Friday, December 7, 2018

A prayer of hope for the holidays

Christmas is hard for people who grieve.
They remember other Christmases filled with memories and laughter, and grief becomes overwhelming.
Or perhaps Christmas is their loneliest time, without any cherished memories, which makes it that much harder to be festive.

Is Christmas hard for you?
Does it make you feel hopeless?

Just since December began, I've attended one funeral, watched one on television, and revised my family, whom I haven't seen since my mom died. Collectively, grief is strong and real.

But I do not grieve as one without hope (1 Cor. 15:18-20). Perhaps that is why we sing the "Messiah" at Christmas. Hope began with the birth of a baby, but hope continues through Jesus' resurrection and  his predicted triumphant return. Hope culminates with the "Hallelujah Chorus." (Turn up the volume--it's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!)

This Christmas, pray this prayer of hope.
Hope dispels grief.
Hope gives suffering a context and a reason for being.
Hope is the essence of Christmas.

Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world.
Thank you for saving me!
I am awed by your sacrifice, by your love, and by your plans for mankind.
You are my hope, my comfort, and my joy.
You are my everything.
I trust you--
and by doing that, I worship you,
my Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
Amen.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving Prayer

Dear Lord, Provider and Protector,

Thank you, Lord, for everything.
Absolutely everything.
All the good is from you.
All the bad is something good waiting to happen.
Everything in your hands is a blessing.

Thank you.
I love you, Lord.

Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

What to pray after someone dies

Lord Jesus,

You personally know the pain of death.
You know how afraid and sorrowful it makes us.
You know that grief cuts deeply into the human soul,
that it feels like there will never be an end to the heartbreak.

Someone wonderful has died.
You know that, too.
The death of your children is beautiful to you,
but it is so difficult for us.

I am feeling grief for some good people
who have lost a loved one.
They are overwhelmed, shocked, traumatized, bereft.
They feel an ache they never could have imagined.

Only you can fill that gaping hole left by their loved one.
Only you can pour hope and peace, ever so gradually, into their life.
Only you can give them courage to live again--
to seek healing, to start over.
When they're ready.

I ask for your peace to fall on them right now.
Erase the terror about the future.
Block an regret about the past.
Stop the panic about the present.

I beg you, Holy Spirit, to speak words of love and comfort into the dark fearful places of loss.
Bring them support from people who speak love,
who speak seldom, yet are present.
Give them friends to fill the empty spaces left by their loved one's home-going.

Lord, God, heal their broken hearts, I beg you.
And give me the empathy to keep them always in my prayers and actions.

Amen.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Thank you for the hard things

It's Thanksgiving week!

Dear Lord Provider,

Remind me of something each day with week to thank you for,
and not just the normal things, like family, friends, food, and health.
Thank you for the hard things.

I want to be thankful for my failures because you are doing something even greater in me than I can anticipate.
I want to be thankful for my time--may I use it to worship you rather than worship the things I want or the attention I crave. And may I not stress about the time I don't have.
I want to be thankful for the waiting--this state I keep finding myself in, when I believe you are working but I can't see what you're doing.
I even want to be thankful for times of pain because you use my pain to showcase your love; you heal my pain because you love me.

Thankfulness reminds me of who I am and what you do for me.
It reminds me to praise you for you who are.

You are grace, mercy, love, hope.
You are my past, my present, and my future,
my All-in-All.

Thank you!
Amen.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Prayer and fasting



Often, people talk about fasting because they want God to answer a request or give them some direction. This is only partly correct. Yes, prayer and fasting facilitates the ability to hear God clearly. But fasting is not a trigger for hearing God. When you need something, the solution is not to skip a meal and ask God to show up. That would make God our servant rather than our Lord.

Fasting does, however, begin to prepare your heart, which is a trigger for changed motives and behavior. When accompanied by prayer and Bible-reading, fasting prepares you for dramatic change. It clears your mind and heart to receive wisdom from God and hear His voice.

