Category Archives: Prayer

A Prayer for “Recovering Pharisees”

     I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings. Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Cor. 9:23-27

     Dear Lord Jesus, this is one of those passages I used to avoid as a “recovering Pharisee.” Once I came to rest in your righteousness alone for my salvation, it was Scriptures like this one that confused me—at times activating that part of me that still thinks I can make you love me more by my doing. So I praise you for the ongoing teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. I praise you for showing me more about living in line with the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:14). I praise you for all the freedoms you have won for us, including the freedom to obey you from our hearts.

     The gospel sets us free from working for wages; we now run for a crown. Indeed, the gospel is the end of all earning, but not effort. Ultimately, every crown will be laid at your feet, …

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A Prayer for Blasting Our Hearts with God’s Favor

     The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. Luke 4:18-19

     Dear Lord Jesus, I know, love, and have taught this passage a lot; but today I feel my need for these liberating truths in a fresh way. I’m zeroing in on the declaration, that to know you, in to have God’s favor as our permanent address.

     You’ve taught me in the past about the importance of stewarding my emotions—that is, about not reacting to “irregular” people, ill-timed disappointments, and broken circumstances with irritation, fear, and control. Jesus, all of that just flew out the window, and I’m coming to you acknowledging my weakness to lay hold of your grace-full-ness. I refuse to settle down into a pity party or a blame fest.

     I’m a needy man in need of the good news today, Jesus. I need you to remind me of my freedom and release me for your purposes. I need you to open my eyes to see the gospel today as though I was seeing it for the very first time. I need release from the oppression of my introspection and the accusation of Satan.

     Lord Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit, proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor …

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A Prayer for Treasuring Jesus, More and More

     For in Scripture it says: “See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him [Jesus] will never be put to shame.” Now to you who believe, this stone is precious1 Pet. 2:6-7

     Dear Lord Jesus, if anything or anyone deserves the appellation “precious,” it is you—God’s chosen cornerstone and precious capstone of our redemption. For the combined worth of all currencies and treasures, gemstones and precious metals doesn’t compare with the unsearchable riches found in you.

     To trust in you, Lord Jesus, is to be free from the burden of our guilt and doubts about what you think about us. You became sin for us that in you we might become righteousness of God. Because of you, Judgment Day holds no terror for us, for your cross was our Judgment Day. Because this is true, we’re no longer afraid to die, or to live. You don’t love us more when we “get it right”, and you won’t love us less when we fail. Your banner over us is love; and the song emanating from heaven towards us is “there is now, and forevermore, no condemnation for you.”

     To trust in you, Lord Jesus—to boast in the gift of your righteousness, to rest in the constancy of your love, to wake up each day to your endless mercies, to hear you sing to us in the gospel—is to feel the stranglehold of shame lose its grip …

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A Prayer for Greater Freedom from Performance-ism

     There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:18-19

     Dear heavenly Father, I begin today with a desire to live much less of a driven life, and much more of a called life. In essence, I want to live with less fear and more freedom, less frenzy and more faith, with fewer obsessions and with much more adoration of you, the God of all peace.

     As I get older, I just don’t have as much energy (or man-pleasing need) to juggle as many balls or spin as many plates as I used to. This is simultaneously a humbling thing and a good thing. For if greater grace comes to the humble, then accepting my limitations is essential for my liberation. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!

     It’s not difficult to see that my drivenness and busyness are rooted in fear—the fear of not being enough and having enough; the fear of losing face and losing control; the fear of missing the mark and missing out; the fear of being replaced and not being remembered—all targets for the liberating power of grace.

     Come, Lord Jesus, come. Your perfect love alone can free me from my default mode of performance-ism and perfectionism. Drive out my fears by a greater experience of the power of the gospel. You …

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A Prayer for Seeing More of Jesus in the Bible

     ”Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he [Jesus] opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” Luke 24:44-47

     Lord Jesus, I’ve always considered myself to be pretty “open-minded”, yet as I meditate on this remarkable scene in Luke’s Gospel, I realize I’m not nearly as opened-minded as you intend. For myself and for my friends, I ask, help us to see you everywhere in the Bible, Jesus. Enable us read the law of Moses, the Prophets, and the psalms with you clearly in view.

