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

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Praying for big and little needs


This morning I read a friend Lori Hatcher's blog called "Is it wrong pray for little needs?"
I was just praying intermittently for my children to love God,
for the poor in Africa,
for our Compassion Sunday this week,
and for my social media/publicity needs,
and I was feeling guilty about how and why I pray.

I know that God doesn't judge me for making prayer requests.
He wants to hear them, and He wants to answer them.

The crux of the issue is my heart.
Do I want what He wants?
Do I desire His kingdom?
Or am I focused on building mine,
making my little family kingdom more comfortable
and less stressful?
Do I pray because I want to spare myself pain and hardship
or because I want God to use my hardships to advance His kingdom?

God,
I lay my anxieties and concerns at your feet.
I trust you completely with them.
Help me to not take these worries back from you today.
Amen.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.--1 Peter 5:7


Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Prayer over the synagogue shooting

Lord Jehovah--Yahweh--

I lift up the hearts and minds of devout Jews everywhere,
especially in Pittsburgh.
Comfort them and give them the peace only you can provide.
Protect them from evildoers, from violent people,
from the shooting down of hope,
freedom,
and faith.

Protect their hearts from the pain of violent words,
from the cowards,
the bigots,
and the self-righteous
in our land.

Heal these dear people.

May they never renounce faith in you because of persecution.
May they seek the Lord while He may be found.
May they implore the God of heaven to rescue and comfort them.
May they recognize the Messiah.

Thank you for the outpouring of love from people of many faiths--
this is God at work in hearts and lives.
Comfort the Jewish doctors and staff that suffered their own trauma
while attending to the shooter in the hospital.

You are a God of justice, and I pray for justice on Robert Bowers.
I pray that he repents and turns to you.
I pray that he asks forgiveness from his victims.
I pray for people like him, with hatred in their hearts,
to be convicted and transformed into people of compassion and understanding.

I pray for healing,
forgiveness,
and justice
for the victims and their families.

No good comes from violence
but somehow, you can make something beautiful from something tragic.
I pray for better legislation,
better justice,
more community.

I pray for more of you in this confused and godless land.
Send a wave of revival, Lord.
May those of us who know you
represent you well
as a God of love and forgiveness.
Keep us from hating for the haters.
Transform us into your image.

Amen.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

A prayer of deliverance from spiritual bondage

Lord, the powerful God,

Deliver my friend from spiritual bondage--
from fear, bitterness, anger, victimization, danger.
I pray against the spirits of fear and confusion,
of bitterness and hate.
I pray for hope, healing, and restoration to the daughter
you created her to be.

You replace ashes with beauty.
You place the orphans in families.
You are a husband to the widow.
You are judge to the lawless.
You bring hope to the hopeless,
sight to the unseeing,
healing to the broken,
justice to the oppressed,
friendship to the friendless,
love to the unloved.

Delivering my friend from her spiritual struggles is no problem for you.
Just another day's work for the God of the universe.

I am in awe of you.
In Jesus' holy and mighty name,
Amen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Intercession for Costa Rica

Lord God of the Universe,

Thank you for loving us and dying for us.
Thank you for using us to spread the gospel throughout the whole world.

I pray right now for the missionaries in Costa Rica
and the dear people they minister to.
I pray for the girls and boys in the Child of Hope Schools,
for them to come to believe and trust in Jesus.
I pray for the after-school programs for the Chicas and Chicos,
for these kids to find spiritual mentors and friends.
I pray they would see a difference in their Christian leaders
and learn to hope for a better, brighter future.
I pray for you to protect these children from abuse,
from drug and alcohol addiction.
I pray they would finish school and find careers
and most of all, answer your calling on their lives.

I pray for the women we met there,
that you would fill them with hope and courage.
Provide for their physical and emotional needs.
Protect them from abuse--may they be bold enough to stop it.
Encourage them in their spiritual walk and make them mighty warriors.
I ask for the Holy Spirit to fall on their homes and churches.

Inspire and provide for their pastors and pastors--
help them understand the Word and articulate it clearly.
Fill the churches with a passion to reach their communities.

I pray for the missionary structure and the language school in San Jose.
Raise up valiant leaders and visionaries.
Equip them with resources and energy to start new ministries
and reach more people.
I pray that the mission teams who travel there would be an asset,
not a drain,
on the missionary work.
Help us to give generously, advance the kingdom and re-energize the missionaries.

I pray for your work to flourish.
We wait for you and on you
to do your mighty acts on our behalf.

We love you and worship you!
Amen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A Prayer of Power for a mission trip

Lord,

You know I'm leaving on a mission trip in a few days.
I'm a bit of a lunatic right now--
so much to do,
and so many concerns.

I know you'll give me enough time and energy to do it.
I know I need to focus on prayer and preparation of my heart.
I know it's about you, not me.

