Saturday, December 31, 2016

A Prayer for 2017

Lord, God of Time and Eternity--

A year is passing, and a new year is beginning.
This is no big deal to you,
because You've watched a millennia float by,
neither rushed by it nor slowed by it.
But we humans are obsessed with time;
we can't get enough of it.
Yet You give us exactly what we need
to do exactly what You've decided we should do.
(If only we would follow Your plan,
we'd always have enough time for everything!)

That's why I'm praying.
I'm tempted to ask for a better year,
but I know that's selfish and short-sighted.
So instead, I'm asking for Your will,
Your guidance,
Your discipline,
Your conviction.
Make me more like Jesus this year.
Please.
I need more of Him and more of You
and more of the Holy Spirit.
I need the Trinity at work in me.

I suspect that endeavor will use up all the time I have.
It will be time well spent.

Thank You for investing in me!
Thank You for blessing me!
Thank You for creating a way for me to become eternal.

In Jesus' precious name,
Amen.

image by Vera Kratochvil

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Thank You for my Marriage

Dear Lord Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church,

You understand everything about marriage, even though you were never married.
(You created marriage, after all.)
And you created me and my husband,
so you fully anticipated the areas where we would clash
and the areas we would jell.
Thank you.
Even when we disagree or become irritated, because of you, we grow stronger.
We grow deeper in love and appreciation for each other
and more awed by your love and grace.
Thank you for my marriage--for all of it--
for the good days and the difficult days,
for the joys and sorrows,
for the realism of living my whole adult life with one person.
I am the luckiest girl alive.
You have blessed me so much!
Thank you, thank you thank you!
I love you,

Amen.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Come, Lord Jesus, Come


O come, O come, Immanuel.
Come thou long-expected Jesus.
Come, thou Fount of every blessing.
Spirit of the Lord, come.
Come, Lord Jesus, come.

Just come.

I can't manage trying to live without You.

"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.'"--Luke 1:35

Praise the Lord, He came!


image from George Hodan

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Seeking Jesus in a Christmas Prayer

Lord Jesus, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace--

Let me not overlook you during the Christmas season
or tag you on to my festivities, like a novelty or a dessert.

You are Peace. You are Life. You are Lord.
Help me, in my selfishness and weakness, to seek you.

I want to seek you like Joseph, who gave up his dignity.
I want to seek you like Mary, who gave up her security
I want to seek you like the shepherds, who gave up their identity.
I want to seek you like the wisemen, who gave up their wealth.
I want to see you like Anna, who gave up her time.

I want to seek you at Christmas and every day.
Reveal yourself to me anew,
and help me to see you for who you really are
and see myself for what I really am.

Lost. Desperate. Dependent.
And so incredibly blessed.

Thank you for your love and sacrifice.
I live in joy because of Christmas.

Amen.

image by Vera Kratochvil

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A prayer to find answers

Dear Lord God Jehovah,
I'm having a heavy heart kind of day.
I've been remembering sad things,
things that make me feel disappointed and hopeless.
I want to crawl into a corner and shut out life.
That's where You come in.
You've showed up many times during my life when the joy of living has vanished and memories haunt.
And You feel what I feel, at the moment when I feel it.
Even though I feel alone, You are with me.
I must remember who You are and what You
do--
what You have always done for me.
You fill me with unexplainable comfort.
You cradle my heart with warm hands and soothe the heavy space inside that hurts.
You're the reason I pray.
I don't pray because I want answers.
I pray because You are the only Answer.
Thank you for doing Your work in me,
through pain, through confusion, and through thanksgiving.
Thank You for the memories of You.
Amen.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A prayer for students

Dear Rabbi-Teacher,

You understand the intricacies of the mind--of learning and believing and feeling deeply. You have given us the ability to investigate, acknowledge, believe, and reject you. You are comfortable with leaving the decision to us. You are great and powerful, and I cannot take You in. But You are still the Rabbi, the teacher of students who just don't "get it."

Lord, I pray for increased understanding and acceptance for who You are and what You want for my life. I ask for you protection over the hearts and minds of students everywhere. I pray for them to recognize truth through the power of the Holy Spirit and receive the Truth, Jesus Christ. I ask for boldness and discernment and wisdom and compassion.

Make our students fierce defenders yet humble messengers of Your truth. May their actions bring glory to You, instead of bring shame on the followers of Christ. Give teachers a passion for integrity and an understanding of truth. Help us, who can shape education, focus on mentoring students to carry Christ wherever they go, rather than to expect Christ to be present wherever they are.

Make our students revolutionaries for the gospel. That is the point of education. So teach us and send us into the world to share Your truth.

Amen.

"Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God." (John 3:2)


image by Lynn Greyling

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

A prayer for Thanksgiving

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the harvest. I get to live in a plentiful land.
Thank you for family. I get to live with people I love, who love me.
Thank you for my church. I get to worship You without opposition.
Thank you for my country. I get to pursue anything I want.
Thank you for my faith. I get to grow in a relationship with You.
Thank you for everything. You made it all and shared it with me.

Amen.

image by Petr Kratochvil

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

A prayer at work

Dear Lord,
Please get me through this work day.
I am tired.
I am uninterested in my work.
I'm grateful, yes, but I want to be done.
Thank you for providing me this opportunity,
but please help it end quickly.
Amen.

