the gospel.
The most fundamental change we need is to become like you, Jesus, and that process is the most disruptive and painful change we will ever go through—but the most important of all changes. Yet with the knowledge that one Day we’ll be as …
Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. (Matt. 7:1-2) Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Cor. 13:4-6) Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. (Luke 6:36)
Dear Lord Jesus, I should’ve seen it coming. Just when I was starting to feel pretty self-righteous about not being self-righteous, the serial killer inside of me woke up. My irritability factor went from 3 to an 8, on a scale of 1 to 10. Once again, I slipped into a self-appointed role of Olympic judge with scorecards in hand, and I haven’t given out any 10′s. Why is it easier some times, to catch people doing the wrong thing, rather than affirming the many right things they do?
God, have mercy on me, the sinner. I really mean that, Jesus. You have exhausted God’s judgment against all my sins upon the cross—the 4 percent I am aware of, and the other 96 percent I am oblivious to as well. Who am I to judge your servants—your beloved? To you they answer, not to me. Jesus, you’ve called me to …
So he got up and went to his father. But while the son was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. He ran, threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him. The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight. I’m no longer worthy to be called your son.’ ”But the father told his slaves, ‘Quick! Bring out the best robe and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Then bring the fattened calf and slaughter it, and let’s celebrate with a feast, because this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ So they began to celebrate. Luke 15:20-24
Dear heavenly Father, though this story of irrepressible love is familiar, it never will get old. It shocks our unbelieving hearts, ignites the longings you’ve written into our DNA, and fuels our worship on this very Lord’s Day.
This is the way you want to be known. This is the way you love us in Jesus. This is the way you greet us this very day. May our services of worship celebrate this ongoing story of our great brokenness, and your much greater compassion.
So we get us and come to you, Father. We come to worship you from the far away lands of our unrighteousness, and from the nearby precincts of our self-righteousness. We own and grieve the many ways we try to make our …
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin! Ps. 51:1-2
Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture is both so encouraging and quite convicting. Few things are as attractive as genuine humility. It’s like a five-course meal in a five-star bistro. When someone offers a contrite heart, takes responsibility for their failure, acknowledges the impact of their choice, asks to be forgiven, and seeks to make restitution—there’s no restaurant on the face of the earth that can offer up more exquisite cuisine.
Yet, Lord, when it comes to asking for forgiveness, too often I’m like short-order cook in a fast-food drive through. I hear myself saying things like, “I’m sorry, but you took what I said all wrong.” “I’m sorry, but if you weren’t so sensitive, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.” “I’m sorry, but if you understood what my last couple of weeks were like, you’d cut me some slack.” “I’m sorry, but if you know what kind of home I grew up in you’d realize I didn’t get the ‘relationship chip.’”
Father, as I pore over your Word, I don’t see a single place where the phrase “I’m sorry, but” is celebrated as the vocabulary of genuine humility. Have mercy on me, indeed. May your unfailing love and great compassion free me from all “I’m sorry, buts.”
The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. Ps. 19:1-3
Dear heavenly Father, as I begin my day, the summer heat and humidity have been ushered off the calendar by 50ish degree early mornings. Soon you will begin to paint our trees and hills, with the kaleidoscopic beauty of Fall.
Slow me down, Father. Slow me down in the coming days to savor nature’s declaration of your glory. I’ve been way too busy this summer, and I don’t want to waste the upcoming Fall. Tune my ears to hear what you want to show me about yourself through the things you have made.
The pouring forth of nature-speak is endless, wondrous, and sumptuous—a visual, auditory, aromatic smorgasbord of delights. How can anyone with any degree of sensual awareness ponder creation and not worship you, the Creator of all things?
Father, you created the sonic dessert of waves crashing on the shoreline and the mesmerizing sparkle in my grandson’s eyes. It was you who designed the Swiss Alps—delectable and irrepressible in their power, to draw forth awe from my soul. You hand paint every “Brookie”, Brown, and Rainbow Trout in the world, and you decorate our fowl friends with your along feather artistry.
You’re responsible for the permanent smile on the face of …
In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. Eph. 1:13-14
Dear heavenly Father, sometimes reading Paul’s letters is like standing in front of a gushing fire hydrant, or under a cascading waterfall. It’s hard to stand up to the rush of so much glory and grace. It’s simply overwhelming.