Help me.

And go before me.
I pray your Spirit to hover over our destination,
to stir hearts and longings to know you.
I ask that your angels wage war in the spirit realm,
binding the enemy
who enslaves and robs and lies to these dear people.

In Jesus' name, open up the heavens and pour out your Spirit on this country
and on my team.
Fill us and use us and change us, O God,
according to your will and your purpose.
May our insecurity, pride, and fear not stand in the way of your work.

Overwhelm us with your love and power.
Transform us.
Transform these people.
May they bind the devil in Jesus' name.

I pray all these things in the mighty name of Jesus,
Amen.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Praying success over my child

Lord God,

You create everything beautiful in its time.
You mark out our days for us.
You are with us wherever we go.
It's important to remember that about you on days like this.

I pray your encouragement and sustaining power over my child
as he begins a new venture.
He is attempting something difficult and daunting today,
and he needs your touch.

Cover him with your hands of mercy.
Bolster his confidence in himself
and his reliance on you.
Give him courage to trust your will for his life.
Help him see the world through your eyes,
full of wonder,
full of possibility,
full of promise,
full of need.

Prepare his heart and mind for the next step in your plan.
Give him success in all he does.
Prosper him for the glory of your name.
Keep him humble, hungry, and content.
Groom him to be diligent in carrying out your cause.

Use him, Lord.
It's why you created him
and why I wanted him.
I give him to you, and I trust you with his life.

Give me courage to not waver from my faith in your care for him.
Amen.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Bring down this enemy

Dear God,

I'm going to access a little David here and ask you to bring down an enemy,
an enemy of someone who follows you.
Someone I care about.

When someone opposes truth and justice,
inflicts pain on one of your children,
and brings shame to the gospel--
how do you decide when enough time is enough?

After he has had opportunity to repent
and he still refuses,
what will you do?
Sometimes you choose to take that person out.
Perhaps this is one of those times.
(I feel a little guilty hoping for this.)
I'm not asking for this person's actual death,
just for a reckoning,
a humbling.

On behalf of everyone harmed by evil people,
I pray for your Spirit to humble, chastise,
and even destroy the enemies of Christ.

I've prayed for people's repentance--
and I know it's never too late for anyone to turn from wrong
and turn back to you--
but when it seems repentance will never happen,
I wonder if you could just remove this enemy from any influence and power
so he can feel the full weight of your punishment.

Mete out justice for your children,
affirm to them your love and grace.
You are the Mighty One,
the Holy Father,
the Righteous Judge.
Avenge the injustice against your followers
with swift and heavy punishment of those who oppose you.

May you have mercy on his soul,
and may we all live in awe of your righteousness and love.


Amen.

Psalm 18:13-15
Psalm 55:15-23

Friday, September 7, 2018

A prayer of imprisonment and freedom


Oh, Jesus,

Your humility surprises me.

You understand loneliness and rejection.
You were a refugee.
You were misunderstood, misrepresented, hated, and tortured.
You were wrongly accused in a court of law.
You were a prisoner.
You were executed without having a fair trial.
You died.

Oh, the depths that you undertook
to feel the depths of human pain
and human separation from your love and forgiveness.

What kind of love makes God willingly become
its creation--
especially a creation condemned and shamed,
who will lose his human rights and experience human death?

You were willing to die
for everyone who has ever done an evil thing.
You cover sins so numerous and so hideous,
so inexcusable
yet somehow, forgivable.

A willing prisoner,
a willing death,
to free me from the prison of myself.

Amen.


"God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land." (Psalm 68:6)

Monday, August 27, 2018

A prayer for your college student

Oh, Lord,

My heart is heavy, and my anxiety is heightened, so my soul looks to you. Only you can help me to rest in your plans and your protection for my college student as he returns to school.

I lift up my college student to you
and place him into your care.

Guard his mind from harmful influences,
from secular reasoning and humanistic values,
from fundamentalist and judgmental attitudes
that create pride and harden hearts.

Holy Spirit, speak daily into his heart and mind,
reminding him of truth and life.
When he is bombarded with secular philosophies and agendas,
give him intuition and question truth to seek answers from your Word.
Strengthen his courage to stand for justice and righteousness in a world gone crazy with hate and violence.

Surround him with a Christian community and friend group (even one person, Lord!).
Help him to make deep friendships quickly with students and teachers who will edify and encourage him,
who will not degrade or deride him, but will strengthen my student in his faith and abilities.

Make him missional; give him compassion for souls
and perspective on this life and the next.
Bring people who are searching for truth across his path
so he can be a testimony of your love and grace.

Keep him from loneliness and isolation.
Make his school life fun and enjoyable!
I ask for new challenges and new opportunities in learning, socialization,
exploration of his own personality and interests,
all filtered through a God worldview
so he doesn't lose himself in vain pursuits.

