Sunday, March 17, 2019

"The Prayer" sung by Celine Dion and Josh Groban


Get out your tissues. I'm sharing one of the all-time greatest duets, which happens also to be a prayer.

It's a prayer about losing your way,
finding grace in God's love,
and leaning on Him when you don't know what to do.

So it applies to pretty much to any situation. Here you go--

"The Prayer" sung by Celine Dion and Josh Groban


I pray You'll be our eyes
And watch us where we go
And help us to be wise
In times when we don't know

Let this be our prayer
When we lose our way
Lead us to a place
Guide us with Your Grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

La luce che to dai
I pray we'll find your light
Nel cuore restero
And hold it in our hearts
A ricordarchi che
When stars go out each night
L'eterna stella sei
Oh, ho

Nella mia preghiera
Let this be our prayer
Quanta fede c'e
When shadows fill our day
Lead us to a place
Guide us with Your Grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

Sognamo un mondo senza piu violenza
Un mondo di giustizia e di speranza
Ognuno dia la mano al suo vicino
Simbolo di pace e di fraternita

La forza che ci dai
We ask that life be kind
E'il desiderio che
And watch us from above
Ognuno trovi amore
We hope each soul will find
Intorno e dentro a se
Another soul to love

Let this be our prayer
Let this be our prayer
Just like every child
Just like every child

Needs to find a place
Guide us with Your Grace
Give us faith so we'll be safe

E la fede che
Hai acceso in noi
Sento che ci salvera


"The Prayer" is written by David FosterCarole Bayer SagerAlberto Testa and Tony Renis.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A parent's prayer (for God to work in my kids)

Dear Heavenly Father,

Give me opportunities to have meaningful conversations with my children.

Help me to pray first, then listen, then encourage and support
before I correct or teach.
Help me love them how you love them,
how you love me.

You are always supporting,
always encouraging,
always careful,
always present.

You are an amazing Father.

I want to support what you are already doing in their hearts and in their lives.
Convict them of their sin.
Encourage them in their spiritual growth.
Answer their prayers.
Bless their lives.

I don't want to interfere with the Holy Spirit by trying to be another Holy Spirit.
That's not my job. It's yours.
My job is to point them to you,
no matter what age they are.

Live in me.
I surrender to your will in my life.

Live through me.
I defer to your plans for my children.

Live in my kids.
I trust that you will lead them as they follow you,
and when they don't follow you,
I trust that you will lovingly call them back.

That's the kind of Father you are.

Thank you. I love you!
Amen.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Show me where I'm holding back your story

Dear Lord,

You are writing a story with my life.
I know that, but I often forget that my story is actually a tool to tell your story.

You're writing your story on my life
so people who don't know you will
see what love looks like through me.

I'm blowing this.
How much am I confusing the telling of your story?
Are the pages of my life so focused on me
and what will happen to me
and what has happened to me
that your message is blurred?

Lord, show me where I'm interrupting the story you want to write on me.

I know you've called me.
I've hard the sermons and read the Bible verses about calling and surrender.
It's just that sometimes,
I don't know what you're calling me to.
I see what I can do and what I want to do,
but I don't understand what's taking you so long to use me for something significant.

This is idolatry, and I confess it to you.
This is greed, fear, and selfishness.
This is me thinking that your gifts are for my success
instead of your glory.

Lord, remind me daily--hourly--that everything in my life is about telling your story.
About living your story.

I don't want to put parameters around the story you want to tell through me.
I don't want to hold back my most hurtful memories
or my most precious gifts
because my faith is weak concerning what you will do with them.

Lord, show me where I'm holding you back from writing the story you want to write on me.
I give everything in my life to you to use however you choose.
Just give me the grace and courage to keep giving everything to you,
especially when life is hard (which is a lot of the time),
so you can write my story the way you want to.

I desire to be a blank page in your book full of beauty, power, and legacy.
All of which points back to you.

Thank you.
Amen.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

A prayer for the youth group

Oh, Lord,

Our teenagers are at retreat this weekend.
They are playing and laughing and joking around.
They are listening to leaders,
singing praise,
and saying prayers--
perhaps for the first time in a long time.

