A Prayer of Praise for the Scandalous Goodness of the Gospel

     Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Rom. 4:4-8

     Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture contradicts everything we assume about the way life is “supposed to work”. We expect to get what’s coming to us. We demand fairness—an honest return for our labor, time, and sweat. But the gospel flies in the face of conventionality, predictability, and normalcy. To which we cry, “Hallelujah!”

     Thank you for not being fair with us. Thank you for being outrageously generous, immeasurably kind, and scandalously good. What we could never earn—your perfect righteousness, you have credited to us as a gift. What we fully deserve—to be dealt with according to the wages of our sin, you will never do so. What we cannot imagine—that you would justify ungodly people, you have joyfully and legally done.

     Because of Jesus’ perfect and finished work, our transgressions are forgiven (all of them), our sins are covered (every one of them), and you’ll never hold us guilty for them. King David called such people “Blessed”. Because we are among …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Prayer for Responding to Jesus’ Desire

     I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me.  Song of Songs 7:10

     Dear Lord Jesus, the Song of Solomon has never been one of the most underlined books in my Bible; but the more I look for you in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:25-27), the more I’m drawn to its startling, scintillating, sensual imagery. To read the Song of Solomon is to tap into our deepest longings for intimacy, playfulness, passion, and delight—knowing and being known by you.

     Indeed, you are the great lover of whom this book speaks. In our best moments, our love for one another is a mere hint and whisper of the way you love us. We are the “beloved”—the Bride upon whom you have set your deepest affections, and for whom you’ve given your very life.

     This isn’t the gospel I grew up with, but this is the gospel revealed in the Scriptures. To be desired is to be wanted and pursued, seen and accepted, known and nourished, remembered and cherished. All of these grand realities are promised and provided in the gospel.

     Only the Holy Spirit can enable us to believe and experience the liberating truths, the unparalleled beauty, and the oceans of delight revealed in the Bible, and held out in the gospel. So I cry out today: come, Holy Spirit, come. Rescue me from my unbelief. Unseat and replace any notions of God and the gospel that still linger in my mind. Enthrall …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Prayer of Hope and Joy: Our Inheritance Is Guaranteed!

     In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.  Eph. 1:13-14

     Dear heavenly Father, sometimes reading Paul’s letters is like standing in front of a gushing fire hydrant. It’s hard to stand up to the rush of so much glory and grace, peace and love, encouragement and hope. It’s simply overwhelming.

     Reading through Ephesians, alone, we discover that we have been loved before the foundation of the world; chosen in Christ and called in life; justified by faith and declared righteous in your sight; adopted by Abba, Father and betrothed to Jesus, our Savior; sealed, indwelt and gifted by the Holy Spirit. What a generous God you are!

     In Christ, you’ve given us a completely forgiven past, a present standing in grace, and a future of unimaginable wonder. But what really encourages me today is knowing that all of this heavenly goodness is guaranteed. You’ve “sealed the deal” by the Holy Spirit. You’ve guaranteed our inheritance in Christ. You’ve given us the down payment, firstfruits, and promise of a future beyond our wildest dreams and asking.

     There’s no possibility of “bait and switch” or “revoking the warranty.” There’ll be no rejecting and disinheriting your children. Nothing will deter, distract, or sabotage your bringing to completion of …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer for Recognizing the Names by Which We Live

     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 itRev. 2:17

Dear Lord Jesus, this Scripture powerfully underscores the fact that we live and die by the names we are given, and we harm or heal by the names we give. Nowhere, more clearly, is the death-doling and life-giving power of the tongue demonstrated than in the world of names. Grant us ears to hear what you call us in the gospel, this very day.

Speaking of names, Lord Jesus, you have the name that is above every name. It’s by your name, and everything your name signifies, that we’re forgiven and declared righteous in the sight of God; being set from every bondage and healed of every disease; gifted for life in the kingdom and secured for life in eternity. And it’s at your name, one Day, that we’ll gladly bow our knees—with everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil. 2:9-11).

It’s only because you overcame sin and death for us, that we dare think of ourselves as, “overcomers.” It’s only because you drank the cup of our judgment that we’ll feast on the “hidden manna” of heaven. Lord Jesus, we praise you for living and dying in our place. Our hope …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer for Remembering God’s Forgetfulness and Christ’s Righteousness

     “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.” And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary. Heb. 10:17-18

Dear heavenly Father, what a heart-palpitating, peace-fueling, worship-generating joy it is to begin this day by remembering your forgetfulness.

You have promised never to remember our sins and lawless acts against us. You will never deal with us according to our sins or reward us according to our iniquities; for on the cross, you dealt with Jesus according to our sins and rewarded him according to our iniquities. Hallelujah, many times over.

But that’s not all, gracious Father. Because the gospel is true, you now deal with us according to Jesus’ righteousness and reward us according to his obedience. What an exchange. What a salvation, what a rich standing in grace and firm rooting in your love. What a God you are!

Boldly and humbly, I revel in the gospel today, summarized profoundly in these words from the Heidelberg Catechism:

Question:How are you right with God?

