We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Prov. 16:9 (NLT)
To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Rev. 3:7 (NIV)
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Prov. 3:5-6 (ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, some decisions are “no brainers,” and some require nothing more than sanctified common sense. But there are other decisions in front of us that tie us in knots, rob us of sleep, and keep us second-guessing. Today I’m praying for myself, and friends, who find themselves in that third category. We need your peace to rule in our hearts, as we seek to choose wisely (Col. 3:15).
It’s incomparably comforting to know that you are the God who determines our steps, even as we nervously punch an address on the GPS of our hearts. This doesn’t mean we are to be passive in our decision-making, but to realize that you are very present—opening doors we cannot shut, and shutting doors we cannot open. We praise and bless you, for your sovereign, comprehensive, and constant engagement in our lives.
We certainly have every reason to trust you with all of our hearts, Father, because you loved us with all of your heart when you sent Jesus …
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom. 15:13 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)
Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 1:13 ESV)
Dear heavenly Father, I begin this day so very thankful for your Word. As I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, I’m deeply grateful you chose to reveal yourself to us with words we can understand and trust. Though we don’t worship the Bible, we worship you because of the Bible.
Today, in particular, I’m thankful to know and worship you as the God of hope. In a world of predictable unpredictability’s; unsettling circumstances; and broken people, places, and things, it is a source of immeasurable joy and peace to know that you love us and are in control of all things. And thank you that you intend for us to abound in hope; and not just have enough hope to get by on.
We don’t have to be afraid or be dismayed by anything or anyone, for your righteous right hand …
Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you. Isa. 46:4 (NIV)
The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. Psalm 92:12-15 (ESV)
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 2 Cor. 4:16 (NIV)
Dear heavenly Father, a brief conversation with aging friends yesterday reminded me of the inevitable—we’re all getting older. And with the increase of years, comes changes over which we have little, or no control. Those changes are either going to drive us to you; or to denial, self-absorbing sadness, or foolish ways of medicating our pain and fears. I choose option #1.
Thank you for your promise to sustain us—when our energy is abating; to carry us—when we cannot carry as much as we used to, or even carry ourselves; and to rescue us—when we get entangled in ways of thinking and choosing that contradict your great love for us in Jesus.
Father, thank you for the promise that age doesn’t preclude flourishing and fruitfulness. By your Spirit and grace, …
Casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7
Dear heavenly Father, it’s centering and settling to begin this day knowing how much you care for us, your children. This is always good news to me, but especially this week. The combination of what I’ve taken on, plus the burdens that have been laid at my feet, are way too much for me to carry. I need your kind heart and broad shoulders.
So, by faith, I offload my cares upon you, gracious Father. Carry my burdens for the people I love—dear friends I so wish I could help or change. Sometimes I foolishly think if you’d only let me be the 4th member of the Trinity for fifteen minutes, I could do a lot of good in the lives of a lot of people. What arrogance. You haven’t called me to fix anyone, but to love as Jesus loves me. And you haven’t called me to vex about anyone; as though you’re not aware, don’t care, or need me to pester you.
Receive my anxieties about living in a world with a fickle economy, the daily-ness of terror, and the threat of diseases, like Ebola. Father, I cannot add one minute to my life through worry. In fact, I can take a lot away from my life through trying to carry burdens you alone can carry. Turn my “What if’s?” and “If only’s”, into “Now that’s”—now that Jesus has risen from the …
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
Dear heavenly Father, today is a great day for remembering, “salvation is of the Lord.” You’re the one who 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; and the one who will complete our salvation, the Day Jesus returns to finish making all things new.
This is incredibly peace-giving, heart-freeing, joy-fueling news. I can’t be my own savior, and neither can I be anyone else’s savior. The pressure is off. What a great relief, but also what a critical truth to remember. This good news, this best of all news, leads me to offer these earnest prayers . . .
Father, give me the same confidence for my family and friends you gave Paul for the Philippians. Sometimes irritation, worry, and fear loom larger in my life than patience, trust, and hope. When this happens, I don’t love well, and my body language begins to speak broken grace.
Father, teach me how to wrestle in confident prayer for others, like Epaphras, wrestled in prayer for the believers in Colossae (Col. 4:12). My tendency is to wrangle emotionally rather than rest believingly. This leaves me worn out, and it frustrates others. Father, I don’t want anyone to feel pressure from me to change.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Ps. 56:3-4
Dear heavenly Father, we praise and bless you for not despising our fears and weaknesses. Where else can we go, but to you, when we feel vulnerable and afraid? When King David prayed this prayer he was a prisoner of Philistines in Gath. As we pray, Father, here are some other difficult, fear-producing storylines among our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We pray for the Christian community in Iraq. The barbarism of terrorism is running rampant, and we cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long before evil will be no more?” Strengthen, protect, and grant supernatural demonstrations of your Spirit and deposits of your grace to those who are in harms way.
We also pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, Maldives, Bhutan, Yemen, Vietnam, Laos, and China—the ten places in the world where Christians are most likely to be singled out for persecution. Father, may your perfect love for us in Jesus drive out their fears and drive deep their trust in you.
What can mortal man do to us? Plenty, but in view of whom you are and what really matters, very little. As these dear Christians live out your redeeming story in nations which will one Day be covered with the …
But he [Jesus] said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
Dear Lord Jesus, you offered these words of hope to disciples trying to picture a camel squeezing through the eye of a needle. You speak the same words to me in light of many situations for which I need to accept my limitations and lay hold of your sufficiency.
I begin this day remembering that your commitment is to make all things new, not make all new things. There is an enormous difference between the two. Indeed, Jesus, you’ve placed us in a story of restoration, not replacement. You are actively at work in the broken places and among broken people, including me. Through your resurrection, we’ve been given great assurance and hope for a redeemed universe. This is incredibly good news—the best news ever; but it’s not going to happen on our timetable or according to our script.
This means we getting used to the fact that many things are, and will remain, impossible for us. My best intentions, efforts, and resources are simply not enough. I see this especially in relationships, and with people I care about a lot. This requires a humility and faith the gospel alone can provide. Grant me both, Lord Jesus—bunches of both.
I cannot change me, so why do I assume the omnipotence to fix others? As much as I long to see friends freed from addictions, marriages brought back from …
Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Dear heavenly Father, in normal exigencies and the disruptive surprises of life, it’s so comforting to lay claim to the riches of this verse. I always need your constant care, big heart, and broad shoulders.
By faith, right now, with palms up, I cast my anxieties on you, gracious Father. Carry my burdens for the people I love—dear friends whose stories I so wish I could change. Sometimes I foolishly think if you’d only let me be the 4th member of the Trinity for 15 minutes I could do a lot of good in the lives of a lot of people.
What arrogance. You haven’t called us to fix anyone, but to love others as Jesus loves us. To cast our cares on you isn’t to wash our hands and disengage; but to remember that you are God and we are not.
Take the heavy load I feel for fellow pastors who are in the crazy-making turmoil of life in the local church. At times it seems like the only solution would be for you to send revival or send Jesus back—either of which would be welcomed. But at least grant sufficient grace, the gift of perspective and the kiss of hope.
Receive the burdens I carry for soured marriages and throw-caution-to-the-wind kids; friends living with chronic pain, shrinking resources, and grace allergies.
I cannot add one minute to …
Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: “My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.” Isa. 46:8-10
Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture is so relevant to me. I not only rebel against your commandments, I also rebel against your gospel. That’s why I need a Savior as big as Jesus. My great hope is in knowing that you will complete the good work of salvation you began in me, and in your entire cosmos. You do all that you please, and it pleases you to justify and transform rebels like me. Hallelujah many times over!
I also find great hope today in knowing that your purposes for everything else will stand. You are God and you do as you please. No one can ultimately resist your will, and we’re foolish to try. Thankfully, you’re not manageable, predictable, nor programmable. I’ve lived long enough to bless you for answering some of my prayers with a big “No”. You’re not just sovereign; you’re our sovereign Father.
As I stare some important decisions in the face, I’m so thankful that I can trust you fully. I don’t have to panic. I don’t have to worry. …
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:20-21
Dear heavenly Father, I love Paul’s beautiful and bold affirmation of your omnipotence. Indeed, you can do exceedingly beyond and immeasurable more than all we can ask or imagine. But today, I have no need to test either the limits of my imagination, nor the measure of your ability. There are plenty of things I CAN imagine that I’m bringing to the throne of grace. Bring glory to yourself as you work in these stories and hearts.
Father, continue to reveal more and more of Jesus to each member of my family, and extended family. I can imagine that, and greatly long for it. May none of us be satisfied with our current experience of the gospel; and for who have yet to experience the only Love that is better than life, grant the gift of new life in Christ. Open the eyes of our hearts to see just how worthy Jesus is of our affection, adoration and allegiance.
Father, I can imagine a mighty movement of your Spirit among many broken relationships in my larger community. Having lived in the Nashville area for 35 years now, I’ve seen too many church split, marriages disintegrate, and good friends get disconnected—even becoming …