Before you can ask God for anything, you need to sit in God's presence and understand his character. If you recount God's forgiveness, love, grace, trustworthiness, protection, etc., you can face anything. The trick with praise is to affirm who God is--not what he's done--because that takes the focus off what you think he should do for you and leaves you alone with your faith in him. Faith, after all, is trusting when you don't know what will happen next. That's where God wants us to live.
Psalm 34:1 "I will extol the Lord at all times; His praise will always be on my lips."
A prayer of hope for the holidays
Or perhaps Christmas is their loneliest time, without any cherished memories, which makes it that much harder to be festive.
Is Christmas hard for you?
Does it make you feel hopeless?
Just since December began, I've attended one funeral, watched one on television, and revised my family, whom I haven't seen since my mom died. Collectively, grief is strong and real.
But I do not grieve as one without hope (1 Cor. 15:18-20). Perhaps that is why we sing the "Messiah" at Christmas. Hope began with the birth of a baby, but hope continues through Jesus' resurrection and his predicted triumphant return. Hope culminates with the "Hallelujah Chorus." (Turn up the volume--it's the Mormon Tabernacle Choir!)
This Christmas, pray this prayer of hope.
Hope dispels grief.
Hope gives suffering a context and a reason for being.
Hope is the essence of Christmas.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for sending Jesus to be the Savior of the world.
Thank you for saving me!
I am awed by your sacrifice, by your love, and by your plans for mankind.
You are my hope, my comfort, and my joy.
You are my everything.
I trust you--
and by doing that, I worship you,
my Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
A prayer of imprisonment and freedomOh, 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.
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
especially a creation who will 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,
yet somehow, forgivable.
A willing prisoner,
a willing death,
to free me from the prison of my soul.
"God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the with singing; but the rebellious live in a sun-scorched land." (Psalm 68:6)
You make me shake my head
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.
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.
"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)
Praise for the sunshine
Praise the Lord!
I believe You love me
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.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made.--Psalm 145:17
I hope you're glorified by my life
Praise for the CreatorDear Lord,
You inspire me with your creation.
I am in awe of your majesty.
How did You craft such brilliant colors and mix them together, painting them on trees and bushes, just to astound me?
Every autumn, the voice of your artistry
calls for attention.
It give me just a glimpse of who You are
and what You can do.
You created the world;
You set it in motion;
You turned it on its axis
and send it in its orbit
to give the world seasons and climates,
days and years
which with to praise adore You.
I cannot fathom Your goodness or Your power.
I can only worship You for it.
"He changes times and seasons . . . . He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning."
Praise and ComfortA Paraphrase of Psalm 66
The whole world will shout with joy to You and testify of You,
telling everyone about the amazing things You've done for mankind.
We worship You! How awesome are Your dealings with us!
Your enemies cower under Your majesty.
They cannot hide from Your power.
Take notice of God's care:
He miraculously interferes in the natural causes of the earth and rescues us, miraculously.
He controls and oversees mankind, even while evil men rule the earth.
They will not win over Him.
Everyone, praise the Lord! Tell others of His powerful deeds!
He keeps us from demolishing our own lives, if we let Him.
He challenges our faith by leading us through difficult circumstances.
He allows us to be tested, persecuted, and oppressed.
Yet He endures affliction with us and brings us out into a sunny place.
Then we worship Him,
because we see Him for who He is:
great, powerful, loving, and just,
a God who can be trusted.
Everyone, come and listen to my testimony:
I have endured a desolate place of sadness,
yet I see God everywhere.
When I feel hopeless, I hope in Him.
When I feel lonely, I lean on Him.
When I am anxious, I rest in Him.
God alone, who created the heavens and the earth
somehow has time for me.
I will pray, even if I haven't prayed for awhile.
I will sing, even though I don't feel like it.
I will worship because I cannot enter His presence and not.
Praise the Lord, who hears my prayers,
who does not hold my humanity against me.
If I cover up my sin, He won't listen,
but if I uncover the secret places of my heart,
He will come and and rest and fellowship with me.
I am overwhelmed by Your love, O Lord!
image by Lilla Frerichs
What will you do for me today?
I will praise You.
Your blessings are new every morning.
Great is your faithfulness.
I wonder what You will do for me today?
Whatever You decide, it will be incredible,
gracious, and for my benefit.
Maybe I should be asking,
what will I do for You?
"Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lam. 3:22, 23)
Prayer for Perspective
Dear Lord God,
Lord, You did it again! (a praise for grace)
You answered prayers we didn't deserve to have answered.
You gave grace in the midst of our frailties.
You sprinkled favor on us like a gentle rain;
Your radiance shined on us,
like the sun breaking through after a storm.
Thank you for being Yourself, Your loving and generous self,
who gives to the just and the unjust,
the holy and unholy,
just because You're holy.
You gave us another gift today,
just because You're You.
We are eternally grateful.
Help us to live worthy of Your grace here on earth (at least as much as possible).
It's what You want from us--
glory to God.
May You lengthen our memory of this day until the next time
we wonder if You love us enough to hear our prayers.
In Jesus' precious name, Amen.
image by MALIZ ONG
Why am I afraid?Dear Lord,
Why am I afraid of the things I can't control, when You are all-powerful?
Why am I afraid of failure, when You've promised give me a future?
Why am I afraid to defend the truth--when You have called Yourself the Truth?
Why am I afraid I won't be happy submitting to Your will, when lasting joy can only be found in You?
Why am I afraid to share the gospel, when Your good news has the power to set everyone free?
Why am I afraid to worship You, when I know that pursuit of success will never satisfy me?
Why am I afraid to forgive others, when You let me live in grace?
Why do You even put up with me?
It makes no sense. But You are patience and mercy and love. Thank you!
Thank You for power, purpose, joy, salvation, intimacy, forgiveness, and grace. You amaze me!
I love You!! In Jesus' name, Amen.
Psalm 56:11--"In God I trust and am not afraid. What can man do to me?"
image by Piotr Wojtkowski
Paraphrasing Psalm 8 into a Prayer
Oh, Lord, my maker, you are incredible!
May your name be recognized and revered throughout the earth!
When I think about the sky and the earth,
the whole of your detailed creation,
with planets in their synchronized orbits
and animal kingdom living in perfect harmony--
who am I
that you even care what I think or what I fear?
You have taken the time to create me with exquisite detail,
fashioning my form and face,
my personality and my gifts,
all so that I can bring glory to you by knowing you
and reflecting your image?
Who am I, that you grant me free will
to worship you or to worship myself, made in your image?
Who am I to be loved by you?
In all the earth, you are the most incredible!
DoxologyPraise God, from whom all blessings flow,
Praise God, all creatures here below,
Praise Him, above all heavenly hosts,
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.