A Prayer for New Growth in Gratitude

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18 (ESV) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17 (NIV)

     One of them (one of the lepers), when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ”Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine? Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” Luke 17:15-15 (NLT)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I want to be more like the healed Samaritan leper that came back to you shouting, “Praise God!” Indeed, I want my whole being to yell with thanks, for all the blessings and benefits I have from knowing you. The heck with measured, polite, or mile-mannered appreciation—I want to overflow with gratitude.

     As Creator and Sustainer, Jesus, I bless you for every good thing you have given (and give) me: Food and clothing, shelter and a bed; lungs and breath, a vocation and vacations; medical care and money to spend, a family to love and friends galore; fish to catch and bread to share. And the list goes on and on.

     As Savior and Redeemer, Jesus, I adore you for living in my place and dying in my …

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A Prayer for Growing a Heart of Contentment

     I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

     Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Heb. 13:5 (NLT)

     And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Phil. 4:19 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, these verses are as familiar to me as sunrise and sunset; and yet, like the magnificent way you paint the morning and evening skyline, I can easily ignore the wonder of these words. First and foremost, I bless and adore you for being a Father who will never fail or abandon his children; and, secondly, for being a God who studies our needs, and who answers those needs with riches, not pittance. You are so present and loving, kind and generous.

     Accordingly, Father, like Paul, I do want to learn more about contentment. For the more content I am, the more present I’ll be in relationships—not stressing or even thinking about what I don’t have; and the more generous I’ll become—for I’ll be quicker to acknowledge that everything I have, I’ve received as a gift from you; and the more flexible and spontaneous I’ll be in serving you—not being defined …

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A Prayer for Grace to Love Hard to Love People

     If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:32-36 (ESV)

Dear Lord Jesus, I need to meditate on this Scriptures regularly, because there are few portions of the Word that are more “daily” and necessary than this one. First and foremost, I’m stunned by what I already know to be true: “God is kind to the ungrateful and evil.” I know this to be true because God is über kind to me—every day, in every way. My ingratitude confronts me on a daily basis—about every good thing I have in you, and for all the creature comforts I take for granted.

And my evil thoughts (no exaggeration) show up in the form of envy about what others have and are; pride over who I think I am and what I deserve; revenge towards others who have “dissed” …

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A Prayer for Re-Learning the Secret of Contentment

     I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Phil. 4:11-12 (ESV)

     Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

    Do all things without grumbling. Phil. 2:14 (ESV)

     Dear heavenly Father, there are some aspects of this life of grace for which I seem to need constant refreshment courses. Contentment is one of them. I know you’re not calling me to kill desire, demonize ambition, or decry enjoyment. And yet at the same time I totally “get” your warnings about complaining, ingratitude, and discontent.

     So I come to you, Father, once again, acknowledging a need you alone can meet. Grant me the grace of contentment. Whether I have a little or a lot; am well known or forgotten; live in a palace or a garage apartment; feast on filet mignon or yesterday’s mac and cheese. Whether I feel included or left out; celebrated or underappreciated; have discretionary funds for splurging, or literally, have to pray for daily bread. Whether my relationships are “rocking” or are rocky; whether I have really good health, or chronic maladies. Father, I want to be content, not passive; not in denial, but truly …

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A Prayer for Thanksgiving Day

     Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name. Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases. He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies. He fills my life with good things. My youth is renewed like the eagle’s! Psalm 103:1-5 (NLT)

     Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength. Hab. 3:17-19a (ESV)

Dear heavenly Father, on this Thanksgiving Day, we praise you for being the only God from whom all blessings flow; our loving Father, who does all things well, even when you don’t do all things easy; and the sovereign Lord, who enthrones and dethrones rulers at your bidding.

King David and the Prophet Habakkuk voice the declaration of our hearts and the cry of our souls. With our whole being, we want to thank you for the multiplied blessings you have lavished upon us in Jesus. You have forgiven all of our sins—the ones which bear the most shame, and the ones we’ll never know about. You now count us righteous in …

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A Prayer for Remaining Grateful When Life Is Messy

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thess. 5:18 (ESV)

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)

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Rom. 8:28 (NIV)

     Dear heavenly Father, there are some days when it’s good (and important) to remember that you call us to offer thanks in, not for, all circumstances. The gospel isn’t about magic thinking or make-believe-living, spiritual anesthesia or circumstantial amnesia. In fact, the gospel is the only place in the universe where we don’t have to pretend about anything. That’s one of the many reasons we love you, and ARE grateful to be your children.

