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Showing posts from 2019

Praying about my New Year's plans

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Dear Lord, 


You are great and holy.
I am in awe of you and the relationship you offer me.
Teach me to wait on you.
Give me patience and wisdom as I plan for this next year.

I want to do your will--
I want to obey your purpose for me this year
and let you fulfill your plans through me.

How do I plan and yet rely on you?
How do I plan while I wait for you?
How do I discern the difference between what should be done
and what you want me to do?

There is so much injustice in the world,
so many opportunities to do good
and so many people who need a friendly smile or a helping hand.
I am overwhelmed.

Certainly, you don't need me to do anything,
and I can't do everything, not by a long shot.
I feel like I do almost nothing.
But I want to do your work.
I want to make a difference.
I want my life to be about your mission and your kingdom
and not just me trying to feel good about being a good person.

Those lines blur so easily.

I'm asking you for wisdom and discernment,
for patience and temperance,
for selfle…

A Prayer to Emmanuel

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Lord Jesus,

Thank you for being Emmanuel,
"God with us."
(Click here for "A Christmas Prayer for you.")

There's no reason that You should want to be with us,
to be our God
or offer forgiveness,
much less become human like us.

What a degradation
for the Creator to become the created.
Why did you do it?

Here's why:

"For God so loved the world
that He gave His one and only Son,
that whoever believes in Him
should not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16)

Love.

What a wonderful reason to take human form,
and what a compelling reason for us to trust you!
It's a wonder we don't comprehend "God with us" more often.
(Click here to read "9 Prayers for Christmas hope.")

You loved us.
You and God the Father and God the Spirit.

You created our world.
You placed us in it.
You came to us because we couldn't be good enough on our own.
Then you died and paid our debt.
Then to rose again to give us power to live in a fallen world…

When your kids rebel

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Did you know that God had rebellious children?

In Isaiah 1:1-4, God talks about the children that didn't "turn out," even though they "knew better."

For the Lord has spoken:
"I reared children and brought them up, they have rebelled against me... Ah, sinful nation, a people loaded with guilt, a brood of evildoers, children given to corruption! They have forsaken the Lord; they have spurned the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him."


Does that make you feel any better? Even God experienced this problem.

So if (and when) your kids rebel, go to God in prayer.
He understands.
His kids rebel all the time,
and He's even a perfect parent.
It feels personal if our kids forsake our faith
or our wisdom or our friendship.
But God understands.
We've all done it to Him.

And He sticks.
He's always there.
Don't give up!

Here's a little prayer for rebellious children--

Lord God and Heavenly Father,

I praise you for your patience and grace t…

Discouragement, abandonment, & faith

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I read Psalm 5 & Psalm 13 this morning. They are prayers of lament and praise.
David feels forgotten and assaulted, so he shares his discouragement, despair, fear, abandonment, and call for justice in his communication with God. He praises God for who He is and believes that God will make all things right in His own way.
I am convicted.
I turned these two Psalms into the following prayer:

Lord God,

How long will you forget me?
Forever?
Do you remember that I'm wrestling with my emotions and thoughts
all the time
and I can't get clarity
on who you are or what you're doing in my life?

I feel abandoned and forgotten.
Weak.
Misunderstood and assaulted.
I'm trying to serve you,
and always,
someone or something is coming for me--
disappointing me,
hurting me,
rejecting me,
discrediting me.
Sometimes it's my own thoughts and faithlessness.
Many times, I believe it is the enemy.

Friends become foes.
They secretly enjoy my misfortune.
They talk about me to other people.
Thi…

A month of thankfulness

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Dear Lord,

How great is your love!
How numerous are your blessings!
There are too many to count.

But this month, I counted 30 simple blessings.
They were:

old friends
the Psalms
autumn weather
computer files
literature
the theater
an evening at home
kind strangers
a surprise visit from my son
a sunny day
veterans
sunsets
letters from friends
chocolate and peanut butter
memories
small children
my church
fall colors
the ability to buy want I want and need
my sons coming home
my country's heritage
my future daughter-in-law
sleeping in
antiques
not working on Mondays
my students
Thanksgiving decorations
Thanksgiving dinner with family and friends
online shopping
Christmas decorations

You are so good.
All the time.
In the little things and the big things.
I love you.
In Jesus' name,
Amen.


Psalm 100 
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
2 Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
3 Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his peo…

Prayer for a giving spirit

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Lord God in heaven,

We've entered the holiday season of giving.
Thank you for giving Jesus as a Savior to save my soul.
Thank for you for
Thanksgiving and Christmas,
for this season of peace, hope, gratefulness, and love.

Fill me with your Spirit so I radiate your love during the next month.
I want to be like you--completely generous,
compassionate toward the poor and needy,
thankful for your generosity,
full of contentment and grace.

Show me where and how to give of myself,
my resources,
my patience,
my compassion,
and my faith this season.
May I not hoard the blessings you've given me.

Make me a cheerful giver!
In Jesus' holy name,
Amen.

For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerfulgiver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

A simple prayer for tiredness

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Lord,

I'm tired.
Emotionally, physically, spiritually.
I need you.
Fill me up with your power and your Spirit
and help me see the things today that really matter.

Thank you.
I love you.
Amen.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

Some more prayers for tired people:

Prayer to "be still"
A prayer for tired people
What to pray when you feel yourself shutting down


Praying for a friend

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Lord Jesus,

You are full of power and strength.
You have already defeated the devil on the cross.

Show your power in my friend's life.
Cover _________ with the protection of the Holy Spirit.
Speak truth to ________ and work in his/her spirit to hear your words.
Convict, encourage, uplift.
Bring __________ back into full relationship with you.
I confess __________'s sin on his/her behalf.

Help me to be an encourager and a voice of truth, with compassion.
May I never shrink from what the Holy Spirit is telling me to do or say.
Keep me from pride, self-righteousness, or condemnation
because that is not how you act towards any of us.

You forgive.
You love.
You wait.
You woo.
You rescue.

I pray your power and love over my friend.
I believe in your restorative power, in regeneration and resurrection.
You make all things new,
even the things we mess up.

Thank you for my friend,
and thank you for putting me in ________ life to represent you.
I am grateful for this friendship, where we…

Prayer for a young adult

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God Almighty,

Give ___________ discernment and courage to develop and protect godly relationships.
Reveal any faulty theology and secular mindsets.
Open doors for spiritual relationships and mentoring.
Help ___________ seek wise counsel in crisis and decision-making.
Encourage ____________'s spirit, soul, and mind--
fight off insecurity and self-loathing and
fill ____________ with a knowledge of your infinite love and unending grace.
Prepare in _____________ a determination to serve and trust you all of his/her life.
Guide ______________ today into your presence.
Fill ___________ with the Holy Spirit and a heart of compassion.

Thank you for the blessing of knowing ___________.
Use me to influence him/her.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Click here for "A Prayer for students"
Click here for "How to pray God's word over your kids"


For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will…

A Thankfulness Journal

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It's November now. The month of Thanksgiving.

In honor of the upcoming holiday and because how to be more thankful came up in discussions I had this weekend at both my books events, I am committing to you and to God that I will keep a Thankfulness Journal for the month of November.

Every day, I will note what I am thankful for and print it. I'm attempting to stay away from the obvious things & people that find their way into all my prayers and take note of the million little details that make the human experience--and the Christian life--so worth living.

I recommend reading Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts to help you with this process. It's breathtakingly beautiful.

I'm also willing to guarantee that an intentional process of thanksgiving will change how to think about everything and will probably keep your Christmas spirit from digressing into consumerism (a side benefit).

So here we go--

Nov. 1--old friends
Nov. 2--the Psalms
Nov. 3--crisp mornings

What …

A prayer for my children's spouses

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It's never too soon to pray for your kids' future spouses.
I've been praying for my kids' spouses since the day my kids were born,
hoping and longing for three girls to grow up loved and protected and conformed into the image of Christ.

It's never too late to pray for that.
All of us are growing and changing, no matter how old we are.
The majesty of Scripture is that it is always revealing new truth to the people who seek truth, no matter how many times they've read it.

Seek truth for yourself,
then encourage your kids and their spouses to seek truth.
We learn by watching others live right.
Your job as a parent of adults is to live right and model righteous decisions.
Your job as a child is to watch adults who live right and follow their example,
which means that you are also making righteous decisions.

Don't give up on people growing more like Christ.
Don't give up on your kids,
on your kids' girlfriends or boyfriends,
or on your kids' spouses.

Prayer for a powerful child

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In 2 Timothy, Paul writes his last letter to Timothy, his spiritual son. They long for each other's company. Paul knows he is going to be soon martyred by the cruel Roman emperor, Nero. He knows he might never see Timothy again. He knows that Timothy, as a Christian pastor, is afraid. (Who wouldn't be?)

In the prayer below, I've taken Paul's final encouragements to Timothy and modeled them into a prayer that all parents can pray over their children. 

Dear God, Jehovah,

You are powerful and mighty. Nothing can stand against you. You love my child even more than I do, so I am giving you my most earnest request.

Thank you for my child's sincere faith. Guard it and develop it. Thank you for the opportunity you have given me as his parent to pour into him. Help me to never be discouraged or dismayed by results. You are alive and working in his life.

I pray for my child to be drawn to your Word--to saturate himself in it. Holy Spirit, draw him to yourself. Make your words…

Prayer for my mission trip (sort-of)

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Lord Jesus,

You are great and mighty.
You use ordinary people to accomplish your incredible work.
I'm not sure why.

But thank you for the opportunity to go to a mission field this next week
to meet people you love and died for,
to share the gospel you created,
to live like you for a few short days--

Giving myself to something greater than me.
Thinking of other people's needs instead of mine own.
Talking about what really matters--You.
Feeling uncomfortable in order to make someone else feel like they belong.

This is your mission.
And you call us to it every day.

And Saturday, I'm going to answer it.
(Click here to read "Why I leave my heart in other countries.")
Oh, why don't I answer it every day, all day?
Why don't I ache for the people of the world who don't know you and actually disrupt my life to reach them?

I ask for your blessing and protection over my trip, yes.
But mostly, I'm thinking I just want more of you.
I want to experience you.
Fre…

A prayer against disease

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Jehovah-Rapha, 
the God who Heals,


I ask for your blessing and healing over my friend who's sick.
Disease is such a hard thing to understand.
(Click here for "Prayer for a sick child.")

I know you're a Healer and the Great Physician,
so you don't delight in our pain and illness.
I know you use it to draw people to yourself.

Use my friend's illness.
Use my friend's family.
Use the trauma and grief associated with sickness, diagnoses, and fear for the future.
Use it all.

Make us witnesses of faith that you heal,
that you love,
and that you protect.
You have plans for all of us.
Your way is perfect.

Help me to trust you for myself and for my friends,
in sickness and in health.

But Lord, please, take away this disease and bring glory to yourself through a life that's healed.
Please heal because you are the Healer.
Please comfort because you are the Comforter.
Please sustain because you are our only hope.
(Click here for "A Prayer of spiritual warfare over children's he…

Lord, protect my soul

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Today I started teaching a poetry unit to my 9th and 10th grade students. As part of my argument that they do, in fact, read or listen to poetry every day, I played a song for them. I'll play a new one each day of the unit, and they will read along and identify the literary devices present in the song. They will analyze  literature and hopefully analyze themselves. 



And they will tap their feet and sing along quietly.


Here is the first song. And here is my prayer to go with it. 

Lord God,

How easy it is to lose my soul to this world!
I scare myself when I realize how easily I am duped,
how easily I am distracted,
how easily I am deceived into thinking something here can actually satisfy me.

This world can offer me nothing,
but I obsess over success and happiness like they can.

Holy Spirit,
protect my soul.
Guard my heart.
Strengthen my will.
Remind my mind
that you are everything,
and this world can offer me nothing.

Lord Jesus,
thank you for saving me,
calling me,
and leading me.

I don't want to …

Lord, I'm thirsty for you

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Lord,

I'm so thirsty.

I need more of You.
I know that's my problem.
I'm thirsty for You.

Instead, I tell myself that one drink--one verse,
one prayer--
adds enough to my day's experience.
It's enough for a thirsty soul.

Instead of drinking deeply,
I ask You for quick fixes--
instant success,
acceptance,
comfort,
recognition,
security,
love--
from everything and everyone around me,
including You.
That's the water I think I need.
(Click here to listen to the powerful worship song "Living Water" by Gateway.)

Yet I'm deeply parched.
Instead of drinking deeply from the well of Living Water (You),
I pray little prayers instead:

Help me get through the day.
Show me what to do.
Take away this anxiety.
Protect my family.
Solve this problem.
Meet my needs.

Those are little requests--
little drinks of water that will never parch my thirst for You.
They will not sustain or fill me.
They will not give me Living Water.
I will have to come back again and again, wanting…

Make me a blessing today

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Lord Jesus,
Make me a blessing today.
I have to have a difficult conversation with someone.
Pour me out.
Help me reflect your love, grace, and holiness.
You are my beginning and my end.
Be my middle today.
Be my everything
so I can transfer your everything to someone else who needs it.
Which is all of us.
I love you.
I need you.
I want to be like you.
Amen.