     For years I thought of the law as rules and principles by which I could earn more of God’s favor and blessings, or at least micromanage my life for greater success. Now I understand that one of the main purposes of the law was given to drive us to you, Lord Jesus. It was never given as a basis of my acceptance with God. You’ve fulfilled the law for us by your perfect obedience, and you’ve exhausted its judgment by your death on the cross. I wish I’d understood this earlier in my walk with you.

     I used to read the Prophets with a fear of judgment and …

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A Prayer for Remembering God Will Finish the Work He Began

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.

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A Prayer for Releasing the Fragrance of Grace

     But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere2 Cor. 2:14

     Dear Lord Jesus, my heart is filled with gratitude today for your kindness and might, your grace and your persistence. You completely save those who come to you in faith; and the very faith we need for coming to you, you freely give us in the gospel. You are the victorious King—the Monarch of mercy, the Suzerain of salvation. You’ve come to overthrow the reign of sin—in our lives and in your creation, and (thankfully) nothing will deter you.

     Lord Jesus, I gladly take my place in the triumphant procession Paul describes in this passage. I humbly assume the posture of both the conquered and conqueror. I praise you for rescuing me from the dominion of darkness—a kingdom in which I was both a willing citizen and a desperate slave. Only the gospel was powerful enough to set me free. Thank you for triumphing over me, and in me.

     I’m also grateful to be among those released for a life of announcing your triumph of mercy and grace. What more could I want, for the rest of my life, than to be someone through whom the fragrance of the gospel is released—the aroma of forgiveness and freedom, the incense of reconciliation and restoration?

     I want to be increasingly preoccupied with you—the victorious Christ, not “the victorious …

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A Prayer for Those Days When You’re Feeling Restless

     Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refugePs. 62:5-8

     Dear heavenly Father, nothing compares with being certain of your love for me. The peace I have knowing I no longer have to perform or pretend with you about anything is priceless, incomparable, and needful. Today, in particular, I’m thankful for the freedom to pour out my heart to you. Because the gospel is true, I don’t have to measure or monitor my words with you. You don’t judge my prayers. You purify them as they meet you at the throne of grace. Hallelujah, many times over.

     Here’s what’s going on inside of me today. I feel a restlessness that I cannot attribute to any one thing. There’s a floating disquiet, a nibbling anxiousness, a low rumble of dread that’s just hanging there. So today I echo back to you King David’s longing for soul rest, and I make his prayer mine. “Soul, find your rest in God alone! Don’t medicate with anything else. Don’t minimize or super-size your restlessness. Just go to Jesus. Go to Jesus right now!”

     Indeed, Jesus, I don’t want to waste energy on the “paralysis …

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A Prayer on the Anniversary of 9/11

     Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.  James 3:18

     Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the day on our calendar that now has its own dark branding, “9/11.” There have been many days in history that stand out as graphic reminders of the pervasive brokenness of the world; but in my lifetime, no day in American history tells that story more clearly than September 11, 2001.

     I’ll never forget how it felt watching the twin towers of the World Trade Center crumble to the earth. It was chilling, frightful, and surreal. But as I remember that day of extreme terror and trauma, I also choose to remember you, Lord Jesus. Otherwise I would stew in despair, give into fear, or be driven to rage.

     Lord Jesus, you are the Prince of Peace—the archetypal Peacemaker. You are the one who has come to make all things new, to restore broken things, and to bring new creation delight from old creation decay.

     Your death on the cross was the ultimate sowing of peace. As you died, taking the judgment we deserve, you were planted as the very “seed” which has secured an eternal harvest of righteousness. Your death was the death of death itself, and the promise of eternal shalom.

     Because of you, terror is terrified, and trauma is traumatized. Indeed, because of you, one Day there will be no terror, trauma or tears. There will be no more brokenness or barrenness; no …

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A Prayer for Days When You Long to Be with Jesus

     For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me. Phil. 1:21-26

     Dear Lord Jesus, my heart greatly resonates with Paul’s words this morning. Being with you in heaven would be better by far—better by FAR, than any other option afforded me. I’m glad to say and pray that, not because I’m in a funk, a season of Eeyore-likeness, or am facing some unpleasant task or disappointing news. Just the opposite—I’m in a “place” of contentment, peace, and joy; for which I give you thanks.

     You’ve given me a full life and a many-chaptered story—with enough brokenness and sadness, to keep me humble and in constant need of your grace; and with enough adventure and joy, to intensify my longings for the Day you will return and finish making all things new.

     Until that Day, Lord Jesus, be my center, “boast,” and delight. Fill, focus, and free me …

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