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Showing posts from 2020

Praying for the kingdom of heaven in my life

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Dear Lord Jesus,

You talked a lot about the kingdom of heaven. That term seems a little mysterious. I guess your listeners didn't understand it either because you explained it over and over.I'm asking your Holy Spirit to help me understand it. I'm praying for the kingdom of heaven in my life.Help me to sow good habits into my life so I can grow (Matt. 13:24)Make me like a mustard seed, small and humble, but fruitful. May my life grow to be a shade tree for everyone else (Matt. 13:33)Help me seek your kingdom because it is a great treasure. Make me brave enough to give up everything for it (Matt. 13:44)Give me perspective to live with a kingdom mindset--to see your gospel as a pearl of great price (Matt. 13:45)May my life be like a welcoming household, filled with treasures (Matt. 13:52)Give me your power, to bind evil in your name (Matt. 16:19)Make me humble, teachable, and joyful like a child (Matt. 18:4)Build into me responsibility, stewardship, and earnestness to utilize…

20 prayers about guarding your words

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Oh, Lord,I don't have the words for what I'm feeling right now. Or what I should say. Or if I should say anything at all.Words are tricky. They tend to pop out. Help me to pray YOUR words about MY words:
Make the words of my mouth pleasing and acceptable to you. (Psalm 19:14)Give me gracious words, sweet like honeycomb and healing to the bones. (Proverbs 16:24)May my mouth speak wisdom and my heart be filled with understanding. (Psalm 49:3)Purify my words like silver, burn off the dross in your crucible. (Psalm 12:6)Whenever I open my mouth, give me the faith to speak the gospel fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:19)Help my speech to be as beautiful and valuable as apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Proverbs 25:11)Your words are true and faithful. They will prove to be true. May I speak them! (Psalm 33:4)I want to take hold of your words, obey your commands, and live! (Proverbs 4:4)Lord, may all of my words be just. Keep me from speaking perverse words! (Proverbs 8:8)Kee…

7 Pick-me-up prayers

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Speak each of these verses as a prayer to the Lord to get you through your day today. Each statement is a promise from God that He will fulfill his will in you because of who He is, not because of who you are. You just need to believe his promises. Remember God's mighty works in the past and choose to believe that he will continue to be the God he's always been.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17)Lord, give me your Spirit, which makes me free from sin and death. Help me not to misconstrue freedom with the world's definition. I am free in you, and therefore, I am your obedient and submissive servant. You don't owe me anything. Amen.I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Phil. 4:13)Lord, I am overwhelmed with how hard life it. Give me the strength and power of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I am challenged to do your will and your mission, not my own. I can't possibly see how your plans for me will play out in eternity. Hel…

How to pray for your pastors and the Church as a whole

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Lord Jesus,You have called many people I know into a holy and difficult calling: pastoring.They step into battle week after week against spiritual and physical enemies.They are called by you to lead my local church, which is part of the global church.I pray you will protect and nourish my pastors' souls and spirits today.I pray for their vision, clarity, compassion, and endurance.I pray a hedge around their families and their emotions; be a rear guard against anyone how wants to attack them and to go before them into battle.Because we are in a battle, all of us. But you have placed some special people on the front lines, and they are probably getting tired of it. Church is hard for everybody. I wonder why that is?I guess because we're all human. We're selfish, and we ruin every blessing that God gives us.I pray for my church, and I pray for my pastors. I especially ask you to protect them against attacks from believers because that discourages ministers more than anything …

Teach me to grieve (for myself and others)

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Oh, Lord, 
You are the God of comfort.Teach me to grieve. It makes me uncomfortable, but it's so necessary for healing and perspective.Help me to trust your love and care enough to lean into pain and trauma andthe wild uncertainty of hard times,of personal and collective crisis.
You are a God of compassion.Teach me to grieve for others.give me perspective and empathy and sincerity that other people's experiences are differentand just as traumatic and difficult than my own.Maybe even more!I want to be kind and willing to sit with them in their pain without passing judgment, assuming I have the answers,or teaching them how to feel or act in their pain.
You are a God of forgiveness.Teach me to be forgiving when I feel that someone has wronged me, misunderstood me, or hurt me.You give us chances, over and over--a thousand million chances to change,to repent,to revive,to follow.Help me repent of my own sin and refuse to be the judge and jury for everyone else.I don't want to comp…

Praying about good news in us and through us

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Oh, Lord,

There's not a lot of good news flying around these days.
Not a lot to make us joyful or optimistic.
Not a lot that is attracting the world to the church.