'New Wine' from our new album "There Is More"
HILLSONG UNITED
36,688,620 views •Apr 6, 2018
VERSE 1: In the crushing In the pressing You are making new wine In the soil I now surrender You are breaking new ground PRE-CHORUS: So I yield to You and to Your careful hand When I trust You I don’t need to understand CHORUS: Make me Your vessel Make me an offering Make me whatever You want me to be I came here with nothing But all You have given me Jesus bring new wine out of me VERSE 2: In the crushing In the pressing You are making new wine In the soil I now surrender You are breaking new ground VERSE TAG: You are br…

Thank you for remembering me

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Oh Lord,

You have perfect memory.
You remember me,
even though you have so many more important things to remember.

You don't forget what makes me grieve,
feel lonely,
ignored,
foolish,
or embarrassed.

You know what makes me fill with pride,
shrink in fear,
and weep with gratitude.
(Click here for a prayer called "Only You.")

You made me.
You know me.
And nothing about me makes you pull away,
feel disappointed
or annoyed.

You have infinite love, patience, and grace.
For me.
Even when I'm horrible.
Even when I think I'm wonderful, but I'm really not.
You have designed me,
and therefore, you intend to prosper me
no matter how much I mess up.
(Cick here for a prayer about design: "Thank you for my children's struggles.")

Thank you for remembering that I'm so so fallible.
Thank you for remembering me enough to die for me.
Thank you for everything.

In Jesus' wonderful name,
Amen.

"As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has c…

Forgive my friend

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Lord Jesus,

Forgive my friend for being rude,
for hurting others,
for hurting herself/himself,
for hurting me.

Show them your power
and envelope them with a desire to worship you with every tiny aspect of their life.

I confess their sins for them,
knowing that you will extend grace, conviction, and restitution.
It's who you are.

Make me an instrument of grace and forgiveness
when someone wrongs me.
Make me a mouthpiece of grace and forgiveness
when I see injustice and it makes me mad.
Make me a encourager
when I can comfort someone who's been hurt.
Make me an advocate
when I can fix something that's wrong.

Make me like you.
Amen.

Click here to pray "Confessing Someone Else's Sin"
Click here to read about how Job prayed for his friends who hurt him.


You can have all of me

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Lord,

You can have all of me.
My self-image,
my dreams,
my family,
my career,
my pain,
my fear,
my plans, 
my secret places.

I surrender.
All of it.
I give it to you.

It belongs to you, anyway,
because I belong to you.

I don't know why I keep pulling this all back on me.
It weighs me down,
clouds my thinking,
discourages and scares me.
I am weary from the burden of it.

You want to carry it for me.
You want to carry me.

So you can have me back again.
Again and again
and every time I forget and pull this all on myself.
Again and again.

I love you.
I trust you.

I need you.

Amen.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”--Matthew 11:28-30

For more prayers about this, click below:
"When you want to quit praying"
"What to pray when you feel yourself shutting down"
"Show me where I'm holding back your s…

3 Prayers for your child's teacher

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Teaching is a difficult, exciting, and taxing profession. It requires both emotive and logical perspectives, tenacity and patience. Firmness and empathy. Long days and long nights of uncompensated self-sacrifice. Teachers need your prayers and support to do their jobs well. Here are some ideas: 


Dear Lord,
Give my child's teacher encouragement today.
Help her/him connect with all the students,
model unconditional love,
realize the importance of teaching and molding lives.
Remind him/her to take the long look,
past homework and tests,
past student squabbles,
into the future where these children--
including mine--
become responsible, thoughtful, caring adults.
Help him/her be proud of that accomplishment.
Amen.


Dear Lord, 
Give my child's teacher discernment and wisdom in handling crises in the classroom.
Give him/her boldness to champion the outcast
and mercy in punishing the foolish.
Help him/her eliminate injustice and teach kindness.
I pray for a generous spirit, a willingness to reach out, a …

A prayer for teachers

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Dear Lord Jesus,

You are the great Teacher.
You opened minds,
explained truth,
challenged cultural norms,
welcomed questions,
defended the outcasts,
championed justice,
presented absolute truth
with absolute grace and mercy.

You loved the unlovable.
You confronted the arrogant.
You encouraged the weak.
You comforted the grieving.

You were the ultimate Teacher.
This is my wish,
my goal,
my calling--
to recognize those that need a gracious word,
to challenge those whose minds are made up.
To call students to a greater work than they have ever imagined.
(Click here to read "The Abolition of Man: i.e. The end of real education")

Mold me into the kind of teacher you are,
as much as possible.
Give me your wisdom to recognize need,
to see beyond the subject material and personalities.

Help me see people like you see them.
Make me an instrument of your love and grace this year.
(Click here to read "Believe, love, learn: how thinking like a child could change your life.")

In Jesus' name,
Amen.


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