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A Prayer for Repenting of Our Aversion to Grace

Oct 12, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” John 4:7-10

     Dear Lord Jesus, I praise you today for your tenacious and tender pursuit of us, when we need you the most. This broken woman had been on a quest to find life in the arms of men—many men. The more she evaded your gaze, the more you applied your grace. She ran; you pursued. She danced around; you stopped the music. Thankfully, you came to seek and save the lost, not just broadcast an offer from a distance. We have a lot in common with this beloved woman.

     Indeed, Jesus, continue to deliver us from our grace allergies—living with an aversion to the gospel—minimizing our need and marginalizing your love. That we choose broken cisterns, dumb idols, and self-help over your love is sheer madness. Grace is for sinners—not for pretenders, posers, and performers. You intend to heal us, not harm us; to embrace us, not embarrass us; to succor us with compassion, not shame us with contempt.

     So, Jesus, once again I bring real thirst to you today. I bring my penchant to avoid you. I bring my allergic reactions to the gospel. I bring my excuse making, my unbelief, my pride, and my self-righteousness. I bring that part of me that would rather help others discover your grace than partake of it for myself.

     I choose to drink, right now, from your life-giving never-ending gift of living water. Slake my thirst and satisfy my soul, that I might live to praise you, and love others as you love me. So very Amen I pray, in your pursuing and all-satisfying name.

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A Prayer for the Outworking of the Gospel in Our Relationships

Oct 11, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Col. 3:12-14

     Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for the gift of another day. Like every day, it’s a day you have made, and we want to rejoice and be glad in it. So captivate our gaze with your beauty, fill our hearts with your grace, and liberate our hands for your service. We especially pray today for the outworking of the gospel in our relationships—for there is no part of our lives more perpetually in need of your Spirit’s work.

Hallelujah, many times over, that we are a chosen people (not choice); holy (in you, not in ourselves); and dearly loved (not conditionally approved). No one has more compassion for us, or shows us more kindness, than you, Lord Jesus; no one has demonstrated greater humility or is gentler with us, and none is nearly as patient as you. You love us as the Father loves you, and the Father loves us just as much as he loves you. We believe this; yet free us from our dogged, lingering, stubborn unbelief.

Because we want to love the people you’ve placed in our lives, out of your immeasurable, inexhaustible, irrepressible love for us—not simply in terms of how they relate to us.

Help us to love our spouses, as you, the Ultimate Spouse, love us Jesus. Help us to love our children and grandchildren, as unto you; not out of fear and control, pride or guilt. Help us to love our friends and neighbors—the “easy” ones and the ones requiring great grace—help us to love all of them, with the love you lavish on us every single day, Lord Jesus.

Lastly, “supersize” our forbearance towards one another, and make us great and glad forgivers. We long for the Day when we will love perfectly as you perfectly love us. Hasten that Day, Lord Jesus; hasten that Day. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and triumphant name.

 

 

 

 

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A Prayer for Our Hearts to Be Strengthened by Grace

Oct 10, 2014 | Scotty Smith

It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace. Heb. 13:9

But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen2 Pet. 3:18

     Dear Lord Jesus, as you know, I’ve lost friends and family members to heart disease—of the congenital and life-choice varieties. I’ve also had other friends suffer heart attacks—both young and old alike. So the theme of heart-care is personal to me, and the issue of stewarding my health is of great importance to me.

     However, what will it profit me if I only eat organic foods from Whole Foods, drink a kale smoothie every day, am able to run an eight-minute mile at age sixty-five, have a cholesterol level of 125 and a resting heart rate of 59, and yet have a heart that is weak in grace? Paul “nailed it” when he said physical training definitely has some value, but godliness has value for all things, for both this life and the life to come (1 Tim. 4:8).

     So Jesus, lead me to the gym and training table, sauna and spa, regimen and workout that will cause my heart to grow stronger and stronger and stronger in your grace. For surely, the more my heart is strengthened by your grace, the more it will beat for your honor and love to your glory; the less room there will be for idols, and the more time for your kingdom.

     As my heart is strengthened by your grace, I’ll repent quicker, forgive deeper, and love louder. I’ll be more generous and less stressed, more forbearing and less in a hurry. I’ll throw more gospel parties and fewer pity parties. I’ll not think less of me; I’ll just think about me less of the time. Indeed, it is good—it is it very good for our hearts to be strengthened by your grace. So very Amen I pray, in your merciful and magnificent name.

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A Prayer for Relishing God’s Jealous Love for Us

Oct 09, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor. 11:2-3

     Dear Lord Jesus, whenever I’m jealous, nothing ever good comes from it, because it’s usually fueled by insecurity and possessiveness.  But nothing but good arises from godly jealously—from your intensely committed love “to have and to hold” your bride for yourself, and to enjoy us forever.

     That you are jealous and zealous for the affection of our hearts, the pleasure of our company, and the intimacy of our communion is the greatest possible compliment you could pay us. That you are actually saying today in the gospel, at this very moment, by the Holy Spirit, “Come away, my beloved. My desire is for you, my banner over you is love,” is both astonishing and liberating. I believe this good news, Lord Jesus. I want to believe it more. Heal and free me from my unbelief.

     I can certainly understand why Paul was so concerned about the heart drift of the Corinthian believers. For Satan is always seeking to lead us away from our “sincere and pure devotion” to you. When he distracts, deceives, and draws me away from the wonders of your love, everything else is affected.

     I begin to look to people, “stuff,” and circumstances—more than I look to you for life, satisfaction, joy, and a genuine sense of completion. O, foolish man that I am. I long for the Day of no more illusions or delusions, no more deceived thinking or divided heart, no more ungodly jealousy or ungodly anything. I want to love you with everything I have and am, Lord Jesus. Hasten that Day; hasten it.

     But in this day, give me enough grace and strength, to live and to love as yours—delightfully yours, belovedly yours. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and tender name.

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A Prayer for Sowing Peace in Places of Conflict

Oct 08, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (James 3:18) Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. (Matt. 5:9) If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Rom. 12:18)

     Dear Lord Jesus, though I don’t have a great history as a backyard gardener, I praise you that there’s at least one kind of gardening for which there’s no possibility of crop failure. When we sow in peace and seek to live out stories of your reconciling love—there’s assurance of ample, delectable, righteous fruit, in time. It may not look like what we hoped for, but we are never foolish to long for and work for peace.

     Indeed, our only hope for a good crop of reconciliation and restoration is entirely bound up with you; for you are our peace and the ultimate Peacemaker, Lord Jesus I’ve borne the worthless fruit of both my peace-breaking and my peace-faking in the past. I’m so done with that.

     Jesus, keep me mindful to the peacemaking you have already accomplished between yourself and us. While we were your enemies, you died for us—destroying the hostility and replacing the enmity with your lavish love and eternal peace. You have reconciled us to yourself through the cost of your life—the price of your blood. There is no greater love.

     And the coming harvest of perfect fruit (glorification) is not the least bit in doubt. You will bring to completion the good work you have begun in each of us, and in your whole creation. Don’t let me lose sight of this hope for one nanosecond. Perfect relationships define our future.

     So, Jesus, give me your patience when peacemaking takes much longer than I hope, requires more emotional currency than I have, and demands more forgiveness than I want to offer. Give me courage when you send me to people and situations I want to avoid like a highly contagious disease. Give me more of your mercy and compassion, Jesus, for you have called me to love people, not to treat anyone as a project. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and tender name.

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A Prayer for Not Fretting Evil or Evil Makers

Oct 07, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Ps. 37:7-9

     Dear heavenly Father, you send your Word with Swiss timing and laser precision. Whenever I’m vexed or fretting, confused or anxious, vulnerable or angry you come to me in the Bible and bring me back to gospel-sanity, time and time again. How I praise you for the counsel, consolation, and centering power of your Word.