Answer:Only by true faith in Jesus Christ. Even though my conscience accuses me of having grievously sinned against all God’s commandments and of never having kept any of them, and even though I am still inclined toward all evil, nevertheless, without my deserving it at all, out of sheer grace, God grants and credits to me the perfect satisfaction, righteousness, and holiness of Christ, as if I had never sinned nor been a sinner, as if I had been as perfectly obedient as …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer about Jesus’ Jealous Love for Us

 I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ2 Cor. 11:2-3

I am my beloved’s, and his desire is for me. Song of Songs 7:10

Dear Lord Jesus, this Scripture takes my heart to some very important places this morning. First of all, I know that nothing good has ever come from my being jealous. But, on the other hand, nothing but good arises from your jealousy for us—your intensely committed love, your determination “to have and to hold” your bride for yourself, and to enjoy her forever.

What could be a greater compliment to any of us than to know that you are jealous for us— jealous for me—jealous and zealous for the affection of our hearts, the pleasure of our company, the intimacy of our communion? I believe this, Lord Jesus. I want to believe it more. Heal and free me from my unbelief.

That you really want us, desire us, and enjoy us is almost too much to take in. That you are actually saying today in the gospel, in this very moment, “Come away, my beloved . . . my desire is for you, my banner over you is love . . .” seems impossible and, tragically, at times not enough.

I can certainly understand why Paul was so concerned about …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer about Our Wanderings and God’s Mercies

     Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” Lam. 3:19-24

Loving Father, another day and another fresh batch of your mercies greet us, even before sunrise, and throughout the day. You overwhelm us with your kindness; stun us with your goodness; and humble us with your grace-full-ness. We join Jeremiah in calling to mind your great love and your great faithfulness. In fact, we can “call to mind” much more of your love and faithfulness than Jeremiah. Our place in the history of redemption is to be much preferred over his.

Jeremiah lived looking forward to the coming of the Messiah and the fulfillment of the promises of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34). But we live on this side of those blessed events. How much quicker should we be to praise you and how much greater should our hope be!

Indeed, Lord Jesus, you’re the reason we’re not consumed with guilt and paralyzed with fear; for you took the judgment we deserve on the cross. Because of you, God has forgiven all our wickedness and will never remember our sins against us (Jer. 31:34).

You became sin …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer of Encouragement and Hope

     But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,  and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. Isa. 43:1-3

Heavenly Father, your Word is a balm for the broken, ballast for the bewildered, and bread for the hungry. This sentiment is no mere theory; nor is it simply good theology. It’s my in-the-moment reality and I praise you with all my heart.

You’ve promised to show up, and here you are. Thank you for being the Father from whom all fatherhood derives its name and meaning; the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort; the God from whom all blessings flow. No god is as near as you and no god is as good, in every season and storm. The aroma of fresh gospel bread is wafting through the air as this day begins.

You’ve created us and you are redeeming us, all for your glory. You’ve summoned us by name, calling us to life in the gospel. You’ve given us a new name, “Mine.” There’s no sweeter name, appellation, label or title.

Father, you haven’t promised we won’t experience …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Prayer for Anxiety Casting

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

Gracious Father, I slept well last night but I awoke restless, fitful, and anxious. I know you tell me not to be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6), but I am. Sunrise has yet to happen, yet I’m already looking forward to moonrise. Thank you for freeing me from the pressure of pretending otherwise. At least I’m not anxious about surprising, embarrassing, or disappointing you. The gospel has taken care of that old bondage and slavery.

What’s going on inside of me? There’s really nothing enormous looming on the horizon; no one major crisis staring me down; no enormous boulder I’m assigned to push up a hill like Sisyphus. It’s just one of those days I find myself looking at seventeen little backpacks of needs, issues, and hurts, lined up at my front door, waiting to be picked up.

So what will I do with my restless, fitful, anxious feelings? Father, I would surely despair if I didn’t really believe you do care for me. That would be the one unbearable burden. But please help me know what anxiety casting actually looks like today, and in the next several days.

Of these things I am certain: you’re not calling me to be the fourth member of the Trinity; I’m not the whole body of Christ; you do promise sufficient grace; you will give wisdom to those who ask; and your strength is made perfect in weakness—in my weakness. Therefore, by …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Prayer about the Names by Which We Live

     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

Dear Lord Jesus, who’d have thought that a quick run to the supermarket would result in a painful study in “naming”? I’m sure that little boy who was straining for his favorite box of cereal has another name than “So Much Trouble” and “Such a Bother.”

I hope the husband, who shared the paper goods aisle with me, calls his wife other things than “Slow,” “Indecisive,” and “Wasteful.” We live and die by the names we are given; and we harm or heal by the names we give one another.

Lord Jesus, your name is the name that is above every name. It’s by your name, and by everything your name signifies, that I’m forgiven and have been declared righteous in the sight of God. By your name I’m being healed of every disease and am being set free from every bondage. By your name I’m being made whole and am being fitted for life in the kingdom.

And it’s at your name, Jesus, that one day I will gladly bow my knees with everyone in heaven and on earth and under the earth (Phil. 2:9-11). It’s only because you overcame sin and death …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments