Can a woman forget her nursing child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Isa. 49:15-16 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, though Isaiah used the image somewhat metaphorically, mothers and fathers do forget the children they have brought into the world. I know this quite well, having lived through the journey of watching my dad forgetting my name, then my face, then everything about me. The process was very painful, yet you met us time and again, with your mercy and grace.
I am so thankful that the gospel is a living hope, not sentimental hype. I am so thankful that long after dad forgot you, you never forgot him. I am so thankful that dad’s memory has been healed, and that he now knows and remembers perfectly. Above all, I am envious that he now knows you perfectly, while I am bound to the world of knowing-in-part.
As someone who found you to be the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, in a story of dementia and Alzheimer’s, it’s an honor to pray for others in that same painful journey. Father, grant spouses and children, family members and friends, a profound sense of your presence, and courage to love well.
Grant them freedom to grieve their mounting sense of loss; the grace to accept the changes in their loved …
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8
Dear Jesus, change is hard. I love to come home to the normal and known, predictable, and user-friendly—like one of my old, broken-in pairs of Birkenstocks. Grant me grace to accept change, because there’s so much change going on everywhere I look.
Another new grave of an old friend; a field of wildflowers and grazing cows, bulldozed for 400 new homes; the coffee shop which served awesome java, rich conversation, and an ambiance of welcome was razed to become a huge concrete complex. I don’t like it, Jesus. Change is disruptive. Precious things don’t become vintage things overnight.
How thankful we are that there’s one part of our lives that will never change, and that’s you, Jesus. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. That certainly doesn’t make you predictable, and even less so manageable. But it does mean that we can trust you without any reservations whatsoever.
You are the one who puts change into perspective. Change has no sovereignty. Only you are Lord. Nothing is random in this world. Nothing catches you off guard. The scary becomes the sacred when we’re wearing the lens of the gospel.
The most fundamental change we need is to become like you, Jesus, and that process is the most disruptive and painful change we will ever go through—but the most important of all changes. Yet with the knowledge that one Day we’ll be as …
Resentment kills a fool. Job 5:2
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s been so hot and humid lately, and I’ve been registering that complaint entirely too many times—so much my complaining morphed into resenting. It came to a head when I canceled a bike ride, and started cursing the humidity, heat, lack of a breeze, sweat glands, even the sun. That inaugurated a pointless thirty-minute pout about which you convicted me, and let me know the weather’s not the only thing I’ve been resenting lately.
I resent having to explain and repeat myself. Why can’t everybody instantly intuit what I’m thinking? I resent grocery carts in the middle of an isle I’m in. I resent gossips, so much that I gossip to others about their gossip. I resent last minute suggestions. Why do my plans and “groove” have to be disrupted?
I resent resentful people. Why can’t they stop their whining and be more content with what they have? I resent roads that are always being repaired; drivers that delay moving four seconds after the red light turns green; birds that do their business on my windshield. I resent good grass dying and crabgrass thriving. I especially resent disproportionate suffering for people I love. Why can’t you spread “hard stuff” around a little?
Jesus, my resentment will either kill me as a fool or drive me to you for life. I choose the second option. Forgive me for fertilizing a spirit of entitlement. Forgive me for not …
And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matt. 9:35-36
Dear Lord Jesus, there are so many reasons to love you—so many reasons to risk being completely honest and vulnerable with you. Today I’m particularly thankful for your compassion.
When you looked at crowds of harassed and helpless people, you didn’t ignore them; you weren’t irritated with them; and your body language never shamed them. Sympathy beat within your breast; kindness overflowed. I praise and bless you, for having this same compassion for each of us today.
You don’t despise our brokenness and my weakness. I believe this; I would believe it even more. Free me from my residual posing and pretending, Lord Jesus. There is no more welcoming place than the gospel. There is no safer haven than your love. There is no greater, richer, more certain acceptance that what we have in you.
If your kindness leads me to repentance, then your compassion leads me to the freedom of vulnerability. So here I am… I wish I could speed up my sanctification, Lord Jesus; I wish I was already over certain things; I wish old wounds still didn’t carry present power; I wish I wasn’t triggered to anger, insecurity and fear …
The godless in heart harbor resentment. Job 36:13
Dear heavenly Father, whether it’s the persistent fly interrupting my needed nap, the thoughtless words spoken by a trusted friend, the new ding in my twelve-year-old car, or the old hurt that generates fresh pain, resentment never helps; it only sabotages peace and pilfers joy.
To harbor resentment is nothing short of harboring a criminal, for resentment is bent on criminal activity: stealing creativity, vandalizing sleep, robbing relationship, killing kindness, murdering hope, infecting the innocent with deadly toxins—to name a few of resentment’s crimes. There’s no greater waste of energy than resentment.
But worst of all, Father, resentment is a contradiction—a blatant misrepresentation of who you are and how you relate to us in Jesus. If anyone has a right to hold a grudge, to keep a record of wrongs done, to rehearse and remember our sins against us, it is you. Thus, we are never less like God (godless), than when we fertilize our umbrage and bitterness.
For you don’t treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is your love for those who fear you. As far as the east is from the west, that’s how far you’ve removed our transgressions from us. You have great compassion on us as your children (Ps. 103:10-13). You show us neither vexation of spirit nor exasperation of heart, so great is …
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8
Dear Lord Jesus, I really don’t like change. I like newness, excitement and adventure; but when it’s all said and done, I crave the predictable, normal, and safe. Grant me grace to accept change, because there’s so much change going on everywhere I look. Change is disruptive. Things don’t become precious or vintage overnight.
Our kids get older and our bodies get weaker. Adjusting to a new voice and heart in our pulpit, after a pastor-friend takes a different call. Unexpected job changes and beautiful spacious farmland becoming the next densely populated subdivision. Styles change, worship changes, weather changes, skyline changes…
How thankful we are that there’s One part of our lives that will never change, and that’s you, Lord Jesus. You are the same yesterday, today, and forever. That certainly doesn’t make you predictable, and even less so manageable; but it does mean that we can always count on you.
The most fundamental change we need is to become like you, Jesus, and that process is the most disruptive and painful change we will ever go through. Yet with the knowledge that one Day we’ll be as lovely and as loving as you, we gladly surrender to the work of the gospel in our lives.
Likewise, Jesus, the better we know you, the more we come alive to your promise to make all things new. Change has no sovereignty. Only you are Lord. Nothing is random in this world. Nothing catches you off …
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6
Gracious Father, today’s a great day to remember the glorious promise of this text—that “salvation is of the Lord”, from beginning to end. You began the “good work” of redemption in our lives; the one who’s carrying it on, (even when you’re not working according to our timetable and agenda—even when it seems like we’re going backwards); and, you’re the one who will complete our redemption, the Day Jesus returns to finish making all things new. When I really believe this, it makes me want to rest, dance, and work, all at the same time.
This is incredibly good news, as I ponder my story and the lives of other people you’ve placed in my life. I can’t be my own savior, and neither can I be anyone else’s savior. The pressure’s off! I never was a co-Redeemer, co-Spirit, or 4th member of the Trinity! What a great relief; but also what a critical truth to remember, as I pour out my heart to you.
Father, give me the same confidence for my friends and family, you gave Paul for the Philippians. You’re at work, even when I don’t see it. Sometimes irritation, worry, and fear loom larger in my life than patience, trust, and hope. When this happens, I’m pretty worthless as a friend.
Teach me how to wrestle in confident …
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife (or husband, parent, child, or friend). (Prov. 21:9) And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. (2 Tim. 2:24)
Dear Lord Jesus, I’m sure this proverb wasn’t generated by a group of men sitting around a Judean campfire complaining about their nagging, “drippy-faucet” wives. For whining, complaining and quarreling are no respecters of gender, age or position in a family system. All of us have our moments of forgetting the gospel and acting like spoiled children.
Today I want to own my penchant for quarrelsomeness, and to ask you to free me for far more healthy and redemptive ways of expressing disappointment, making a point, and engaging in conflict.
Lord Jesus, when I lose sight of the real issue and simply get argumentative with my spouse, friends, kids, or even strangers, arrest my proud heart. I’m very aware that sometimes my need to make my point sabotages my commitment to love well. The result is never good.
When I keep festering on the inside and pestering others, rather than resting in you, expose my insecure ways for what they really are: I’m assuming the role of the fourth member of the Trinity. Lord, I get no joy out of driving the people I love onto the corner of a roof, simply by my bad attitude.
When I get …
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Rom. 15:7
Dear Lord Jesus, it’s both settling and centering to begin this day with the assurance of your acceptance. You know everything about me, and still I’m fully and eternally accepted by you. You know my failures, fickleness, foolishness, faithlessness; and yet you totally accept me. When I confess my sins, I don’t inform you of anything you don’t already know. In fact, I’m probably aware of only 3 or 4 percent of my actual sins. It’s absolutely overwhelming to be this known and this accepted by you.
Indeed, I’m the self-unrighteousness younger brother you welcomed home and the self-righteous elder brother you constantly pursue. I’m the one lying at your feet others would stone, and the one who can take up stones as quickly as anyone to hurl at others, yet you are gracious and kind with me.
I’ve been up in the tree with Zacheus and down in the depths with Peter, and you have accepted and embraced me. I’ve been filled with the self-pity of Jonah and the angry laments of Jeremiah, the deceitfulness of Jacob and the doubts of Thomas, the fears of Timothy and the self-interest of Diotrephes (3 Jn. 1:9), and you’ve done nothing but understand, and give me grace upon grace.
But here‘s the difficult part—the redemptive kicker, Lord Jesus. As you’ve accepted me, you’re calling me to accept others. I’ll need all the grace you promise to …
A Prayer for Feasting and Fellowshipping with Jesus
Levi [Matthew] held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:29-32
Dear Lord Jesus, I can’t read this story without fueling my longing for the banquet of all banquets—the Day when you will gather your entire Bride, rejoicing over us with singing, and bring to completion the great salvation you have begun in us. Hasten that glad Day of consummate healing, freedom and joy!
Who will sit and be served by you at the wedding feast of the Lamb? A most unlikely bunch. Only those who’ve been saved by grace alone through faith alone; only tax collectors and “sinners,” and Pharisees and teachers of the law who’ve been clothed in the wedding garments of your righteousness; only those with childlike faith and a God-given perfection.
Lord Jesus, I praise you for making me a part of your broken-yet-beloved bride; for calling me, healing me, saving me. I have no problem acknowledging my sickness and receiving your remedy. There, there’s no greater friend of sinners than you. Thank you for eating and drinking, reclining and dining, …