Expose him to new opportunities,
to broaden his mind, to develop of love of learning,
to explore new things and find the calling you've designed him to fulfill.
Bring him a mentor to encourage him in this endeavor
and open doors for relationships, internships, job opportunities.
His future is in your hands--give him the wisdom to choose correctly.

Thank you for the gift of loving and raising this young adult
whom I entrust to you as you've entrusted him to me.

I can't wait to see what you will do with this precious life!
Amen.

Friday, August 24, 2018

A prayer for the lonely parent during the school year

Dear Father,

You know how much it aches to be away from your children
because you long for us.
You want to talk to us all day
and walk with us and eat with us.

So you get how this feels to be separated from your child--
regardless of how big he (or she) is--
for an entire school year,
especially for a college school year.

Wow, this hurts.
Such a deep, fearful ache.

Help me to bear it by trusting my child with you--
he is in your care,
and you can do a better job than I can.

Give me a new focus here at home,
another calling to help someone else
and the courage to operate in a new role with my student.

Give me wisdom about how much to text
when to call,
and how much to help.
And when to stop myself.
Give me the courage to give him space
and let him  fail.
Give me grace to help him fail without
life-altering consequences--
if that's possible--
and even more grace to forgive and love
when he's make a wreck of everything.

Help me to celebrate successes of the soul,
to encourage character,
to praise personality,
and to limit encouragement surrounding accomplishments.
Help me to value my child for the way you created him to be,
and not for the successes he is able to achieve by the world's standards.

He is precious to you,
and precious to me
for who he is.
And you have loaned him to me
to encourage him into becoming a godly adult
who loves you, serves you, and is a blessing to everyone around him.

Quench my loneliness and replace it with joy.
You have blessed me beyond all measure.

Amen.

Thank you for rescuing my friend

Dear Father in Heaven,

Thank you for working powerfully in my friend's life.
You have rescued yet one more person from self-destruction and certain derailment.
You showed yourself powerful, just, and loving.

I never doubted you would,
but I wasn't sure how you would do it.

I am always amazed by your love and grace.
Your timing is marvelous.
You remind me that you are sovereign--
your will is perfect--
and you are not rushed by human anxiety or human deadlines.

And why would you be?
You are God Almighty.

Thank you for that, also.
Amen.


Psalm 44:6--Rise up and help us; rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Friday, August 17, 2018

Praying for a friend

Dear Lord,

I lift up my friend to you.
She's going through a rough time,
making hard decisions,
doubting your love,
doubting herself.
Angry, discouraged, and hurt by this complicated thing called life,
hating the feeling of being a victim,
doubting she'll ever be a champion,
not feeling much like she's your daughter
and your her Abba Father.

Please, Holy Spirit,
remind her today
of who you are and what you will do.
Flood over her with unexplainable peace,
hope,
and love.
Surround, envelop, and calm her.
Take her little hand in yours and give it a reassuring squeeze.

You are God Almighty.
You love her
with an everlasting love
and an eternal plan to prosper her,
grow her,
and protect her.

Help her to feel your protection and love today
through the love of your other children.
Through me.
Give her wisdom to cling to
through the words in your Word.
Open her heart and mind to trust you once again.

Use me and use other people
to remind her how much you care
and how much she has to hope for.

You are God.
You never forget our troubles
or downplay our struggles.
In fact, you are always at work behind the scenes,
preparing for our victories.

Thank you.
I love you.
I trust you with my life and with hers.

Amen.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

You make me shake my head

Oh, Lord,

You astound me and make me feel grateful.

When I look around my world--my house and work and family--or when I behold your natural creation of mountains and oceans and fields, I just shake my head with wonder.

Wow.

Thank you.

Thank you for my family, my home, my church, all which sometimes frustrate me.
Thank you for my freedom, which I take for granted.
Thank you for life and health, which I really take for granted.
Thank you for my mind, which isn't as quick as it used to be, but it's a blessing nevertheless.
Thank you for the beauty of the world, for all its variety:
for the marvelous expanse of nature
and also for the cities and countries filled with people, who I misunderstand or don't think about at all.
Thank you for your living Word, which I don't read as much as I should, although it inspires and changes me.
Thank you for the opportunity to serve you through the church, which I often make about fulfilling me instead of about honoring you.

Thank you for your love, grace, patience, and encouragement while I wrestle with my humanity, my self-centeredness, and my fear.

You make me shake my head.
Why do you love me?
Why do you even bother?
I must be so aggravating to watch.
I keep struggling with the same lessons, the same problems, the same habits.
And yet you wait, you love, you remind, you cheer.

Thank you.

Amen.

"Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the great deep . . . How priceless is your unfailing love!" (Psalm 36:5-7)



Friday, July 27, 2018

A prayer for tired people

Lord,

I'm tired, and it's early.
I'm not sure if it's the Holy Spirit,
common sense,
or my mother's voice inside my head,
but I'm hearing "Get more sleep."