In fact, our news--and our handling of the news--
is probably pushing people away.
If we're going to bite and devour one another,
who wants that kind of religion?
What a terrible misrepresentation of who God is.

God, I'm asking you to change us.
Change me more every day.
I want my life, my words, and my testimony to spread good news about
God's love, Jesus' death, and the Church Jesus started.

And so I pray Colossians 1:3-6 over all of us:

Each time we pray for you, we thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We have heard of your faith in Christ and of your love for all God's people,
because what you hope for [not political victory] is kept safe for you in heaven.
You first heard about this hope when you believed the true message, which is the good news.
The good news is spreading all over the worl…

The Back-to-work prayer

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Wow, Lord,

I'm a little overwhelmed.

I'm back in the old-but-not-normal grind.
It's physical work but virtual, too.
I'm having to get up early,
work all day,
and manage to do everything in person and online.

It's great to wear normal clothes
and see human faces,
even behind masks.

But every day is a new struggle.
Something's different.
Something's changed forever.
Something's harder than before.
So much has changed, sometimes I resent that I can no longer plan or feel secure about my work or my life.

I belong to you.
My work belongs to you.
Why is it so hard for me to be joyful about my situation?
Convict me when I complain about how things used to be.
Remind me that you are a God of transformation--
you don't want anything to stay the same.
Not even me.
Not ever.

When I feel inconvenienced or overlooked,
remind me that I'm here on a global mission,
in your service,
for your glory.

It's not about me.
And you can handle the change.
You may ha…

A Labor Day prayer, for those of us who labor too much to listen

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Dear Lord,

I'm so grateful to sit outside this weekend and marvel at the beauty of your world.
Thank you for this weekend--for the chance to rest and breathe and think.
I labor too much.
My labor keeps me from hearing you speak.

So often, I'm too busy to hear you speak.
I want your wisdom, but I don't sit down long enough to listen.
I don't stop the noise and the activity and wait.
I don't go where I can hear you, some place where the noise is music, and everything reveals your glory.

Speak, Lord.
Speak your love and blessing over me.
Help me hear and remember your promises.
Open my heart to be tender to conviction and correction,
to recognize where I need to change and then to have the courage to do it.

Change me.
Mold me.
Renew me.

I'm leaning into you, Lord.
Speak to me.
Every day that I sit in your presence
is a Sabbath day.
Lord, may I sit and listen every week and every day!

In Jesus' name,
Amen.

Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the s…

The back-to-school-in-the-kitchen conversation with God (i.e. FREAK OUT to God)

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Okay, God, now you've really done something to me. You've compelled me to become a teacher to my own children. Do you remember how I fought with them last year over their homework? And now you want me to do this ALL DAY LONG?

Consider it pure joy when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith in me produces perseverance. (James 1:1-2) 

But we're back to school at the kitchen table, and I'm freaking out! I can't be responsible for my kids' reading, writing, math, science, history, music, PE, drama, socializing, and personal responsibilities ALL DAY LONG! For who-knows-how-long?

I just can't. You should know this about me. You've watched my parenting.

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Romans 8:28)

Okay, that's just mean, making this a spiritual decision, when obviously, I was not trained as a teacher.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault…

A prayer about teaching and learning

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Lord Jesus, the Rabbi,

You were a teacher.
You know how hard it is
to present truth and get listeners to hear and understand it.
You were creative and interesting and inviting and challenging.

Make me like that,
whether I'm a parent,
a teacher,
a supervisor,
a manager,
or business owner.

I'm teaching someone about you every day
just by being myself.
And I'm learning from someone every day.
(Or at least I should be.)

I want to seek you and learn from you first and foremost.
I want to long for you and miss you when I avoid you.
Make me a learner first,
and a teacher second.

I want my life to count.
I want to help someone grow
as a person
and as a child of God.

