A Prayer for Greater Freedom to Worship God

     Praise the Lord! Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heavens! Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness! Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him with lute and harp! Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe! Praise him with sounding cymbals; praise him with loud clashing cymbals! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord! Ps. 150

Most gracious Father, it occurs to me, as I meditate on this psalm, that I need a much bigger heart for the purposes of your praise. I need the gospel to expand my palate, multiply my taste buds, and increase my capacity to enjoy the rich diversity of worship which is offered by your pan-cultural beloved people. I realize not everything in this Psalm is required; but I also realize none of the expressions of worship here are off limits. Free, me Lord, free me.

My tendency is to treat this psalm, like many parts of your Word, as though it were a buffet line from which I pick and choose the items that I personally enjoy. What’s worse, I find ways to marginalize or eliminate expressions that don’t fit within my bandwidth of beauty; my short list of sonic acceptability; my small tribe’s liturgical okay.

I love harps and lyres, and strings and flutes; but trumpets are too piercing and loud; tambourines remind me of big tent bad theology; clashing and resounding cymbals remind …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer about Shame–It’s Effects and Resolve

And the man and his wife were both naked and felt no shame. Gen. 2:25

     Gracious Father, it’s nearly impossible for me to imagine the day when there was no need for the emotion of shame. In their innocence, our first parents were absolutely free of any need to turn away from your gaze, or that of one another.
    There was nothing to fear or cover up; no need to hide, pose, or pretend; nothing to get defensive or feel guilty about; no need to make excuses or blame the other; no attempt to disappear, do penance, medicate, or try any other broken attempt to deal with the disintegrating effects of shame. What a blessed state of affairs, all lost because of sin.
     It is only in you, Lord Jesus, that we now find hope to deal with both our guilt and our shame. For in light of the joy set before you by the Father, you endured the agony of the cross for us, scorning its shame—the shame of being made sin for us, that in you we might become the righteousness of God (Heb. 12:2; 2 Cor. 5:21).
     Indeed, Jesus, those who trust in you will never be put to shame, for you took our shame and made it yours (1 Pet. 2:6); as a result, we now live in the present delight and eternal favor of God. O, even more blessed state of affairs. How can we ever praise you enough for such …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Prayer for the 4th of July

     It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Gal. 5:1 

     Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the Fourth of July—a holiday set aside to remember and revel in the freedom we enjoy as citizens of America. I thank you for our country, as broken as she is, and for the  privileges we still enjoy—benefits I don’t take for granted, especially considering how much of the world is under siege and under the foot of tyrannical leadership.
     But the gratitude I feel for my citizenship in the USA pales in comparison with the joy generated by my citizenship in heaven (Phil 3:20). I praise you today for making me a member of the “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession”(1 Pet. 2:9). This is my true and lasting identity—my consummate and eternal liberty.
     To be set free by you, Jesus, is to be free indeed (John 8:36). Thank you for setting me free from the guilt of my sin, by taking my place upon your cross. There is now, and never will be, any condemnation left for my disobedience, rebellion and idolatry. Hallelujah! I praise you for freedom over the power of sin, for you have broken its dominion in my life. Never again will it be my master (Rom. 6:14). Hallelujah! I praise you for freedom from the fear of death, for you removed its …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

A Prayer for Greater Freedom from My Imprisonments

Bring me out of prison, that I may give thanks to your name! Ps. 142:7
The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners. Luke 4:18
If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

     Dear Lord Jesus, when King David prayed for freedom from his prison, he wasn’t behind iron bars; he was hiding in a cave. It’s obvious he felt pursued, trapped, and alone. It’s also obvious David felt freedom to acknowledge his crisis and cry out to you for help. He was a man after your heart because you had already captured his heart. What a loving and liberating King you are, Jesus. I begin my day with David’s cry confident of your gracious response.
     Jesus, you’ve already set me free from many slavish imprisonments: The fear of dying, for you robbed the grave of its victory through your resurrection; The fear of judgment, for you were condemned in my place upon the cross; The tyranny of self-salvation, for it’s your obedience and righteousness which make me acceptable to God; The myth of autonomy, for you alone are the sovereign Lord and the King of Kings. When I consider these liberties, why would I doubt your ability or willingness to set me free from other imprisonments?
     King Jesus, please set me free from the quick sand of vain regrets—those haunting memories …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

A Prayer for Palm Sunday: Living as Prisoners of Hope

     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

     They will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those with him are called and chosen and faithful. Revelation 17:14

     Lord Jesus, I’ll exhaust the wonder of this passage as soon as I drink Niagara Falls dry, as soon as I memorize the names of every star you’ve hung in the sky, as soon as I finish climbing all the Alps in Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and France. The prophet Zechariah rejoiced in the implications of your coming, covenant, cross and kingdom. May we do the same, may we do the same.
     On this Palm Sunday morning, I’m overwhelmed with your …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Prayer about the Joy of Being Completely Known and Loved

“Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” John 4:29

Lord Jesus, I wish I could have been present to watch this liberated Samaritan woman recount the tale of her collision with the gospel—her story of meeting you and coming alive to the transforming power of grace (John 4:1-42). Water from Jacob’s well was superseded by the water you alone can give—the living water that alone can slake our death-doling thirst.

