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A Prayer for Affirming the Over-the-Top Goodness and Faithfulness of Our God

Aug 17, 2015 | Scotty Smith

(This was the prayer I wrote this past Saturday but forgot to post here at the TGC!)

     I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing good for them. I will put a desire in their hearts to worship me, and they will never leave me. I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land. Jer. 32:40-41 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, my favorite word these two verses is the personal pronoun “I,” and you are the one doing the talking. You have chosen to be a most incomparably grace-full, tenaciously faithful, and eternally joyful God to us. Astonishing: You have promised never to stop doing good for us. We believe, Lord; help our unbelief.

     We worship you, because you gave us the desire; we know you, because you gave us your Son; we’ll never leave you, because you’ll never let go of us; we’ll enter heaven, because you’ll plant us there. And everything you do for us, you do wholeheartedly and most joyfully.

     Father, the last few days have done nothing but underscore your covenant faithfulness throughout my life. You have cared for me when I couldn’t have cared less for you; and you have carried me when I could carry on. Thank you for the serendipitous gifts your drop into our lives at just the right time—“goodies” which remind us what a great and gracious God you are.

     It was such a joy to sit across the table last night from the childhood friend who led me to Christ, over four and a half decades ago. We were both clueless until you clued us in to beauty and bounty of Jesus. But perhaps the sweetest gift of late has been to reconnect with an aunt who has been a life-long bud, blossom, and bouquet of your grace to me—long before I had eyes to see it and heart to enjoy it. I praise you for her, Father.

     Indeed, you give us so many good gifts, and most of them come to us wrapped in the flesh and blood of your image bearers—the people you write into our stories. Forgive us when we demand more, or expect less from you. Great is your faithfulness, daily your mercies, and much more than sufficient your grace. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name. 

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The Only Unshakable Thing in Our Lives–God’s Love for Us: Praying through Isaiah 54:10

Aug 17, 2015 | Scotty Smith

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed,

     Dear heavenly Father, we live in a vulnerable world as a vulnerable people. Nothing really seems to be overly stable anymore—fewer things get a chance at becoming vintage. The environment and weather patterns are predictably unpredictable—even as you affirm in this Scripture.

     Old friendships get strained through marriage splits, job stints, and the busyness of life. World news is usually bad news; health crises abound and financial pressures mount; church messes and messy relationships seem to be the new norm, not the painful exception. BUT… there is one glorious exception.

yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken

    Father, thank you that there is one thing we can absolutely count on—one reality beyond all shaking and shifting; all atrophy and aging, all diminishment and decay, all failure and forfeiture, all violation and termination; and that is your fabulous, irrepressible, unfailing love for us in Jesus. Thank you, a gazillion times over.

nor my covenant of peace be removed,”

     You have made your peace with us through the finished work of Jesus—the gospel of your grace. We can rest in your sovereign rule and perfect peace, even as we wrestle with many other things; for of the increase of your government and peace, there will be NO end (Isa. 9:7).

says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

     When it’s your Word versus our experience, Father, your Word wins, hands down. Thank you for maintaining a constant disposition of compassion towards us—never one of annoyance, impatience, or “when-will-they-get-it-ness.” When things are shaky and shaking, you are in control and you love us; and that is enough. So very Amen we pray, with peace and gratitude, in Jesus’ name. 

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A Prayer for Repenting of My Critical Spirit and Selective Compassion

Aug 16, 2015 | Scotty Smith

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? Or 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. 2:1-4 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, I feel “busted” and beloved at the same time this morning. The call to love others as Jesus loves me keeps driving me to you for more grace and for more power of the gospel. Meditating on this passage has convicted me about being way too selective in my love. I hoard the riches of your grace and withhold them from people desperate for your kindness. I’m not an equal opportunity dispenser of your mercy and compassion.

     Father, I am quick to shower the riches of your kindness, tolerance, and patience on people whose brokenness, struggles, and issues are similar to mine. But I can be condescending and judgmental toward people whose weaknesses inconvenience, annoy, or offend me. Forgive and free me, Father. This attitude blatantly contradicts the gospel.

     Father, it’s your kindness that leads me to repent today. I own my political-persuasion, theological-family, life-choice orientation, and personality-profile arrogance. I’m a mess, Lord, in need of a bigger, freer heart.

     Jesus, you took the judgment I deserve on the cross—the fullness of God’s righteous wrath toward my sin; and now you love me with the fullness of compassion, acceptance, and delight. The greatest non sequitur in life happens when I withhold the same from others—whoever they are.  Deepen my repentance and deepen my compassion for fellow broken image-bearers of God. So very Amen I pray, in your righteous and loving name. 

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Shutting Down Our Whines with Worship: Praying through Romans 8:31-37 (NLT)

Aug 14, 2015 | Scotty Smith

31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 

     Dear heavenly Father, when I consider your great love for us in Jesus, how it possible for me in indulge in whining, justify my complaining, or linger in griping? When I do the mercy-math, all the wonderful things you are to us and have done for us, FAR outweigh all provocations, irritations, and exasperations of life.

32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

     You gave Jesus to us and for us; of course we can trust you for everything else we need, and bunches more you simply delight to give us.

33 Who dares accuse us whom God has chosen for his own? No one—for God himself has given us right standing with himself. 34 Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.

     You made us, chose us, bought us, reconciled us, and delight in us. Who cares what anybody else thinks, says, or feels about us? Forgive us for giving any other voice more power over our hearts than yours—whether it’s the accusations of the devil or the meanness of men, the contempt of our shame or the flattery of the world.

35 Can anything ever separate us from Christ’s love? Does it mean he no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry, or destitute, or in danger, or threatened with death? 36 (As the Scriptures say, “For your sake we are killed every day; we are being slaughtered like sheep.”) 37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us.

      Through the hardest parts of life and the most joyful ones; in the crazy-making seasons and the oasis-like breathers; in the stories that vex us, and the relationships that test us—you love us, will never leave us, and will complete us. Father, we praise, bless, and adore you. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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A Prayer for Giving God Thanks for His Immeasurable Generosity

Aug 13, 2015 | Scotty Smith

The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me (Psalm 50:23 ESV).

Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Cor. 9:15 NIV)

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thess. 5:16-18 NIV).

     Dear heavenly Father, my heart is filled with thanksgiving as I begin this day. Thank you for being such an incomparably kind and relentlessly generous God. Though the weakness of my flesh and the whisperings of the devil will try to sabotage my gratitude as the day unfolds, I want to tell you what is presently fresh and real in my heart.

     First of all, thank you for the “indescribable gift” of the gospel. Because of Jesus, no condemnation is left for my sin; perfect righteousness is declared to be mine; and I cannot, and will not, ever experience separation from your love. Hallelujah, many times over!

     Thank you for your commitment to bring your work in me to completion one Day. I so want to be like Jesus, and I’m so not like Jesus in many ways. But I praise you that you love me right now to the degree I’m in Christ, not like Christ, and I’m 100% in, so thank you!

     Father, thank you for being tenaciously at work for my good in all things—in the things that thrill me and the things that annoy me; in in the wounds that still hurt me and the failures that still haunt me; in the “unanswered” prayers and in unexpected gifts; in delayed flights and in countless delights; in the biggest fish I’ll ever catch and in the biggest disappointments I’ll ever know; in my extended family and in the extension of my waiting; and in the circumstances, people, and stories over which I don’t have any control… but SO wish I did.

     Thank you for being God and thank you for being good—all the time, when I see it and when I don’t. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ exalted and trustworthy name.

    

 

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A Prayer for De-Cluttering and Re-Centering Our Lives

Aug 12, 2015 | Scotty Smith

      Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be. Matt. 6:19-21 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, a little work in my attic and garage, closet and drawers this week made these words of yours start blinking at me like a bright neon sign on a dark night—unavoidable. Where did all of this stuff come from? Clutter is like zucchini; it just seems to keep spreading and multiplying. How did I accumulate all these things? Once a “treasure,” now most of these things are just a bother.

     But, Jesus, what concerns me far more than my attic and garage, are my mind and heart. The older I get, the less storage space there is; and I don’t want to finish my journey into eternity with a distracted mind and a cluttered heart. So Lord, help me de-clutter and re-center on you. I want to live more like Mary in a Martha world (Luke 10:38-42). In a world of multiple distractions, I want to finish my days with one great consuming affection, Lord Jesus—making and keeping you my treasure.

     I love you because you first loved me; and I’ll treasure you, to the extent I really believe you treasure us (and me), as your beloved Bride and eternal inheritance. So by the Holy Spirit, once again, rearrange the price tags in my heart, Jesus. Once again, let my uncluttered spirit and re-centered heart say, “I consider all things rubbish compared to the surpassing excellency of knowing Jesus” (Phil. 3:7-10).

     Once again, let my relationships and schedule, attic and garage demonstrate my delight in you, and desire for you. Jesus, I am so glad that you love me the same, with or without my clutter; but I know I will love you much better with much less clutter. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and tender name.

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A Prayer for Grace to Forgive Perpetual Offenders

Aug 11, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, ”but seventy times seven! Matt. 18:21-22 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I’ve read this story and heard it read, preached it and have heard it preached, what seems like a gazillion times, but it never grows old and never grows unnecessary. The need for forgiveness and the call to forgive, are as daily as breathing, eating, and sleeping.

     Jesus, I know I sin against you—in thought, word, and deed, every single day. And I also know that, through the gospel, I’m completely forgiven, declared righteous, and a beloved child of Abba, Father. Hallelujah, many times over!

     When I confess my sins, you’re neither shocked nor informed; and you know my need of your grace is much greater than I realize. But you also know that my standing in your grace is much more glorious than I could hope or imagine. Nothing compares with the treasures we have received in the gospel.

     But Jesus, receiving your grace is often much easier than extending your grace—especially with certain people and in certain storylines. Currently, there are a few “seventy times seven” forgiveness scenarios which are munching on my joy like tiny voracious piranha.

     I have been over-the-top generous with forgiveness; but now, Jesus, it’s easy to withdraw, be smug, and want them to pay. It’d be easy to gossip and tell others not to trust those who have hurt me. In short, Jesus, I am a mess. I know that to forgive isn’t the same thing as trusting and forgiving; and I know that not forgiving is not an option.

     So here’s my cry: Come, Holy Spirit, come. Humble and gentle me, settle and focus me. Grant me the want to, will, and wisdom to forgive as I’ve been forgiven. Reveal the scandalous wonder of the gospel—to me and through me. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.

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We Can Trust God and Everything He Does: Praying through Psalm 33:1-5

Aug 10, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Let the godly sing for joy to the Lord; it is fitting for the pure to praise him.

     Dear heavenly Father, though I don’t have an awesome singing voice, I do trust an awesome gospel. I am godly only because you have hidden my life in Christ, and I am pure only because you have robed me in the righteousness of Jesus. Hallelujah, many times over! At least my heart can sing with gratitude and robust joy.

Praise the Lord with melodies on the lyre; make music for him on the ten-stringed harp. Sing a new song of praise to him; play skillfully on the harp, and sing with joy.

     Father, you are the quintessential artist, and you have given us the gift of music and gifted musicians to express our love to you, and deepen our enjoyment of you. For the arts and the artists in our communities, we praise, bless, and adore you.

For the word of the Lord holds true, and we can trust everything he does.

     But what really fuels my worship this today, is this reminder of the truth of your Word and the trustworthiness of your heart. Though we don’t understand everything you do, we can trust you with all things. Though we often wish you’d adjust your timeline to fit our druthers, we can trust you are doing all things well. Though we’ll only understand some things in heaven, we can totally trust you now. Though we’ve experienced the pain of broken trust, you remain trustworthy—all the time in every way.

He loves whatever is just and good; the unfailing love of the Lord fills the earth.

     Father, though we can’t see it with the natural eye, your unfailing love is orchestrating and controlling every aspect of our lives; and one Day your justice and goodness will completely fill the earth. Hasten the Day, Lord; hasten that Day. Until then, fuel our joy and strengthen our trust. So very amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name. 

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A Prayer for the Prodigals in Our Lives

Aug 09, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     So he got up and went to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him. Luke 15:20 (NIV)

     The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.'” Luke 15:28; 31 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, we praise, bless, and adore you for being the running and pursuing, welcoming and redeeming God that you are. Your mercies are new every morning; your grace is sufficient for every story; your love is powerful beyond our reckoning.

     Just as you have all kinds of prodigals in your family, so do we; and we appeal to you on their behalf today. For those in a “far away country” of pleasure seeking, responsibility evading, pain medicating madness—do what you must to bring them to their senses. If severe mercy is the only thing that will bring them to saving grace, then Father, be as severe as the wonders of your love necessitate.  If things have to get much worse in their lives, then give us the patience, trust, and assurance that you are at work. And should we be tempted to rescue them before your work is done, grant us grace and power to resist doing so.

     And Father, for our prodigals who haven’t gone anywhere but into the blindness of their self-righteousness, the smugness of their self-assurance, and the cocaine of their success and “intactness”, run to them, plead with them, and show them how much they need the grace of the gospel. Prodigals on an island of self-sufficiency are often harder to reach than prodigals on a hedonistic holiday.

     Father, lest we stay too mentally and emotionally preoccupied with our prodigal friends and family members, renew our experience of your compassion, embrace and “kisses” for us in the gospel. Our primary calling isn’t to fix anybody in life, but to know you, glorify you, and enjoy you forever. So may it be. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ wonderful and merciful name. 

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A Prayer for Off-loading Our Burdens onto Our Gracious Father

Aug 08, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens. Our God is a God who saves. Psalm 68:19-20 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, what a promise you’ve made, what a hope we have, and what a God you are. Thank you being the kind of Father who bears our burdens—as opposed to ignoring, minimizing, or resenting them. And to know that you bear our burdens on a daily basis frees us to be honest with you about the things that tend to wear us down and wear us out. Indeed, you are the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3-5).

     You are the God who saves us—not just from eternal separation from yourself, but also in the present realities of life. Father, some of us are overwhelmed with marriage, parenting, and family burdens. Helplessness isn’t bad, if it will drive us to you. Help us to want you and your glory, more than we want relief and a different story. Protect us from all counsel that might medicate our pain, but not identify the real issues.

     Father, some of us are fearful, fretful—even rage-full over the political landscape of our country, the legislative shifts in our culture, and the nuclear madness of our world. Lift these burdens from our hearts, as you remind us that the throne of heaven is presently occupied (Rev. 4); that Jesus is currently the ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev. 1:5); and that nothing and no one can alter or annul your plans (Isa. 14:27; Eccl. 3:14).

     Father, forgive us when we take back the burden of our guilt, because Jesus has exhausted it; and free us when we surrender, yet again, to the burden of our shame, because Jesus has broken it.

     Rescue us when we feign sovereignty and take on other people’s burdens you don’t intend us to carry. Give us grace, wisdom, and power to live and to love to your glory. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name. 

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