Infuse me with humility,
persistence,
wonder,
patience,
and compassion.

I wait on you and listen to you.
Thank you.

In Jesus' name,
Amen.


"Your hands have formed me; give me understanding to learn your commands." Psalm 119:73




How God shows truth when you're in a desert

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I'm reading I Kings 17 this morning. The country is in a massive famine. It's a pandemic of
starvation. Everything is dried up. There is no food anywhere.

The widow of Zarephath is picking up sticks to make her last fire, for her last meal, for herself and her son. Elijah approaches her and asks her to make him some bread. He promises that God will bless her if she obeys and feed him first.

She believes. And her oil and flour don't run out. She keeps Elijah alive, and God keeps her and her son alive. They survive the famine.

But then the widow's son dies.

Look how Elijah prays and how the woman responds.

"O Lord my God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?...O Lord my God, let this boy's life return to him!"

And the boy begins to breathe again.

Then she says, "Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord is truth."

Oh, Lord, God,
Reveal your power and your spirit today.
R…

A birthday prayer for my child

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Oh, Lord,


I ask for your blessing over my child on his birthday,
on this day that you breathed life into him as he entered this broken world.
Cover him with your protection, your conviction, and your direction.

May he always feel your presence.
Speak Scripture to him when he sins.
Speak comfort to him when he is afraid.
Wrap yourself around him when he is alone.
Direct him when he is confused.

Always, bring your words of life--the Holy Word of God--
to his heart and memory,
and may he cling to your truth.
Give his discernment in this confusing world.
Stir unrest and reticence when he hears falsehood,
and help him to turn back to your Word to verify the truth.
Make him a man of spiritual power and authority.

Bring men and women in his path to guide him and model Christian living to him.
Bring friends into his circle who will support and encourage his walk with you.
Bring him a wife at the perfect time for both of them.

Help him to wait on your voice,
to listen for your voice,
and to follow your voice.

You h…

A prayer of joy (and why joy works in a messed-up world)

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Oh, Lord,

I rejoice in your lovingkindness,
your love,
your goodness,
your faithfulness,
your patience,
your forgiveness,
your gentleness,
your justice,
your generosity,
your righteousness,
and your discipline.

Your works and your ways are mysterious,
but I trust them
because you have always shown yourself to be trustworthy.
You are good, and you only do good.

Thank you for the history of the world:
because in the midst of chaos, suffering, and victimization,
you have always shown yourself loving, just, and faithful.
You have always redeemed those who seek you.
You have always blessed those who follow you.

You are father to the fatherless (that's me)!
You defend the widow (that was my mom)!
You put the lonely in families (that's so many of us)!
You free the prisoners (that's justice).
You shake the world with your might and power.
You paint it in brilliant colors,
and you give it to us to enjoy (everybody can see your works!).

Praise be to the Lord who daily bears our burde…

A prayer for my child's wedding day

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Oh, Lord of heaven,
Lover of our souls,
Bridegroom of the Church,
Savior of all who seek you--

I bring you my most earnest request,
my adoration,
my intercession,
my thanksgiving.

Today is my son's wedding day.
I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this life you entrusted to me.
I am so humbled to be his mother.
Thank you for this gift,
for this child I prayed for before his conception
and every day since.
Thank you for his bride,
whom I've prayed for since my son's birth.

You have loved us with an everlasting love. (Jer. 31:3)
You are loving and faithful,
even when we are untrue and unfaithful to you.
I cannot praise you enough.

Hover over our day with your Presence.
Infuse our wedding celebrations with your Spirit.
Fill the bride and groom with gratefulness and praise to you.
Go before them and behind them and beside them through life.
Keep them as the apple of you eye.

May be all reflect your lovingkindness today.
May we rejoice and be glad in the abundance of your blessings

A prayer for space to hear

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Speak to me, Lord.

I'm listening.

I'm preparing the sanctuary of my soul so you can enter and sit with me.

And so I can hear you.

I'm making room in my thoughts and beliefs for you to change me and direct me.

I need you.

So I will sit here and wait to hear from you.

Wait to feel you and know you.

Wait until my heart transforms from cynical to celebrating, from afraid to expectant, from bitter to grateful.

I will wait.

Only through this silent waiting will I find the sense to shut out the noise of this world.

Only in stillness can I can experience your love and wisdom.

Forgive me for my self-focus and my judgment of others.

Direct me toward the work you have for me today.

Give me strength, patience, and courage to do it.

Sustain my spirit, so I don't give up.

Speak to me, Lord.

Oh, please, don't stop speaking to me.

In Jesus' name,

Amen.


For this is what the Lord says—
he who created the heavens,
he is God;
he who fashioned and made the earth,
he founded it;
he did no…

Broaden my path

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Lord God,

I feel hemmed in right now,
Physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually.
In a woods, looking for a clear way out.
The world is overwhelming, isn't it?

I feel exhausted from the hectic pace of running a new schedule while trying to maintain the old one.
I feel drained--completely void of compassion and empathy--when in fact, I do care about so many things.
I have worn myself out caring.
I feel the urgency to educate myself about the crises all around me.
I feel the Holy Spirit prompting me to open my heart to bigger faith--to hope and dream for your will to be done in ways I can't even imagine.

But you are not worried about how I will process all this or if I will fail.
You will broaden my path, if I keep walking in your light.
You will enlarge my territories, if I push out into a dangerous world.
You will strengthen me and do the impossible through me.

I will not stumble.
I will not fall.
I will not fail, if I keep following you.

Lord, keep me on your path, …

Praise for the Lord's justice and mercy

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A prayer of praise and justice from Psalm 98

Shout to the Lord, everyone!
Break out your instruments and singing!
Your worship is a beautiful symphony to God's ears.
Everything on the earth should shout the praises of the Lord.
Even the rivers, the ocean, the hills, and the animals praise the Lord through their creation.

Why do we withhold our faith and our worship?
Because we see the unfairness of this world?
Because we harbor ambition, hate, and envy in our hearts?
We distrust the plans of the Lord.

His way is good, and He does good.
He judges the wickedness of the world in his own time.
He will bring justice and mercy according to his nature.
All the nations will know that he is the Lord, and there is none other.

Praise the Lord, the Savior of the nations!
In Jesus' name,
Amen.


Sorrow awaits us: a lament over injustice from the church

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I was reading in Luke 11 this morning. I was struck by the profound similarities between the Pharisees of Jesus' day and the evangelical church of today. More startling is Jesus' response toward them.

You might know that the Pharisees were the "bad guys" of Jesus' time--at least that's how Bible-readers like to view them, as if we are dissimilar to them in every way.

And yet, they were well-respected and revered, even feared. They were obeyed. They were the experts about what God expected from his people. In modern day vernacular, they were the pastors, the conservative right, the non-profit leaders, the worship leaders, the televangelists, the Christian authors. They were the spiritual voice for their culture.

And Jesus censured their religious rules, pointing out instead their lack of compassion and justice. Read Luke 11:37-53 to get the full effect of Jesus' words (they're harsh!).

Here is a prayer of lament crafted from Jesus' rebuke:

Lord God,

Grief, desire, & hope: a lament, a request, & a promise from Psalm 20

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Oh, Lord,

Today is a grief-day for me.
You know this.
Nothing can change that or fix this.
I can only lean into you.

I seek refuge in your arms in and the truth of your words.

Answer me in my distress.
Protect me.
Send me help from your sanctuary--
Will you give peace?
Renewed faith?
A call to action?

Surround me with your angels.
Remember my faithfulness
and forgive me of my unfaithfulness.
I confess and repent of all of it.

I know that you will give me the desires of my heart
and make all my plans succeed
because you save me when I call on you.
You reward me according to your faithfulness and goodness.

You are everlasting.
You are comfort.
You are peace.
You are enough and more than enough for me.

Thank you.
I love you,
Amen.

Psalm 20

Other prayers about grief:
Prayer to fill the grieving space
Praying comfort over grief
How to pray a Bible verse when you're grieving
How to pray when you're overwhelmed with sadness
How to pray a prayer of anguish

Other blogs about grief:
What grief …

How to love: a paraphrase and a prayer

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1 Corinthians 13 (MSG)

So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love. Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end. Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled. But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly…