Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Prayer for Charlottesville

Lord, Comforter and Redeemer,

Take these troubled times and bring good from them.
Somehow, throw your spirit of comfort like a mantle over the grieving,
over those traumatized by the Charlottesville rally,
and most of all over those injured and killed there.
Infiltrate their homes and their conversations--
let your spirit be felt.
Comfort those grieving for loved ones lost through senseless violence.

Bring justice, swift and sure.
Not revenge. That is not your way.
But justice, peace, and sanity
to a situation raging out of control.

May this tragedy in Charlottesville wake up a sleepy country
to the ravages of deep-seated prejudice and hatred.
Somehow, draw us toward your spirit of wisdom,
fill us with a desire and determination to be
loving, forgiving, compassionate, determined.
Give us the courage to stand for righteousness,
to shirk stubbornness and pride,
to abhor hatred.

Change us.
And even while you work so great a miracle,
lighten the heavy hearts of those closest to the tragedy.
Heal Charlottesville
and protect Virginia.
Protect our country from another century of malice and bigotry.

We worship you and thank you for your
love, compassion, justice, and mercy.
We will never be worthy of your grace!
Amen.

image by George Hodan

Friday, August 11, 2017

Intercession for our country

Dear Lord,

You are the King of Kings, so you understand kings.
You are not surprised by the world's presidents, generals, dictators, prime ministers, shahs.
You understand power, corruption, responsibility, greed, pride, and ambition.

Please influence our leaders.
Give us grace when our leaders make foolish choices.
Give us grace when we make foolish choices, when we elect godless leaders and when we pretend like it's not our fault.
Give us a chance to learn and correct our mistakes.
Protect us from evil--from wanting it, from protecting it, and from excusing it.

Make us a thinking, active, and responsible people.
Forgive us our sins.
Forgive our leaders of their sins and place God-fearing individuals in their paths to influence, challenge, and show them the love of God.
Please give us another chance to serve you better--more fully--more sacrificially.

May the church rise up--not as a political force--
but as the hands and feet of Jesus!
He is the only one who can bring peace to our world.
May we never confuse him with political activism!

Our love and adoration be Yours alone!
Amen.

image by George Hodan

Friday, August 4, 2017

How to pray a prayer of anguish

Have you ever felt emotionally raw and desperate? Angry, even? My first response in these situations is either to rage at God or someone else. God is a better choice. The best response is to pray a prayer of anguish. To lament. It's one of the ways that God responds to human desperation.

Grief, when directed at God, is a prayer. It's a lamentation that expects a response. Anguish can prompt the most beautiful and heart-felt prayers we ever pray.

Maybe you're not sure what to say. That's okay, too. The Holy Spirit hears the groaning of our hearts and responds to us with grace and love (Romans 8:26-27).

I go directly to Psalms when I need to groan. I start at Psalm 3, and I just keep going until I've said enough. I've underlined a lot of verses about anguish and fairness and deliverance in those pages, so I pray those verses back to God. Somehow, reading the Psalms give power to my prayer and assuage any guilt I'd have for expressing my pain and misery.

Praying God's words back to him keeps my prayer a lament instead of a complaint. Fortunately, most of David's Psalms end with the correct theology that God is good, and He will do good on my behalf. In context, these verses have power; out of context, they might seem cliché.

Here are a few of my favorite passages, turned into prayers that you can use during your dark times:

"Lord, I am in distress! Listen to me! Reach down your hand and hold me up!" (Ps. 18:6)

"Lord, have mercy on me! I'm traumatized. My body and soul are wracked with grief. I can't go on! I feel all my strength fading away. I'm not going to survive. Please rescue me!" (Ps. 31:9-10)

"Lord, I am in desperate need. My enemies surround me, wanting me to fail. Only you can help me. I wait for you to work in my life. Please hurry, before I lose everything!" (Ps. 31:15-16)

"Lord, I am watching the wicked succeed all around me. I'm holding my tongue, even though I want to scream that it's not fair. I'm trying to honor you, but my anguish is increasing. Give me perspective, God! Show me how this will end! But until then, teach me to have hope in you alone." (Ps. 39:1-7)

"Lord, I am so discouraged. All my confidence is gone. I have given up hope. Help me to remember your faithfulness. My spirit is thirsty for you. Please come and refresh me!" (Ps. 143)

So take a minute and pray a psalm of agony. Cry out. God will answer you, because that's who he is. He is acquainted with grief. He can't help but respond to the cries of his children!

image by George Hodan

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Praying for Angels to Surround my Kids

Lord of Heaven,

You have angels at your disposal,
worshipping You,
defending Your holiness,
protecting us, Your children.
You are great and mighty in power
and full of love and mercy.

I ask You to send more angels
to surround my kids today.
Minister to them--
encourage them,
guard them,
defend them against the onslaught of the evil one.
Wage war over them
because You created them to be filled with power and authority in Jesus' name.
You intend for them to silence evil,
withstand persecution,
and glorify You.

