Category Archives: Prayer

A Prayer for Times You Feel Like a 3rd Luke 15 Son

     And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him.  Luke 15:20

     Dear heavenly Father, I’m not beginning my day in a far away country, derelict and destitute. Though I’m capable of anything, I’m not sitting here filled with shame for squandering an inheritance, and neither am I out in a field feeding somebody else’s pigs. I’m in a comfortable chair, sipping a fresh cup of coffee, surrounded by more than my share of creature comforts; and yet I’m just as much in need of fellowship with you as any of your broken children; so here I come.

     Because the gospel is true, I bring you my busy, easily distracted, somewhat-blasé heart. I feel like a 3rd Luke 15 son right now. I’m not on a hedonistic holiday and I’m not indulging the ugliness of my self-righteousness. I’m just somewhere in between. I still hear and love the music of the gospel, but I just don’t feel like dancing right now. I’m not cold, hot, or lukewarm; I’m just here.

     So, Father, as I come to you today, I take great comfort in knowing that I’ll always find you filled with compassion for me, even when my feelings are not fully engaged with you. As I saunter toward you, you’re always running toward me in Jesus. When I’m not as inclined to lift …

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A Prayer for Trusting God with Our Children

     Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward.  Ps. 127:1-3

     Heavenly Father, it’s a joy to address you today as the architect and builder of your own house—including the household of faith, and our children’s place in your family and story.

     As I look back over the years at the ways my parenting was marked by pragmatics and moralism, fear and control, I’m saddened; but I am also gladdened, for you’ve always been faithful to your covenant love, even when I was overbearing and under-believing. The move from parenting by grit to parenting by grace was a slow but fruitful journey—a journey that continues.

     You’ve rescued me from parental “laboring in vain”—assuming a burden you never intended parents to bear. Father, only you can reveal the glory and grace of Jesus to our children. Only you can give anyone a new heart. You’ve called us to parent as an act of worship—to parent “as unto you,” not as a way of validating ourselves, getting our kids to like us, proving our worthiness of your love.

     I was arrogant to assume my best parenting …

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A Prayer for Rejoicing in the Only Love Better Than Life

     Because your love is better than life, my lips will glorify you. I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. I will be fully satisfied as with the richest of foods; with singing lips my mouth will praise you.  Ps. 63:3-5

     Dear Lord Jesus, King David’s song of unbridled adoration is a rebuke to my measured heart. I spend a lot of my time and energy trying to make a “better” life for myself, and yet David speaks of your love as being better than life itself! What a holy paradox. Oh, to know your love in such a sensate, soul-satisfying way.

     Jesus, what would it be like to be so alive to the width, length, height, and depth of your love that I lose control? David danced with shameless freedom before the Ark of the Covenant. I long to be just as free because of the riches of the gospel.

     I have no trouble singing to you or lifting my hands in the assembly of your people. But I want your immeasurable love to spill over into all of my relationships. I want to finish this journey with my spouse as sweethearts. As I get older, I don’t want to suffer from the “hardening of the categories”; rather I want to grow more spontaneous, flexible and willing to take risks with family, friends and whomever you bring into my day. I want …

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A Prayer for Repenting of Our Unbelief

     “He (Peter) went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” “You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished.  Acts 12:12-16

     Dear heavenly Father, thank you for chronicling this rather comical prayer meeting. Though is exposes our unbelief, in a far greater way, it highlights your faithful commitment to do exceedingly beyond all we can ask or imagine. I relate to this scene. I often dutifully pray, but faithlessly doubt. Forgive my unbelief; override my unbelief.

     Father, I’d love to hear “Peter knocking at the door,” with regards to these matters weighing on my heart. I pray for persecuted churches and believers, and their leaders. Evil hates beauty, and Satan hates you and your church. Strengthen, encourage, and grant miracles of provision and deliverance. Cause the gospel to spread like wildfire in the face of evil. Grant those in harm’s way, an extraordinary measure of your presence and peace.

     Father, I pray for the courageous men and women who are laboring …

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A Prayer for Coming to Jesus All the Time

     As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.” 1 Pet. 2:4-6

     Heavenly Father, I used to think that “coming to Jesus” was a phrase whose meaning is exhausted when we first trust your Son to be our Savior. For sure, that is the most glorious and essential “come to Jesus meeting” we’ll ever have. But this Scripture make it clear that the whole Christian life is about coming to Jesus. We need Jesus today as much as the first day you gave us faith to trust in him—the “living stone.”

     Indeed, Lord Jesus, you are the life-giving living Stone for your beloved people; the precious cornerstone of the living temple called the body of Christ; the rock of refuge that’s higher than us (Ps. 61:2-3); the rock from which God gave water in the wilderness in Moses’ day (1 Cor. 10:1-4). You are the honey-giving rock of whom Asaph spoke (Ps. 81:16), and Daniel’s stone, cut from a mountain by the hands of God, which will become an everlasting kingdom of redemption and restoration (Dan. 2:36-45).

     Jesus, we …

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A Prayer for Becoming More Teachable and Less Defensive

     Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise. Those who disregard discipline despise themselves, but the one who heeds correction gains understanding. (Prov. 15:31-32) Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but whoever hates correction is stupid. (Prov. 12:1) My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights. (Prov. 3:11-12)

     Dear Lord Jesus, scanning through the book of Proverbs recently, I noticed how many verses about staying teachable, receiving correction, and loving discipline I’ve underlined over the course of the years. I wish the sheer number of highlighted verses indicated how humble and non-defensive of a man I am. But that’s simply not the case. I can still bristle, blame shift, and make excuses with the best of ‘em.

     So here’s my prayer: I need the power of the gospel to grant me greater and quicker freedom when people need to share stuff with me. I want to own, grieve, and repent of my defensiveness, Lord Jesus. Help me welcome feedback from my spouse about my attitude, choices, and excesses. Help me to hear your voice in things my children want to share with me about the past and the present.

     May my friendships be an environment in which we love each other enough to do ongoing heart work. Grant us fun, but grant us growth. Don’t let me ignore concerns and corrections, from mentors, “underlings,” neighbors, even “angels” you …

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A Prayer for Rejoicing in (not Resenting) Normal Trials

     Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, as was necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.  1 Pet. 1:3-7

     Dear heavenly Father, what a great perspective-giving Scripture… I’m embarrassed to even speak of my “trials,” because I didn’t go to sleep hungry or thirsty last night; I didn’t hear gunfire echoing through my neighborhood; there’s no Ebola plague pillaging my community, I don’t live with the fear of my children being sold into slavery; and my government isn’t threatening the exercise of my faith. These are realities with which many of our brothers and sisters in Christ live on a daily basis.

     For me, the “trials” I have are more like swimming in a pool of tiny piranha, which nibble away at my joy, energy, and peace. Please give me grace perfectly suited for the demands …

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A Prayer for Anxiety and Care Casting

     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 …

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A Prayer for Marinating in God’s Unparalleled Kindness

     But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Eph. 2:4-7

     Dear heavenly Father, this passage from Paul reminds me of the day I first laid my eyes on the Swiss Alps. It was a glory-overload—just too much to take in, all at once; and that why I go back to Switzerland every chance I get. However, the gospel is the true and eternal glory-overload, and I will keep coming back to the gospel every day.

     But what really arrests my attention in this text is your commitment to demonstrate your kindness to us in Jesus throughout eternity. It was your kindness that first led us to repentance; and it is your kindness that greets us every day, in every situation and circumstance. You’ll never be harsh, aggravated, or annoyed with us. That absolutely fries the circuit board of my imagination, throws fuel on the fire of my longings, and reveals the paucity of my faith.

     Father, the revelation of your kindness touches something very deep inside of me in this season of life. Maybe it’s because of how …

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A Prayer about the Incredible Blessing of Godly Sorrow

     You became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.  2 Cor. 7:9-10

     Dear Lord Jesus, this quite timely portion of Scripture moves me to pray about my heart today, and in particular, it’s convict-ability. It would be impossible for me to overstate the joy and peace I have in being able to affirm, “There is now [and forevermore] no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

     I praise you for completely exhausting the judgment I deserve for the multiple ways I fail to love God and my neighbors as commanded. God has now declared me to be righteous in you. Hallelujah, many times over.

     But there’s a disconnect between the no condemnation for my sin and deep conviction about my sin. Through recent circumstances and in certain relationships, I can see that I haven’t been taking my sin as seriously as I should. I know this isn’t right, so I need your help. If anything, the gospel of grace should make for quicker and more repentances, not fewer.

     To be specific, I’ve been indulging a critical spirit towards some people, and working too hard to maintain the approval of others. I’m also aware of the ever-lurking enticements of sexual sin and greed for more “stuff.” Left to myself, I am capable of acting out in very foolish …

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