     Lately, Father, like many of us, I’ve been worked up over the apparent success of those who bring harm to others and even get rewarded for their madness—especially groups like ISIS, and other movements that specialize in terror and trauma. How long, O Lord, before you send Jesus back to put all things right? When will the Day arrive when everything sad will come untrue—the Day when Jesus finishes making all things new? How long, O Lord?

     Your answer to me today in this Scripture is exactly what I need. You won’t give us a date; but you do give us yourself. I hear you loud and clear, Father. You’re speaking stillness and fretless waiting to my agitated heart. No good comes from our obsessing about evil and evil making. Nothing profitable results from our spending extra time fertilizing our anger and fueling our disgust.

     A Day is coming when the knowledge of your glory will cover the entire earth as the waters cover the sea. The whole world—not just one small and important bit of real estate in the Middle East, is Holy Land. The New Jerusalem is coming down from heaven, not a day early and not a day late.

     Until that day, I will seek to seek first the kingdom of God and the righteousness of King Jesus. I praise you that the very righteousness with which you have already robed us is the very righteousness with which you are going to fill the earth. Evil defeated will be evil eradicated. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a salvation! So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ powerful and lovely name.

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A Prayer for Swimming in the Ocean of Jesus’ Love

Oct 06, 2014 | Scotty Smith

As a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you. Isa. 62:5

     Dear Lord Jesus, I know I’m not the point—that’s it’s not all about me. I rejoice in the fact that all of history is pointing toward the Day when you will finally, and fully, receive all the worship and love you deserve, from your redeemed people and the restored creation. For indeed, you alone are worthy of such honor, praise, and glory.

     That being said, it’s profoundly humbling—even astonishing to realize how much you make of us. Knowing you’ve forgiven all of our sins is more than enough reason to praise you for all eternity. Grasping that you’ve robed us with your own righteousness is reason to praise you for ten eternities. But to “get” that the righteousness with which you’ve clothed us in the gospel is actually a wedding garment is staggering.

     You’ve made a most unlikely, ill-deserving people your Bride and queen. This isn’t just another Cinderella story. There was nothing about us, or in us, that made us attractive to you. We have more in common with the mean stepmother and the two conniving stepsisters, that Cinderella. But you’ve made us your own; you died for us, and now you live for us, and you actually cherish us. What wondrous love is this, indeed?

     And you’re actively preparing us for yourself, through the riches of the gospel and the work of the Spirit. One Day we will be radiant with your beauty, for we will see you as you are and we will be made like you (1 John 3:1-1). But on that Day—our wedding day, you won’t rejoice in us one bit more than you rejoice in us this day.

     I believe this, because only because you say it’s so; but I want to believe it with all of my heart, so that, with unfettered abandon, I might love and serve you, more readily and joyfully. Jesus, liberate me, by your delight and for your delight. So very Amen I pray in your matchless and praise-worthy name.

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A Prayer for Responding to God’s Kindness

Oct 05, 2014 | Scotty Smith

Do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? Rom. 2:4

Dear heavenly Father, what a Scripture—what a God you are. The most certifiably insane thing we do in life is to show contempt for the riches of your kindness, tolerance, and patience toward us in Jesus. The GPS of the gospel will never direct us to a destination of harm, only to a place of transformation and freedom.

When I refuse to humble myself before you and acknowledge the ways I love poorly—when I refuse to repent of attitudes and actions that contradict the beauty of the gospel, that is insanity. Showing contempt for your kindness is quintessential madness.

Father, I praise you today for being outrageously generous with the currency of kindness, tolerance, and patience; and it’s only because Jesus took the judgment we deserve that you can deal so graciously with us. And I praise you for leading us to humility, not to humiliation; to shelter, not to shame; to repentance, not to penance.

When we repent, we’re not the one making promises for change; you are. Only you can change us, and you are changing us; for you’ve covenanted to do so—you’ve promised to complete the good work you began in us. When we repent, we simply collapse upon Jesus—who is our righteousness, sanctification and redemption.