For instance, as I read through Ephesians I’m “blasted” with being known and loved before the foundation of the world; chosen in Christ and called in life in him; being justified by faith and declared righteous by faith; and being adopted by Abba, Father, betrothed to Jesus, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit. I have a completely forgiven past and a present standing in grace.
But what really encourages me today is knowing that all of this is guaranteed. You’ve “sealed the deal” by the Holy Spirit. You’ve guaranteed our inheritance in Christ. You’ve given us the down payment, the firstfruits, the promise of a future beyond our wildest dreams and asking. I praise you for being so outrageously generous with us, Father.
There’s no possibility of “bait and switch” or “revoking the warranty.” There’s no factory recalls, no fine print or doublespeak, no possibility of bankruptcy or legal maneuverings. Nothing will sabotage your bringing to …
“Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Heb. 10:17-18
Dear heavenly Father, what a mind-centering, heart-encouraging, soul-liberating joy it is to begin this day by remembering your forgetfulness. You promise never again to remember our sins against us. You will never deal with us according to our sins or reward us according to our iniquities (Psalm 103:10), for on the cross, you dealt with Jesus according to our sins and rewarded him according to our iniquities on the cross.
But that’s not all, gracious Father. Because the gospel is true, you now deal with us according to Jesus’ righteousness and reward us according to his perfect obedience. We are fully and eternally accepted in Jesus. What an exchange. What a salvation. What a God. No sacrifice for our sins remains to be offered. You are fully satisfied with Jesus’ work on our behalf. It’s not cliché; it’s revolutionary to be able to affirm, “Jesus paid it all.”
Our hope, joy and peace are summarized perfectly in this bold affirmation from the Heidelberg Catechism:
Question: How are you right with God?
Answer: Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of …
Who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? Rom. 9:20-21
Gracious Father, this morning I’m pondering the mystery and mercy of your sovereignty, especially as I consider everything you did to redeem rebels and broken people like me. The cross was no accident. It was you who handed over Jesus to wicked men, who put him to death by nailing him to the cross, all according to your set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23-24).
Indeed, Jesus’ death for us on the cross was no accident, after-thought, plan B, or redeeming of a good story gone kaput. The comfort and peace I enjoy from this supreme demonstration of your sovereignty is immeasurable.
Indeed, no one could’ve put Jesus on the cross apart from his will, and though his own disciples tried, no one could have kept him from the cross. Because of forthcoming joy, Jesus endured the cross for us—scorning its shame and exhausting our guilt (Heb. 12:1-3). I praise you for your incomparable gift.
So Father, as I celebrate and find comfort in your sovereignty seen in Jesus’ cross, why should I struggle with it anywhere else? Why am I even tempted to reverse roles, and make me …
The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord. Jonah 1:1-3
Dear Lord Jesus, this is one of those days when fleeing to Tarshish looks inviting. If I could offer you selective obedience, there’d be no problem; but the gospel is sending me to places and stories I’d rather not visit.
I get Jonah’s struggle, but more importantly, you get mine. No one wrestled with doing the will of God more than you. No one’s been more honest about the price of obedience. But you were thinking about the great needs of others; I’m thinking about me, and how much I want a hassle-free, mess-free, conflict-free life.
This is why it’s so easy for me to come to you today without editing my feelings, repackaging my angst, or spinning my thoughts; because I’m one of those people you were thinking about as you prepared to go to the cross. As you cried out, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing,” you had me in view. As you crushed the head of the serpent, you had me in mind. As you …
For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Cor. 7:5-6
Dear heavenly Father, the incidental pictures in the Scriptures are often as profound as the intentional promises. This story of a restless, fearful, afflicted Paul, experiencing your comfort through the care of a good friend, is very encouraging.
Thank you, Father, for reminding me even that your most faithful servants (like Paul)—those who know you the best, whose grasp of the gospel is a gazillion times better than mine—even these men and women experience restlessness, fear, and weariness.
At times I still labor under the myth of unlimited resources, semi-omni-competence and “should-ness”. If I just prayed enough, believed enough, or was filled with the Spirit enough, I would never get discouraged or downcast. If I “really” loved Jesus, I shouldn’t be less than a conqueror. What a spiritual lie, baseless burden, and gnostic distortion of the gospel.
Thank you for comforting us when we’re downcast. You don’t deride us, chide us, or hide from us—you comfort us. You are “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3). And thank you for the comforters you send us. Though you’re quite capable of sending ravens and rainbows as gifts of comfort, more often than not, you send a Titus to a Paul, or a …