P.S. I really am thankful, but You remember "I'm dust," right?

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust." (Psalm 103:13-14)

image by Carlos Sardá


Friday, November 11, 2016

A prayer for veterans

Lord God of Mercy,

You know the pain of war and the inner workings of the human mind and emotions. I ask Your presence to fall upon the veterans of our countries today. Be Jehovah-Rapha, the God of healing to them.

Administer grace to the anguished. Lavish love on the lonely and forgotten. Help those of us to reach out to them, we who can't begin to understand the pain of participating in war or living with someone who's been traumatized by war.

Help us be a people who understands and appreciates the pain of others. Give us mercy and love for the marginalized. Let us not hate those who differ from us, but let us not also ignore and embrace sin because we are too afraid to reflect Your glory in our confused world.

We need Your wisdom, today and everyday. But I ask that today, above all days, uplift the hearts of servicemen and women, encouraging them in the power of God. Make Your Church a lighthouse to the wandering heart and the weary soul.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.


image by George Hodan

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Prayer after the election

Dear God of heaven and Lord of earth,

You already knew what would happen with this election.
You've known about every election, every coup, every hostile take-over in the history of the world,
Every peaceful transition, every glorious ascensions to power and privilege.
We want a servant leader.
Maybe that's just You.
You let flawed people succeed.
Sometimes the good; sometimes the bad.
Perhaps You are working on all our hearts,
probing and prodding and wooing everyone to Yourself,
giving all of us a chance to repent and believe
because You love evil people, and we are all evil, on some level.
You're never in a hurry.
You have a plan for us all.
Give me your grace, love, and mercy.

Amen.


Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Cut Away

I thought God wanted to answer my prayers. It's why I pray "in Jesus' name." Perhaps I'm overlooking something.

"Anyone who has faith in me will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, SO THAT THE SON MAY BRING GLORY TO THE FATHER. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it." (John 14:12-14)

Then why don't I get what I ask for?

"You want something, but you don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures." (James 4:2-3)

Holy Spirit, You convict me.
I want You to do greater things in me, but only for the glory of God.
Change me, develop me, wreck me
if that will bring You glory.
I want Your glory. I do.
(I just struggle daily over the glory I crave for myself.
It wars against the glory You should have.)
This is my request: cut away the narcissism from my heart and mind.
Chop it up and make me useful to you.
Sever the selfishness in me, O God.
I know it will hurt, 
and I will question Your love and Your will while You're doing it,
while You're stacking up my issues, addressing them one by one.
So Holy Spirit, remind me what You're doing each day when I pray: 
You are killing my vanity so that Your Spirit can reign in me, unhindered.
Cut down my ambition
so that my spirit and life will bring glory to God.

Amen.

image by George Hodan

Monday, October 31, 2016

Thank you for my heritage

Dear Lord, Jehovah Jireh,
the God who provides--

Thank you for providing me a heritage.
No background is perfect,
and no family is without pain and suffering.
Yet regardless of present circumstances,
my heritage is a provision from You
to shape me and direct my attention
toward You
and toward Your never-failing, no-strings-attached love.

Thank you for providing me a life,
imperfect and filled with pain,
yet bursting with opportunities for growth.
You stretch me and challenge me
because You love me.
You have plans for me.

These are just some aspects of Your unimaginable provision.
Thank You, Jehovah-Jireh.
Let me never forget or minimize the depth of your care,
even when I don't understand it.

Amen.

image by K Whiteford 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Praise and Comfort

A Paraphrase of Psalm 66


Almighty God,

The whole world will shout with joy to You and testify of You,
telling everyone about the amazing things You've done for mankind.
We worship You! How awesome are Your dealings with us!
Your enemies cower under Your majesty.
They cannot hide from Your power.

Everyone,
Take notice of God's care:
He miraculously interferes in the natural causes of the earth and rescues us, miraculously.
He controls and oversees mankind, even while evil men rule the earth.
They will not win over Him.
Everyone, praise the Lord! Tell others of His powerful deeds!

He keeps us from demolishing our own lives, if we let Him.
He challenges our faith by leading us through difficult circumstances.
He allows us to be tested, persecuted, and oppressed.
Yet He endures affliction with us and brings us out into a sunny place.

Then we worship Him,
because we see Him for who He is:
great, powerful, loving, and just,
a God who can be trusted.

Everyone, come and listen to my testimony:
I have endured a desolate place of sadness,
yet I see God everywhere.
When I feel hopeless, I hope in Him.
When I feel lonely, I lean on Him.
When I am anxious, I rest in Him.

God alone, who created the heavens and the earth
somehow has time for me.
I will pray, even if I haven't prayed for awhile.
I will sing, even though I don't feel like it.
I will worship because I cannot enter His presence and not.

Praise the Lord, who hears my prayers,
who does not hold my humanity against me.
If I cover up my sin, He won't listen,
but if I uncover the secret places of my heart,
He will come and and rest and fellowship with me.

I am overwhelmed by Your love, O Lord!