May my kids honor and please You today with their thoughts, actions, and motivations.
May they be pure in heart and mind.
May they function as You intended,
surrounded by heavenly hosts
with swords drawn
and voices like thunder.
In the power of the Holy Spirit, my kids will slay spiritual giants and conquer enemy territory.
I believe it in the name of Jesus, the King of all Kings.

Thank You for Your angels.
I call on them in Jesus' holy name--
surround my kids today.

Amen.

"Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?" (Hebrews 1:14)

image by  

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Mother's Cry

Dear Lord Jesus,

When you lived on earth, you pined for your children--
you said you longed to protect the ones you loved,
gathering them like a hen gathers her chicks under her wings.
So you must know how I feel about my children.

I feel desperate for them all the time,
but especially when we are separated from each other.
I've found that it doesn't matter how old they are.
Do you feel the same way?

Being separate makes me painfully aware of my insecurities as their mother.
It's not so different than when they were babies, and I held their feverish bodies in the middle of the night, realizing just how desperate love had made me.
I remember comprehending that I was just not equipped well enough for this monumental role--
I was not prepared to shape a life.

It was then that I began realizing how terribly I needed you.
I still do.
Age has not lessened my inabilities or insecurities. Or my neediness.
Age has, if anything, created a wiser understanding of all of it.

I still need more than ever.
As my children grow, I am overwhelmed with the rush of time
and the realization that I am still growing myself.
And in many areas, I have failed to grow.

Please, Lord,
make me a mother who still gathers my chicks, who makes them feel safe with me.
Make me a mother who listens instead of lectures,
who encourages instead of interrogates,
who supports instead of criticizes.
Make me a mother who's patient, understanding that a life isn't finished learning and growing until it dies--
until our eternal perfection.
Make me a mother who's respectful of my children's decisions, personalities, fears, and triumphs, who doesn't try to make them like me,
and who rejoices that they are not me.
I pray they are the people you created them to be.

Make me a mother who points my children toward you.
I cannot be a perfect representation of you.
(That's pretty obvious by now.)
But perhaps, my failings will show my children to depend on you.
That none of us will ever achieve perfection.
That the Christian life is about striving, failing, and striving again.
That it's about relationship,
just like mothering is primarily about relationship.

That's my cry, Lord,
I ask you to hear it and somehow empower me to do it.
Or at least work around me and perform something miraculous.

In Jesus' loving name,
Amen.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Prayers for the Traveler

Dear Lord God,
You are everywhere, You feel everything, and You see everything.
You know I'm stressed about traveling.
I'm not afraid--I'm excited, and I feel so blessed.
It's just that leaving work and family behind is worrisome.
Sending my children to travel without me is also worrisome.
The world is a worrisome place.
You know that.
So I place everyone I love into your care.
You alone can protect us.
You alone will guide and direct us.
We are Your children,
Your beloved,
Your chosen ones.
Give us Your peace and Your power
as we go out into new places--
make us missionaries, gospel-bringers--
whether we vacation or serve.
Grow us, refresh us, change us.
Bind the enemy's hands that want to hurt us.
Protect the work You are doing in and around us.
Guide the hands of those who drive cars, trains, and planes;
may they be alert, efficient, careful.
May all the world--not just us--see Your glory everywhere we look.
Grant us spiritual opportunities and give us the courage to take them,
even while we rest and play.
We trust You, and we adore You.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

image by Daniel Smith

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Prayer to a Good Father

Dear Father in Heaven,

That's a strange concept to me. A heavenly father. Who are you, and how can you love me like a father loves his child when there are 7.5 billion people in the world today? People you want as your children?

You require holiness, but I am so unholy.
You created me, yet I complain about this creation. (Why did you design bodies to change with age???)
You have compassion and patience with me, even though I fail the same faith tests repeatedly.
You are probably annoyed with my whining and entitlement, yet you don't lose your temper or say things you shouldn't.

You don't work too much or fall asleep in your chair or forget birthdays or feel helpless when I'm despairing. (I don't know if earthly fathers do those things, but I've heard that some do.)

This is why Father's Day is hard,
why the concept of a Heavenly Father is hard:
I don't know what good fathering feels like.

But I know what love feels like.
I know what the Holy Spirit feels like when He's speaking through me.
I know what peace feels like when the world is hammering me hard,
what hope feels like when there's no logical reason to hope.
I know what confidence feels like, even when I am painfully unqualified.

Perhaps that's fathering at its best, on earth and in heaven.
Good fathering covers you, protects you, accepts you, directs you, loves you.

So thank you.
Thank you for being a Father to the fatherless.
Thank you for fathering the fathered.
Thank you for being whatever kind of father all 7.5 billion of us need.

We just need to talk to you, to find out Who you are,
what kind of Father you are.
We have to decide not to be afraid to know you.
Because you won't disappoint, leave, die, or hurt us.
And you only do good things.

I love you, God. You are my Father.

Amen.

image by axelle b