Friday, March 31, 2017

A prayer for beggars

I saw a woman standing on the median yesterday while I waited in my car for the light to turn green. I read her cardboard sign, which asked for money and promised not to spend it on alcohol or drugs. She had a crutch, and I noticed that she limped as she paced.

I admit, I watched her carefully to see if the limp was legit.

I wondered what it would be like to need handouts to survive and why someone would stand all day on a median instead of finding a job. Was she homeless? Jobless? Or was begging her job, and her Honda was parked in the Burger King parking lot across the street?

I was judgey and sympathetic at the same time, and I hated myself for it.
I noticed she didn't look at any of us drivers; she just stared straight ahead, holding her sign steady. I thought she must get tired of drivers not wanting to meet her gaze, themselves staring straight ahead over their steering wheels, uncomfortable and conflicted about her presence.

I looked ahead, too, praying about what to do. Then I pulled out my wallet and found a $5.00 bill. Not sacrificial, not risky, but something. I wondered if my motives were truly kind or just guilty.

The light turned green, and I rolled down my window and held out the bill. She was ready for it, so she must have been watching me, too. She knows the signs of a driver fumbling for a purse, considering what to give. Acting all casual, like giving to beggars is an ordinary experience.

"Thank you! God bless you!" she said.

"Have a good day," I said.

But our eyes barely met.

Lord, God,
Forgive me. I confess that I am proud and self-absorbed and insecure about my calling. Give me a passion to help the hurting. Take away my cynicism and help me see everyone the way You see them. Remove our shame! It's the enemy's tactic to separate people, isolate souls, and increase pain. I pray for you to meet her physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. I pray the blood of Jesus over her and over me. May we both be transformed by Your likeness!
Amen.


"I was hungry, and you gave me something to drink, I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger, and you invited me in." Mtt. 25:35


image by George Hodan

Thursday, March 30, 2017

A prayer for my child's safety

Dear Lord Jesus,

You hear the hammering of my heart,
the ache of letting a child go out into the world,
although it terrifies me.
Your mother must have felt that way every day.
Today I'm releasing my child a little bit more,
and it hurts deeply--
not because I don't want him to go
(although there's a teeny piece of that)--
but because I don't want him to be hurt.

I ask You--I beg You--put a hedge of protection around my child.
Send Your angels to encircle him,
to fight for him, to protect him against the forces of this world that seek his harm.
Protect his mind from secular thinking.
Protect his heart from loving the temporary things of this world.
Protect his body from physical and emotional damage,
from impurity, from hate, from unforgiveness, from bodily harm.

And while You protect him, breathe life into his spirit.
May he feel the most free, the most happy, the most fulfilled, when he is in Your presence.
Give him a longing for You and for Your Spirit.
Only You can do that.
I can only wish it and pray for it.

Speak to him in Your still, small voice.
Help him to make time to hear it.

And lastly, fill me up with faith and love for You,
so that I can trust him to You.
Every day, I struggle with this task of giving him into Your care
and believing that You know best
and that You are working in him according to Your own timeline.

Thank You for entrusting him to me for this short time on earth,
and the even shorter time called childhood.
Oh, how fleeting are the days during which I am a primary influence.
I cherish them, and I ask You to bless them,
in spite of the millions of mistakes I have made and am making.

Bless us, Jesus. Bless us with Your spirit and Your protective hand.
In Your holy name,
Amen.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Praying about a ministry decision

Dear Lord,

I'm investigating a new opportunity for ministry, and I want to hear your voice.

It's been on my mind. I've felt passion for it. I've investigated a little. And I feel your spirit stirring me inside.

Should I do this? Is this what you want?

I'm not really qualified. I'm not confident. There are probably other people who could do it better.

Yet I know from experience and reading the Bible that these facts are often an indication that you are calling me. You usually call me to tasks greater than I can handle so I will turn to you for everything.

I will give myself to prayer and Scripture this week so I can hear you when you speak to me. I am committing to you right now to obey you in whatever you ask--to follow wherever your will takes me.

Any other response removes me from your blessing. I can't live without your blessing on my life. And by "blessing," I mean your favor. I realize and remind myself that blessings aren't always pleasant or easy. As much as my insecurity wants ease, my spirit does not, because you are not in the business of making life easy. You are a miracle-worker and a culture-changer. You are redeeming souls, families, and nations.

I want to be a part of that calling! I love you, and I worship you,

Amen.

"Do not let they Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."--Josh. 1:8-9

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Thursday, March 9, 2017

A raw intercession

Dear Lord Jesus Christ--

You are full of mercy and love,
and you amaze me
because we are a desperate and sinful people,
and yet you don't annihilate us.
At least, not yet.

And so I pray to you.
Grant us mercy--give us time to repent.
On behalf of those who serve you,
if we have pleased you with our rare and paltry obedience,
please go with us into the earth.
Convict us.
Transform us.

Forgive the arrogance and selfishness of us, your name-bearers.
We misrepresent who you are to your world.
We are stubborn and rebellious.
We elevate our own agendas.
We hate the lost, and we compete with our brothers,
and we call it Christianity.

Please forgive our wickedness.
Our sin is grievous to you,
and it confuses your message of forgiveness to the world.
Under the canopy of spiritual election,
we have confused freedom with grace,
conservatism with purity,
and protection with compassion.

Your heart must be breaking at the sight of us.

We bear your name,
and we look nothing like you.

Make us your inheritance,
the recipients of your blessings--
not because we deserve ease and comfort (because we don't!)--
but because your name is Jesus,
the One and Only,
the Lover of our Souls,
the Hope of All Creation.

Covenant with us to use us in spite of our egotism,
to transform us in spite of our failures.
May your name be glorified on earth
forever and ever.
Amen.

(taken from Ex. 34:8-9)

image by George Hodan

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Thy Kingdom Come

Dear King of Kings,

You are the ruler of all things and all people,
yet you don't wield your authority or intimidate us into doing your will.
So I know that I can ask you for help.

I need your direction
to  prioritize my day
in a way that advances your kingdom.

This is difficult.

Because even the good things I do,
I often do because they benefit me.
They make me feel better about myself,
and they build better relationships with other people, which also benefits me.

That's not building your kingdom. It's building mine.

Although the process will be uncomfortable, make me selfless.
Although it will hurt, teach me to sacrifice my desires.
Although serving others will mimic failure,
help me to see that true success only occurs in the kingdom of God.

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

Ah! There it is!
A perspective change.
Oh, to live life with another kingdom in mind!

Lord, help me to be heavenly,
even during my earthly grind.

Amen.

image by RAJESH misra