Amen.


image by Lilla Frerichs














Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Prayer for the future

Dear Father, who transcends time and place--

My hope is in You.
I will not fear, regardless of what the world says and does.
I will not judge, regardless of the way people treat me.
My hope is in You.
I will not worry, regardless of the uncontrollable situations around me.
I will not pout, regardless of disappointed dreams.
My hope is in You.
I will not complain, because You give me more than I deserve.
I will not lose heart, because You give me courage.
I will not give up, because You give strength for every circumstance.
My hope is in You.
You, alone, wipe away the past.
You, alone, are my present joy.
You, alone, give me a future.
My hope is in You.
I will trust Your plans because Your will is central to my life.
I will trust Your will because You are good.
I will look forward and not backward.
I will set my affection on heaven, not earth.
Then I will have hope.
You did not make me for this present world.
You made me for Yours.
So give me hope for that future, where perfect joy and peace will finally be realized.
My hope is in You.

Amen.

"But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in You."--Psalm 39:7

image by Robert Nacke

Friday, October 7, 2016

A prayer for my children's hearts

I just read 2 Thess. 3:5 this morning on my Bible app. This is what is says, in a few different translations:

ESV--"May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ."

NIV--"May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance."

NKJV--"Now may the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and the patience of Christ."

This passage sounds like a prayer to pray over my children.

Dear Lord God of heaven,

Your grace and providence astounds me. I thank you for my children and the rich challenge and reward that parenting them brings to my life. Use me to be an effective and authentic example of your love and grace. Somehow, let them catch a glimpse of You through me, even when I'm messing up and beings so profoundly and sinfully human.

And now I pray that you will direct and guide their hearts on a course toward loving You completely and whole-heartedly. As they experience Your love in their lives, give them an urgency to respond to You and a passion to serve You. And as they love, give them patience and perseverance to love others with godly grace. Give them tenacity to remain faithful to You and Your calling on their lives. Give them courage to work at their faith and to never be ashamed of the gospel.

I pray these boldly, in Jesus' name, and I believe that You will answer these requests, above and beyond what I can hope for, because You are Jehovah. Nothing is too hard for You, and You want nothing more than to see Your children walk in truth. Thank You for answering these requests!

In Jesus' holy and precious name,
Amen.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Thanks for Chocolate

Dear God, the Omniscient One--

Thank you!
You were wise enough and imaginative enough to create chocolate.
Or, at least, you created the cocoa bean, and You inspired some Latino to invent chocolate.

It doesn't matter.
Chocolate was perhaps the greatest invention of all time.
Thank you for its rich flavor and bitter-sweetness.
Thank you for its energizing and comforting qualities.
Thank you for its versatility: no matter what you bake, it will taste better with chocolate.
How remarkable that one square of dark chocolate or one sip of hot, foamy milk chocolate can reach down into the sad and tired places of my soul and stir up warmth and vitality!
You must want me to eat and drink it because one bite or one sip is never enough.

I must have more.
Perhaps this is a cautionary tale--a shot across the bow--a warning against a food addiction.

Whatever.
I just know that I love chocolate.
And for that reason, and many other more important reasons,
I love You.
(And now, I have finished my cup of hot chocolate, but I must have some more.)
Are you giving me a picture of how I should crave You?
I don't know.
It's hard to make any spiritual applications when I have chocolate on my brain.

Amen.


images by Mick Lissone,  and MALIZ ONG

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Praying the "Turnaround Prayer"


Today has been especially hard for me, for no particular reason except that I'm grieving, and today I'm grumpy and unsettled about it.

I am not a perky Christian right now. I feel dried up. Parched like a wind-swept desert, I am unable to quench the emptiness of my heart. My faith is strong enough not to rage at God or question His sovereignty; I'm just unhappy, lost even. How selfish that sounds! 
After a sad, scrolling-through of social media posts, I ran across my friend Bob Hostetler's blog on Guideposts, dated yesterday, Sept. 20, 2016. I appreciate his perspective on praying through hard times. Here is an excerpt from his blog "Pray for Blessings from Disappointments"--


"Most of us, when misfortune occurs, pray for relief or deliverance. That is natural, and it’s a good way to pray. 
After all, the psalmist David prayed, “Please, God, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (Psalm 70:1, NLT). And “Please, Lord, rescue me! Come quickly, Lord, and help me” (Psalm 40:13, NLT). . . 
I pray those kinds of prayers a lot. But sometimes I have the presence of mind—and the faith—to pray differently. 
I may start with prayers like those, but I continue in my praying to say something like, “God, turn this whole situation around. Where there is now confusion, bring understanding. Where now there is only pain and suffering, turn it into an occasion for amazement and joy and bring glory to Your name!” . . .
'Turnaround' prayers do more than ask God to fix something, they ask Him to turn a situation on its head and bring beauty from ashes, blessing from disappointment, glory from gloom. 
So try it. Don’t just ask God to heal you, ask Him to turn your affliction around and make it an occasion for rejoicing. Don’t simply request relief, ask for a 180-degree reversal of the situation, one that will bring glory to God. . . .
Pray 'turnaround prayers' and see if your faith and God’s faithfulness combine to do something special in answer to your prayers."


You can read Bob's prayer blog in its entirety (or any of his previous blogs on Guideposts) by clicking on this address:


Monday, September 12, 2016

Prayers from a stacked pot

O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer--

I feel like a stacked pot, waiting among so many others for something new and miraculous to overpower my life.

I forget what miracles You've already done on my behalf.
Now I'm asking for Your transforming power
to erase pain, redeem mistakes,
and use my years of working and waiting.
Somehow, take my ordinary life and transform it into a glorious piece of Your master plan.
Make me patient as I sit and wait.
Build my faith as I trust You.
Help me see past the pressures of this life that weigh on me and threaten to stifle my calling.

I feel so ordinary,
so confined in my purpose,
like a clay pot stacked among so many others.

I forget that
You made me for eternity.
I should not pine for it or waste my time here,
but I need to work like what I do here matters.
Because it does matter.
I must participate and fulfill whatever task you have placed in front of me.
You will redeem even the mundane.
Even the mistakes,
as long as I am a willing pot in the Potter's hands.

Mold me.
Use me.
Break me, if necessary.
Redeem my every move.

Amen.

Psalm 19:14--My the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.


image from Petr Kratochvil

Friday, September 9, 2016

Prayer for my sponsored child

Dear Lord,

You provide and equip us for the journeys we take.
Please provide a covering from evil and protection from violence for my sponsored child.
Keep the enemy away from his family and his future.
Give him hope, courage, and resilience to live in his present situation.
Help him to know You and love You. I pray for his salvation and surrender to Your will.
I pray for spiritual influences in his life that give him a picture of You and Your love.
Give him a hope and a future of Your designing.
May he always walk in Your ways.
I thank you for the privilege of speaking into his life and loving him.
Your grace is unfathomable.
Thank you for loving me enough to involve me in Your important work.
Make me faithful to Your calling.

I love you! And I love this child. May he grow up in the confidence of both.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My soul waits for you (impatiently)

O Lord,

I am waiting for you.
I am waiting for your voice, your direction, your blessing.
Frankly, I am waiting for life to get easier.
(As if that's what you're going to do or how you're going to speak to me.)

How foolish!
Lord, teach me to wait patiently.

I guess that's what you're doing because you're making me wait
for everything: answers, direction, deliverance, comfort.
That is your blessing.  You bless me with the wait.
Grrr.

So help me wait for you--for more of your spirit,
for more of your personality, for more of your holiness.
That's what waiting will do:
bring patience, hope, and faith.
Waiting is doing something.
Waiting is growing.
Waiting is what nurtures hope and faith and love.

What will be your answer when it comes?
Redemption.
You only know how to redeem time, redeem lives, redeem mistakes.
You will redeem the wait.
Maybe without waiting, I wouldn't recognize redemption.
Maybe I'd just think I was really smart and talented and successful.
Waiting makes me look for you and see you.

Teach me to believe that while I wait.

Amen.

"I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. My soul waits more than the watchmen wait for the morning. . . . put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption." Psalm 130:5-7

image by Petr Kratochvil

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Praying to the Best of Friends

Dear Friend of Sinners,

I don't know why you've befriended me,
why you're "a friend that sticks closer than a brother,"
or why you proved that there is no greater love than
a man who gives up his life for his friend.

I don't think I'm that kind of friend,
but I want to be.
Could I give up my life?

I want to be the friend who gives up time and energy for others.
I want to be the friend who cries for them in their grief
and rejoices with them in their successes,
who is never jealous or competitive,
a friend who is secure enough to include outsiders
but trustworthy enough to guard privacy.

Lord, humble me so I am willing to sacrifice for people when they need me.
Encourage me through your friendship so I don't give up trusting others.
Comfort me so I don't get used to being lonely.
Give me the friends you want me to reach.

Make me the kind of friend that you are, Jesus.

Amen.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Why should I thank God when I'm grieving?

Dear God of all comfort,

Thank you.

I'm grieving, but I thank You for everything.

Thank you for creating the church, which functions like a family. I can't explain how people I've never met or hardly know can send me a prayer or encouragement, and I instantly feel loved and no longer alone.

Thank you for making prayer a way to express grief, joy, fear, and frustration. I don't know why it works, but it does.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve You by serving other people. I don't know why loving someone else when I need to be loved fills an emotional hole, but it does.

Thank you for growing my faith through trials. I don't completely understand how suffering can produce joy in my life, but I see it happen all the time.

Thank you for asking me to be generous. I can't explain how we can give away so much and still pay our bills, but remarkably, it's true.

Thank you for a million other blessings--for every sunset, for every flower, for every smile, for every laugh. For exquisite tastes and smells. For the bliss of cuddling a child and kissing a spouse. I am astounded by the richness of life.

You are truly remarkable. There is no other explanation for the joy of life, except to say that You are God. You are holy, righteous, just, wise, fierce, and tender. I am in awe of You.

Thank you for that, too.

Amen.


image by MALIZ ONG

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Praying comfort over grief

Dear God of all comfort,

You get grief. It sucks, doesn't it?

Grief interrupts the joy of living and suffocates you. It's like dying but knowing you will eventually come up for air, and you will not pass out. You will live through it.

You get it. You felt grief in the sharpest way possible. You were betrayed and rejected by the object of your love and sacrifice. And then you were rejected by your Father. You bore the weight of the sins of the whole world--the horrific acts of violence, cruelty, and debauchery. You felt them and You wore them as You died.

And because You know what grief is, You are the only true comforter.

So comfort us. Spread Your peace like a quilt over the shoulders of those who grieve parents, children, and the lives they hoped to live. Give each of us hope and confidence that You have a plan for us--You will prosper and keep us in Your perfect will.

Grief is just a part of Your will. It's just not the part we wanted to experience. To understand that, give us faith. Give us a community of encouragers. Turn our gaze upward to You.

That's what grief does. Its shoves us to the surface, gasping for air, where we see You.

Ahh! You are what we needed all along.

Thank you, Jesus. Give me Your peace.

Amen.

"He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. . . Surely, he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows." (Isaiah 53:3-4)

image by George Hodan


Sunday, July 24, 2016

A prayer of protection for the world's believers

Lord Jesus, Protector and Provider--

I pray your powerful hand of protection of the believers of the world. I pray for their souls to be full with the knowledge of You. I pray for boldness and protection as they share the gospel in hostile territories. I pray that their lives will radiate the love of Jesus as they go about their daily business. Give them fierce angels to wage warfare on their behalf, to cover them with protection, and to guide them to the battles You want them to fight. Give them victory against their spiritual enemies! Fill them with peace as they fulfill their calling. Protect their spouses and children with Your loving hands; let them live victorious and impactful lives on this earth and for eternity. Bless them, oh Lord! Give these warriors heaven's eyes--help them see with Your perspective and act for Your glory!

In the mighty name of Jesus,
Amen.

image by Jean Beaufort

Monday, July 18, 2016

What will You do for me today?

Dear Lord,

I will praise You.
Your blessings are new every morning.
Great is your faithfulness.
I wonder what You will do for me today?
Whatever You decide, it will be incredible,
gracious, and for my benefit.
Maybe I should be asking,
what will I do for You?

Amen.

"Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lam. 3:22, 23)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lord, Take my hand

Precious Lord,
Take my hand,
lead me on,
let me stand.
I am tired,
I am weak,
I am worn.
Through the storm,
through the night,
lead me on
to the light,
take my hand,
Precious Lord,
lead me home.

When my way grows drear,
Precious Lord,
linger near
when my life is almost gone.
Hear my cry
Hear my call,
Hold my hand,
lest I fall,
take my hand,
Precious Lord,
lead me home.

Amen and amen.

Lyrics by Thomas Dorsey


Tuesday, July 12, 2016

I'm lost without You

Lord, my Hope and Healer--
Give me words when my thoughts are jumbled.
Give me peace when I am overwhelmed.
Give me community when I feel alone.
Give me comfort when I am grief-stricken.
Give me Yourself, the only one who satisfies.
Help me see You in the world,
like hope on the horizon.
Help me see You in Your people,
who put their arms around me.
Help me see You at work in my life,
even when my heart feels hopeless.
I'm lost without You.
Amen.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Praying my mother into eternity

Dear Lord of heaven and Lover of our souls,

My soul is grieving, my heart is heavy.
My tears are many.
Yet you stir the truth in me.
You urge me to have perspective about life and death.
Death is not the enemy; it's the pathway into your presence.
Give me the faith to not lose heart.
while my mother's earthly body wastes away;
help me feel your renewal day by day.
Our present troubles are light and momentary compared
to the greatness of living eternity in your presence.
Your glory outweighs the heaviest of earthly pains!
Show us your glory by leading us through this valley of longing and loss.
I will fix my eyes on the unseen because it is eternal,
rather than on the things I see here:
the pain, the deterioration, the separation.
These are temporary;
they are joy-robbers and faith-robbers.
I was not made for this earth,
and neither was my mother.
Eternity calls her, and she deserves to go there.
Give her peace, joy, and eternal satisfaction.
There she will radiate your glory,
even more than she did here on earth.
Give me the courage and faith to believe this process is glorification, not destruction.
You are merely completing your master plan.
You crave her company, as I do.
But she was made for your company, not mine.
You may have her.
I will praise you in all things.

Amen.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18



Friday, July 1, 2016

Praying to the One who already knows what I need and why I didn't pray sooner

Lord, God, Who knows all,

You know who I am. You know what I've been doing.
I've been super busy,
but obviously, not as busy as You've been.
You know, running the world and all,
reading billions of people's hearts and minds,
listening to billions of prayers.
And yet, You still wait to hear from me.
Here I am, frantically running my life and confusing my own heart and mind,
when a little time with you would set all the confusion straight.
I've been too busy to pray the prayers I should be praying--the agonizing prayers of the soul--
the ones that will touch Your heart and cause You to answer me
with love and grace.

I'm not sure why I haven't been praying more.
You already know everything I'm going through.
You already know how everything will turn out.
But those aren't good reasons not to pray.
The truth is--
I stop praying because I'm lazy and self-absorbed.
I stop because I feel defeated from the beginning.
I'm too busy taking in the world around me and deciding that life is overly hard and unjust--
and I rule prayer out of my daily routine.