So this morning, kind Father, I repent. I repent of not trusting that you are at work in irritating circumstances, over which I have no control. I’ve looked at the weaknesses of others more than I’ve kept my eyes fixed on Jesus. It’s been easier to ruminate broken stories than come boldly to your throne of grace. How silly. I repent.

Because the gospel is true and you are so kind, I repent. May the fresh kindness I receive from you, be the needed kindness I freely extend to others. Grace my heart, attitude and my words; that I may reveal the beauty and goodness of Jesus today. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

 

 

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A Prayer When Old Hurts Require Fresh Forgiveness

Oct 04, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Then Peter came up and said to him [Jesus], “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.” Matt. 18:21-22

     Dear Lord Jesus, I’m running to you this morning with joy in my heart and knots in my gut. The joy is about the exhaustive forgiveness we have in you; the knots come from the costly implications of that same forgiveness. As I pray for myself, I pray for others with the same calling to love well in broken stories that just won’t seem to go away.

     As you know, Jesus, I ran into an old friend recently with whom I’ve shared a lot of life and plenty of hurts. That run-in was kind of like bumping a previously broken shin into the corner of a low-sitting coffee table. I winced with pain, and wished him harm in my heart.

     Jesus, I thought I’d already forgiven him from my heart. I thought I was already healed. I thought I’d dealt with this thing a long time ago.  Out of sight might be out of mind, but it’s not out of the memory band of betrayal and loss.

     So I come to you today for seventy-times-seven grace. I’m being held hostage by my own unforgiveness. So I humble myself before you, Jesus. I may never enjoy the gift of my brother’s repentance, at least this side of heaven, but there’s no justification for me tying my repentance to his.

     I’m to forgive him as you’ve forgiven me. It’s as simple and as costly as that. No, I’m not to be a doormat, but I am to be a doorway to the miracle of reconciliation. By the work of the Holy Spirit, I ask you to show me what that will entail in these next several weeks. Some broken relationships are less complex than this one. Some are no-brainers in terms of applying the gospel. But this one’s different.

     Jesus, you’ve promised me all the wisdom I need, and I’ll take it. Low-sitting coffee tables can morph into coiled rattlesnakes in time, and the venom of unforgiveness is just too toxic to store on the shelf of my heart. Untie the knots in my gut with your liberating hands. So very Amen I pray in your redeeming and restoring name.

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A Prayer for Being with Jesus

Oct 03, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13

     Dear Lord Jesus, this simple story is both intriguing and inviting, to my hungry heart this morning. Two unschooled ordinary fishermen, named Peter and John, were radically changed because “these men had been with Jesus”—with you, the same Lord who lives in my heart, rules all things from heaven, and who is seeking my fellowship today.

     Of course, it’d be awesome to hear people say, “He’s obviously been with Jesus. What else could explain his merciful heart for the broken, his courage in the face of injustice, and his calm in the presence of chaos? What other motivation and reason would he have for loving so boldly, forgiving so quickly, and sharing so generously? What else could account for his patience when provoked, his loud laugh and his ready tears; and the way he treats his wife and welcomes strangers?”

     But doing noble things for you is not the same thing as spending life-giving time with you, Jesus. Thinking great thoughts about you is not the same thing as vital communion with you. Helping others understand the gospel is not the same thing as drinking presently and deeply from the wellspring of grace for myself. Honestly, I’m not really concerned with others saying, “He’s been with Jesus.” I want my own heart to know I’ve been with you. I don’t want to spend time with you to make me look better to others; I want rich fellowship with you to get more of you, Jesus.

     Truly, who or what do I have in heaven but you, Lord Jesus? You make heaven heavenly. And being with you, I desire nothing on earth, because absolutely nothing else satisfies my soul like you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but you, Lord Jesus, are the strength of my heart, and my portion, banquet, and inheritance. It is good, and it is enough, for me to be near you, my sovereign Savior and loving refuge. Overfill my heart with your grace and my day with your praise. So very Amen I pray, in your beautiful and bountiful name.

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