Another voice says "Take a nap,"
but that might be my college self crying out from the past.

I'm wondering if you could sprinkle me with a little holy adrenaline?
I just drank some caffeine
and took my vitamins.
I would go for a quick walk, but I've just eaten.
I'll take my shower now.

But all of that will wear off,
and the tiredness will return.

You know how I feel?
Of course you do.
You even napped in a boat--during a storm!--
which I could never do because I have motion-sickness.

Okay, I'll try to go to bed early.
Thanks for the conversation.

Amen.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A daily prayer for your children

Dear Heavenly Father,

I give you my children into your hands to protect, guide, convict, and grow. I pray over my children the words you gave the Israelites when you instructed them to impress your commands on their children's hearts. I need your help to do this well.

Help me to impress on my children:
  • to love you with all their heart, soul, and mind
  • to carefully obey all your commands
  • to think about you and understand you during their daily tasks and their journey through life
  • to memorize your holy Word, so it will grow in their hearts and produce godly attitudes
  • to fear (respect) you; to be in awe of your majesty
  • to keep their hearts from idolizing people and things
  • to take your authority seriously--not to test you or ridicule you or disregard you
  • to do right and good, whether they are alone or with others
  • to recognize your hand of blessing throughout their lives and to remember your interactions on their behalf
  • to discern your voice and your expectations from the world's, and to distance themselves from accepting falsehood and fallacies
If you are able to impress your heart and mind on theirs, then they will bring you glory, and you will prosper them. May they always seek the prosperity that can be measured in eternity, rather than prosperity on earth! May they live lives worthy of your sacrifice.

Thank you for my children. I give them to you, today and every day. Make me strong enough and faith-filled enough to let you keep them in your care!

Amen.




Friday, July 6, 2018

Prayer over a child's opportunity

Dear Lord God and Holy Spirit,

My child has an opportunity today--
one of those many milestones we parents feel are so important.
And they are, for succeeding in this world's system
and for maturing into an adult.

I give him once again into your hands.
You have his future in mind.
You created him for this moment
and for the million moments
before and after today.
You know how each part fits together.

Thank you for the thousand times you protected him,
the thousand times you comforted, encouraged, convicted.
May he feel your presence around him and before him today.

Give him courage to be honest about himself.
Give him confidence to see what you're already doing in him and for him.
Give him wisdom beyond his years.
Give him optimism and boldness--
enough to propel him toward your will
and enough to steer him through the trials that will come.

You crafted him.
You called him
You saved him.
And you gave him to me for a little while.

Thank you for the blessing of being his mother
and the challenge of being his compass.

I humbly ask you to guide and direct him,
to pour out your blessings on his life,
to fill him with your spirit.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Monday, July 2, 2018

What to pray when you're angry

Lord,

Set a watch over my mouth.
Help me not to sin when I'm angry.
I mean, right now.
Clamp me down.
You can take care of this problem
if I just wait and listen
and behave like Jesus would.

(Wow, this is going to be hard.)
Once again, help me!

Amen.

“'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry." (Eph. 4:26)

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A confession of injustice

Dear Lord God,

You forgive us when we confess our sins,
and you give grace when we confess the sins of our ancestors--
of our family and our city and our country.

So I confess the great wickedness of our nation
at oppressing the poor,
marginalizing women, minorities, the elderly, and the ill,
enslaving the African-Americans,
red-lining poor communities,
indenturing and imprisoning the uneducated and underprivileged.

I confess our systemic white privilege,
even as I want to believe I am not a benefactor of it.
I confess our sins of racism and segregation,
even as I say that I have not overtly participated in any of it.
It is our heritage, and we are wrong to minimize its legacy.

I confess the church's sins of politicizing moral issues,
of drawing party lines through issues of compassion, grace, and mercy--
of using topics of mass incarceration, death penalty, immigration, life, and welfare
to divide party lines and provide ease and security for the privileged.
I confess these sins on behalf of the countless Christians who claim your name but do not behave like you did.

We do not touch the diseased,
help the prostitute,
protect the children,
shelter the foreigner,
or befriend the poor.

You condemned the religious rule-followers.
You called them serpents, dirty dishes, tombs.
You hated their sacrifices and their charitable donations and their prayers.
They made you angry.

We are them.
Oh, too often, we are them.
How angry do we make you
when we cry, "Lock him up!"
"Kill them all!"
"Take her children away!"

We do your name such injustice
when we prevent your creation from experiencing justice.

I confess it all.
I bear the blame.
May we all bear it,
and then, may we change.

Change us, oh God!
It's what you do best.
Instead of praying "Change them," change us!
and it's how the world will see that you are a God of love and justice.

Amen.

"Oh, Lord, we acknowledge our wickedness and the guilt of our fathers; we have indeed sinned against you. For the sake of your name, do not despise us; do not dishonor your glorious throne. Remember the covenant with us and do not break it. Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? Therefore, our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this." (Jeremiah 14:20-22)


Friday, June 22, 2018

Holy Spirit, Give Me

Holy Spirit,

Give me the faith to pray big prayers.
I want to experience you
working miracles,
healing my emotions,
transforming my mind,
softening my heart,
directing my destiny.

Give me courage to fight for others
instead of against others.
I want to see you
reconciling races,
restoring relationships,
reuniting families,
bringing closure,
healing wounds,
saving souls.

Give me the confidence to believe your timing is perfect.
I want peace while
believing in a future,
accepting disappointment,
striving for faith,
enduring hardship,
conquering temptation.

Give me You.

Amen.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

It's raining

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the rain
and especially for not flooding my basement.
Your mercies never fail.
And apparently, the rain doesn't, either.
But you know best.

Amen.


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Help me be brave

Lord,

I'm facing something hard.
Help me be brave.

I don't want to worry about appearances or image--
I only want to reflect your love and mission for the world.
That's pretty scary.
It means I must live in you and outside myself.
I must seek your will,
trust your voice,
obey your commands.

Help me be brave.
Bravery comes from strength.
Strength comes from hardship.
Hardship surfaces with opportunity and destiny.

You understand hardship,
and you understand me.
You certainly know my destiny because you created me for it.

Help me to rest in you
and the courage you provide,
to do anything you ask,
go anywhere you call,
say anything you tell me to.

Amen.

"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." (Joshua 1:9)

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

I'm sorry I've been away

Lord,

I'm sorry I've been away for awhile.
I let my daily routines consume my time.
I let my mind fill up with lists and stresses.
I really just needed more of you.

Help me to seek you first and your righteousness.
You will take care of the rest.
Change my devotional time to reflect new priorities.

I long for your presence and for your Spirit.
Come to me, indwell me, change me.

I'm yours.
Amen.

Matthew 6:31-33

Monday, June 4, 2018

Praise for the sunshine

Praise the Lord!

It's finally sunny again!

What a glorious morning 
with blue skies and warm sunlight!

I'm truly awed by your creation
and the impact it has on my life
and my emotions.

Thank you for the sunshine and the beauty all around me. 

Nature proves your love,
your provision,
your creativity and ingenuity,
your existence.

You don't have to make flower petals so exquisite, but you do.
You don't need to paint a different sunset every night,
with varying hues of orange and pink and purple,
but you do.
You don' have to make fluffy clouds the filter the sunlight like lacy fingers across the sky,
but you do.

You keep doing it,
every day, every year,
even though the world is sinful and messy and unbelieving.

Thank you.
I believe in all that you say you are,
and I believe you do all that you promise to do.
I love you.

Amen.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Thankful for America

Dear Lord God,

I am blessed to live in America,
a free country,
even though I chafe under the ambition and corruption so often present in public officials.
I am proud of our soldiers and civil servants,
even though I read stories of their brutality and injustice in the news.
I appreciate the protection I have to believe, write, live, and worship,
even though I recognize our country's moral decline.

We are a sinful people and a sinful nation,
and yet you choose to love us and use us.
You have blessed us with opportunity and responsibility,
and so much good has been accomplished in the world through our nation.
Because of your love and mercy.

Thank you for the men and women who have served our country,
faced danger,
missed loved ones,
endured trauma,
fought to recover,
and came home.

Thank you for the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice with their lives
so we could enjoy freedom.
Bless their families and cover them with your loving care.

Thank you for trusting us with your message of hope
and the resources to help other people.
May America be a country that reflects your love and compassion to the world!

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance.--Psalm 33:12

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Flood me


My Lord,

It seems like you want to flood us.
Streets,
ditches,
streams,
rivers,
sidewalks,
basements.

I'm not enjoying it.
You can stop anytime.

But that's not you.
You can't help but flood the minds and hearts of your people.
Sometimes your Spirit comes in like a tidal wave,
just to remind me who you are
and what you are capable of doing.

I know you are all-powerful.
I know you're the Living Water.
I know you give life--
you don't take life.

You refresh, you satisfy, you fill.
You are enough.
You are more than enough--
I can't handle your power or your mercy.
I can't understand it.

So when I feel that I have more than I can handle,
I must be looking at the floods around me
instead of looking up to you
who are more powerful and more capable than anything this world can throw at me.

Flood me.
Help me not to fear your flood
but to ride the waves--
to sail on--
to walk on water--
to drink from your cup.

Make the water that you give me
well up and flood everyone and everything around me.
Make me your tidal wave of love and mercy.

You are my Living Water,
and I thirst for you.

Amen.

"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you."--Isaiah 43:2

"Jesus said, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.' "--John 4:13-14

Thursday, May 17, 2018

I believe you love me

Dear Lord,

All your ways are good.
I believe you love me.

When life is difficult, and circumstances don't go my way,
I believe you love me,
and you're working out a plan to mature me.

When people and struggles are cruel and unforgiving,
I believe you love me,
and you're teaching me something about myself and about yourself.

When you bless me with family love and encouraging friendships,
I believe you love me.

Yet you don't love me any more when my life is easy than when it is hard,
even thought that seems true to me.
Ease is not better proof of your love,
but it does reveal the degree of my faith in you.

Thank you for your patience with me,
for your long-suffering nature that understands how many times it takes for me to believe and accept truth,
especially truth of your sacrificial and eternal love.
As if you had something more to prove!

Living by faith and not by sight is hard for me--
I so easily forget that you are love,
all the time,
when I feel loved and happy
and when I don't.

You never change.
I believe you love me,
and that makes my life glorious and astounding.

I love you, too,
in my feeble, human sort of way.

Amen.

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.--Psalm 145:17

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Thank you for the blessings I understand and the ones I don't

Dear Lord-Provider,

Thank you for answering my prayers.
I'm grateful for your blessings,
even when they happen in your timing and not mine.
(Your way always seems way too long in coming.)

I'm trying to believe that your timing is perfect,
even when I can't see that it is.

I know I need patience
and faith to trust you.
I'm glad you're working on this in my life,
even though I hate it.

I love you.
In my feeble, pathetic, human way,
I love you.
And I desire to love you more all the time,
not just when you bless me.

Until you make me wait another time
and then bless me again after I've waited,
I just want to say--

I believe in your timing.
I'm grateful for the blessings I understand and the ones I don't.
I trust your will for your gifts that are coming,
no matter what they look like at the time I receive them.

Amen.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What are my idols?

Dear God Almighty,

I want to sit in your presence and hear you speak to me.
But perhaps I'm worshipping something else,
something about me and for me,
instead of listening for your will
or obeying what I already know I should be doing.

I do desire clean hands,
a pure heart,
and a soul that's not idolatrous.

The truth is, worship of you only is hard.
I naturally drift toward self-centeredness.
Show me where I go wrong,
where I steer away from loving you completely.

What are my idols?
Are they people I love?
Success?
Acceptance?
Recognition?
Security?

Cleanse me of these desires
and give me a pure heart
that seeks only You.

You are my One and Only,
my Alpha and Omega.
my Beginning and End.
You alone.

And thank you for your patience with me.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Psalm 24:3-4

Friday, April 27, 2018

When you want to quit praying


Dear Lord,

I'm tired of praying about this.
Nothing changes.
Do you want to help me?
Do you hear me?
Will you respond to me?

I'm waiting.
Help me to grow while I wait.
Strengthen my faith--
I don't trust you enough.

Help to to readjust my focus,
to remember that your plans are bigger than my plans,
that your love spans generations, cultures, and centuries.
You are producing good works in me and in many other people, too,
while I wait here impatiently,
trying to decide if I should quit praying.

I'm sorry.
I'm so selfish and demanding.
Help me to persevere,
and by being faithful in prayer,
I want to bring you glory,
today and every day.

Strengthen my resolve.
Help me not to grow weary in praying.
Give me a harvest of good works,
a life lived in complete surrender
and total expectation of the abundance of God's love!

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Read Lori Hatcher's blog post today, called "Powerful Hope When You're Ready to Quit Praying."

1 Thess. 5:17--"Pray without ceasing."

Thursday, April 26, 2018

How you re-create spring and me: A prayer of thanks and wonder

Dear God Creator,

Wow! It's spring, and I'm startled by the beauty you've created.
How could anyone invent such varied and delicate blossoms
or paint such a canvas as Virginia in the spring?
White, pink, fuchsia, purple, yellow, periwinkle, green--
the colors of flowering trees and plants
blend together in shocking splendor.

You did this because you love me
and you can't help but create, again and again.

You're doing it in me every day,
re-creating something that was dormant during the winters of my life,
something I've given up on and decided I can't change.
I've decided that some part of me will never improve.
That this is just the way I am.

Yet the Spirit of God in me says,
 No.
You were created for something more.
You are splendid.
I am making you new, always pruning, always nurturing,
always alive and hopeful,
like spring.
You are being re-born.
This is what I do.

I create.
I make all things new.

Thank you.
I worship you for who you are and what you can create.

Amen.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

A little big prayer for blessing


















Lord,
Bless me, indeed.
Enlarge my territory.
Put your hand on me and never remove it.
Keep me from harm and from causing pain.
Be with me in a big way
because you're a big God.
The One and Only.
Amen.