That's when the discouragement sets in.
And then the longing.
And then the anxious prayers.
I stop believing that I know what I'm doing down here;
I stop busying myself, trying to fix everything,
And I pray.
Pray, pray, pray.
Ahh!
That's more like it.

Thanks for listening and loving and waiting.
I need You desperately.
You also know that.

Amen.

image by Mick Lissone

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Prayer for Fruit

Lord Jesus,

Somehow, help me to live a life worthy of you, to please you in every way.
Produce fruit from my life through good works.
Give me wisdom and insight to grow in the knowledge of God.
Strengthen me with power according to your glorious might.
Help me endure and be patient, give joyfully.
Thank you, Father, for qualifying me to share in your inheritance of the saints in your kingdom.
You have rescued me from the dominion of darkness and brought me into the kingdom of the Son you love.
Thank you for redeeming and forgiving my sins.
Transform me.
Make me wise enough to be satisfied with you.
That's when the fruit will ripen.

Amen.

Col.1:9-14

image by Petr Kratochvil

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My answered prayer for peace

I'm in the middle of a pretty huge decision, regarding someone else's care. I've lost a good bit of sleep over it and spent a lot of time in research and analysis. I've been praying, too, for wisdom and direction. (Lightning bolts would be helpful.)

Then Monday afternoon, I made a decision, which I obsessed over Monday night when I should have been sleeping.

Tuesday morning I prayed again--this time, for peace, for an answer, and for my own faith to grow. I opened to John 14 because I know that's where Jesus talks to His disciples about peace. They're in the garden, and He knows that Judas Iscariot is showing up any minute to betray Him. He knows that torture, humiliation, and grief will follow. He knows His Father will reject Him, and His mother will weep before Him.

Yet He says, "I am leaving you a gift--peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don't be troubled or afraid." (John 14:27)

The world cannot give me peace. Neither can analysis, public opinion, common sense,  or straightforward decisiveness.

Only Jesus. And it's His gift to me, if I take it.

I took it.

And then an expert called me and affirmed the decision I had made on Monday. Jesus knows that sometimes, I need affirmation from multiple sources. But His gift--the peace of heart and mind--is really enough for me. Why would I want to stay troubled, when such a gift awaits my opening?



image by George Hodan

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A prayer about my money

Dear Lord,
You own all my money, but you know how sometimes I get attached to it.
I have plans for it, and there never seems to be enough of it.
But, oh, how amazing it is to watch you multiply it when I let go.
I don't have any excess, so how much do you want?
All of it? How is that possible?
You're showing me already where it belongs. You've written someone on my heart.
You've sketched a place in my mind's eye that needs your touch.
Wow.
Giving hurts. I feel nervous to let it go. I feel afraid to participate.
What if I've misheard you?
Really, Lord? All of it?
Let me work, you say.
Okay, I will. I love you. I trust you. Everything is yours, anyway.
Thank you for using me. Thank you for growing me.
Amen.

image by Junior Libby

Monday, May 30, 2016

A prayer for blessing our nation

Lord of heaven, the God of the whole earth and of America,

We are a smug, selfish people. Forgive us, Lord, for asking for you to move in our nation merely because we want spirituality to be popular and sanctification to be easy. Forgive us for wanting laws that accommodate our spiritual goals rather than laws that motivate our spiritual fervor.

Bless us with your conviction and the power of your spirit! Manifest your patience and lovingkindness for our weaknesses! Continue to bless us--not with material wealth and extravagant living--but with the reality of your presence. May your presence go before us, go with us, and shield us from behind, as we deliver your message to a lost nation of peoples. Give us the courage to share your word, as it lives and breathes among us, transforming us to become more like you.

Make us into missionaries within our own borders! Bless us with courage and determination to share Christ rather than impose morality.

Give us patience and lovingkindness for others, as we desire for ourselves. May all your plans succeed in your timing and for your purpose. We are the people you have called and chosen--not to live prosperous and happy lives, but to share the good news with a nation that doesn't know who you are or what you've done for us.

Bless America through our testimony, and nothing else.

Amen.

"But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance."
--Psalm 33:11-12


image by Linnaea Mallette

Monday, May 23, 2016

Prayer for Perspective

Dear Lord God,
whose will is too complex for me to comprehend--
I praise you.

"You have preserved our lives and kept our feet from slipping.
For you tested us; you refined us like silver.
You brought us into prison and laid burdens on our backs.
You let men ride over our heads;
we went through fire and water,
but you brought us to a place of abundance."

Give me the faith and courage to trust you and your will like that!--
That regardless of my circumstances and my fears,
I will believe that you are doing a mighty work unknown to me,
in and around me.
And even through me,
even when it feels like you are hurting me or persecuting me or ignoring me.
I may never understand what you are doing,
but that's okay because you don't answer to me,
and I am not entitled to know the ends of your plans for this world in which I live.

"I will come to your temple with burnt offerings and fulfill my vows to you.
Come and listen, all you who fear God;
let me tell you what he has done for me.
I cried out to him with my mouth;
his praise was on my tongue.
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened;
but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer
or withheld his love from me."

Your love is enough.
Your will is enough.
I will praise you.

Amen.

