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A Prayer for Days When You’re Overwhelmed with Grief and Anger

Jun 22, 2015 | Scotty Smith

When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. Psalm 73:21-23 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, as many times as I’ve read and prayed, taught and preached Psalm 73, I’m not sure I’ve ever related to Asaph’s anguish more than I do today. I am grieved and heading towards bitterness, feeling beastly and quite capable of thinking senseless, unhelpful thoughts. I pray for myself and others sitting it stories that make our heads spin and our hearts sink.

     Father of mercy and God of all comfort…

Show us how to handle deep disappointment and hurt, as redemptively as possible.

Show us the difference between appropriate anger and destructive rage.

Show us how to pray down the gospel, lest we try to call down fire.

Show us how to hope when we want to hurl something.

Show us how to keep from importing old wounds into a new wound.

Show us how to listen to you quietly, 100 times more than we launch our opinions.

Show us how to grieve and lament, and not gossip and mock.

Show us the difference between worldly sadness and godly sorrow.

Show us what the gospel looks like in stories that seem to utterly contradict it.

Show us how to be still, and know that you are God.

     Father, let us palpably feel the grasp of grace right now. You are guiding us in and through the valley of the shadow of death, and you will bring glory to yourself in the most heart wrecking of stories. Who do we have in heaven, or on earth, but you? Being with you is what we need more than anything else, in the coming hours and days, weeks and months.  So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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A Prayer for Father’s Day

Jun 21, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom all fatherhood, in heaven and on earth, derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Eph. 3:14-19 NIV

     Dear heavenly Father, on this Father’s Day, it’s a supreme joy to affirm that you are the Father we’ve always longed for and needed. Our most loving and engaged fathers have been a wonderful taste of what it means to be your beloved children, but they could never be to us what you are.

     Thank you for adopting us, through the finished work of Jesus. Thank you for freeing us from our slavery to sin and our orphan-like ways; and for giving us the Spirit of Sonship, a secure place in your family, and an inheritance that can never spoil or fade. Thank you for being the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort. Thank you for promising to complete the work you began in us, and for always and only, disciplining us in love.

     Father, thank you for grace to forgive our earthly fathers who didn’t love us as you intended—including those who broke our trust and hearts. Continue to heal us, Lord, help us to love them, and free us to parent to your glory.  

     Lastly, Father, we thank you for the spiritual dads you’ve given us—the gospel-fathers who help us discover more and more of the multi-dimensional love of Christ. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ merciful and mighty name.

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What Does the Gospel Look Like in Everyday Life? – Praying through Micah 6:8

Jun 20, 2015 | Scotty Smith

“O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you”:

     Dear heavenly Father, from the beginning, you created us for life in a garden paradise—a life of revealing your goodness, truth, and beauty. Our calling hasn’t change but our context has. We now live in a fallen world as broken people. But you are a God who is rich in mercy and abounding in grace; and through the gospel, you’ve forgiven all our sins, declared us righteous in Christ, and have re-deployed us to live as a people to the praise of the glory of your grace. What does this glorious gospel look like in everyday life?

“to do what is right,”

     Father, thank you for saving us by Jesus’ perfect “goodness,” so that our goodness might simply be for our neighbor’s benefit, and not our anything. Intensify our love and joy for doing what is right—for doing the next gospel-thing. By your grace, make servanthood, sacrifice, and holiness a bouquet of beauty to us, and to our neighbors.

“to love mercy,”  

      And deepen our love for mercy, Father. Keep us ever mindful of your great mercy for us in the gospel. You didn’t give us what we deserve—judgment; instead, you gave us Jesus. Forgive us when we indulge an arrogant, irritated, critical spirit toward anyone.

     Your mercy is also revealed by a life of advocacy for the poor, marginalized, and oppressed. Father, by the power of the gospel, make each of us more like the “good Samaritan”—with a heart of compassion and the generosity of his grace.

“and to walk humbly with your God.

     Walking humbly with you shouldn’t be difficult for us, Father, because we have a lot to be humble about. We love humility in others; cultivate much more of it in us. Help us keep our conscience under the gospel—so we’ll be convicted, not condemned. And grant us godly sorrow when we sin, quick repentances, and the joy of a deeper work of the gospel in our lives. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ exalted and loving name.

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A Prayer for Knowing God’s Presence in the Storm(s)

Jun 19, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deut. 31:6 (NLT)

     Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isa. 41:10 (ESV)

     Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Rom. 12:12 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, I didn’t sleep a lot last night. Instead of counting sheep, I was counting the storms, crises, and heartaches of your Sheep. There’s so much brokenness, so many challenges, so much need for your presence and grace. This trio of your sons—Moses, Isaiah, and Paul, sing the same song of hope that I pray will wing its way into the hearts of dear friends.

     When fear and panic, shock and dismay are close by, so are you. You go ahead of us into the fray; uphold us when we can’t hold on to anything; and guarantee the fulfillment of a hope that seems unlikely, if not out right impossible.

     Great and glorious Father, I cry mercy—have mercy O Lord, upon friends reeling under the weight of heavy and hard news. The Day of no more cancer, no more hate crimes, no more church messes, no more crib deaths, no more broken marriages, no more kids walking away from the faith, no more waiting for hope to be fulfilled, of any kind.

    Father, we will rejoice in hope because of Jesus’ empty tomb; we will be patient in tribulation because Jesus has overcome for us; we will be constant in prayer because Jesus is ever living to pray for us. We praise, bless, and adore you, Father. What would we do, where would we go, without you? So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ trust-worthy and worship-worthy name. 

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A Prayer for a More Merciful Heart

Jun 18, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     So 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 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, my heart is filled with a fresh awareness of your mercy. You’re a most wonderful, merciful Savior, indeed. Because of your finished work, I’m no longer afraid to die, or live, because I’m no longer uncertain about what God thinks about me. He loves me as much as he loves you, because he’s hidden my life in yours. Mercy trumped judgment. Hallelujah!

     Now, all day long, every minute of every day, Jesus, you constantly show me mercy. You don’t give me what I deserve, but instead you give me grace upon grace upon grace. In the gospel, you incessantly speak words of encouragement, hope, and kindness to me. Even when you have to correct me, you give me “life-giving rebukes,” not shame-inducing stares or guilt-inflicting words. Mercy continually trumps judgment on my behalf.

     And you’ve completely reoriented my relationship to the Scriptures as well, Jesus. The law that used to condemn me now consoles me; that which used to be a source of fear in me has become a source of freedom for me. Because the gospel is true, I can now honestly say, “the law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul”—my soul.

     In view of so much mercy lavished on me, I have no excuses. I can’t justify my irritable spirit or judgmental attitude. I want to speak and act as someone you’ve set free. Grant me grace and wisdom, to live and love in this radical way. I fear being exploited, but my greater fear is being cold hearted. So very Amen I pray, in your strong and loving name.

 

 

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A Prayer for Receiving God’s Promise of Refreshment

Jun 17, 2015 | Scotty Smith

I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint. Jer. 31:25 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, like a puppy clamoring for morning milk, I’m ready (and grateful) for you to make good on this promise. I’m not close to fainting, but I won’t deny my weariness. The combination of the heat, my normally busy schedule, a couple of unexpected providences and unplanned for “curve balls” have me feeling like I’m pregnant with a bad attitude that’s ready to be birthed, and it’s a big baby. I’m so thankful that I don’t have to pretend around you—suck it up and get over it. You meet us in our weariness to refresh us as a loving Father, not to reprimand us as a grouchy coach. You meet us with the gospel, not with a scorecard; with grace, not with the law; with a towel to wash our feet, not with a cattle prod, to get us going. Thank you.

     I’m also a bit weary from grieving the pain friends are carrying. Relationships are so complex, Father. No one knows that better than you. How I long for the Day when all brokenness will give way to the perfect blessedness of loving well in the new heaven and new earth. That Day cannot come a day too soon.

     Indeed, I SO look forward to an eternity of no more pettiness or self-pity; no more hard-heartedness or hair-trigger sensitivity; no more communicating in part or conflicting to win; no more passive aggressiveness or active indifference; no more innuendo or bravado or anything else that hides the beauty of Jesus.

     Speaking of which, Lord Jesus, I’m SO grateful you still cry out to us in the gospel, with a loud voice: “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart'” (John 7:37-38). I hear your beckoning, welcoming, gladding cry, and by faith I come running to you. Fill me to overflowing with the water you alone can give, Jesus. Slake this relentless thirst of mine. So very Amen I pray, in your kind and generous name.

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A Prayer for Pondering the Expanse and Expense of God’s Love for Us

Jun 16, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     I will show love to those I called ‘Not loved.’ And to those I called ‘Not my people,’ I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’ And they will reply, ‘You are our God!'” Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Hos. 2:23-3:2 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, this is our story; this is our song. We’re (I’m) the ones who had no claim on your love or place in your family, until you gave us both in copious amounts. Your love is far better than unconditional (overlooking my sin); it’s contra-conditional (seeing my sin in all its fullness and ugliness, and generously meeting the conditions to love someone like me).

     All of us are guilty of adultery (including me), because all of us have turned to other gods and other lovers—not just in times past, but even now our (my) hearts are prone to wander. Forgive me, Father, when I think of my sin as monochromatic, in a world of Technicolor sinners; vanilla and bland, when compared to the spiciness and dicey-ness of other people’s failings; less worthy of your judgment and less needful of Jesus’ work.

     Father, thank you for buying me back—for redeeming my life from sin and death; from un-righteousness and self-righteousness; from acknowledged guilt and un-owned pride; from hopelessness and arrogance; self-loathing and self-worship; from a deserved hell and a presumed heaven. And the cost wasn’t silver, barley, and wine; but the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!

     My hope is built on nothing less, nothing, more, and nothing other, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. You now love me as much as you love Jesus only because you loved me enough to give me Jesus. So very Amen I pray… with worship, love and awe, in Jesus’ name.

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A Prayer for Those Days and Seasons When We Feel Outnumbered

Jun 15, 2015 | Scotty Smith

      “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire. 2 Kings 6:16-17 (NLT)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Rom. 8:31 (NIV)

Dear heavenly Father, sometimes like Elisha, we get overwhelmed at the odds stacked against us in life—whether we’re having to deal with a disproportionate amount of broken people, hard storylines, or fresh heartaches; or whether it’s a huge school of tiny circumstantial piranha nibbling away at our energy and joy; or whether it’s just one big zapping difficulty that’s exhausting our resources—one that actually feels bigger than you. No matter the scenario—you understand, you are with us, and you are for us.

Father, as with Elisha, so with us—open our eyes to see your angels placed all around us; quicken our ears to hear you singing over us, with great delight, right in the middle of the chaos; and compel our hearts to know that greater is the One who is in us than the one that is in the world. Indeed, Father, make Jesus the biggest and most beautiful, the most obvious and most unavoidable reality in our lives right now—even if it’s a long time before our circumstances change.

Father, help us to steward our vulnerability and weakness well; help us resist evil “carpetbaggers,” offering snake oil remedies and the empty promises of quick relief; help us run to your throne of grace regularly, and to the most reliable members of our gospel posses—for some things we simply cannot handle all by ourselves. We praise, bless, and adore you for being our near and grace-full God. You are here; you are in control; and you will win the day. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and tender name.

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A Prayer for God’s Worship to Be Deepened and Enriched in Your Church

Jun 14, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     You have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. For they could not endure the order that was given, ”If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.” But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel. Heb. 12:18-24 (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the honor of gathering with my brothers and sisters in Christ to worship you. We have no greater calling, privilege, or delight. Hallelujah! We’re not coming to Mt. Sinai, but to Mt. Zion; not to the unfulfilled law, but to the glorious gospel; not to Moses, but to Jesus; not to satisfy ourselves, but to glorify you. Therefore…

  • Free us to humbly receive your Word, not judge the sermon
  • Free us to sing and make music to you from our hearts, not simply like or not like the worship music
  • Free us to be open to whatever you want to do in our midst. Convict us. Gladden us. Heal us. Transform us.
  • Free us to extend your welcoming heart to one another and visitors, with a view to the ingathering of the nations into the New Jerusalem
  • Free us from no or low expectations; complacency and chilled affections for you; and from our penchant for sitting in the same seat, talking to the same people, and going through the same predictable motions. Forgive us and free us, Father.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ worship-worthy and loving name.

 

 

 

 

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The Unparalleled Peace of Seeing, Knowing, and Resting in Jesus: Praying through Hebrews 2:5-9

Jun 13, 2015 | Scotty Smith

It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.

     Dear heavenly Father, thank you for the heart-encouraging hope with which this text begins: There is “a world to come” that is completely under your control and filled with your delights. Life is not spirally out-of-control, though it often feels that way. Providence, not happenstance, rules.

But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him? You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor and put everything under their feet.”

      In fact, the world to come is dynamically related to the world that is. As your sons and daughters, you created us to know, love and serve you, and to fill the earth with your glory. You made us stewards and gave us dominion. You called, commissioned, and blessed us.

In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.

      But things went terribly awry. We spurned your love and wrote a different story for ourselves. Instead of wanting to make your name great, we wanted to make a name for ourselves. Now, nothing is as it was meant to be. Instead of being your beloved servants in the world, we have become broken slaves to the world. However…

But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

     However, you are a God whose name is Redeemer—a God rich in mercy and abounding in grace. We don’t yet see the world as it will be one Day, but we do see Jesus—our substitute and Savior; our perfect righteousness and our perpetual Advocate; our reigning King and returning Lord.

     Father, thank you a gazillion times over, that the gospel is true. Things are not as they appear. You ARE in control and you DO love us. Everything IS going to be more than okay. We’re not waiting for pie in the sky, but Jesus on the earth. So very Amen we pray, in his triumphant and tender name. 

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