From The Prayer of Jabez, 1 Chronicles 4:10

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A prayer for the Hybels

Dear Lord,

Thank you for the incredible years of service to the Lord that Bill and Lynne Hybels have given. I ask for you to bless them and comfort them during this horrific time of humiliation and exposure.

I don't know what's true and what's not true,
so I'm not grieved that Bill has "fallen" from his pedestal.
He shouldn't have been put on a pedestal,
and people shouldn't want to knock him off it.

I'm grieved that Christians have gone public in the media against one of their own.
I'm grieved that the media is writing sensational headlines, sloppy reporting, and undocumented allegations.

I don't want to believe the accusations. But that doesn't really matter.

My concern is for the people involved.
To feel betrayed, vilified, and hunted is a terrible thing.
To be the betrayer, villain, and hunter is perhaps more terrible because the vengeance of God is coming.
I pray against the devil's work.
I pray against vengeance, pride, bitterness, despair, hatred, and self-righteousness on any side.

The enemy is having an enjoyable week, and I ask you to repress him.
Squelch this story and do the work you do best.

If Bill is guilty, the story is horrible because hate will never bring him to repentance.
If Bill is innocent, it's horrible because hate has divided the church and torn down a respected public figure who might never recover from it.

Bless this family with your unexplainable peace.
Bring clarity, peace, hope,
conviction where necessary.
Forgiveness and restitution.

The Hybels need a miracle to survive this. Willow needs a miracle. Ortbergs need a miracle. These women need a miracle. Good thing that miracles are your specialty.

You know all things, and you extend grace to everyone, to every sinner.
I confess their sins, whatever they are. Grant each person grace and mercy,
A stronger and renewed love relationship with you.

Somehow, salvage this mess so your name will be glorified,
'cause right now, your name is taking a big hit with the lost world.

I am in awe of you already, because I know you're going to do something amazing.

In Jesus' holy and loving name,
Amen.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Thank you for my children's struggles

Dear Father,

Thank you for my children.
Thank you for their imperfections and their struggles.
Thank you for walking through life with them,
speaking into their lives,
using every hardship and every conflict to re-orient them to you.
And you don't hurry or panic when they don't learn the lesson
the first or second or hundredth time.

You keep loving and showing yourself to them
by bringing influencers across their paths,
by painting nature all around them,
by making your Word alive and powerful in their hearts and minds.

Thank you for being their God,
as much as you are my God.
You have a future and a hope for them,
a destiny of your design.
You will use all their mistakes,
all their experiences,
all my failings and my influence
to mold them into the people you want them to be.

I am in awe of your goodness and your sovereignty.
Why do I worry?
My children were your children first,
your perfect, unique creations,
an expression of yourself,
with a little bit of us parents mixed in.

Your work is remarkable!
Thank you for letting me experience them
as their parent.

Amen.


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

I hope you're glorified

Dear God,


I hope you're glorified by my life,
with the choices that I make every day
that don't seem important in the present,
but perhaps they are in the long-run.

I hope that doing housework,
schoolwork, career work, and relationships
glorify you during all the little unseen moments,
when I'm kind in spite of being annoyed,
careful in spite of being tired,
righteous when nobody's looking.

May you find pleasure in my joy
and return tender mercies for
my failings,
and I pray for all of it to bring you the glory you deserve.
Your glory shines over all the earth!

In Jesus' wonderful name,
Amen.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A prayer against betrayal

Dear Lord Jesus,

Tonight is the night you were betrayed. You had your last dinner with your close friends, and Peter said he'd die for you, and Judas Iscariot slipped out to meet the Pharisees and collect his 30 pieces of silver. Then you took the disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray with you and for you; you were headed into the greatest struggle in all of history.

Judas kissed you. Oh, the nerve of him!

Then the soldiers took you away for an illegal trial, built on lies and false accusations, while John watched and Peter cursed out the servants for suggesting that he knew you.

How could they could betray you, they who knew you so well and who served with you for three years. If they could betray you, what hope is there for me?

I am unfaithful, fearful, weak, ungrateful, even doubting. I am so unworthy of your unfailing faithfulness and grace. How can I become more resolute?

Lord Jesus, fill me with the Holy Spirit. May I go into garden and pray to you for strength and courage. May I pray for the whole world. Strengthen me and use me. Give me the boldness to endure persecution and mistreatment. And while that happens, help me look to you instead of at my circumstances.

Help me live in the eternal rather than the temporal.

And thank you for your forgiveness--for the many times I've already betrayed you and for the many times I will again. But I rest in your strength and your faithfulness!

Amen.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

When you hate someone

Have you ever felt disdain for someone? Hatred, even? Guilt that you should forgive an enemy, but you don't know how?
Maybe this will help.

