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A Prayer for Lamenting Evil and Longing for Its Demise

Feb 23, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 1 John 3:8 (NIV)

     Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil. Heb. 2:14 (NIV)

     He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. Col. 2:15 (ESV)

Dear Lord Jesus, I am so thankful for the hope we have of a world and eternity completely devoid of all sin, evil, and brokenness. Though it will require your second coming, nonetheless, I am grateful for that Day, and long for it more than ever.

The Day of no more beheadings, or even kidnappings; no more human trafficking or even bad traffic; no more greed, or any form of need; no more harming in any form, just blessing in every form; no more vengeance or retaliation, just peace and reconciliation; no more broken people, places, or things; just beauty, in everyone in every place.

Thank for, Jesus, for destroying the devil’s work, by your work on the cross. His crushed head, broken dominion, and sure demise are sweetness to our souls, peace in our storms, and power for our mission. Through your shame you shamed evil and by your defeat you defeated darkness. Terror is now terrified of you. Though the devil is filled with fury, he is on a leash, knowing his time is short (Rev. 12:12).

We will not shrink back; we will not cower; we will not fear. You have won the war, and you will win the remaining battles. As full as the world is with evil and devils, it will be filled thousands of times over with beauty and you. As surely as you spoke the world into existence, you will speak the one word that will ultimately fell the devil, and spell the end to all his deadly doings. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah!

Lord Jesus, we praise, bless, and adore you, for so great a salvation and so trustworthy a hope. For your glory, we will live this day in light of that Day. So very Amen we pray, in your exalted and majestic name.

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A Prayer for Rejoicing in Jesus’ Once and for All Sacrifice for Our Sins

Feb 22, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Under the old covenant, the priest stands and ministers before the altar day after day, offering the same sacrifices again and again, which can never take away sins. But our High Priest 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. 10:11-14 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I cannot hear it too much. I cannot believe it too deeply. I cannot rejoice in it too fully. By your death on the cross, you have taken away our sins, once and for all. Nothing is left undone. Nothing more needs to happen. Nothing else could have met our need. Nothing else must be our cry—“We have been made righteous in Christ forever! Blessed be the name of our God and Savior, Jesus—the Lamb of God who has taken away our sin; the Lord of all, who is making all things new; the Lamp of the New Jerusalem, whose glory will shine eternally!”

     And now, having completely justified us by your finished work, you are perfecting us by your glorious gospel. It’s all of grace, from beginning to end. We who have been declared perfectly righteous will be made perfectly holy—O blessed and happy hope. One Day we will be as lovely and as loving as you, Lord Jesus. There is no greater longing, no greater joy, and no greater future—none. 

     Even as we rest in your finished work, so we rejoice in your present reign, Lord Jesus. Atoned for sin will be abolished sin; defeated evil will be eradicated evil; vanquished enemies will be eliminated enemies. May the joy of this good news buckle our knees in humble adoration, and empower our hands for neighbor edification.

     As we are loved, so let us love; as we have been served, so let us serve; as we are encouraged, so let us encourage one another as we long for the Day. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.

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A Prayer for Resting in the Gift of Christ’s Righeousness

Feb 21, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Rom. 3:21-24 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, what wondrous love is this, indeed! Out of the measureless supply of your sovereign grace, you have generously met our greatest need. You have freely and fully given us the righteousness of Christ. Your law condemned us; but your gospel has redeemed us. We fell short of your glory; but you went long with your mercy. Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.

While we were still sinners and rebels, idolaters and fools, you gave Jesus for us. He lived a life of perfect obedience for us—fulfilling all the righteous demands of the law; and died a death of utter humility—exhausting all judgment against our sins. We now trust in Jesus’ substitution, not in our transformation—in the merit of Christ, not in the measure of our change.

The only work left for us to do is to believe in the one you have sent—even Jesus (John 6:29). And the faith required, to do so, you have also freely given us. Arise, my soul, arise; shake off your guilty fears and shame-fueled tears. Jesus is your righteousness; Jesus is your perfect, once-and-for-all, God-pleasing, law-fulfilling, judgment-exhausting righteousness. No fear in death, no guilt in life. No separation from the love of God, or vacillation of the delight of God. God loves you as much as he loves Jesus, and there’s nothing you can do about it, but believe it and rest in it.

Father, for so great, perfect, and complete a salvation we worship and adore you. May your steady, full-bore, unremitting love for us in Jesus, compel us to live for your glory. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ matchless and merciful name.

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A Prayer for Pondering Our Father’s Love and Hearing the Spirit’s Voice

Feb 20, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ”Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Rom. 8:15-17 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, we praise, bless, and adore you for the privilege of knowing you as “Abba, Father.” We were slaves to sin and death, selfishness and fear, when you saved us by your grace and adopted us, as your beloved daughters and sons. And now, your Holy Spirit is constantly telling us how much you love us and delight in us.

Father, please turn up the volume of the Spirit’s voice, because so many other voices are vying for our attention. There’s the voice of Satan, who still tries to condemn us for sins you’ve already forgiven. There’s the voice of our vain regrets, haunting us about our past failures and hounding us about missed opportunities. Then there’s the voice of our fears, pestering us about our insecurities and inadequacies.

But then, there’s your blessed voice, Father. By the Spirit we hear you say, “I have loved you with an everlasting love and with cords of kindness I have bound you to my heart. I have given Jesus’ as your righteousness, and have sealed you with my Spirit. Nothing will separate you from my love, nothing. Don’t be afraid to suffer, for I am with you and I am for you. I won’t give you more than you can endure, but I will give you more of my grace. Your past is forgiven; your present is in my hands; and your future is beyond all you could ask or imagine. Trust me.”

Abba Father, thank you for loving us—not as we will be or ought to be, but as we actually are. We begin this day, and will continue in it, heeding your voice. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ glorious and grace-full name.

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A Prayer for Marinating in the Kindness of God and the Riches of the Gospel

Feb 19, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. Tit. 3:4-7 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, I need to spend time in the Bible every, day for several reasons; not the least of which is to submit to its unrelenting bombardment against my unbelief. This very Scripture is a great example. What an all out assault these verses wage against our small thoughts of you and your glorious gospel.

     You are so much kinder than I can imagine, and so much more loving. Like Abraham, I wasn’t seeking you when you found me. Your kindness and love appeared to me out of nowhere. I wasn’t tired of “sowing wild oats.” I wasn’t’ ready to turn my life around. I wasn’t beginning to get my spiritual act together, when you redeemed me. No, it was entirely an act of mercy on your part.

     As surely as I had no part in my first birth, so I contributed “squat” to my new birth. I didn’t show any promise; you just kept your promises to redeem a family as numerous as stars, sand, and dust. Hallelujah, for the mathematics of mercy!

     And how generous you were, and remain, Father. You didn’t just “dribble” a little Holy Spirit on me; you poured him out on me liberally, through Jesus—copious amounts of heart-washing, whole-being renewing goodness. Now, by your grace, I have been justified freely and fully. The saints in heaven may be more joyful than me, but they aren’t more justified. Oh, praise the glory of your name and gospel!

     Heir-ship and hope now define the rest of my life in this world. Because this is true, Father, free me today to enjoy loving, serving, and encouraging others. I’ve got nothing left to prove or earn. What a gospel. What a God. What a calling. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name. 

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A Prayer for A Gospel Inundated, Grace Soaked Lenten Season

Feb 18, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matt. 6:16-18 (ESV)

     Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready. Rev. 19:7 (NIV)

      Dear Jesus, it’s Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. For the next forty days we have the privilege of fixing our gaze on you—the Author and Perfecter of our faith. For your glory and our growth, we ask you to overwhelm us with fresh mercies and irrepressible grace in the coming weeks.

     Don’t let this be a typical Lenten season, Jesus. Saturate and empower it with the gospel. It’s all about you, Jesus. It is all about your finished work—not our constant failings, and vain promises of doing better and doing more. Whatever fasting we may choose to practice, may it be as a betrothed Bride, not as gloomy hypocrites. Our deepest repentance is always born out of seeing more of your beauty, more of the gospel, more of you, Jesus.

     Indeed, Jesus, we begin Lent today anticipating our wedding, not our funeral. The law has been fulfilled and judgment is complete. The dowry has been paid in full and our wedding dress is your righteousness. The invitations have been sent out and the date has been secured. We praise, bless, and adore you.

     Over these next forty days intensify our hunger and fuel our hope. Break us that you might beautify us. Increase our love for holiness as you supersize our love for your glory. Free us from our idols, as you reveal their emptiness and silliness, in comparison with your beauty and bounty. So very Amen we pray, in your exalted and near name.

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A Prayer for Loving Jesus as We Love and Serve the Least

Feb 17, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’ “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ Matt 25:34-40 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, it’s cold—dangerously cold. Thankfully, I hear the gentle purr of my heating system obeying the number I punched in on the thermostat. I’m enjoying a fresh cup of warm coffee, knowing that as soon as I’m ready for breakfast, I have ample culinary options from which to choose to satisfy my morning hunger. I’m sheltered, clothed, and comfortable; and I take none of it for granted. There’s nothing I have that I haven’t received from you. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your kindness and generosity, to me, and my family.

     And it’s precisely because of your mercy and generosity to me, that this Scripture lands on my heart today with much convicting power today. It’s not about guilt; it’s all about grace, Jesus—100% about the greatness of your grace.

     I readily lift my hands to praise and worship you in corporate worship; yet you prefer those same hands to be extended on behalf of the hungry and thirsty, strangers and the unclothed, the sick and imprisoned. What more could I possibly want to do with the rest of my life than to love you as you love to be loved, Lord Jesus? So very Amen I pray, in your mercy-full and grace-full name.

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A Prayer in Response to the Martyrdom of the Egyptian Christians

Feb 16, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of all who had been martyred for the word of God and for being faithful in their testimony. They shouted to the Lord and said, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you judge the people who belong to this world and avenge our blood for what they have done to us?” Then a white robe was given to each of them. And they were told to rest a little longer until the full number of their brothers and sisters—their fellow servants of Jesus who were to be martyred—had joined them. Rev. 6:9-11(NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, images of our orange-clad Egyptian brothers, paraded along the seashore before their martyrdom, brought many emotions to play in my heart. I felt a moment of fear, then anger and disgust, and then a tad of hatred for enemies of the cross and a longing for vengeance. I felt all of these things, until I entered the sanctuary of your Word.

     Father, though I don’t fully understand, I rest in the assurance that you are as sovereign over the number of your children to be martyred, as you are in control of sunrise and sunset, seedtime and harvest, the day Jesus entered our world and the timing of his return. You give and you take away, blessed be the name of our Lord.

     The Lamb who was broken for our sins, is alone worthy to break the seals of your unfolding story of redemption and restoration. There’s no consternation or vexation in heaven, just exaltation of the God who does all things well—in your time and in your way. “Stuff” doesn’t just happen; sovereignty is always happening. We believe; help us when we feel weak, Father.

     When will Jesus return, and when will you avenge the glory of your name and eradicate all evil? You delay because you are a merciful and grace-full God. Through Jesus, you have secured a family as numerous as stars, sand, and dust, from all nations and people groups. Perhaps among those who took the lives of our Egyptian brothers is another like Saul of Tarsus, whom you call and appoint another Apostle of Grace (Acts 7:54-59).

     So we pray for grieving families in Egypt, Father, and we join the cry of martyrs in heaven, “How long, O Lord?” Grant us grace and courage, to share the gospel, serve our neighbors, and love our enemies, until this day becomes that Day. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ beautiful and triumphant name. 

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A Prayer for Remembering the Riches of Our Identity as Believers

Feb 15, 2015 | Scotty Smith

A Prayer for Remembering the Riches of Our Identity as Believers

     Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James—to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1-2 (ESV)    

     Dear heavenly Father, the back-story to these opening words, in the little book of Jude, is as encouraging as this remarkable salutation. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, didn’t grow up realizing (or believing) Jesus was anything more than a sibling with whom he played, did household chores, and broke bread.  Like many of us, Jude appreciated Jesus long before he worshipped him. He came to realize that Jesus was your Son long before he was Mary’s son. Thank you, Father, for rescuing Jude, and us, from a nice, but woefully incomplete knowledge of Jesus.

     For through Jesus’ finished work, you have called us from the grave into newness of life. You literally spoke the word, and we came alive in Christ—no longer dead in our sin and trespasses. We would have never chosen you if you hadn’t first chosen and called us to yourself. We praise you for your sovereign mercy and power, Father.

     And now, alive in Christ, we are beloved in your sight. May the name “beloved in God the Father,” trump and mute other names with which we have been branded through the years. When you look at us, you always delight and you always say of us, “My Beloved”. May this good news free us to live and love to your glory, until we take our last breath in this world.

     Speaking of last breaths, we bless and adore you, Father, that we are both kept by Jesus and for Jesus. Our current standing in grace will segue into an eternal dancing in grace, when your send Jesus back for his Bride. May such radical grace compel and propel us out of our self-preoccupation, unto neighbor love and service. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name. 

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A Prayer for Reveling in the Ultimate Romance

Feb 14, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Song of Sol. 7:10 (NIV)

     And Jesus said to them, ”The sons of this age marry and are given in marriage, but those who are considered worthy to attain to that age and to the resurrection from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage.” Luke 20:34-35 (ESV)

     “Praise the Lord! For the Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns. Let us be glad and rejoice, and let us give honor to him. For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb, and his bride has prepared herself. Rev. 19:6-7 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, in our culture, it’s called Valentine’s Day; but on the calendar of grace, it’s just another day for coming alive to the only love that is better than life—the only love that answers the longing of our hearts for inviolate love and perfect intimacy.  

     Indeed, no human being (or any number of them), no human romance story, no torrid love affair can possibly fill the vacuum inside of us that is uniquely reserved for you. Every dating relationship or marriage brings together two broken people, two redeemed sinners who, ultimately, will not be enough for the other. Even the best marriages are just a hint and whisper of what belonging to you actually means, and gives us.

     Jesus, grant us grace to grow a deeper and richer experience of belonging to you, for you are the ultimate Spouse, the one we always wanted—the one with whom we will enjoy perfect intimacy, bliss, and joy forever. Make this good news more than our theology; make it our doxology—our song, passion, and über-delight. We believe; help our unbelief.

     When we get disconnected from your pursuit of us, love for us, and delight in us, we grow vulnerable. Temptation looms, discontent festers, and roaming hearts become foolish hearts. Whether we are single or married, Jesus, meet us in our brokenness, weakness, and desires.

     Until the day our betrothal becomes the Day of great banqueting (Rev. 19)—the Day we long for more than any other, take us farther up and farther into relationship with you. And help us—free us for loving others as you love us, Jesus. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and tenacious name.

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