(Psalm 66)


image by Gerhard Lipold

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Thank you for my children

Lord of mercy and love,

Thank you for my children.
Thank you for their successes.
Thank you even for their hardships
because it builds the character that I want them to have
and the character you want me to have.
(Because parenting always leads me back to you.)
I can't love them without your love
or lead them without following you.
I need you more than they need me or I need them.
Just you.
Help me to trust you with their lives,
through joys and sorrows,
triumphs and pain.
You have already shown yourself to be trustworthy--
They are your love language to me.
Your whispers of hope, healing, and heaven.
They are my greatest blessings.
Thank you.
Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I love you.
And loving them gives me a glimpse of who you are.

Amen.


Monday, May 9, 2016

A prayer for the freak-out moments

Lord of heaven,

I am freaking out
about everything I need to get done today.
Slow my heart rate.
Give me peace in my anxiety.
Nourish my soul.
Strengthen my faith in your plan for me.
Calm my mind and focus my thoughts of you.
You are Lord of my world and all eternity.
You amaze me.
Why do I let my list of responsibilities and expectations rob me of the peace you long to bring?
My obsession over the demands of this life is idolatry.
It is self-focused.
It is worship of an altered life, one that centers on the earthly realm instead of on your kingdom.
Center me.
I was not created for my to-do list.

Amen.

image by kai Stachowiak


Friday, May 6, 2016

A Prayer for Knowledge and Faith

A God who is omniscient is the reason I pray.

You create and impart all knowledge, even those who choose to believe You don't exist. I am awed by Your patience and Your grace in allowing each of us to search, resist, or find You as we will.

You don't push. You don't cajole. You don't condemn.

You just love.

You must know that Your love is irresistible to me. Your love persuades me to see You and experience You for who You are, somehow a deity who knows everything about me and yet is not repulsed by me. You aren't afraid that more knowledge of life and science will turn me away from You. Indeed, more knowledge ought to produce more faith.

An omniscient God knows that knowledge and faith are congruent and complimentary. You invented science--You designed its intricacies. I'm sure much of science is yet to be discovered. And yet my ignorance doesn't anger You. You smile and wait, like a patient father, for this over-confident human to grasp even a touch of Your creativity.

This is what I pray, to the one who knows everything:

Oh, Lord, Reveal Yourself to me.

Reveal Your power, Your will, the complexities of Your existence. Show me enough of Yourself so I believe, and give me the courage to accept the mysteries I'll never be able to comprehend.

Help me realize that a God whose actions I can explain would be no God at all. He would be me.

And I don't need to pray to myself. I'm the reason I need to pray to You. I can't really comprehend anything that goes on in my heart. It's desperately wicked, and it deceives me daily. (Jer. 17:9)

Create in me a new heart, O God. (Ps. 51: 10). Help me not to trust my own understanding. I adore You. I fear You. I believe in You.

Amen.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your path straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6)


image by Petr Kratochvil

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Intercession for the Grieving

Lord of Heaven, the Great Comforter,


You, above all others, understand grief. You have experienced the anguish of being separated from the ones You love.

So I pray confidently to ask for peace and comfort for my friends, who are grieving the loss of their father and husband. No matter how long someone lives, it is never long enough for those who love him.

Saturate this family and friends with joy at his home-going and calm over the empty space in their hearts. Help them remember everything about his life and his love with thankfulness and happiness. Although they grieve, give them a grief that's overshadowed by praise of a life well-lived and a hope of eternal glory. Surround them with old friends and give them the blessing of hearing how he has impacted the world for Christ.

And during the quiet moments and the darkness of night, send your Spirit to sit with them, hold them, and speak truth into their aching hearts.

In Jesus' loving name, Amen.

"Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

image by Pennie Gibson



Sunday, April 24, 2016

Give us ears to hear

Lord Jesus, the Word Who Became Flesh and lived among us--

I am in awe of your love and grace, that you would speak to me and convict me of the habits and fears that bind me from experiencing your love and freedom.

Show me your glory today! Reveal yourself through your words. Speak a powerful message through willing lives and willing lips, into the dark corners of the human heart. You speak power and conviction and encouragement from pulpits every Sunday, but you only speak to ears that listen.  Speak in our church today, I pray.

Give me ears to hear the message you will speak. Tear down the strongholds and clear out the defenses I build in my heart and mind to avoid the truth, reshape the truth, and deny the truth. May I be bold enough to listen!

You will visit me today with the message I need to hear. Give me the courage to hear it and obey it!

Amen.

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."--Rev. 3:6


image by Terrance Hatch

Monday, April 18, 2016

Give me wisdom

Lord Who Sees Me,

Give me wisdom to notice where You are working today,
where you want my participation in Your loving touch.
Time rushes past, and I clutch at it
because I was made for another world where time doesn't exist and my success is not needed.
Give me Your wisdom to spend the time You've given me here,
in the way You want me to spend it--
as an investment for eternity.
That's why I need Your eyes, Your heart, Your perspective.
Because naturally I have
not enough time,
not enough peace,
not enough of You.

I worship You. In that exchange, help me see You and follow You.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.

"If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you." (James 1:5)

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lord, You did it again! (a praise for grace)

Dear Lord,

You did it again!
You answered prayers we didn't deserve to have answered.
You gave grace in the midst of our frailties.
You sprinkled favor on us like a gentle rain;
Your radiance shined on us,
like the sun breaking through after a storm.
Thank you!
Thank you for being Yourself, Your loving and generous self,
who gives to the just and the unjust,
the holy and unholy,
just because You're holy.
You gave us another gift today,
just because You're You.
We are eternally grateful.
Help us to live worthy of Your grace here on earth (at least as much as possible).
It's what You want from us--
relationship,
obedience,
glory to God.
May You lengthen our memory of this day until the next time
we wonder if You love us enough to hear our prayers.

In Jesus' precious name, Amen.


image by MALIZ ONG

Monday, April 4, 2016

Why am I afraid?


Dear Lord,

Why am I afraid of the things I can't control, when You are all-powerful?
Why am I afraid of failure, when You've promised give me a future?
Why am I afraid to defend the truth--when You have called Yourself the Way, the Truth, and the Life?
Why am I afraid I won't be happy submitting to Your will, when lasting joy can only be found in You?
Why am I afraid to share the gospel, when You are the only answer to life's problems?
Why am I afraid to truly worship You, when I know that no other pursuit will satisfy me?
Why am I afraid to forgive others, when You let me live in Your grace and forgiveness?

Why do You even put up with me?

It makes no sense. But You are patience and mercy and love. Thank you!
Thank You for power, purpose, joy, salvation, intimacy, forgiveness, and grace. You amaze me!

I love You!! In Jesus' name, Amen.

Psalm 56:11--"In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?"

image by Piotr Wojtkowski

Monday, March 28, 2016

Prayer to "Be Still"

Lord Jesus,

I'm tired. I'm so, so tired. Give me the courage to slow down so you can whisper your peace into my life. Help me to rest in you--more than that, help me to be content resting in you. Content without the noise of rushing through life, hurrying to false contentment. You are enough for me. I don't need the busyness. Help me to stop striving and pushing for more. I know that you are God. You will be exalted among the nations. (If I am still before you. If I can hear your voice.) I love you!

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Ps. 46:10 (NIV)--"Be still and know that I am God."
(NASB)--"Cease striving and know that I am God."

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Prayer for Belgium

Our Lord, our Banner and our Savior,
I pray for your protection and blessing on the people of Belgium. I pray for you to reveal yourself to them through the love of Christ and those who believe on you. Give missionaries, pastors, and priests there the compassion and strength to share the love of God. Unite people in humanitarian efforts. Holy Spirit, halt the hate and the fear and cover people with your peace. Protect and keep us and draw us to yourself. I ask for your Spirit to convict the hardened hearts of the terrorists involved, causing them to confess their sins and assist authorities in stopping the violence. It would seem impossible, but with God, all things are possible! Prompt hearts and minds to turn toward you, the only protector of our souls and the one who loves us with everlasting love!
I ask this in Jesus' name,
Amen.


image from http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=belgium+flag

Monday, March 21, 2016

Everlasting Faithfulness

Lord, El Olam, the Everlasting God,

Help me to trust in you
Because you are eternal--you have always been, and you will always be.

When trouble comes, and there's no end in sight, help me to trust your will.
When I feel betrayed by someone close, help me to trust your friendship.
When life seems unfair, help me to trust your justice.
When I am anxious about the future, help me to trust your peace.
When I am lost, looking for direction, help me to trust your guidance.
When my circumstances seem hopeless, help me to trust your wisdom.
When everyone feels untrustworthy, help me to trust your character.

You have always been faithful to those who seek you--
Always just to those who need justice--
Always strong to those who lean on you--
Always loving, even when I am unlovable.

You are everlasting,
and so is your faithfulness,
your mercy,
your grace,
and your unending love.

Why am I worried? Why am I fearful?
I will hope in the Lord, from whom all blessings flow.
I will trust in you.

Amen.

"Do not let your heart be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me. . . . I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."--John 14:1, 6

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Why my tulip magnolia reminds me of God

The tulip magnolia trees in front of my house are the first blooms I see every spring. When those pink blossoms burst from their fuzzy February buds, my heart begins to soar. Regardless of a last-season frost or sudden heat wave, they still emerge. As they unfold, I can almost hear God's voice whispering, "I'm back! I'm about to do something great here."

Soft sprouting petals fade from dark to light pink. More signs of spring appear in my yard: the daffodils shake their perky yellow cups; flowering quince bursts in a mass of tiny coral petals; next, the cherry tree blooms fuchsia, then the flowering dogwoods, the tulips, and azaleas follow, all various shades of pinks, whites, and purples. I remember that God is faithful. (Maybe that's why He goes to all this trouble?) I meditate on my Creator and His creation. I smile with joy and hope.

Every year, my yard follows the same pattern. Trees bloom faithfully in their prescribed order, always new and yet somehow predictable. They bud, they bloom, they drop their petals, they leaf, they provide shade from the summer heat. Always timely and surprisingly glorious.

My trees and flowers sing of God's faithfulness. He is worthy of my praise and trust, because He has extravagantly provided. And next year, God will again paint a picture in my yard--not because I deserve it, but because He is good and faithful. His promises are true.

Thank you, God.

"The grass withers, and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever."--Isaiah 40:8