God, send your Spirit to hover over their waters,
to create new life and new perspectives,
to inspire and renew and affirm.

I ask that you encourage those who are sad.
Empower those who are afraid.
Comfort those who are grieving.
Befriend those who are lonely.
Strengthen those who feel defeated.

Move them.
Draw them.
Convict them.
Inspire them.
Protect them.

These are future leaders and change-makers.
Holy Spirit, move them to confess their sins,
ask forgiveness of others,
release bitterness,
accept one another,
believe truth,
engage in worship,
serve one another.

Make them a generation of love and mission.

Mark this weekend as a pivotal time in their spiritual growth.
Set them on a new path toward the destiny and purpose you have for them.

In Jesus' holy name,
Amen.


Psalm 24:6--Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek your face, God of Jacob.

Monday, February 18, 2019

A Prayer for my work

I read one of my favorite passages in Nehemiah today.

Nehemiah is rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem to provide safety for its inhabitants and respect for God. It's so dangerous that the people alternate building and standing watch. They lay bricks and carry swords. They're not messing around.

Nehemiah prays while he works, and he doesn't allow anyone from the outside to distract him. His prayer life gives him the discernment to realize that Sanballat and Tobiah are pretending to be interested in his great task, when in fact, they are trying to stop the work, at any cost, because a strong Jerusalem threatens their control of the area. They feign friendship; they use intimidation, compliments, lies, and threats in an effort to cause Nehemiah to stop his work.

But Nehemiah's all prayed up. He sees right through them.

Nehemiah's example reminds us to work and pray over the task that God has assigned us. This task will be too hard for us. It will require us to gather a team around us. It will require tough decisions and strong leadership.

When God gives you something to do, 
it will be bigger than you, 
not about you,
more important than you think, 
and it will bring God the glory (not you). 

Anything else is a counterfeit to the work God has for you.

Oh, Lord, 
strengthen us for the task you've given us. 
Help us not be distracted by anyone or anything.
To you be all the honor and glory!
Amen.


"So I replied by sending back this message to them: 'I am doing a great work! Why should I stop to come and visit with you? ... You're just trying to scare us into stopping our work. (Oh, Lord God, please strengthen me!)'" --Nehemiah 6:3 & 9

Saturday, February 9, 2019

A Prayer for a souls

Oh, Lord of the harvest,

The world needs your love.
They need to know you personally.
They need to be saved from their sins.

So I'm praying for you to
send workers into the world
who will tell people about your great love
and Jesus' death to save everyone.

I am praying that you will also send me,
and that I'll actually go,
to my neighbor, to other countries,
anywhere.

I want to give you my time,
my talents,
my money,
my family,
myself,
no matter how uncomfortable that makes me.

Harvest my soul.
Bring a harvest though me.
Change the world.

Amen.


Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. (Matthew 9:37-38)

Monday, February 4, 2019

Confession, Lamentation, and Intercession over the value of human life

Dear Father Creator,

How grieved you must be over the callous attitude your creation has toward life!
I know you're not surprised because this has been reality since the beginning of time--
since Cain murdered his brother.

And parents have murdered children,
children have murdered parents,
people have waged war
and claimed to do it in your name and for your honor.

How we misrepresent you and your love for the whole world!
For each individual person,
no matter how helpless,
how disfigured,
how evil,
and how innocent.

They belong to you.
We are only custodians of your creation.
Of turtles, whales, eagles, leopards, water, earth, energy--
but especially of human life.

How can culture get this so mixed up?

I pray for your grace, patience, and conviction.
I ask for your forgiveness on behalf of those who kill innocent lives
and discount the lives of the elderly and handicapped.
I pray for your Spirit to permeate our world
and bring reason and value to every human life.
Especially our churches.

Make us a people of love, grace, and urgency.
Keep us from judgment, hate, and retribution.
Lord, I'm so embarrassed and grieved at the way Christians treat the world
because they don't believe in you or value your commands.
Of course they don't!
They are blind.

Give sight to the blind and freedom to the captive, both in mind, spirit, and body.
Use our legislature and our churches.
Change our parents and our families.

We are the light.
Help us shine brightly in a dark world!

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Thursday, January 31, 2019

A prayer about a crappy day (and a crappy attitude)

Lord,

Help me.
I'm going through a crappy time,
and I don't want to hear anyone saying
trite little comments to me about how thankful I should be or how things will get better.
I know that.
I just don't feel that.
I've decided I'm having a pity-party.
This feels right, at the moment.
But of course, then I feel worse.
It's all selfishness.
I know that.

God, I don't know how you're going to change my heart.
This is a big ask, and a bigger commitment to repent on my part.
I need you.
I need my faith in you to grow.
I really do need someone to knock some sense into me.
Except they really should do it from a distance
because I'm likely to take a swing back.

Hmm.
Maybe I just need to find a punching bag.

Punch me.
I'll go open the Bible.
I'm sure something there will reach out and knock me upside the head.
So in advance of that happening,
thank you.

I do love you.
Please bear with me a little longer.
Amen.

1 Timothy 6:11-12--"But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness,faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Praying Freedom for victims of human trafficking

Dear Lord, God of Justice,

I pray for the 40 million slaves in the world today.
This must grieve your heart.
These poor people, living in fear,
believing themselves worthless and hopeless,
not knowing You died to give them freedom.

They don't realize that you considered them so valuable,
that you sent your Son--the One and Only--
to die a horrific death, just for them.
Jesus experienced beatings, betrayal, abuse, and disrespect
so that He would understand that slaves everywhere experience.

I ask for Your Spirit to fall on them and speak truth into their hearts and minds.
I pray for them to cry out to you.
I confess their sins and speak longing for You on their behalf.
Give them hope that life can be different
and the courage to make an escape if they can.
Bring someone across their path to free them.

I pray for their owners to be seized and prosecuted.
I pray for justice for these evil-doers.
God, reign down your fire on their abusers, their masters,
their violators.
And especially, God, I pray for Your holy vengeance on the child-abusers,
the sex-traffickers, rapists and the pimps who own children and sell them for profit.
Either save their souls or let them feel your holy wrath.

I pray for the tortured souls enslaved all over Africa,
in Moldavia, Amsterdam, Thailand, Cambodia, Russia,
Romania, Bulgaria, and the United States.

Somehow, in Your grace and mercy,
redeem these shattered lives.
Give these broken women and girls,
these desperate men and boys.
Give them a reason to live--for You.
Save their souls and fill them with mission and calling to save others.

May I never be to satisfied with my life that I don't care about the slaves of the world--
the forced laborers, the child soldiers, the sex slaves, the child brides.
Compel and remind me to pray for them,
to advocate for them,
to join the army of people who work to free them.

We have 40 million or more people to set free on this earth.
That's a God-sized goal.
I ask You, God, because I know it's your desire--
Set them free to bring You glory.

Amen.

Jesus states His purpose: "The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim the good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight to the blind, to se the oppressed free." (Luke 4:18, Isa. 61:1)

Friday, January 25, 2019

Prayer to fill the grieving space

This morning I had one of those mothering moments when you ask your child to trust your "no" because you are building character into him so he can become the man God wants him to be.

Then I say that someday, he'll realize how much it mattered to have a mom who cared about these things.

Then I think about my mom and how I never realized the extent of her wisdom and love until I became a mother.

And how much I wish I could tell her that again right now. How I wish I could tell her anything at all, and how completely devastating it is to know I won't speak to her again in my lifetime. The realization returns, almost like the first time it hit me.

And I have cried off and on all day ever since. Grief sucks like that.

How can there still be so many unseen empty spaces that hold grief?

God,

Would you just fill them, please?
Would you just pour yourself into the holes of longing and loss
and smother the grief with joy and contentment.

Will you hear this lament, 
and will you come and hold me?
You promised to be enough for me.
You are enough. I know that.

But it doesn't feel like that today.
Today, everything seems wrong. 
Even all the things that don't belong to mothering.
But especially those things.

Today, I don't want to be me, the mother.
I want to be me, the daughter, again,
and that's not possible.
I know I'm your daughter.
Will you please help that feel real enough?
Can you make it enough for me?

I know you understand this.
I can't imagine the grief you've had--
and must still have--
every moment when your children (like me) make hurtful decisions
and when they don't talk to you
and don't listen to you.

Why you chose to present yourself as a parent,
I can only guess--
it's the one human experience that is both exhilarating and fulfilling
and yet so devastating with every wrong turn your kids make
and every fear you have that they might do so.

You're not afraid of anything.
You have perfect love, 
and that casts out fear.
Fill me with that love. 
I don't want to fear anymore.
I don't want to fear the void that grief leaves.
I'm tired of the loneliness.

Is that even possible?
To love someone and still be healed after they're gone?

As much as possible,
I am pouring out myself to you 
and giving you permission--
I'm begging you--
fill me with yourself 
and your Spirit.
Fill me with love for you.
Maybe that will take the hurt away, at least a little.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.


*More blogs about grief here. You can also type "Grief" or "Mother" into the search box on my home page. There's a lot to choose from. Also, check out the many sources on grief on my Pinterest.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Prayer against the enemy of discouragement

Heavenly Father, Holy Spirit, and Jesus Christ,

I ask for you to join me in war against the enemy of discouragement.
I pray against a lack of confidence and hope for my loved one.
I pray in Jesus' name that your forces will defeat all that come against
life and love and holiness.

Bring him a miraculous intervention--
a resolution, a celebration, a season of hope and renewal--
because the forces that come with you are stronger than
the forces that come against him.

The war is already won.
But it'd be nice if you could just knock this battle out for him.
I know you want to grow him by bringing him through a valley.
He knows that.
We know that.
But life is still so hard,
and people can be so cruel.
They say things that discourage, deflate, and destroy
confidence, hope, and vision.

You understand.
Sometimes, you just can't take it anymore.

Give my loved one thick skin,
a tender touch,
and a gracious heart.
May he reach out when others push.
May he stand firm when others strike.

And while I'm praying--
I'd really like it if you'd let him win this one.
Make it a really satisfying defeat against the devil.

You'll get the credit, of course.

It's all you.
It's always you.

In Jesus' powerful name,
Amen.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

A prayer of blessing over the legislature

Sometimes, we have an opportunity to present God as the author and finisher of all things to a varied group of religious, non-religious, Christian, and atheist audience.

This is always a beautiful opportunity to show love and grace. We may not be alike in theology, but we are all equally pursued by God with relentless love. We all bear His image and are designed to reflect His glory.

I think our prayers and our conversations should celebrate that calling and that likeness. Through our compassion, people come to know who God really is. Judging them actually never works.

Perhaps someday, when these lost souls are in crisis, they will remember the Christians who spoke with love and blessing--perhaps they will ask questions about who we serve and how our God cares for us. That is our hope and our calling.

Here's my husband's prayer which he spoke over the Virginia State Assembly today:

Almighty God and Creator,
We come before you today to praise your name and to ask your blessing on this esteemed assembly. Without your creation, your wisdom, and your lovingkindness, we are incapable of accomplishing any good in this desperate world. We ask for you to empower this great body to champion justice for the oppressed, to administer grace to the fallen, healing to the sick, and restoration to the broken. Give each of us discernment as we interact with one another and wisdom as we handle problems. I ask and pray for a spirit of unity and harmony as it relates to policies that help the Commonwealth of Virginia and respect as it relates to our differences. May this state and this city be a blessing to everyone.
In the powerful name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,

Amen.

"To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might win some." 1 Corinthians 9:22


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Prayer about grace, for grace

Oh, Lord God,

You are full of grace for me.
Help me to full of grace for other people--
not so quick to judge and condemn.
Not find it so easy to think ill of someone's motives
and criticize why they do the things they do
or compare myself and be jealous of them.
You give me grace, and yet I am ungracious.

I want to think of myself with "sober judgment,"
in humility, honesty, and transparency.
I am flawed.
I am sinful and selfish,
and yet you call me beautiful, holy, and desired.

That's because of your grace.
I don't deserve your love and mercy.

Give me the eyes to see everyone the way you see them.
I want to see potential,
value,
worth.
I want to see someone full of promise,
who maybe just needs a chance.
Someone full of gifting,
who needs an encourager, not a competitor.

Maybe they need someone to listen,
someone to love,
someone to affirm their value.
Someone who will point out what they're doing well
instead of what they're doing poorly.

My gifts are according to your grace,
and so are everyone else's.
May I be faithful to the gifting!
May I honor you instead of honoring myself
or expecting other people to honor me.

How backwards I get this.
All because I'm proud, entitled, anxious, and insecure.
All because I keep believing the lie that what I do or what people think of me
someone dictates who I am.

I am yours.
I am a reflection of you.
I am your messenger and your mouthpiece.
I am your living legacy.

You overwhelm me.

In the gracious name of Jesus,
Amen.

Romans 12:3-8

Friday, January 11, 2019

Praying to follow when I can't see the way

Lord God, the Way-maker,

Open new pathways for me.
I feel like I'm at a dead end,
like there's no way out of this problem.

I'm trying not to look around me,
not to see the forces of
criticism,
procrastination,
confusion,
fear,
misapprehension,
self-doubt,
and down-right evil
that assault me from all sides.

I'm trying to look ahead,
to follow your voice
and see your face.
To put one foot in front of the other
in terrified obedience.

Are you out there?
Where are we going?
I can't see you.
I can't even see the path.

Remind me of you promises:
You go before me.
You go behind me.
You go with me.
You live inside me.

You feel my pain.
You created me to handle this.
You made me for this purpose.
You use everything for your glory.
You are growing me.

Where you lead me, I will follow.
You make a way, where there is no way.
I believe
you can do it again.

And so I follow you.
That's what you've told me to do.

Amen.

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand. Psalm 16:11

When hard-pressed, I cried unto the Lord; he brought me into a spacious place. The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? Psalm 118:5-6

Teach me your way, Lord; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors.  Psalm 27:11






Monday, January 7, 2019

A parent's prayer


Dear Heavenly Father,

You must know how I feel as a parent.
You must understand my anxiety and my fear
about the choices, beliefs, and actions that my children take.
You understand my frustration at not being good enough as a parent
and my fear that my mistakes will harm, even ruin, my kids.

Take this fear away in the mighty name of Jesus.
Block this anxiety in Jesus' name.
I pray for power and a sound mind for myself and my kids.
I ask you, God, to pour out your Spirit on them,
to surround them during their daily activities,
to re-interpret the messaging they receive through your perspective.

Speak truth to them.
Encourage, challenge, and convict them.
Place mentors and friends around them who will support faith in you.
Remove harmful influences.
Give them compassion for others, and make them the influencers of others.

Change them.
Develop them into your likeness, not mine.

And oh, God, give me patience to let you work in your time and in your way.
Help me to give them grace when they blow it,
help when they need it,
and forgiveness whether they ask for it or not.
Help me to live out your will in front of them,
to be faithful and authentic,
to be filled with the Spirit.

Change me.
Make me like you.

You are enough.
You love them, and you have designed a plan for them.
I have no reason to fear anything.

In Jesus' holy name,
Amen.


Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.--Ephesians 5:1-2

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A New Year's prayer for the discouraged

Dear Lord,

Remember me.
Touch me.

I'm discouraged.
I don't know what to do or where to turn.
I feel like nothing I do turns out right.
I want to give up and crawl in a hole,
but that doesn't feel good, either.

Give me the faith to trust your plan for my life.
Give me the courage to keep moving forward.
Give me vision when I'm overwhelmed.
Give me grace when I'm angry and hurt.
Give me perseverance when I want to quit.

Make me like Jesus.

That's probably what you're doing, because this process is painful.

So maybe you're up to something in my life after all.

I love you, and I'm trying to trust you.

Amen.