Dear Lord,

You know my heart, so I can't pretend I don't feel this way.
I'm angry.
My pride is hurt.
I feel manipulated, or betrayed, or used
by someone.
I don't like that person at all.
I don't want to say "I hate,"
but I wonder if it's true.
Am I a person who could hate someone?

No,
I just don't trust him.
I just can't forgive her.
I just don't want to be with him.
We're just not friends.

These are the things I tell myself,
but you know they aren't true.
I hate.
I withhold forgiveness.
It makes me feel powerful,
or at least that's what I think.

It's not true.
It's a trap.
There's no freedom in hate and unforgiveness.

Seventy times seven.
That's what you said.
You forgave me,
so I need to forgive everyone else.
No one has sinned against me
like I have sinned against you.

Change my heart
and help me to love others like you love me.
It's hard to believe, but
you love us all the same.

Lord, forgive me, please.
I confess my sin.
Cleanse me of it.
Give me your love
and help me to see people the way you see them.
Show me something today about this person--
some hurt, some fear she has.
Show me his humanity--
the things that make us so similar.
Help that realization to humble me,
instead of it making me proud, judgmental, and defensive.

I worship you in all of my unworthiness.
I'm amazed that you love me at all.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.


Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Prayer for a busy day

Dear Lord,

I want to spend time with you today, but I feel so rushed.
I have so much to do.
I know you understand.

No, wait.
Help me prioritize.
You first.
Then what ministry would you have me do?
What people can I touch?

And help me not to obsess about my to-do list
that's sitting there on the table screaming at me.
Things are less important than people.
My world is less important than your plans for me.
This life is less important than the life to follow.

I know that.
And yet--
it all feels so terribly important.

Use me.
Change me.
Give me your eyes to see the life you want for me
and the courage to live it.

Amen.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Prayer for the immigrant and refugee

Dear Father of the fatherless,

I pray your compassion and mercy over the world's immigrants and refugees.
May I always welcome the lost and weary in Jesus' name.
Give me courage to defend the fatherless,
to assist the widow,
to welcome the stranger,
to offering healing to the sick,
to rescue the oppressed.

May we never see nationality, creed, or culture
because You don't see them.
You see people--
hungry, afraid, terrorized, hurting,
displaced, marginalized, misunderstood, resourceless.
These are problems created by humans against humans.
And these problems interfere with seeing You.

Convict me when that's all I see.
Use me to show Jesus' love through what I do and what I say.
Keep me from political agendas instead of prayerful purpose.

If I truly want to be like You,
this is how I will behave
and what I will believe.

"Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the alien or the poor."--Ezekiel 22:7

"And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."--Micah 6:8 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Confession from a control-freak

Lord of Lords,

I want you to be present in my life.
I even want you to be in control--
so why do I chafe against life's constraints, against unwanted circumstances?
Why do I grumble about the time it takes for you to work in my life?
Why do I say I want your will, even while I plan and control my own destiny?

I worry about what will happen and what hasn't happened.
Although  I don't blame you audibly,
I find myself annoyed with my life
and avoiding my quiet time with you.
Because I've distanced myself from you.
My life is a testament to how and if and when I let you work.
My attitude reveals my heart.

I respect the beauty of your power, but not the impact of it.
It's like controlling the ocean, the surf, and the shoreline and thinking that would make the ocean better.
In essence, that would ruin the majesty of creation.

Lord, help me be willing to give you my whole heart.
Convict me when I don't.

Please forgive me. I want you to have all of me.

Amen.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Praise and thanks for using me

Heavenly Father,

Why do you bless me so much?
I am in awe of your perfect ways and the grace you give when you let us become involved in the work you're doing around the world.

Today you let me meet a child I've sponsored for 15 years, halfway around the world.
We share love and appreciation for one another, even though we had never met or talked before today.
You have knit our hearts together in the Lord.
Even though we don't share race,
culture,
economic status,
gender,
age,
or interests,
this relationship has enriched and changed our lives.

Your Spirit accomplished that.
Thank you for using me and blessing me in the process.

How awesome are your ways, O Lord!
Amen.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Thank you for the snow . . . and for heat

Lord God,

Your creativity and artistry amaze me.
Thank you for the beautiful snowfall.
And more importantly,
thank you for my home and my heat.

You are too good to me.
Amen.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Help me prioritize

Lord,

Help me prioritize.
My work is piling up.
I have so many projects, pressures, and demands.
At work and home, the list is endless.
I've missed some family time.
I haven't exercised.
My devotional life is poor.
Friends are waiting for lunches.

I'm like Martha--worried and upset about many things.

Few things are needed--
or indeed only one.

Help me see You
in order to choose You.
Instead of asking You to point me toward the priority that I should do first,
I want to make You the priority.

Help me to chose what cannot be taken away.

First You.
Only You.

I choose You. In Jesus' beautiful name,
Amen.


Luke 10:40-42