A Prayer for Knowing God Is at Work in Our Pain

     For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer. 29:11

     Heavenly Father, there’s no other god as merciful, gracious, and engaged as you. Your forbearance is immeasurable; your kindness is inexhaustible; your plans are irrepressible. When your people received this letter of encouragement from Jeremiah, they were in exile in Babylon. How could they not feel bereft, bewildered, even betrayed by you?

     Yet we know by your own testimony, Father, that when you lead us into difficult seasons, it’s not to punish us but to prosper us. When you send hardships, it’s not to bring us harm but to give us hope. When you discipline us, it’s not to send us into the “doghouse” of your displeasure but to guarantee our good future.

     You know exactly what you’re doing with your people and everything else in the world, and you always act congruent with the gospel. You know the plans you have for us—individually and corporately. There’s no happenstance in heaven. You don’t make up things as you go along. You’re not a God who reacts out of irritation, but one who always acts out of great affection. There are no coincidences, just providences. “Stuff” doesn’t just happen; sovereignty is always happening.

     Father, this way of thinking would be utter madness if you never sent Jesus—a big-time spitting into the wind; the spin of all …

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A Prayer for Resting in the Sovereignty of God

     Who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? Rom. 9:20-21

     Gracious Father, this morning I’m pondering the mystery and mercy of your sovereignty, especially as I consider everything you did to redeem rebels and broken people like me. The cross was no accident. It was you who handed over Jesus to wicked men, who put him to death by nailing him to the cross, all according to your set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23-24).

     Indeed, Jesus’ death for us on the cross was no accident, after-thought, plan B, or redeeming of a good story gone kaput. The comfort and peace I enjoy from this supreme demonstration of your sovereignty is immeasurable.

     Indeed, no one could’ve put Jesus on the cross apart from his will, and though his own disciples tried, no one could have kept him from the cross. Because of forthcoming joy, Jesus endured the cross for us—scorning its shame and exhausting our guilt (Heb. 12:1-3). I praise you for your incomparable gift.

     So Father, as I celebrate and find comfort in your sovereignty seen in Jesus’ cross, why should I struggle with it anywhere else? Why am I even tempted to reverse roles, and make me

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A Prayer for Wrestling with the Sovereignty of God

     Who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ “Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use?  Romans 9:20-21

      Dear heavenly Father, this morning I’ve been reflecting on the mystery and mercy of your sovereignty, especially as I consider everything you did to redeem idolaters and rebels like me.

     Jesus’ death on the cross wasn’t an accident, afterthought, plan B, or the redeeming of a good story gone kaput. It was your plan, made before the foundation of the world and executed in the fullness of time. The comfort and peace I enjoy from this supreme demonstration of your sovereignty is incomparable and immeasurable.

     But Father, as I much as I celebrate and find comfort in the demonstration of your sovereignty in saving sinners, why do I struggle with it in any other part of my life? I relate to Paul’s metaphor in this text. There are times I do want to reverse roles with you, and make me the potter and treat you like pliable clay. With regard to certain stories and broken people, I do fancy myself to be the 4th member of the Trinity, rather than abandoning myself to you—my sovereign Father.

     Indeed, I don’t have any problem with you setting up and sitting …

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A Prayer for Accepting Change(s)

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 …

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A Prayer of Restoration to Gospel Sanity and Peace

At the end of the days I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my reason returned to me, and I blessed the Most High, and praised and honored him who lives forever, for his dominion is an everlasting dominion, and his kingdom endures from generation to generation; all the inhabitants of the earth are accounted as nothing, and he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth; and none can stay his hand or say to him, “What have you done?“ Dan. 4:34-35

Dear Lord Jesus… Oh, how I love this story, for several reasons. I’m always needing to be reminded of which kingdom, and which King, is actually in control of all things.

Suicide bombings and non-stop bombast; covert attempts to develop nuclear weapons and overt rhetoric of global domination; environmental concerns and economic instability; health-care craziness and spy-gate madness—these things add up to a grand recipe for super-sizing fear and misinterpreting the Bible.

But I now know better than to allow the political pundits and prophecy pirates to interpret world history for me. You are God, and there is no other god. You’ve spoken in your Word, and you haven’t stuttered.

You have no rivals, contingencies, or concerns. There’s no sweat on your palms, vacancy in your eyes, or vexation in your heart. You set up kings and you sit them down at your discretion. You live forever, your dominion is eternal, your kingdom endures, and you do as you please . . . period!

Even as you brought King Nebuchadnezzar …

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A Prayer for Wrestling with, and Resting in, the Sovereignty of God

     Who are you, a human being, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’” Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? Rom. 9:20-21

All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” Dan. 4:35

Gracious Father, this morning I’m pondering the mystery and mercy of your sovereignty, especially as I consider everything you did to redeem rebels and broken people like me. The cross was no accident. It was you who handed over Jesus to wicked men, who put him to death by nailing him to the cross, all according to your set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23-24).

Indeed, Jesus’ death for us on the cross was no accident or afterthought, Plan B or the redeeming of a good story gone kaput. The comfort and peace I enjoy from this supreme demonstration of your sovereignty is incomparable and immeasurable.

No one could’ve put Jesus on the cross, apart from your will; and though his own disciples tried, no one could have kept him from the cross. Because of the forthcoming joy, Jesus endured the cross for us—scorning its shame and exhausting our guilt (Heb. 12:1-3). …

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A Prayer about Decision Making and the Will of God

In his hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Prov. 16:9
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification. 1 Thess. 4:3

     Sovereign Father, O, the immeasurable peace, humility, and joy this one verse brings me! No more paralysis of analysis. Goodbye to obsessing and second guessing every decision. So long to the faith denying fear of being outside of your will. To know that you’re vitally engaged in directing every one of our steps, as your children, is incredibly freeing.
     You are the all wise God who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of your will (Eph. 1:11). You the loving Father who is working in all things your glory and for our good (Rom 8:28-30). You are the mighty Lord who open doors no man can shut and who shut doors no man can open. Indeed, you’re no mere life coach; you’re the Lord of all things—including me.
     Many years I labored under the arrogance and anxiety of assuming that if I prayed hard enough and long enough, that if I was really filled with and “tuned into” the Holy Spirit, I could know the specifics of your will for my life well in advance of any decision that needed to be made. Of course, my assumption was that if I was in your will, life would be enjoyable, pleasant, and hassle free.
     If I bought the right car, it would never break down. If I bought …

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A Prayer about Being Kept in Perfect Peace

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock. Isa. 26:3-4

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. John 14:27

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Romans 5:1

Most loving and trustworthy Father, you haven’t promised us a storm-less, hassle-free life. You offer us no formulas for decreasing the probability of discouraging things happening around us or disillusioning things happening to us.  But you have promised something that transcends the chaos and uncertainty of life. You’ve promised to give us your peace and keep us in peace, no matter what happens. A thousand times over, we thank you.

Being kept by you… we treasure this promise more than all the gold in Fort Knox; all the chalets in Switzerland; all the oil in the Arab States, for we cannot keep ourselves. We don’t have strength to muster or enough boot straps to pull up. Thank you for being an engaged Father who will never forget or abandon your children; a sovereign Lord who names stars, feeds birds and controls our destiny; mighty Warrior, you defends and safeguards our passage home.

But your promise is even grander. You have promised to keep us in perfect peace—an unparalled …

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