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A Prayer for Days When It’s Hard to Trust God and Risk Hoping Again

Mar 17, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor. 12:8-10 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, this passage has proven to be “home room” for me in many difficult seasons of life. Through it I’ve found freedom to wrestle with you, that I might ultimately find rest in you, again and again. You don’t always explain things or answer our prayers the way we want you to, but you always give us more of yourself and promise enough of your grace.

     Today, I’m moved to pray the truths of this Scripture for friends in the middle of stories, calamites, and hardships that make it difficult to trust you, or even risk hoping again. Like the woman with the “discharge of blood” for twelve years (Luke 8:43-48), they have spent all they have on the pain and heartache, yet things are worse, not better. The journey from despising weakness to resting in you is often very difficult.

     Father, grant special grace to friends suffering with yet-to-be-clearly diagnosed chronic conditions. Losing health quite often leads to hosing heart, when all the blood work, MRIs, scans, and tests reveal nothing, and yet the condition persists. God be gracious.

     Father, grant special grace to friends whose pain isn’t physical, but is emotional. When our children blow it, our spouses fail us, our friends desert us, our employers/employees betray us, our leaders deceive us… itpleaded be absolutely overwhelming, especially when the pattern keeps repeating itself. God be gracious.

     Father of mercies and God of all comfort, for my friends who have plead for relief, in some cases for years, I join that prayer. But even more so, I pray you will give them yourself. Don’t let the anger, rage, despair, or hopelessness win, Father. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ strong and compassionate name.

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A Prayer for Extending Mercy in Normal and Difficult Relationships

Mar 16, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:36 (NIV)

Speak and so act as those who are to be judged under the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:12-13 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, we praise you for being the Father of mercies and God of all comfort—the God of limitless patience, inexhaustible forbearance, and incomparable compassion. Instead of giving us what we deserve, you have given us Jesus—who is our perfect righteousness, everlasting peace, and greatest joy. We want your mercy to trump our judgmental attitudes. We want to live more fully by the law of liberty, instead of by the toxin of criticism. Only the gospel can free us to live and love this way.

Father, we lament and repent for being too easily irritated, offended, and impatient. We confess to you what you already know: We keep records of the ways people hurt, fail, and disappoint us, more readily than we remain committed to overlooking, forbearing, and forgiving. Thank you for the full forgiveness we have in Christ, and for grace to repent and change. Father, too whatever degree it is possible, for redeemed sinners, we want to be merciful with others as you are merciful with us.

And for our more complex relationships, Father, we appeal to you for wisdom and strength. Show us what mercy looks like with we feel like we are being exploited, manipulated, and “played”. We know you’re not calling us to be “doormats”, but you are calling us to wash the feet of repeat offenders, like ourselves. Our cry is, “Help, Abba, help!”

Teach us about healthy boundaries, severe mercy, and extraordinary grace. Free us for loving in the broken places, as Jesus loves us. Fill us with your Spirit, empower us by the gospel, and bring the right people into our lives that can help us navigate some of these more soul-depleting relationships. Father, thank you for your promise and provision of daily mercies. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ kind and powerful name.

 

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A Prayer for Rejoicing in the Magnificence and More of the Gospel

Mar 15, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. 1 Thess. 5:23-24 (NIV)

     Holy and loving Father, as I continue to meditate my way through Lent, it’s portions of your Word, like this one, that make me want to weep and dance, at the same time. I feel like weeping over the years I spent in gospel-ignorance—a stranger to the ways of grace—grateful that you brought me to Jesus, but clueless about how you change us. I suffered much under the hands of do-it-yourself theologies, pragmatic remedies, and Christ-lite formulas.

     This one passage, alone, tells us that you are the God who called us to life in Jesus; you are thoroughly transforming us to be like Jesus; you are keeping us blameless until the Day you send Jesus back to finish making all things new.  Indeed, you are God of peace. Nowhere else can such peace, joy and assurance be found.

     How did I miss the really good news of the gospel for so long? Why was I such an easy target for performance-based spirituality? Why wasn’t I able to recognize the gospel-less gospel sooner? I lament the years spent in seeing Jesus more as my model to follow, than my righteousness to trust. Why did I ever think I could “make Jesus Lord” of anything, when he’s already Lord of everything? It’s not our dedication to him, but Jesus’ dedication to us, that’s the point.

    Father, thank you, a gazillion times over, for showing me more of Jesus, for revealing more of the riches of the gospel, and for freeing me more fully from gospel’s that aren’t gospels at all. As I seek to make more of Jesus, I trust you to make me more like Jesus. As Paul stated, you are faithful and you will do it. So very Amen, I pray in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name.

 

 

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A Prayer for the Lord of Peace, and the Peace of the Lord, to Be with Us

Mar 14, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Now may the Lord of peace himself give you his peace at all times and in every situation. The Lord be with you all. 2 Thess. 3:16 (NLT)

     And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Col. 3:15 (ESV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, we are so glad there’s no part of our being or chapter in our stories, no sphere of life or place in the universe, outside your interest and care. You are Creator and Sustainer, Redeemer and Restorer, and we praise, bless, and adore you. Because of your finished work, God is at peace with us and we have peace with God, and we are eternally grateful.

     Today, we come to you as the Lord of Peace, bringing with us a few prime situations, all in constant need of your heart and hand. Hear our prayers; grant us grace; increase our peace.

     Lord Jesus, we pray for marriages, in stress and under duress. Of course Satan doesn’t want our marriages to thrive, or even survive, because this relationship is meant to reveal your great love for your own Bride, the church. Of course we act foolishly in our marriages, for we wrongly assume the right human partner can “fill us up”. Forgive us and free us, O Lord. Bring ongoing repentance, refreshment, and renewal.

     We pray for our children—made for wonder, but prone to wander. Jesus, thank you for the privilege of parenthood. At times, nothing gives us greater delight; at other times, nothing brings us greater despair. Thank you that our “easiest” children aren’t beyond the need of your grace; and that our more “challenging” children aren’t beyond the reach of your grace. Free us to parent as Abba Father parents us.

     We pray for our hearts—already new by the gospel, still rebellious by choice. Lord Jesus, you have won and washed our hearts; you indwell us, and one Day we will dwell with you in perfect wholeness. But until then, we are tempt-able and seduce-able, capable of great nobility and great foolishness. Jesus, keep us thirsty for you, humble before you, and satisfied in you. So very Amen we pray, in your all beautiful and all grace-full name. 

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A Prayer for Rejoicing in the New Name(s) Jesus Gives Us

Mar 13, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it. Rev. 2:17 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, this Scripture reminds me that nothing is more central to our identity than the name(s) by which we live. And often our most formative name isn’t the one on our birth certificate. Some of us have been branded with names that have shamed and wounded us deeply; and some of us have greatly harmed others by the things we have called them. All of us stand in need of your mercy and grace, which you readily and freely give.

     Jesus, whether or not there’s literally a new name you’ll give us in heaven, I’m not sure. But it is enough that you look at me today and address me as “Mine”, “Beloved”, and “Desired”. I am so grateful for the power of the gospel to rename, renew, and release us from old destructive labels—the ones others have given us, and the ones we’ve given ourselves.

     But as much as I love my new name, Lord Jesus, your name is the name I love to hear more than any other. It’s by your name that I’m fully forgiven and declared righteous, being healed of every disease and being freed from every bondage. And it’s at your name, Jesus, that one Day I will gladly bow my knees with everyone, in heaven, on earth and under the earth (Phil. 2:9-11). Hasten that blessed Day.

     Lord Jesus, it’s only because you overcame sin and death for us that I dare call myself an “overcomer.” It’s only because you drank the cup of our judgment that I’ll get to feast on the “hidden manna” of eternity. Continue to free me to live by the names you’ve given me. So very Amen I pray, in your exalted and all glorious name.

    

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A Prayer for Rejoicing in the Main Thing

Mar 12, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, ”I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:17-20 (ESV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, you’ve given us so many reasons to be a people of joy—even in the midst of a “wad” of brokenness. You’ve created a world for us to enjoy, and though it’s lost the perfections of Eden, creation still loudly proclaims your majesty and reveals your beauty. And you’ve blessed us with many creature comforts—things we either take for granted, or assume we have them because we deserve them or earned them. Things like our jobs and homes, clothing and food. Thank you for your persistent and pervasive generosity.

     And like your first disciples, you give us the joy of being used in your service—no small thing, indeed. Thank you for the privilege of sharing the gospel, serving in your church, laboring in your kingdom. Thank you for the honor of loving our neighbors, working for justice in the face of systemic evil, caring for the poor and other marginalized people in our culture—like orphans, widows and the elderly.

     But as you command a particular focus to our rejoicing, so we gladly obey today. Lord Jesus, thank you, thank you, thank you for writing our names in heaven—for securing our place in your heart and eternity. They are written there with the indelible ink of God’s grace, and there is no eraser that can remove our name from the only book, roll, or record that really matters. Hallelujah, many times over!

     May the joy of our irrevocable, free, and über-glorious salvation shut down our whine-fest and pity-parties, and our lust for something more or someone other. So very Amen we pray, in your generous and grace-full name.

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A Prayer for Freedom from Our Man-Pleasing Ways

Mar 11, 2015 | Scotty Smith

 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? Gal. 2:11-14 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, I am so thankful this story has been captured in your Word, for it deals with a struggle we all face, man-pleasing; and it reveals the way of freedom—living in line with the truth of the gospel. Cephas’ (Peter) weakness is one I’m all too familiar with.

Father, I confess there are times when what people think about me has more functional power over my day then what you think about me. When I’m not living in rich fellowship with you, disapproval and criticism, being left out or not being appreciated, can impact me way more than it should. Likewise, being included, affirmed, and celebrated (all good things), can feel too good, and I can fall into being an affirmation-junkie.

Father, help me to increasingly live “in line with the truth of the gospel”—that is, more consistently with the riches of grace and the freedoms you’ve given us in Christ. May your desire for me, and delight in me, free me to be a servant of all men, and a slave to none.

