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A Prayer for Acknowledging Weaknesses and Turning to Jesus

Jul 14, 2014 | Scotty Smith

      The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.  1 Cor. 10:13

     Dear Lord Jesus, this verse has been underlined in my Bible, pasted on my refrigerator, and calligraphied by a dear friend. But today I need to believe this promise and see your faithfulness at work. I’m desperate for the strength you alone can give, Jesus. There are powerful temptations nibbling away at my heart. You’ve promised that I will never be in any circumstance that will not also find you providing a way forward. Show me the way, Lord.

     To start with, I’m weary of certain people having more functional power over my heart than you, Lord Jesus. That’s my issue, not theirs. Their affirmation can “make me,” and their disapproval, critical words, and coolness can wreck a perfectly good day or week. Help me break that relational pattern. I cannot love anyone to whom I’ve given such idolatrous influence.

     Next, I have friends who are choosing to live destructively. Marriages, health, and your glory are on the line. I need grace for getting involved where, quite frankly, I’d rather not. It would be much easier just to “pray from afar” than to run after prodigals. You pursued me, and you pursue me still. Be the same persistent lover through me, in these messy, broken stories.

     Lastly, Jesus, I repent of spending more time doing things for you, lately than spending quality, unrushed time with you. I’ve been an irritated and critical Martha, more so than an adoring and peaceful Mary (Luke 10:38-42). I’m sure that malady has been like rocket fuel to the issues I’m bringing before you today.

     Restore to me the joy of my salvation, as you return my heart to its first love for you. Jesus, you alone are worthy of my heart’s affection, adoration, and allegiance. My mouth is wide open like a baby Robin; fill it with fresh grace. So very Amen I pray in your patient and loving name.

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A Prayer for Bringing a Heavy-Laden Heart to Jesus

Jul 13, 2014 | Scotty Smith

      Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Matt. 11:28-30

     Dear Lord Jesus, in response to your gracious invitation, I’m lacing on my running shoes this morning to come to you as fast as I can. Your gentle, lowly heart is simply irresistible to me. Your easy yoke and light burden beckon me, and I will gladly shoulder up. Your promise of soul rest is like a kiss from heaven. Thank you for being so welcoming, understanding, and kind.

     The heaviness I feel is clearly connected to old wounds with lingering pain. Sometimes current events become a magnifying glass, or a megaphone, by which you reveal to us the “unfinished business” in our souls. Like a broken bone that wasn’t set properly, broken hearts that weren’t healed the first time are vulnerable, and are in need of your healing grace.

     Jesus, I need you. Flood my heart with your presence. Confirm the promise that we can—that I can do all things through you, as you give us strength. Give me the sufficient grace you have pledged. By the Spirit, I will resist the accusing, condemning, and lying whisperings of the dark one.

     As the day unfolds, help me separate the issues at hand. By faith, I offload my burdens onto you. I cannot afford to lug around the tonnage of old drama and new disappointments. If I do that, I will get defensive and will be on the offensive. As usual, this isn’t about me, but about your glory.

     Jesus, help me walk today as a man of faith, hope, and love. Give me the wisdom and power you promise. Bring much glory to yourself. Write stories of repentance and restoration by the grace and truth of the gospel. So very Amen I pray, in your most worthy and gracious name.

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A Prayer for Trusting and Hoping in God’s Unfailing Love

Jul 12, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The warhorse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue. Behold, the eye of the Lord is on those who fear him, on those who hope in his steadfast love.  Ps. 33:16-18

     Dear Lord Jesus, though it’s not fun thing, I realize it’s a good thing to come to the end of ourselves—to be at the place where all of our resources, “mojo,” and wisdom are simply not enough. Indeed, it’s a gospel thing to experience our insufficiency, lack of control, and helplessness.

