A Prayer for Extending God’s Grace-full Acceptance

     Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. Rom. 15:7

     Dear Lord Jesus, it’s both settling and centering to begin this day with the assurance of your acceptance—your radical and complete welcome. You know everything about me, and yet you still want and delight in me. You know my failures, foolishness, and faithlessness; and yet you totally accept me.

     When I confess my sins, I don’t inform you of anything you don’t already know. In fact, I’m probably aware of only 3 or 4 percent of my actual sins. It’s absolutely overwhelming to be this known, this accepted, and this loved.

     I’m the immature younger brother you welcomed home. I’m the self-righteous elder brother you constantly pursue. I’m the one lying at your feet others would stone, but you have loved. I’ve been up in the tree with Zacchaeus and down in the depths with Peter, and you have accepted me.

     But here comes the challenging part, Jesus. As you’ve accepted us, you’re calling us to accept others. I’ll need all the grace you promise to love like that, for there are certain people—believers and non-believers alike, I struggle to accept, or even stay present in the same room. My pride and prejudices, hurts and commitment to a pain-free heart just take over at times.

     Jesus, I need a bigger gospel heart and more gospel wisdom if I’m going to make headway in this …

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A Prayer of Comfort for the Discouraged and Downcast

     For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without and fear within. But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus. 2 Cor. 7:5-6

     Dear heavenly Father, this brief vignette from Paul’s life arrived today like well-timed manna dropping from heaven, like the first sign of daylight after a starless night, like a spring shower after a dusty month.

     First of all, Father, I praise you for chronicling Paul’s experience of being restless, fearful, and downcast. Many times I suffer from “should-ness”: if I really loved you, if I were more full of the Holy Spirit, if I truly ”got the gospel,” I shouldn’t feel downcast, but upbeat, on top of my game, and cheerful.

     It’s comforting to know the gospel doesn’t make us less human, but more yours. Thank you for being a Father who doesn’t shame the downcast. You pursue them, you provide for them, you comfort them—you comfort me.

     As I begin this day, I feel like I’m swimming in a pool of baby piranha—no big sharks like Paul was dealing with, just small piranha nibbling at my spirit. I’m surrounded by a lot of little decisions, a lot of little needs, a lot of small conflicts, a lot of little unfinished projects, a lot of little things over which I have absolutely no control, and the combination of these things is weighing me down.

     But instead of trying to micro-manage the piranha, I’ll look to you, Father. It’s so good to know you’re running toward us in the gospel all the time—not with …

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A Prayer for the Spiritually Disconnected and Distressed

     O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. (Jer. 20:7) Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame? (Jer. 20:18)

Gracious Father, this is some pretty raw praying by one of your called and beloved prophets. Jeremiah’s lament makes me thankful today for the freedom you give us to bring our unfiltered and unfettered feelings to you. If we don’t bring our painful emotions to you, we will take them somewhere. Somebody besides ourselves will feel the brunt of our anguish and anger, disconnect and disillusionment.

Father, only you have the big enough heart and broad enough shoulders to walk with us through our seasons of chaos and confusion. I praise you for your constant, compassionate welcome. If you’re not put off by Jeremiah’s struggle, surely you will take on ours.

It’s comforting to know that the same prophet who assured others of your gracious promise and good plan—a plan for prosperity, not harm (Jer. 29:11); the same prophet who gave us a vision of the glory and the grace of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34); this same prophet, like us, experienced seasons in which he felt deceived, betrayed, and abandoned—even regretting the day he was born. We’re all weak and broken. We all need the gospel of your grace, every single day.

This gives …

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A Prayer for Feasting and Fellowshipping with Jesus

A Prayer for Feasting and Fellowshipping with Jesus

Levi [Matthew] held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” Luke 5:29-32

Dear Lord Jesus, I can’t read this story without fueling my longing for the banquet of all banquets—the Day when you will gather your entire Bride, rejoicing over us with singing, and bring to completion the great salvation you have begun in us. Hasten that glad Day of consummate healing, freedom and joy!

Who will sit and be served by you at the wedding feast of the Lamb? A most unlikely bunch. Only those who’ve been saved by grace alone through faith alone; only tax collectors and “sinners,” and Pharisees and teachers of the law who’ve been clothed in the wedding garments of your righteousness; only those with childlike faith and a God-given perfection.

Lord Jesus, I praise you for making me a part of your broken-yet-beloved bride; for calling me, healing me, saving me. I have no problem acknowledging my sickness and receiving your remedy. There, there’s no greater friend of sinners than you. Thank you for eating and drinking, reclining and dining, …

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A Prayer for Trusting Jesus with Our Fears

     And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12

Dear Lord Jesus, like bookends of glory, we’re confronted with the command “Do not be afraid,” at both your birth and your resurrection (Luke 2:10; Matt. 28:5). Ever since our first parents sinned, feared, and hid, I’ve helped to keep the family tradition alive. At times fear has more power over my life than your love, and though I already know myself to be clothed in your righteousness, I still reach into my closet for fig leaves.

I join shepherds in hurrying off to come to you, Jesus, for you alone bring the good news of great joy for which my heart longs, every single day. You alone can charm my fears and set this prisoner more fully free. You alone give me freedom to acknowledge my brokenness and weaknesses.

Because the gospel is true, I can tell you what you already know to be true, Jesus. My …

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