A Prayer for Enjoying the Sabbath Rest of the Gospel

     Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that restHeb. 4:1-3  

     So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest. Heb. 4:9-11

     Heavenly Father, on this Lord’s Day morning, I rejoice in the magnificent paradox these Scriptures present: We’re to strive to enter your rest. What a glorious irony—work hard to rest well, stay restless till we rest fully, work hard to cease working.

     Yet no real surprise, because the gospel contradicts the fundamental way I’ve been trained to approach every sphere of life—athletics, education, finances, career, and reputation.

     “You deserve it, go earn it.” “God helps those who help themselves.” “You’ll always get what’s coming to you, so go get it.” “You can do anything you set your mind to do.” These mantras we’re drilled into me since I was a child, and they’ve failed me ever since.

     But (hallelujah), because the gospel is true, I didn’t get what’s coming to me, Father. You gave that to Jesus at …

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A Prayer in Praise of Our Tireless, Weariless God

     The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faintIsa. 40:28-31

Dear heavenly Father, this was one of the first Scriptures I memorized as a young believer, yet reading it today is like finding a new treasure in an old field; an artesian spring in an arid desert; the beam of a welcoming lighthouse after a compass-less stormy night at sea.

That’s one of the things I most love about your Word. It’s never antiquated or redundant, but always new and ever trustworthy. You’re the God who speaks without stuttering. You’re the Father who knows our need before we ask, and provides more grace before we seek.

This passage from Isaiah is underlined multiple times in my favorite Bible, and for good reason. It reminds me that you’re, very much, not like me, in so many ways. You never get tired or weary; I do and I am.   Accepting limitations, finiteness, and weakness has never been one of my strengths. But I must. Since youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall, why do …

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A Prayer about Working Hard to Rest Well

     Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest. Heb. 4:1-3

So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest. Heb. 4:9-11

Dear heavenly Father, what a glorious paradox. According to these Scriptures, you’re calling us to work diligently, to invest great effort, to strive with all our might that we might have done with all our labors and enter your rest. Work hard to rest well. Labor to cease laboring. Sweat to sleep. Oh, the beautiful, liberating irony of the gospel!

Indeed, the gospel contradicts the fundamental way I’ve been trained to approach every sphere of life—athletics, education, finances, career, reputation. “Do it the good ole’ fashioned way—earn it.” “God helps those who help themselves.” “You’ll always get what’s coming to you.” These broken mantras explain why I’ve a lot of life as a driven man, rather than as a called man.

But because the gospel is true, I didn’t get what’s coming to me. Fortunately, you gave that to Jesus on the cross; and in exchange, …

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A Prayer about Our Father’s Longing to Be Gracious to Us

     This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it. You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! Isa. 30:15-18 

     Dear heavenly Father, this is the perfect Scripture to pray through on this Father’s Day, for there is no other father like you. Indeed, what a loving God you are—one who longs to be gracious to us. The way you care for your people is simply incomparable and irresistible, and yet, foolishly, we do resist. Whether through chronic unbelief, the illusion of self-sufficiency, the deceitfulness of sin… we find ways to ignore your heart and the resources of the gospel.
     Father, there are times when “riding off on swift horses” looks like a great option—when the demands upon us seem to far outweigh the resources within us; when we reach our emotional limits and exhaust our …

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A Prayer about Working Hard to Rest Well

     Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it. For good news came to us just as to them, but the message they heard did not benefit them, because they were not united by faith with those who listened. For we who have believed enter that rest. Heb. 4:1–3

     So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest. Heb. 4:9–11

     Heavenly Father, what a glorious paradox. You’re calling us to work diligently, to invest great effort, to strive with all our might to enter your rest. We know our performance-based hearts well enough to appreciate the obvious irony. Work hard to rest well. Work hard to cease working.

     The gospel contradicts the fundamental way we’ve been trained to approach every sphere of life—athletics, education, finances, career, reputation. “Do it the good ol’ fashioned way—earn it!” “God helps those who help themselves.” “You’ll always get what’s coming to you.” We’ve inherited these motivation-mantras and, unfortunately, we’ve passed them on to our children. Forgive us and free us.

     Because the gospel is true, we didn’t get what’s coming to us, fortunately. You gave that to Jesus at the cross. And in exchange, you’ve given us what we never could’ve earned: complete forgiveness, the righteousness of Jesus, and …

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