With harps of God in their hands . . . they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: “Great and amazing are your deeds, O Lord God the Almighty! Just and true are your ways, O King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed.” Rev. 15:2-4
Dear heavenly Father, I find that the songs of heaven have an amazing power to center my heart when life seems a bit out of control, and events in the world unnerve me. What did followers of Jesus need in the crazy-making chaos of first-century Rome? The same thing we followers of Jesus need in the off-putting madness of our 21st century world. We need to sing your story. We need to sing our theology. We need to sing the gospel!
Hand me a harp today, Father. I’ll gladly join the heavenly chorus singing the song of Moses—a song of Exodus grace—deliverance from the bondage of Egypt into a land of freedom. But I’ll sing the song of the Lamb even louder. For Jesus has delivered us from sin and death, into the glorious freedom of the children of God; and Jesus will yet deliver us into the ultimate land of freedom—the new heaven and new earth. Oh, the peace and joy…
Father, I choose …
Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior. Hab. 3:17-18
Dear heavenly Father, I approach the throne of grace today on behalf of those of us who are living in difficult stories, like Habakkuk, with unsettling circumstances and uncertain outcomes. I’m so thankful you always welcome us in our brokenness, never despise us in our anxiousness, and thoroughly understand our weariness. You, alone, are grace-full—bidding us cast our cares on you, even as you are prepared to catch everyone of them.
I pray for those of us facing difficult health issues—in our own bodies and minds, or in the lives of those we deeply love. Father, the promise and hope of our resurrection bodies never looked so good (2 Cor. 5:1-5).
We know that Jesus’ finished work has secured our ultimate healing (Isa. 53:5); but as our “outer man” further deteriorates, we trust you for wisdom, grace and the supernatural work of your Holy Spirit. It’s not a matter of “claiming healing,” but loving and trusting the Healer. Bring great glory to yourself, and peace to our hearts, no matter what you write in the next chapter of our stories.
I pray for those of us living in difficult relationships—marriage and family, church and vocation, neighborhood …
Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me (John 14:1). In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
Dear Lord Jesus, last evening’s troubling stories shape today’s morning prayer. I went to bed last night, wearied with woes of friends. I arise today hungry with hope in you, our great and gracious Savior.
Thank you for being honest with us about life this side of the new heaven and new earth. You’re not an on-demand panacea, promising the elimination hardships and heartaches. You’re not a miracle-computer, passively waiting to be programmed, as we exercise the right formula.
You’re so much more; so much better. You’re a very present help, pledging your presence in every circumstance and trial—committed to working in all things, for our good and your glory. Troubling news doesn’t have to cripple our hearts. Indeed, may it carry our hearts to you today, for you are ever so trustworthy, Lord Jesus.
For our friends stunned with breath-taking health news, we declare our trust in you, Jesus. How we long for the day when words like cancer, dementia and heart disease will no longer appear in our vocabulary. Until that Day, we unabashedly and earnestly pray for healing, and we trust you for all-surpassing peace and more-than-sufficient grace.
For friends saddened with heart-ripping issues with their children, we declare our trust in you, Jesus. Few reports carry more power to dishearten us than those related to our children.
Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways, when they carry out their wicked schemes. Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil. For those who are evil will be destroyed, but those who hope in the Lord will inherit the land. Ps. 37:7-9
Dear heavenly Father, you send your Word with Swiss timing and uncanny precision. Whenever I’m vexed or fretful, you bring your daily mercies to bear. Whenever I’m confused or anxious, you meet me right there—with grace, not shame. Whenever I feel vulnerable or angry, you center my heart, by the Scriptures and your Spirit. Thank you for such faithful and Fatherly care.
Like a little school of piranha, there are a few things nibbling away at my peace that I want to bring before you. The success of those who’ve hurt people I love isn’t easy to swallow. The ongoing globalization of terror is heart-wrenching and crazy-making. The state of health care and the political gamesmanship of power in our country… How long, O Lord, before you send Jesus back to put all things right?
Your voice in this Scripture is just what I need today. You won’t give me a date, but as always, you do give me yourself. I hear you loud and clear, Father. You’re speaking stillness and fretless waiting to my heart. No good comes from my obsessing about evil and evil making. Nothing profitable results from …
”How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:34-38
Dear heavenly Father, Mary had a calling no one else will ever share—to be the mother of God the Son—to nurse the One who created and sustains all things.
And yet all of us have much in common with her. When we consider the cosmos-renewing, history-defining, heart-transforming promises you’ve made in Christ, we too say and pray with incredulity, “How will this be?” And we hear you answer back in the gospel, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Father, you’ve made promises you alone can keep, and you will. This includes making all things new through Jesus, and redeeming his pan-national Bride. But it also includes your plans for our lives. Just as surely as you placed the life of Jesus in Mary, you have done the same for us. Though in an entirely different way than Mary, we too are pregnant with glory (Rom. 8:18-27).
One Day we …
In his hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Prov. 16:9
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. Rev. 3:7
Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails. Prov. 19:21
I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, ‘My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.’ Isa. 46:10
Sovereign Father, these promises about our knowing and being in your will, bring immeasurable peace and comfort, humility and joy. I praise you for affirming your engagement in determining and directing every one of our steps—for numbering our hairs and determining our days. We don’t have to be afraid of making the wrong choices, or be paralyzed by second guessing our plans. The pressure is off! You love us and are in control, and that is enough.
Indeed, you are faithfully working all things together after the counsel of your will—no exceptions. You are working in all things for your glory, and for our good. You open doors no man can shut and you shut doors no man can open, on behalf of your beloved children. Whatever you purpose, it will stand. Again, I declare the comfort, peace and joy this brings me.
Many years I labored under the arrogance and anxiety of assuming that if I prayed …
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.” “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. Luke 1:34-38
Dear heavenly Father, you gave Mary a calling no one else will ever share—to be the mother of God the Son. And yet we do have a lot in common with her. When I consider the enormity of the promises you’ve made accompanying the birth of Jesus, I too say and pray, “How will this be?” And I hear you answer back in the gospel, “Nothing is impossible with God.”
Everything you’ve promised will come to pass, for you are the consummate promise keeper. This includes the transformation of this broken world into the new heaven and new earth, and the redeeming of a bride for Jesus from every single nation, tribe, people, and language. But it also includes your plans for our lives. Just as surely as you placed the life of Jesus in Mary, you have done the same for us. Though in …
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise—in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Ps. 56:3-4
Heavenly Father, as the reach of the internet keeps getting bigger, our world keeps getting smaller and a whole lot closer. More so than ever, we realize we have brothers and sisters all around the world who are clinging to you and to this Scripture in ways that deepen our compassion and fuel our prayers.
Jesus took the full burden of our sin and fulfilled the all the demands of the law for us; now we fulfill the law of Christ by bearing one another’s burdens—big ones and little ones (Gal. 6:2). And prayer is one of the primary ways we shoulder up and love well. When King David prayed this prayer, he’d been seized by Philistines in Gath. As we pray, Father, here are some other difficult, fear-producing storylines.
We pray for the ongoing going war against human slavery in the world. That there are 27 million people stolen, sold and used as laborers in sweat houses and sexual commodities in brothels is unconscionable. We praise you for the brave men and women who are fighting the good fight against this pernicious evil. Multiply their numbers and exponentially increase their success in rescuing slaves, prosecuting evil doers and rehabbing the victims. We especially pray for the children who are preyed upon. What …
In his hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Prov. 16:9
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification. 1 Thess. 4:3
Sovereign Father, O, the immeasurable peace, humility, and joy this one verse brings me! No more paralysis of analysis. Goodbye to obsessing and second guessing every decision. So long to the faith denying fear of being outside of your will. To know that you’re vitally engaged in directing every one of our steps, as your children, is incredibly freeing.
You are the all wise God who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of your will (Eph. 1:11). You the loving Father who is working in all things your glory and for our good (Rom 8:28-30). You are the mighty Lord who open doors no man can shut and who shut doors no man can open. Indeed, you’re no mere life coach; you’re the Lord of all things—including me.
Many years I labored under the arrogance and anxiety of assuming that if I prayed hard enough and long enough, that if I was really filled with and “tuned into” the Holy Spirit, I could know the specifics of your will for my life well in advance of any decision that needed to be made. Of course, my assumption was that if I was in your will, life would be enjoyable, pleasant, and hassle free.
If I bought the right car, it would never break down. If I bought …
It is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Phil 2:13
Heavenly Father, many of us are living in seasons of transition and are facing decisions with weighty, long term implications. It’s over-the-top comforting to know you to be the God who works on our behalf. You’re at work in us, around us and through us.
There’s nothing passive or inert about you. You’re not a reluctant deity we have to motivate; a moody lord we have to placate; a celestial computer we need to program; a far away father we have to find; a god of contingencies, fine print, or bait and switch. Indeed, “who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you—majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (Ex. 15:11).
You do anything and everything you want, with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back your hand or say to you: “What have you done?” (Daniel 4:35). Whatever pleases you, that’s what you do, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths (Psalm 135:6). Oh, the centering, settling, peace-infusing joy this brings!
So, gracious Father, we trust you to work in our hearts to fulfill your good purposes. Help us find our place in your Story. Give us a greater desire for your glory than for our happiness. Fill us with joy and anticipation, as we surrender to your plans and timing. Keep us from impatient obsessing; “walking by the light …