And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. Phil. 1:6
Dear heavenly Father, today is a great day for remembering, “salvation is of the Lord.” You’re the one who began the “good work” of redemption in our lives; the one who’s carrying it on—even when you’re not working according to our timetable and agenda; and the one who will complete our salvation, the Day Jesus returns to finish making all things new.
This is incredibly peace-giving, heart-freeing, joy-fueling news. I can’t be my own savior, and neither can I be anyone else’s savior. The pressure is off. What a great relief, but also what a critical truth to remember. This good news, this best of all news, leads me to offer these earnest prayers . . .
Father, give me the same confidence for my family and friends you gave Paul for the Philippians. Sometimes irritation, worry, and fear loom larger in my life than patience, trust, and hope. When this happens, I don’t love well, and my body language begins to speak broken grace.
Father, teach me how to wrestle in confident prayer for others, like Epaphras, wrestled in prayer for the believers in Colossae (Col. 4:12). My tendency is to wrangle emotionally rather than rest believingly. This leaves me worn out, and it frustrates others. Father, I don’t want anyone to feel pressure from me to change.
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
Dear heavenly Father, we praise and bless you for not despising our fears and weaknesses. Where else can we go, but to you, when we feel vulnerable and afraid? When King David prayed this prayer he was a prisoner of Philistines in Gath. As we pray, Father, here are some other difficult, fear-producing storylines among our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We pray for the Christian community in Iraq. The barbarism of terrorism is running rampant, and we cry out, “How long, O Lord, how long before evil will be no more?” Strengthen, protect, and grant supernatural demonstrations of your Spirit and deposits of your grace to those who are in harms way.
We also pray for our brothers and sisters in North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Somalia, Maldives, Bhutan, Yemen, Vietnam, Laos, and China—the ten places in the world where Christians are most likely to be singled out for persecution. Father, may your perfect love for us in Jesus drive out their fears and drive deep their trust in you.
What can mortal man do to us? Plenty, but in view of whom you are and what really matters, very little. As these dear Christians live out your redeeming story in nations which will one Day be covered with the …
But he [Jesus] said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” Luke 18:27
Dear Lord Jesus, you offered these words of hope to disciples trying to picture a camel squeezing through the eye of a needle. You speak the same words to me in light of many situations for which I need to accept my limitations and lay hold of your sufficiency.
I begin this day remembering that your commitment is to make all things new, not make all new things. There is an enormous difference between the two. Indeed, Jesus, you’ve placed us in a story of restoration, not replacement. You are actively at work in the broken places and among broken people, including me. Through your resurrection, we’ve been given great assurance and hope for a redeemed universe. This is incredibly good news—the best news ever; but it’s not going to happen on our timetable or according to our script.
This means we getting used to the fact that many things are, and will remain, impossible for us. My best intentions, efforts, and resources are simply not enough. I see this especially in relationships, and with people I care about a lot. This requires a humility and faith the gospel alone can provide. Grant me both, Lord Jesus—bunches of both.
I cannot change me, so why do I assume the omnipotence to fix others? As much as I long to see friends freed from addictions, marriages brought back from …
Casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7
Dear heavenly Father, in normal exigencies and the disruptive surprises of life, it’s so comforting to lay claim to the riches of this verse. I always need your constant care, big heart, and broad shoulders.
By faith, right now, with palms up, I cast my anxieties on you, gracious Father. Carry my burdens for the people I love—dear friends whose stories I so wish I could change. Sometimes I foolishly think if you’d only let me be the 4th member of the Trinity for 15 minutes I could do a lot of good in the lives of a lot of people.
What arrogance. You haven’t called us to fix anyone, but to love others as Jesus loves us. To cast our cares on you isn’t to wash our hands and disengage; but to remember that you are God and we are not.
Take the heavy load I feel for fellow pastors who are in the crazy-making turmoil of life in the local church. At times it seems like the only solution would be for you to send revival or send Jesus back—either of which would be welcomed. But at least grant sufficient grace, the gift of perspective and the kiss of hope.
Receive the burdens I carry for soured marriages and throw-caution-to-the-wind kids; friends living with chronic pain, shrinking resources, and grace allergies.
I cannot add one minute to …
Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels. Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. 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. 46:8-10
Dear heavenly Father, this Scripture is so relevant to me. I not only rebel against your commandments, I also rebel against your gospel. That’s why I need a Savior as big as Jesus. My great hope is in knowing that you will complete the good work of salvation you began in me, and in your entire cosmos. You do all that you please, and it pleases you to justify and transform rebels like me. Hallelujah many times over!
I also find great hope today in knowing that your purposes for everything else will stand. You are God and you do as you please. No one can ultimately resist your will, and we’re foolish to try. Thankfully, you’re not manageable, predictable, nor programmable. I’ve lived long enough to bless you for answering some of my prayers with a big “No”. You’re not just sovereign; you’re our sovereign Father.
As I stare some important decisions in the face, I’m so thankful that I can trust you fully. I don’t have to panic. I don’t have to worry. …
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Eph. 3:20-21
Dear heavenly Father, I love Paul’s beautiful and bold affirmation of your omnipotence. Indeed, you can do exceedingly beyond and immeasurable more than all we can ask or imagine. But today, I have no need to test either the limits of my imagination, nor the measure of your ability. There are plenty of things I CAN imagine that I’m bringing to the throne of grace. Bring glory to yourself as you work in these stories and hearts.
Father, continue to reveal more and more of Jesus to each member of my family, and extended family. I can imagine that, and greatly long for it. May none of us be satisfied with our current experience of the gospel; and for who have yet to experience the only Love that is better than life, grant the gift of new life in Christ. Open the eyes of our hearts to see just how worthy Jesus is of our affection, adoration and allegiance.
Father, I can imagine a mighty movement of your Spirit among many broken relationships in my larger community. Having lived in the Nashville area for 35 years now, I’ve seen too many church split, marriages disintegrate, and good friends get disconnected—even becoming …
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 …