You exposed her sequential affairs—her penchant to look to men to satisfy the deepest longings of her soul. Yet instead of ridiculing her, you redeemed her; instead of condemning her, you cherished her; instead of shaming her, you saved her; instead of sending her away empty, you sent her on her way full—full of peace, hope and love.

En route to the nations, you brought the gospel to the dark continent of this broken woman’s heart. I wonder if some of the six men with whom she’d been heard her proclaim, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” Standing vulnerable in the public square of her community, she’d never been so free. The gospel dealt a fatal blow to her need to pose or pretend.

I want more of that freedom, Jesus, much more. Freedom from the approval of men. Freedom from wanting to look better than I am. Freedom from minimizing and marginalizing my present need of you.

Nothing but the gospel can free us for …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

A Prayer for Greater Freedom by Jesus

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43-44

Dear Lord Jesus, as surely as you raised a dead Lazarus by calling his name, so too, you raised us from spiritual death when you called us by the gospel. We were dead in our sins and trespasses, but you spoke and raised us to eternal life! For the sovereign grace and the resurrection power of the gospel, we praise you today. Indeed, salvation is of the Lord!

Yet as surely as Lazarus needed to be freed from his grave clothes, so do we. The smell and signs of death still haunt us and stalk us, but you have come to set prisoners like us free. This is our great hope and steadfast joy. Well before the Day of consummate freedom, liberate us more fully, for your glory and by your grace. Break our chains; thaw our hearts; lubricate our whole being with the WD40 of the gospel.

Lord Jesus, free us to love you more openly, joyfully and passionately. You have lavished your love on us. You sing and rejoice over us with much delight, great Bridegroom to beloved bride. How dare we offer you a measured response of polite gratitude? Have we confused reverence with rigor mortis?

Free us to love the gospel of the kingdom and the …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer for Even More Freedom in Jesus

If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. John 8:36

Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the morning of the 4th of July, and I’m very thankful to be living in the “land of the free.” But I’m still not as free as you intend, nor as joyful, for that matter. Though you’ve already freed me from trying to earn my salvation by anything I do or am; though you’ve already liberated me from the illusion that I can earn more of God’s love by doing more goodness and less foolishness; though the chains of condemnation have already been obliterated and the fears of death, judgment day, and the future have been sent packing by your perfect love—I’m still not as free as you intend.

As I read the Scriptures and reflect on my relationships, I feel very much like a babe—a neophyte, a raw rookie in so many gospel freedoms. Only the gospel helps us see and own our sin, brokenness and bondage. Only your grace keeps us from going to shame and self-contempt as we do so. Hear my prayers and bring more grace.

Jesus, please free me for loving others as you joyfully and relentlessly love us. There’s no freedom more central and powerful for revealing your glory. Help me return kindness for coldness, pursuit for avoidance; gospel for gossip. I want to be less irritated more often with fewer people. Help me to use fewer words and more listening when talking with others. Please unshackle me from the …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

A Prayer for the Bound Up

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11:43–44

Dear Lord Jesus, as surely as you spoke and Lazarus walked out of his tomb fully alive, so when you spoke the gospel to my heart, I too was raised from the dead and was made fully alive in you! With all of my brothers and sisters in Christ, I have passed from death to life. For the sovereign grace and the resurrection power of the gospel, I praise you today. Indeed, salvation is of the Lord!

Yet as surely as Lazarus needed to be freed from his graveclothes, so do I. The smell and signs of death still haunt me and stalk me. There are many areas of my life for which I long for greater freedom—a freedom you alone can give.

Jesus, I want greater freedom from living for people’s approval. I want your glory to be my consuming good. I want to be able to respond to trying situations and people with grace and wisdom rather than reacting with irritation and fear. I want freedom to value and see in others what you value and see in them. I want to be quicker to pray and slower to worry; quicker to repent, slower to make excuses; quicker to encourage, slower to criticize.

I want indifference to be …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

A Prayer About Consummate Freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

     Dear Lord Jesus, it’s the 4th of July weekend—a holiday set aside to remember and revel in the freedom we enjoy as citizens of America. Two things immediately come to mind as I think of the “4th”. I thank you for our country, as broken as she is, and for the liberties and privileges I have as a citizen of the United States. And I thank you that I escaped childhood with all my fingers, given how many fireworks I abused on and around this holiday!

     But that for which I’m most grateful, as I think of the “4th” is the consummate freedom I enjoy as a citizen of heaven—as a member of the “chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God… called to declare your praises, for you have called us out of darkness into your wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9).

     To be set free by you, Jesus, is to be free indeed (John 8:36). I will gladly enjoy the accouterments of the “4th of July” this weekend. But I will resolutely stand firm… for the rest of my life… in the freedom for which you have set us, your people, free.

     I praise you, Jesus, that I am free from the guilt of my sin, for you took my place on the cross, exhausting the …

Posted in Prayer | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment