Prayer

 

Apr

21

2014

Scotty Smith|3:53 am CT

A Prayer for We Slow-of-Heart Types

     And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25-27

They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?” Luke 24:32

     Dear Lord Jesus, of all your post-resurrection appearances (1 Cor. 15:3-7), my favorite is the visit you paid disheartened friends on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). Your meeting with a shattered and shamed Peter was incredibly kind and healing. Your appearance to the apostle Paul, who in his own words was a man unworthy of even being called an apostle, marked him forever. All of us have enjoyed the fruit of that visitation, through Paul’s life and writings.

But I love how you came alongside of the Emmaus men, for I am so much like them. I’m often a foolish slow-of-heart man, who needs the gospel today as much as the first day I believed it. How I praise you for your tender forbearance, unlimited patience, and grace-full persistence.

As you dealt with my brothers, so deal with me. Continue to reveal yourself as the main character and hero in all the Scriptures. Don’t let me read the writings of Moses without thinking about you, Jesus—especially the law. May Moses’s words always drive me to the riches of your grace; for you have fulfilled the demands of the law for us, and are now fulfilling the beauty of the law in us.

And continue to show me how you are fulfilling everything the prophets have spoken—not just the things concerning your sufferings on the cross and your resurrection from the dead, but also all the promises of your present work, as Redeemer and Restorer. Your cry from the cross, “It is finished,” is the foundation and guarantee of your ongoing work in our world.

Lastly, Lord Jesus, grant me “redemptive heartburn,” like that which you ignited in the hearts of our Emmaus brothers. Continue to open the Scriptures to me, Jesus, until the Day you return to finish making all things new. So very Amen I pray, in your holy and transforming name.

 
 

Apr

20

2014

Scotty Smith|3:35 am CT

A Prayer of Boundless Hope on Easter Sunday

     But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Cor. 15:20-26

Exalted and resurrected Jesus, we offer a threefold “Indeed!” to the Apostle Paul’s bold declaration, and we shout a threefold “Hallelujah!” early this hope-filled morning. For you have been raised from the dead, with healing in your wings and redemptive implications for everything.

Because you have been raised from the dead, preaching the gospel isn’t useless; it’s essential. Faith in you isn’t futile, but fertile. We’re no longer encased in our sins; we’re fully wrapped in your righteousness. Those who’ve “gone to sleep” in you, aren’t slumbering in the void; they’re rejoicing in your presence.

Because you have been raised from the dead, we’re less to be pitied than anybody, and more to be grateful than everybody (1 Cor. 15:14-19). Your resurrection changes everything. You are the firstfruits and guarantee of a whole new order—the “new creation” dominion of redemption and restoration. Everything sad will come untrue, and all things broken will be made new.

Because you have been raised from the dead, you are already reigning as King of kings and Lord of lords. All evil dominions, wicked authorities, and malevolent powers now stand defeated, and one Day they will be fully eradicated.

Jesus, your death is the death of death, and your resurrection is the resurrection of all things. You died for our sins and have been raised for our justification. Oh, the wonder, marvel and gratitude that fills our hearts today. We are forgiven, we are beloved, and we are yours!

In light of this great hope, compelling love, and measureless grace, free us for spending the rest of our days living and loving to your glory. So very Amen we pray, in your resurrected and reigning name.

 

 
 

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.