Free me to be far more concerned to welcome others than hurt when I’m left out. Free me to accept criticism humbly, without becoming defensive or going to self-contempt. Help me to take back the power I’ve given some people to either “make” me or break me, with their praise of me or their indifference towards me. Free me to love others as Jesus loves me. So very Amen I pray, in his holy and heart-liberating name.

 

 

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A Prayer for Affirming the Lord to Be Our Most Treasured Inheritiance

Mar 10, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     I said to the Lord, “You are my Master! Every good thing I have comes from you.” The godly people in the land are my true heroes! I take pleasure in them. Troubles multiply for those who chase after other gods. I will not take part in their sacrifices of blood or even speak the names of their gods. Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing. Psalm 16:2-5 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, as I meditate on these words of David, my simple response is simply, “Amen, amen, and amen.” You are my Master; thankfully you are, and not sin or death, my whims or lusts, or a multitude of other empty gods. And what a Master you are—you created us for life in a garden paradise and intimacy with yourself, and you have redeemed us for an eternal life beyond our greatest imagining.

     Indeed, every good thing I have comes from you—the fountain of pleasure and delights, the wellspring of joy and satisfaction, the God from whom all blessings flow, not drip or trickle! You give cheerfully, not begrudgingly; you love lavishly, not reservedly; you redeem fully, not partially. In your time, and in your way, you will make all things new and all things beautiful.

     Of all the inheritances my tempt-able, wandering heart might run after, you alone are to be desired and treasured. Compared to you, all other gold is fool’s gold, all other currencies are counterfeit, all other riches are rubbish, and all other treasures are trash. By the grace and truth of the gospel, you have changed all the price tags in my life. Life is Christ, and death is gain; boasting in weakness is freedom, posing and pretending are slavery; humility is the way up, pride is the way down.

     Because of the cup you gave Jesus to drink, our cup is now a bottomless cup of grace. Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a salvation. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name. 

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A Prayer for Trusting God in Seemingly Impossible Situations

Mar 09, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Jesus replied, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.” Luke 18:27 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, we praise you for your promises of steadfast love, daily mercies, and doing the impossible, for we need all three. Because of your steadfast love for us in Jesus, we have incomparable peace. Because of your daily mercies, we have the freedom to be vulnerable. Because nothing is impossible to you, we can trust you with our hardest situations and most broken stories.

     Father, some of us run to your throne of grace today, primed for a miracle; some of us are making our way very slowly, under the weight of shame and emotional exhaustion; and some of us are stuck on the mercy road, not sure we can risk the pain of hoping again. Thank you that you meet us where we are, just as we are; because you are always running towards us in the gospel.

     Father, for those of us who ache with the pain of betrayal, loss, and rejection, hold us close to your heart, tightly. We want you close and yet we are inclined to stay away from you. We want you to bring healing, yet some days we want justice much more than we want mercy. Help us Lord.

     Father, for those of us who feel the burden of our guilt, the consequences of our failure, and the shame of our foolishness, help us leave our agenda for putting things right with you, and simply come home to you as Abba. You must script our repentance and renewal. We’re tired of being our own savior.

     Father, for those of us who are ready to trust you with failing health, limited finances, unexpected reversals, big and little decisions, spiritual malaise—ours and others, job situations, children who are “all over the map”—and any of a number of other situations, with palms up, we praise you and surrender to you—the God who does all things well and who makes all things beautiful, in your time. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ loving and powerful name.

     

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A Prayer of Gratitude on the 3rd Sunday of Lent

Mar 08, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tent have no right to eat. (Heb. 13:9-10 )

I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. Acts 20:24

Dear Lord Jesus, throughout Lent, you’ve made me glad about several things. I’ve never been more grateful for the family you’ve given me. We’re a broken but beloved bunch—each of us is on the path of groaning and growing in grace. And I praise you for good friends and a “gospel posse,” with whom to share longings and laughter and the bleakness and bounty of life.

But in particular, I’m most thankful for the ways that you show me more of yourself—the author and perfecter of my faith. I can afford to be flexible about a lot of theological issues, but I can ill afford to be wrong about you.

Over the past four decades of knowing you, you’ve been faithful to rescue and keep me from all kinds of “strange teachings”—especially from gospels which are no gospel at all (Gal. 1:6-9); such as grace-less legalism and obedience-less grace; politicized gospels and sentimental gospels; from gospels which privatize knowing you and gospels which compartmentalize serving you; from gospels which marginalize the poor and gospels which empower the rich.

Lord Jesus, well beyond this current season of Lent, continue to smite my heart with more of your glory and your grace. May the gospel keep getting bigger and bigger, and more and more liberating, in my life. I want to boast much more fully in your righteousness, and more humbly in my weaknesses. I want to finish my race knowing, loving, living, sharing and serving the gospel of God’s grace.

Therefore, strengthen my heart daily with your grace. Though I know and love you in part, you know and love me perfectly, and that is all I need to know. So very Amen I pray in your peerless and powerful name.

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