Apr

19

2014

Scotty Smith|4:50 am CT

A Prayer for Silent Saturday

     The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”  Matt. 27:62-64

Dear Lord Jesus, as Good Friday gave way to silent Saturday, the range of emotions following your crucifixion was as broad as the Grand Canyon. I can only imagine the degree of shock, and the depth of sadness, which filled the hearts of your disciples, family, and friends. And yet, there were also many filled with glee and relief, that you, “the deceiver,” could no longer threaten their existence.

As the sun rose on Saturday, no one could have possibly understood that the most undeserved death imaginable would yield the greatest return calculable. As you were nailed to the cross, the written code—God’s law, with all its regulations and requirements, was taken away from us—losing all its condemning power over us. As you drew your last breath, you were actually disarming the powers of darkness and triumphing over all authorities marshaled against the reign of God (Col. 2:14-15).

No one yet grasped that your mortal punishment would bring our eternal peace, that your fatal wounding would secure our everlasting healing, and that your being crushed would lead to our being cherished by the thrice-holy God (Isa. 53). Though they had the Scriptures, they had no clue.

And yet the chief priests and the Pharisees did remember your promise of resurrection. They weren’t sad about your death; they were mad with fear about the possibility of your life. Having already plotted to put to death a resurrected Lazarus, they weren’t about to indulge a resurrected Jesus.

Oh foolish, silly, sinful men—they could sooner hold back the rising of the sun than the rising of the Son of Man, the Son of God, God the Son! Resurrection Sunday was coming, and there was absolutely nothing they could do about it. The silence of Saturday would soon be shattered with the shouts of Sunday: “The Lord is risen! He is risen indeed!”

Jesus, continue to astonish and nourish our hearts with the whole Easter story and the full glory of who you are and everything you have done. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and loving name.

 

 
 

Apr

18

2014

Scotty Smith|4:58 am CT

A Prayer for Good Friday

     And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34) Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46) “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the day in Holy Week we call “Good Friday.” I’ve always felt conflicted about calling the day of your crucifixion “good.” That there had to be a day when you—the God who made us for yourself, would be made sin for us, is not good at all. But on the other hand, that you would freely and fully give yourself for us on the cross, is never-to-be surpassed goodness—quintessential goodness.

Oh, the wonder of it all. From the cross, and from your heart, came these two cries. “Father forgive them” (Luke 23:34) and “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matt. 27:46). The first required the second. The second secured the first. Together, they humble our hearts and fuel our worship.

And then, there’s the third cry. “It is finished.” Nothing is left undone, concerning our salvation. Once and for all—perfectly and fully, we have been reconciled to God. You became sin for us, than in you, we might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5:21). Hallelujah, many times over.

Lord Jesus, how can we even begin to express the gratitude, love, and praise we feel in response to what you’ve done for us on the cross? Every response we offer is woefully insufficient to the magnificence of your mercy and the measure of your grace lavished on us in the gospel.

So like everything else we offer you, Jesus, take our humble praise and purify it, magnify it, and cause it to be a sweet aroma in your heart. No one could have ever taken your life from you, and we would have never found life on our own.

Because you were fully forsaken, we are forever forgiven. Because you exhausted God’s judgment against our foul sin, we now live by the gift of your perfect righteousness. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! So very Amen we pray, in your all-glorious, all-grace-full name.

 

 
 

Apr

17

2014

Scotty Smith|4:25 am CT

A Prayer for Maundy Thursday

     Now before Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love. (John 13:1) A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (John 13:34-35)

     Dear Lord Jesus, as I meditate and pray my way through these Scriptures, my heart is stunned, silenced and left in awe. What but the gift of faith can enable us to grasp the wonder of these words and the magnificence of this moment? What but the power of the gospel can free us, to believe and obey them? Grant us both, I pray, grant me both.

     On our Holy Week calendar we call today Maundy, or “Mandate” Thursday. It’s a day in the history of redemption brimming over with glory and grace. Passover will soon become the Lord’s Supper—your supper. The promises of the Old Covenant are about to be fulfilled by the blood of the New Covenant—your life given as a ransom for us on the cross.

     Having shared eternal glory with the Father, you now show measureless grace to your disciples. Having loved this ragtag bunch of broken men—who vied for positions of honor a few hours earlier (Mk. 10:35-45), and who would all scatter and deny you later that same evening—having loved them so well, you now show them the full extent of your love.

     Your disrobing to wash their feet was with a full view to your being stripped naked to wash their hearts, and our hearts. What wondrous love is this indeed! How wide, long, high, and deep! (Eph. 3:14-19)

      “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). This is the new and never-ending mandate you’ve given us as your disciples. The most obvious expression of our “getting” the gospel is our loving others as you have loved, and do love, us. Jesus, fill my heart with an even greater knowledge of your love, that I may love others, more spontaneously, sacrificially, and joyfully. So very Amen I pray, in your triumphant and tender name.

 
 

Apr

16

2014

Scotty Smith|5:03 am CT

A Prayer for Wednesday of Holy Week

     While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question, saying, “What do you think about the Christ?” Matt. 22:41-42

     Dear Lord Jesus, on this Wednesday of Holy Week, we praise and bless you for the privilege of knowing you, loving you and serving you. And the question you directed to Pharisees, just before your death and resurrection, you still put before us: “What do you think about the Christ?” There’s no more important question for us to wrestle with, in any season of life.

     Jesus, continue to free us from all wrong notions we have about you—those generated in our fallen hearts; the ones that come to us from Satan—the father of lies; others which reveal the wrong and incomplete teaching we’ve received through the years.

     But what do I think about you today, Lord Jesus? What do I believe in my heart? You are everlasting God, and I am a mere man. I would despair if you were anything less, and I am weary of trying to be more. You are the Creator, Sustainer, and Restorer of all things. You don’t just care about my soul; you care about everything you have made.

     You are the Second Adam—our substitute in life and in death. You lived a life of perfect obedience for us, and you exhausted God’s judgment that stood against us. By you, we’ve been completely forgiven, and in you, we’ve been declared perfectly righteousness. You are our impassioned Bridegroom, and we are your beloved Bride. You are the reigning and returning King—committed to making all things new. Lord Jesus, you are all this and so much more. Eternity will be an endless revelation of your glory and grace.

     But during this Holy Week, what stuns me the most, as I think about you, it is realize that you are always thinking about us. We are in your heart and on your mind all the time. You’re always praying and advocating for us before the Father. You know us the best, and yet love us the most. How peace-giving joy-fueling! With fresh gratitude and awe, we worship you. So very Amen, we make our prayer, in your holy and grace-full name.

 

 
 

Apr

15

2014

Scotty Smith|4:27 am CT

A Prayer for Tuesday of Holy Week

     As he [Jesus] approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.” Luke 19:41-42

    Dear Jesus, everything about Holy Week reveals the depth of your compassion for sinful, broken people, like me. The tears you wept coming into Jerusalem, and even the passion you showed driving the moneychangers from the temple—every encounter, parable, and action gives staggering clarity to Paul’s words,

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6-8).

Paul was writing about me. I’m one of the powerless, ungodly sinners for whom you died—demonstrating God’s incomparable, irrepressible love for the ill deserving. I wasn’t an impassioned seeker; I was God’s enemy when I received the gift of reconciliation (Rom. 5:10). I have peace with God only because God made his peace with me, through you.

I would still be blind to what alone brings us peace, if you hadn’t opened my eyes to see my need and your provision. The gospel would still remain hidden from my eyes unless you had given me sight to behold you as the Lamb of God, who took away my sin. I have no claim to salvation… no boast, no hope, no assurance of sins forgiven and righteousness received, apart from sovereign grace.

How I long for the Day when I will no longer even be tempted to look for peace anywhere else, but in you, Lord Jesus. I yearn for the Day when we will see you as you are and we will be made like you (1 John 3:1-3).

This is my great hope—until that Day, keep healing the eyes of my heart of all spiritual myopia, astigmatism, or anything else that keeps me from seeing the magnificence of your glory and the full measure of your grace. So very Amen I pray, in your tenacious and tender name.

 
 

Apr

14

2014

Scotty Smith|4:08 am CT

A Prayer for Monday of “Passion Week”

     ”Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine. Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” John 12:27-32

    Dear Lord Jesus, I’m greatly moved as I consider on how profoundly troubled you were as the events of “Passion Week” began to unfold. There was no doubt in your mind why you came into Jerusalem riding the foal of a donkey—great conflict, but zero doubt.

There wouldn’t be any surprises, for you knew what was coming—a plan secured before the world began (Eph. 1:3-14). In a matter of days, you’d take the wrath of Judgment Day for all who will trust in you. At the end of the week, your “bruised heel” (Gen. 3:15) would secure the ultimate crushing and “casting out” of the “ruler of this world”—Satan himself (Jn. 12:30).

     At the end of the week, you’d pay the supreme price for the redemption of God’s covenant people—a beloved family from every nation, tribe, people, and language—a number as great as the stars in the sky, the sand of the beaches, and the dust of the earth.

For this very reason you came from eternity, into time and space. For this very reason you emptied yourself of your glory by taking the form of a servant-man—the Lord’s Servant. For this very reason you became obedient—even obedient to death on the cross. Understandably so, your heart was greatly troubled, Lord Jesus (Phil. 2:5-11).

As the events of our week now unfold, grant us grace to survey the wonders of your cross, with greater attention and awe, humility and gratitude than ever. May our boasting in your cross grow exponentially, demonstratively, joyfully. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and loving name.

 

 

 

 
 

Apr

13

2014

Scotty Smith|4:18 am CT

A Prayer for Palm Sunday

     Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. As for you also, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double. Zech. 9:9-12

    Dear Lord Jesus, we’ll exhaust the wonder of this passage as soon as we drink Niagara Falls dry; as soon as we memorize the names of every star you’ve launched into the heavens; as soon as we finish climbing all the Alps in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and France. You are the King of Zechariah’s vision, and on this Palm Sunday, we worship, honor, and bless you.

No other king could show up to conquer warhorses and warriors, humbly riding on the foal of a donkey. No other king could break the battle bow and the backbone of all warfare, by the brokenness of the cross. No other king could supplant the politics of evil and tyranny of power, with an eternal reign of peace.

No other king could offer his life and death, for the redemption and restoration, of rebels and idolaters like us. No other king could possibly make prisoners of sin, death, and “waterless pits,” into prisoners of hope.

Lord Jesus, you are that King—the King of glory, the King of kings and Lord of lords—the Monarch of mercy, the Governor of grace, the Prince of Peace. Great is our rejoicing, for you have come to us, righteous and victorious, loving and sovereign.

By the riches of your grace, continue to free us from waterless pits, broken cisterns and worthless idols. By the power of the gospel, enable us to live as prisoners of hope and agents of redemption until the Day you return to finish making all things new. So very Amen we pray, in your holy and matchless name.

 
 

Apr

12

2014

Scotty Smith|4:59 am CT

A Prayer for Loving Jesus More Than Anyone/Anything Else

     ”If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.  And whoever does not carry their cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.” Luke 14:26-27

  “Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matt. 10:37

Dear Lord Jesus, the claim you make on our affections is both shocking and inviting. Shocking, because of the stark contrast presented—inviting, because you are so jealous for our love. Grant us grace to understand.

We know you’re not calling us to hate anyone; for the world will know that we are your disciples by the way we love one another, in response to your love for us (John 13:34-35). You even call us to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27-36).

So, Lord Jesus, make your love for us astonishing and compelling (2 Cor. 5:14-15; Phil 3:18-19). This is the only way forward—this is the only way we can possibly love you, as you deserve to be loved.

And when we love you, as you deserve, our love for our spouses, children, parents and siblings seem like hate in comparison. When we love you as you delight to be loved, we will we actually love the members of our families the way you intend—as an extension and expression of your perfect love.

Lord Jesus, you are our ultimate Spouse, and only your love is better than life. It’s only in relationship with you that our deepest longings and greatest needs are met. Forgive us for looking to anyone else for the intimacy you alone can give. Forgive us for putting anyone or anything above you in priority and passion.

Restore and renew our first love for you. Take our affections to new places of liberating and transforming wonder. We don’t want to love you conventionally, politely, or with any reservations. We want to love you with consuming abandon and heart-recalibrating joy, for you alone are worthy. So very Amen we pray, in your tender and loving name.

 

 
 

Apr

11

2014

Scotty Smith|4:54 am CT

A Prayer for Resting in God’s Sovereignty

     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; 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 heavenly Father, I need to “bookmark” this passage and return to it often, for it doesn’t just tell the conversion story of a pagan King; it’s the ongoing story of my heart. Your sovereignty is our sanity; your rule is our rest; your dominion is our delight. Navel-gazing, circumstance watching, and talk-radio-fixating never serve us well.

Father, help us to understand the glorious implications of your perpetual enthronement. Your dominion is the only eternal dominion. November elections and political insurrections; the world economy and temperature instability; earthquakes and oil leaks; multiplied conspiracies and grassroots organizing, don’t affect your reign one micro-bit, for one nanosecond.

For your kingdom endures from generation to generation. There never has been, nor will there ever be, any nervous sweat, furrowed brows, or anxious pacing in heaven. There’ll never be one moment of consternation or vexation in the corridors of paradise; no need for a contingency plan to emerge from the “big boardroom in the sky.”

Father, you do as you please with the powers of heaven and the peoples of earth. I praise you for marshaling the powers of heaven for the salvation of ill-deserving rebels, like me, and for securing the ultimate transformation of the cosmos.

The only King who can say, “Behold the world I have made,” is the only King who did say, “Behold the people for whom I die.” The greatest demonstration of your sovereignty is the cross, and the greatest experience of sanity is gospel sanity.

We choose to lift our eyes to heaven today and fix our gaze on Jesus—the author and perfecter of our faith. We cry with unfettered, unabated joy, “Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a salvation!” So very Amen we pray, in the name and for the glory of the true King—Jesus.

 
 

Apr

10

2014

Scotty Smith|4:40 am CT

A Prayer for Seasons When It’d Be Easy to Lose Heart

     Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:16-18) Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Heb. 4:16)

     Dear heavenly Father, as Paul’s words clearly confirm, you give us freedom to acknowledge our emotional stress and mental duress—those stretches when we’re spiritually tired and physically “fried”—those seasons when it’d be easy to lose heart and lose our way.

Thank you, thank you, thank you; that the gospel presupposes our weakness, and promises us the exact grace we need, when we need it. So we come boldly (even if a bit weary) to the throne of grace today.

Some of us need relational grace—for loving and serving well in broken, messy, difficult-to-navigate storylines. Grant us wisdom and impartiality, tongue control and heart strength. May a clean vision of what is unseen in heaven, help us deal with what we clearly see before us.

Some of us need physical grace—for accepting the fact, like Paul, that “outwardly we are wasting away.” Even though we know that our bodies are subject to decay and that you’ve promised us a glorified version of the current model, nevertheless, our aches and pains, new cancers and fading memories frighten us. Father, inwardly renew us with the hope of the gospel.

Some of us need emotional grace—for stewarding feelings like anger, grief, anxiety and fear. Father, help us discern and honor the voice of our emotions. What’s really going inside of us? In what ways are we over-needing something and under-believing the gospel?

What unhealed heart wounds are we carrying? Whose voice is louder in our conscience than yours? Where have bitterness, stubbornness, and/or willfulness taken root? Show us, Father.

Humble and gentle us, by your grace; center us and settle us, by your peace; and free and fill us, with your Spirit. So very Amen we pray, in Jesus’ holy and loving name.