Notice the passage below (it's not one of the typical fasting passages):

Jeremiah 36:6-7
So you go to the house of the Lord on a day of fasting and read to the people from the scroll the words of the Lord that you wrote as I dictated. Read them to all the people of Judah who come in from their towns. Perhaps they will bring their petition before the Lord and will each turn from their wicked ways, for the anger and wrath pronounced against this people by the Lord are great.”

Perhaps.

Perhaps something will happen. Perhaps hearts will change. This is the reason to fast--for my heart and for other people's hearts.

The Jews were in rebellion against God. Their prayer, fasting, and listening to God's words provided an intentional act of repentance, after which God was willing to hear their requests and not punish them for their sin. 

If you keep reading, you'll find that the people responded to God's words and asked their leaders to take the Lord's warning to the king. They wanted to change. The king, incidentally, said "no" and searched for Jeremiah to imprison him. The king had not prayed and fasted. Although he heard God's words, he did not respond with humility and repentance, like his people did. He said "no." and God fulfilled His promise to punish the king with exile and death. But God promised the people they would be returned to their land one day.

Their prayer and fasting--their listening hearts--would redeem future generations.

Perhaps we can affect change for future generations as well, if only we would deny ourselves and listen to the Lord.

Friday, November 9, 2018

How to change a Bible story into a prayer for your family

I'm reading my way through Jeremiah. There's a lot of prophecies and punishments pronounced against the Jews, particularly Judah. They are invaded by the Babylonians and hauled off as slaves. The famous verse Jer. 29:11 appears, promising a hope and a future, but the promise occurs in the context of abduction and 70 years enslavement in Babylon.

The Jews--and us, if we make application--are blessed when they obey and punished when they don't. My reading today was Jeremiah 34-35. A family called the Recabites have kept a promise to live for generations without drinking alcohol, sowing crops, or building houses for generations, This came out of obeying a forefather's command. The theme of obedience--not the command itself--is praised by the Lord.

Here's the principle that struck me and the prayer I took away from it:

"Then Jeremiah said to the family of the Recites, 'This is what the Lord Almighty, the God is Israel says,: "You have obeyed the command of your forefather Jonadab and have followed all his instructions and have done everything he ordered." Therefore, this is what the Lord Almighty the God of Israel says: "Jonadab son of Recab will never fail to have a man to serve me.' " (Jer. 35:18-19)

My Prayer:

Lord Almighty, give me the courage to obey you when it's hard.
Give me the faith to continue obeying what I know in my heart is the right thing to do, even when everyone around me is doing something different.
I pray for my family to always follow you.
I pray that they will serve you, against the tide of culture.
I pray they will emphasize and value the condition of the heart, not the sum of their belongings.
I ask for you to give all my children and grandchildren spouses who honor and obey your commands.
I pray that they will never fail to serve you, all the days of their lives.
May we live "in tents," realizing that the temporary securities of this world will not satisfy nor provide security for living.
Make me a strong example of faithfulness, servanthood, and obedience to your laws and my own conscience.
Help my family to weigh decisions against your word and hold fast the boundaries you have placed for us.
I ask for this blessing on my family for generations, believing that you will do it.
In Jesus' powerful name,
Amen.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

A prayer about getting involved

Dear Lord Jesus, the God who saves us--

I'm so thrilled to be a part of your mission on earth.
I sit in awe at how you love every single person,
how you desire hope and purpose for them,
how you call each person to yourself.

Some don't hear you calling.
They have too much pain
or too many sorrows.
Many are fighting to survive,
and some are just fighting.

I can help with that,
if I care enough to get involved.

I can sponsor a child,
I can feed the hungry,
I can welcome the stranger,
I can befriend the lonely,
I can visit a prisoner,
I can provide for the needy,
I can advocate for the weak,
I can comfort the brokenhearted,
I can provide healing for the sick,
I can rescue the enslaved.

But only if I'm willing.

I can't pray and ask you if I should get involved
because you've already told me to do it.
Now it's strictly a matter of obedience.

I must get involved.
Give me courage and selflessness.
I will take the next step.
I will answer the need right in front of me,
the need, perhaps, that I have been overlooking.

You've been calling me to mission all along.
I must involve myself in your work.
Forgive me for not seeing the needs everywhere.

I love you.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Matthew 25:35-45