     For only in those times do we fully abandon ourselves to the God who alone can part Red Seas (Ex.14); overthrow whole Midianite armies with three hundred gun-less soldiers (Judges 7); take down Goliaths with a pebble (1 Sam. 17); feed multitudes with a few fish and pieces of bread (Matt. 14); raise a dead man for the salvation of his people and the transformation of the cosmos (1Cor. 15).

     Lord Jesus, we abandon ourselves to you today, for you are that dead man who now lives. You are the One who is redeeming his Bride and making all things new. It’s your unfailing love that we can, and must, hope in. There is no other supply sufficient to the need. There is no other strength sufficient for the task. There is no other balm sufficient for the pain. There is no other rest sufficient for the exhaustion. There is no other trustworthy hope sufficient for the broken stories.

     We bring our broken hearts to you. We bring our struggling marriages to you. We bring our divided churches to you. We bring our conflicted relationships to you. We bring our battles with sin to you. We bring our wayward children to you. We bring our unbelieving friends to you. We bring our financial challenges to you.

     We bring our fragile health to you. We bring the needs of our community to you. We bring it all to you, Jesus. We will trust in you and your unfailing love. Astonish us by bringing much glory to yourself. So very Amen we pray, in your merciful and mighty name.

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A Prayer for Revealing Jesus When Life Is Stressful

Jul 11, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. 2 Cor. 4:7-10

     Dear Lord Jesus, to compare my stressors with the apostle Paul’s would be like comparing my photography with Ansel Adams’s, my preaching with Charles Spurgeon’s, or my cobbler making with a 5 star French pastry chef’s. There is simply no comparison. When I consider everything he experienced as your servant, honestly, I have nothing to bemoan or groan about.

     Nonetheless, Paul’s honesty is a great gift to me this morning. His freedom to acknowledge both his anguish and his joy in the same paragraph, gives me tremendous encouragement and focus. Posing and pretending were crucified at Calvary. Despair and hopelessness were sabotaged by your resurrection.

     Jesus, help me to be far more preoccupied with the treasure within than with the pressures without. If your all-surpassing power will be shown most dramatically through my weaknesses, then I’ll boast in them. If your incomparable beauty will be most clearly revealed through my hardships, then I’ll stop my whining. If your redeeming purposes will be most fully realized through my brokenness, then I’ll humble myself and surrender.

     With my palms up, I offer you praise for the treasure of the gospel. The gospel will win the day, my heart, the nations, and the cosmos. Though there are seasons when throwing in the towel, finding another story, or just flat running away are incredibly attractive, where else would I go but to you?

     Jesus, you alone give the words of life, sufficient grace, and the hope of glory. May your voice grow ten times louder than any other voice, clamoring for my attention. In the coming hours, days, and weeks, demonstrate the wonders of your love and the sovereignty of your rule. So very Amen I pray, with hungry expectancy, in your trustworthy name.

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A Prayer for Recalibrating My Heart

Jul 10, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you. Yet I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory. Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.  Ps. 73:21-26

     Dear heavenly Father, the older I get, the more I appreciate the many characters and voices you’re recorded for us in your Word. There’s no moment or scenario I’ll experience in life that you haven’t anticipated. Such is the reach and riches of the Scriptures. Today I praise you for leading Asaph to write a song for the grieved and the embittered.

     There are times when I forget that I’m living in a fallen world, with a fragile heart, among people just as foolish as me. When my fellowship with you gets broken, I’m capable of acting out in very harmful ways. I lose perspective and love poorly. My expectations of you and of others become more connected to “la-la land” than to reality. I start throwing pity parties, like Asaph, and indulge my envious, irritated, discontented attitude.

     That you tolerate me in those times of disconnect is extraordinary. That you still treasure me when I lose touch with gospel sanity is astonishing. When I shake my fist at you, your grasp of grace is all the tighter. When I complain about a stony silent heaven, you’re actively, quietly guiding my every footstep. When I try to ignore or emotionally run away from you, you’re just as resolved to end my journey in the full presence of your glory. The gospel really is this big and this good.

     Such love melts my icy heart. Continue the thaw, Father. I’m not just the biggest loser when I pitch my tent in the land of disconnected heart. I’m also a thief, robbing a lot of people who are dear to me. Rescue me from my self-centeredness and demandingness. That you treasure me is humbling; that I might more fully treasure you, is my heart’s desire. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus tender and triumphant name.

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A Prayer for Resting in Jesus’ Shameless Love

Jul 09, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source.  That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I and the children God has given me.” Heb. 2:11-13

     Dear Lord Jesus, I treasure this portion of the Word, for several reasons, but especially for how it addresses the issue of our shame. Shame is a pillaging thief—a marauding bandit of our dignity, freedom, and joy. So when I hear you say you’re not ashamed of us—that you’re not ashamed to call me yours, it humbles and gladdens me like nothing else.

     Indeed, Jesus, you’re the only one who can break the binding power of our shame because you have completely broken the condemning power of our guilt. Thank you for doing everything necessary to deal with the ways we’ve been both agents and victims of sin—sin that has led to multiple layers of shame.

     We now freely cry, “Abba, Father,” because you first cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34). You took all the guilt and all the shame of our sin on the cross. This is my theology; make it my doxology—my life-giving song of praise to you.

     And, Lord Jesus, you’re the only one who can make us holy, for you are our wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption (1 Cor. 1:30). What peace, what transcendent and everlasting peace this brings to our hearts. It’s all of grace, from beginning to end.

     Now you constantly sing to us about the Father’s love—you declare his praise every time we hear the gospel; every time we gather to worship in Spirit and in truth; every time we read the Scriptures or drink in the wonders of creation. You are always proclaiming the majesty and mercy of God.

     Lord Jesus, I cannot hear this too often or too loudly—you’re Jesus, not ashamed of us—you’re not ashamed of me. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So very Amen I pray, in your most holy and compassionate name.

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A Prayer for More Joy through Becoming Less

Jul 08, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”  John 3:26-30

     Dear Lord Jesus, I want nothing to do with a wardrobe of camel’s hair clothing, and a diet of locusts and wild honey (Matt. 3:4), but I do want more of John the Baptist’s joy—the joy of your increase and my decrease. Even in his mother’s womb, John leapt for joy before you (Luke 1:39-41). Could you, would you bring the same joy to my heart?

      I long for a joy fueled by people making much of you—a joy that would free me from “needing” people to make anything of me. Such joy would slay the beast of “approval suck” in my life—giving people too much power over my heart, either to make me or break me.

     Such a joy would free me to grieve more when people don’t “get” you than when they don’t “get” me. Such a joy would free me to accept both your “giving’s” and your “taking away’s” (Job 1:21), equally, as appointments from your throne of grace.

     Such a joy would free me for a life of contentment—because it would be anchored in you, not determined by circumstances. Such a joy would free me to love others as you love them, not as I want them to be. Such a joy would free me to be present in the moment, and less obsessing about the next thing.  Such a joy would be for your glory, and that’s all that really matters. Though we all matter, only you are the point, Lord Jesus. So very Amen I pray, in your joy-full and grace-full name.

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A Prayer for Remembering the Gift of Good Friends

Jul 07, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you. (Philem. 1:7)

     Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. (Eccles. 4:9-12)

     Dear Lord Jesus, I can’t imagine how storms can be navigated, burdens borne, and hardships handled without the company of a few good friends. I praise you today for the gift of friendship—for the joy, encouragement, and refreshment you give me through good friends.

     When we walk through difficult seasons we’re sometimes inclined to think, “No one can possibly understand what I’m going through; no one can begin to relate to my feelings and confusion; no one’s a mess like me.” Those are the times when it’s easy to withdraw into isolation, fall into the pit of condemnation, and reach for some ill-chosen medication. That’s when the gift of long-standing friends becomes especially precious.

     Lord Jesus, I praise you for the gift of hearing friends say these two words, “Me too.” I praise you for friends who know how to “refresh the hearts of the saints”—including this saint. I praise you for friends who help me tap into the sufficiency of your grace, the steadfastness of your love, and the bigger story you’re always writing.

     I praise you for friends who share their lives and not just their gospel. I praise you for friends who offer tears and not just their answers. I praise you for friends who give life-giving wisdom and not mess-fixing formulas.

     Lord Jesus, good friends turn my heart heavenward. They remind me that the foundation and fountain of all good friendship is found in you. I praise you for befriending us in the gospel. How humbling it is to hear you say to us, “I no longer call you servants… I call you friends” (John 15:15). What wondrous love is this, indeed? “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13). So very Amen I pray, in your most glorious and gracious name.

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A Prayer for a Gentler, Kinder, More Christ-like Heart

Jul 06, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.  Ezek. 36:25-27

     Dear heavenly Father, your promise of a new heart beating within my breast shouts of your mercy and might. There’s nothing I want more, and I praise you for how much of this great new covenant promise you’ve already fulfilled in your children.

     Already I’ve experienced the greatest of all “sprinklings”—the once and for all cleansing by the blood of Jesus. Though I’m still susceptible to the accusing and condemning work of Satan, you’ve forgiven me of all of my sins: past, present, and future—sins of word, thought, and deed. May this good news never be blasé or cliché to me.

     Father, you’ve already declared me to be perfectly righteous in your sight forever—a status that makes me yearn for the complete healing of my yet-to-be perfected heart. How I long for the Day when my heart will beat only for Jesus’ glory, marvel at his beauty, feel with his passion, think with his wisdom, and love with his affection.

     By the ongoing work of your Spirit, change my heart, Father. I want a kind heart, a tender heart, a sweet heart, a compassionate heart, a caring heart, a servant’s heart, a soft heart—the heart of Jesus. I long to be more restful and less resentful, more merciful and less mercenary, quicker to listen than to speak, quicker to be flexible than rigid, more likely to be consoling than controlling.

     I want to forgive from my heart, and not just avoid the pain of conflict. I want to encourage people for their good, not flatter them for my benefit. I want to feel joy and hope every time I hear your name, and not feel rejection and self-pity when I don’t hear my name. Like John the Baptist, I want Jesus to increase and me to decrease.

   I praise you, Father, for promising just such a heart through the resources of the gospel. My longings, hopes, and prayers are not in vain. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ matchless name.

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A Prayer for Expressing Our “Eager Longings”

Jul 05, 2014 | Scotty Smith

     For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and obtain the glorious freedom of the children of God. Rom. 8:18-21

     Dear heavenly Father, first of all, please know that I don’t presume on the privilege of calling you Abba, Father. What an unparalleled privilege and peace-fueling joy. It’s only because of the work of Jesus that I freely address you by such an intimate name.

     This is such an encouraging Scripture, Father. What is joy I feel, trying to envision the future you’ve secured for us, your beloved children, and for the whole creation—a future that puts all present suffering, decay, and bondage into perspective. Oh, that I might know more of the “eager longing” for “glorious freedom” that marked Paul’s life, and permeates your creation.

     “Glorious freedom”—may those two words be tattooed on my heart, become like an irrepressible melody in my spirit, and serve as the lens through which I understand brokenness and suffering. We’re destined, not just “freedom” but “glorious freedom“—a freedom filled with your glory!

     Father, open the eyes of my heart wider, to behold the “glory to be revealed” in us and in creation. Heal me of my spiritual myopia and chronic astigmatism. Get the perpetual morning “gunk” out of my eyes. Do gospel laser surgery so that I can behold these things more clearly, and live and love accordingly.

     In the midst of the world’s decay, I want to be for the praise of your delight. In the frustrations of creation, let me savor the firstfruits of your salvation. Rather than being weighed down by present sufferings, I want to be hope-filled by future liberation.

     Thank you for not despising our longings for life in the new heaven and new earth. May they grow more and more intense. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ strong and saving name.

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