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A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Weary

Jan 16, 2015 | Scotty Smith

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt. 11:28-29 (ESV)

He will not crush the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Isa. 43:2 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, we praise you for occupying the throne of grace, with so much joy, gentleness, and burden-bearing love. When we feel our weakest—when we feel like “flickering candles” you don’t critique us, you shower us with compassion. You promise a rest you alone can give, and we are ready to receive.

     We bring you the weariness that comes from seeking to love well. No aspect of our lives is more delightful and more depleting than our relationships. As parents, spouses, and friends, grant us grace, wisdom, and strength, Lord Jesus. Give us thick skin and big hearts, for staying present and engaged.

     We bring you the exhaustion we feel from having longer “to do” lists than there are hours in the day. Sometimes the sheer “demanding-ness” of life makes us want to get a one-way ticket to a far away place. But since that would solve nothing, we ask for grace to choose between the critical things and the less important things, immediately in front of us. And, Jesus, please grant us the gift of good, deep, restorative sleep; and free us from our reliance on the stimulants of caffeine and sugar, activity and the approval of people.

     We bring you our fatigue born from our stories of grief and loss. Jesus, help us to accept the reality of our emotional depletion and mental tiredness. Grant us grace, friends, and strength for the healing journey in front of us. We rest in your promise of rest. We rejoice in your gentle and kind heart, Jesus. So very Amen we pray.  

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A Prayer of Longing for Our Resurrection Body

Jan 15, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Cor. 4:16-18 (NIV)

     For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. 2 Cor. 5:1-2 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, the current aches and pains in my body give me an unavoidable opportunity either to whine or worship. And since I know where my whining usually takes me, I think I’ll stay with worshiping you. But first of all, thank you for giving us the important gift of lament. I’ve learned the hard way that if we’re unwilling to grieve our losses then our compassion for others will be significantly stunted. I don’t like pain, but if it tunes my heart to care for others, grant me grace, Father, to rejoice in suffering.

     That being said, I do rejoice in the hope of the new body we will receive when Jesus returns. Our healing will be complete. Father, thank you that Jesus not only secured the perfection of our spirits, but also the resurrection of our bodies. Even as Jesus was raised, so shall we be. We groan now, but will be whole forever. Hallelujah! These “light and momentary troubles” are incredibly inconvenient and bothersome; but our rejoicing will be eternal.

     Until that Day, Father, I will seek to take care of myself, and will trust you for healing and health. And by the power of the gospel, please help me be someone in whom the weak, weary, and broken find understanding and encouragement. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus tender and triumphant name.  

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A Prayer for Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves

Jan 14, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:15-17 (NIV)

Dear Lord Jesus, I share Paul’s eagerness to preach the gospel today; yet my target audience isn’t Rome, but my own heart—though my heart has a lot in common with ancient Rome! Thank you for convincing me that there’s nothing more than the gospel just more of it. My comprehensive need of grace is met by your inexhaustible supply. Out of your fullness, I continue to receive grace upon grace (John 1:16).

Lord Jesus, you are my righteousness, holiness, and redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). I trust you as my substitute before I own you as my example. You fulfilled the demands of the law for me (Rom. 10:14), and now you’re fulfilling the beauty of the law in me (Rom. 8:4). Because God has hidden my life in yours, he cannot love me more than he does today, and he’ll never love me less (Col. 3:1-5). Your life for me is my guarantee of redemption; and your life in me is my “hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

And now, sealed and indwelt by the Holy Spirit (2 Cor.1:22; John 7:37-39), I know God as Abba, Father—who has adopted me and loves me as much as he loves you (Rom. 8:15-16; Eph. 1:5; John 17:23). Nothing can separate me from the love of God (Rom. 8:38-39), and nothing can separate me from the God of love (Heb. 13:5).

Lord Jesus, these are not just verses and doctrines, but my life and joy, peace and liberty. Because the gospel is true, I want to live and love to your glory, until the Day you return to finish making all things new, including me. So very Amen I pray, in your merciful and mighty name.

 

 

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A Prayer of Gratitude for Our Friends

Jan 13, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     When we came into Macedonia, we had no rest, but we were harassed at every turn—conflicts on the outside, fears within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Cor. 7:5-6 (NIV)

     A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity. Prov. 17:17 (NIV)

But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today”. Heb. 3:13 (NIV)

   Dear heavenly Father, I’m so thankful for the friends you’ve woven into my life—the brothers and sisters who pursue me, though my default mode is withdrawal; who reach out to bear my burdens, though I feign self-sufficiency and hate to be a bother; who comfort me when I’m downcast, though I struggle to being emotionally honest and genuinely weak in the presence of others.