     Father, strengthen, help, and uphold us with your righteous right hand, in stories that are recipes for dismay.

     For those of us for whom Thanksgiving Day will highlight the brokenness of our family system—grant us grace and freedom to love well in the chaos.

     For those of us bearing the weight of health concerns for ourselves, or those we love—grant us grace, peace, and the assurance of your nearness.

     For those of us weighed down by some combination of the 6 o’clock news, financial pressures, vocational …

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A Prayer for Days When You’re Feeling Discontented

     Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 1 Tim. 6:6-8 (NIV)

     Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Heb. 13:5 (ESV)

     Do all things without grumbling. Phil 2:14 (ESV)

     Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. Ps. 37:4-5 (NLT)

     Dear heavenly Father, I assume that until the Day you either take me home, or send Jesus back to finish making all things new, I’m going to be both a whiner and a worshiper. Some days, nothing feels like it’s enough—people, places, or things. Other days, your love, grace, and presence are more real and satisfying than anything else, and all things combined.

     I want more of those days, Father—more of the days when your love is better than life, your grace is more than sufficient, and your presence is sweeter than honey. But until the Day of nor more whining, discontent, and grumbling, free me, Father, to more fully delight myself in you. Not to get the desires of my heart, but that you may be the primary delight of my heart. I cannot imagine a freer posture in life.

     …

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A Prayer of Thanksgiving for the Good Gifts God Gives

     Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created.  James 1:17-18

     Dear heavenly Father, I awoke today a grateful man, and I want to live that way all day long. Now, I’m sure that attitude will be challenged by life in this broken world and by the heart that beats in this broken man. But as someone who has every reason to overflow with thanksgiving, here’s a few of your gifts for which I give you praise this morning.

     First and foremost, I praise you for being, as James writes, the “changeless Father of heavenly lights,” as opposed to being the impetuous god of shifting shadows. We cannot predict, control, or presume on the outworking of your will; but we can completely trust you to be impassible (without mood swings), and passionately good and faithful.

     And I adore you for the gospel of your grace—the gift of Jesus, who lived and died in our place to make us yours. Speaking of which, I bless you for giving life to me twice—the first time I breathed in oxygen, the second time you breathed the life of Jesus into my spirit. Both were sheer acts of your outrageous generosity.

     And I’m also thankful for the multiplicity of …

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A Prayer for Wanting All of Life to Be Impacted by the Gospel

Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!  1 Cor. 9:16

     Dear Lord Jesus, I know that “to woe” is to express dread, distress, and despair—an orientation toward life with which I’m quite familiar, for I’ve certainly done my share of “woe-ing.” That’s why this small portion of the Word is so convicting and refreshing. Paul turns the image of woe upside down. “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

     Jesus, make us the kind of people, like Paul, who are so taken and captured with the gospel that all of life is impacted by the gospel—who you are, and what you’ve accomplished for us by your life death and resurrection.

     Teach us more and more of the lyrics of the gospel—its rich theology permeating the entire Bible. Fill our hearts with the music of the gospel—its radical sweetness, generating peace, worship, and gratitude. Release our feet for the dance of the gospel—a missional lifestyle of giving and serving.

     May our joys be defined by the incalculable riches of the gospel. May our thinking be shaped by the liberating truths of the gospel. May our dreams be fueled with the wondrous future of the gospel. May our hopes be bound up with the guaranteed advancing of the gospel. May our peace be strengthened by the resurrection power of the gospel.

     May our choices be regulated by the kingdom priorities of the gospel. May our satisfaction be intensified by the fruit-bearing …

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A Prayer for Refueled and Intensified Gratitude

     [The older brother] was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, but he answered his father, “Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!” And he said to him, “Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.”  Luke 15:28-31

     Dear heavenly Father, though I’d never boast about my “many years of serving you,” nor am I tempted to trust in my works for your favor, nevertheless, there are times when my ingratitude matches that of the older brother, recorded in these verses.

     This has become obvious to me lately, and I want to repent before it gets any worse. But I do my best repenting, not by beating myself up and groveling, but by preaching the gospel to my own heart, so here goes.

     Father, you are constantly running to me in the gospel—inviting me, imploring me, pleading with me to get on the dance floor of your grace, to enjoy the music of reconciliation, to sing the songs of redemption, to make merry to the glory of God.

     You are constantly saying to my grumbling, complaining, discontented, self-righteous face, “My son, you’re always with me because I’m always with you. Nothing will ever separate you from the …

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