     Father, thank you for friends who know how to encourage me with their presence and words—those who remind me of the gospel and help me get a better perspective on disappointments and hurts. Thank you for those who know how to confront me, and “call me out” from self-pity and cynicism, to faith, freedom, and hope.

     Make me the same kind of friend, Father, especially in this next season of life. Whether you give me five, ten or fifteen more years of life, I want to finish my days in this world as an encourager and comforter—as a conduit of your mercy and grace. I don’t need any more stuff and I don’t need to get busier. As I preach it, so may I live it: “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself in love.”

     Help me to be better at giving presence than answers; tears more so than advice; hope and not spin; my heart, and not just my hands. All of this, and so much more, you so freely give me in the gospel, Father. I’m a rich man because of the way you love me in Jesus. Love through me, to your glory. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ kind and near name.

     

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A Prayer for Esteeming Jesus

Jan 12, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Isaiah 53:1-3 (ESV)

Do you love me? John 21:16 (NIV)

     Dear Lord Jesus, Isaiah’s words rip at my heart this morning. I am freshly in awe of the love you have lavished on rebels, fools, and idolaters, like me. You, who never sinned, became sin for us, that in you, we might freely receive the very righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). By your crushing, we are now cherished; by your exile on the cross, we have citizenship in God’s heart; by your consummate wounding, we are becoming completely healthy; by your cruel death, we live forevermore.

     It’s precisely because of your great love for us that I feel deeply convicted this morning. I can’t get away from Isaiah’s words, “and we esteemed him not”—and I don’t want to move on quickly. Because of your grace, I grieve. The truth is, every time I sin, I esteem me more than I esteem you; and when I put it is those terms, sin has never seemed more ugly, empty, and foolish. There is simply no greater indictment against us than a lack of esteem for you, Lord Jesus.

     You made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you. You redeemed us for yourself and you desire us as no one else ever could; yet we still look over your shoulder for other loves and other lovers. You’re coming back for us, with the passion of a Bridegroom for his new Bride; yet we remain shackled to lesser stories and smaller dreams.

     By your grace, Jesus, and by the power of your resurrection, refresh, renew and intensity my love for you. I want to esteem you above everything and everyone else, Jesus. You will never love me more; I want to love you so much more. So very Amen I pray, in your compassionate and all-worthy name.

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A Prayer for Parenting by Grace, Faith, and Love

Jan 11, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Ps. 127:1-3 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, yet again we turn to you as the designer and builder of all things, including the lives of our children and grandchildren. Thank you for reminding us that our children are a gift, not a project.

     At times you’ve had to use a gospel wrecking-ball on my parenting style, in order to build something more lasting and beautiful. That process continues. But even when I’m overbearing or under-believing, disengaged or too enmeshed, I’m so thankful to know that you remain faithful and loving.

     Continue to rescue me from relational “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of saving face, making a name for ourselves, or proving our worth.

     It’s the height of arrogance to think our “good parenting” accounts for the best of what we see in the lives of our children; and it’s a lie from hell to assume that our “bad parenting” is the sole reason for the things that break our hearts. Free us, Father, free us, and forgive us. Oh, the undue pressure our children must feel when we parent more out of our fear and pride than by your love and grace.

     Since our kids are your inheritance, Father, teach us how to care for them as humble stewards, not as anxious owners. More than anything else show us how to parent and grandparent in a way that best reveals the unsearchable riches of Christ. Give us quick repentances and observable kindnesses. Father, we want to love and serve our children, “in line with the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). So very Amen we pray in Jesus’ faithful and powerful name.

 

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A Prayer When Feeling Fearful and Angry in a World of Evil

Jan 10, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices! Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil. For the evildoers shall be cut off, but those who wait for the Lord shall inherit the land. In just a little while, the wicked will be no more; though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there. But the meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace. Psalm 37:7-11 (ESV)

   Dear heavenly Father, it’s beginning to feel like another day, another story of terror-making, evil-doing, life-taking madness. How long, O Lord, how Lord before you send Jesus back to eradicate all evil? How long before the wicked will be no more? How much longer is “just a little while”?

     It’s hard not to fret. It’s hard not to feel fearful and angry when women, children, and the elderly are slaughtered in African villages; when the streets and markets of Paris become the venue for the perversion of religion and the murder of your image bearers; when your church and children are being subjected to unconscionable persecution.

     Father, I offer my prayer, not as an arrogant man judging the sins of others to be more reprehensible than my own; but as a longing man, so ready for the fulfillment of your promises for a world of shalom—an eternity of abundant peace in the new heaven and new earth. Until that Day, grant me grace not to be a man of anger and revenge, but a man of peace and prayer. Vengeance belongs to you, not to me.

     Grant me wisdom to know what loving mercy, doing justice, and walking humbly with you looks like in our community. Replace my frets and fears with faith and trust, and my anger and wrath with patience and courage. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ triumphant and grace-full name.

 

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A Prayer for a Mary Heart in a Martha World

Jan 09, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.” But the Lord said to her, ”My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, first of all, thank you for being so welcoming and desirous of our fellowship. Not only do we have access to your throne of grace 24/7, it’s you who greets us there. We’re never a bother, are never “put on hold,” never have to “take a number and wait.” We’ll never meet a tired and frustrated you, because you’re always the Bridegroom who delights in and rejoices over his Bride. Hallelujah, we cry, many times over.

     We’re the ones who get tired and frustrated. We live in a “Martha” world of many distractions, never-ending demands, and over-stimulation. Lord Jesus, help us—help me cultivate a Mary heart in a Martha world. My problem isn’t the world I inhabit, but the heart that inhabits me. I make King David’s prayer mine, “Give me an undivided heart that I may live in awe of your name”, Jesus (Ps. 86:11). You are the “one thing worth being concerned about”; you are the “one thing” that will never be taken from us.

     My “must get done list” isn’t going to change; but as you refresh and deepen my communion with you, I’m certain I can live with a quieter, gentler, kinder heart. By the compelling wonder of your beauty, and the relentless power of grace, I trust you for that work in my heart. In the gospel, I hear you say, “Come away, my beloved, my desire is for you.” To which I respond, gladly, Lord Jesus. So very Amen I pray, in your compassionate and welcoming name.

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A Prayer for Turning from Self-reliance to Dependence on God

Jan 08, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us again. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers. 2 Cor. 1:8-11(NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, there are some lessons in this life of grace I seem to have a hard time remembering, or at least accepting. My limits and insufficiency are certainly two of them. The magnetic pull of the “cult of competency” is always lurking. Forgive me for not wanting to need the gospel, your Spirit, and community as much as you say I do.

     Thank you for the gift of Paul’s story. Thank you for an apostle of grace who boasted in his weaknesses that Jesus might be the hero. Thank you for the model of a lover of God who was utterly dependent on the God he loved. I want to follow Paul as he followed Jesus.

     So, Father, as this day begins, I forsake the illusion of my competency and cast myself on you, the God who raises the dead—beginning with Jesus. I’m not facing deadly perils, but I am facing people I love that I cannot fix, injustices in the world that I cannot right, old lingering wounds that I cannot heal, stubborn addicts that I cannot rescue, an aging process that I cannot reverse, cold marriages that I cannot thaw, and my own heart that I cannot change.

     Grant me grace to accept my limits and faith to trust you more; and a greater willingness to let friends enter my struggles and carry my burdens. I know you to be the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort; I want to know you that way much, much more. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ kind and grace-full name.

     

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A Prayer for Times When You’re Feeling a Little or a Lot of Stress

Jan 07, 2015 | Scotty Smith

     After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, ”Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne. Rev. 4:1-2 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, thank you for not despising our weaknesses; and for never showing us disgust and wondering when we’re going to finally “get it”, and for always being compassionate, forbearing, and patient with us. For there are some days, circumstances, and stories in life that intensify our vulnerability and ramp up our stress. This portion of your Word brings the encouragement we need when we’re feeling the most stress.

     Father, by your Holy Spirit, please give us the same centering gift you gave John. In our heart of hearts, help us be certain that the throne of heaven in presently occupied by you—our mighty and merciful Abba, Father. Sovereignty is happening all the time. Nothing takes you by surprise and nothing catches you off guard.

     You haven’t promised us satisfying explanations for everything that happens in life, but you have promised us that you are always at work in all things, for your glory and for our good. Because of your gift of Jesus, to us and for us, we have every reason to trust you completely.

     So we cast our cares on you, Father; we bring you our insufficiency, our fears, and our stress. In our restlessness, grant us grace to be still and to know you are God. In our demandingness, grant us peace and freedom, to accept your timetable and your ways. In our waiting, grant us a very real sense of your presence and goodness. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name.

    

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