John 15:9-11


Praying John 15:9-11


Today’s verse is John 15:9-11

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

Let’s pray together.

Why do I run away from Your love, Jesus?  Is it because I’m afraid You’ll see me as I really am, someone unworthy?  Well, the fact is, You already knew that.  Is it because I’m afraid You will limit and restrict who I really am?  Well, as my Creator, I can’t be who I really am without You.  Is it because I just don’t see how I fit into Your plans?  Well, You will guide and instruct me as I go.

So, today, LORD, help me to abide in Your love.  Help me to revel in it, to glory in it.  I want it to be apparent to all who see me today that I know Your love and that I love You in return.  Let it manifest in me throughout my actions and words.  Let me speak love to others, let me show love to others.  Let me be kind and gentle and considerate.  Help me to be selfless, looking for the good of You and of others.  Give me opportunities and help me to see them so that I cannot hide from them.

We may not know love as we should.  Jesus, we might have never had it shown to us well.  We might be afraid of love, be afraid of what that means.  Could we be hurt?  Could we be used?  Will You abandon us?  Will You require too much of us?  Vulnerability is scary, we don’t like the risk.  We don’t like to change.  Just because something is exciting does not mean it is good.  Jesus, change our minds, change our hearts.  Show us what true love is as we abide in You.  Show us how good You are, how constant, how true, how fulfilling.  Show us that You are perfect when our friends and our parents and our spouses and our children and our coworkers cannot be.  Only You are the example.

Jesus, once we know the love, help us to show it to You.  Help us to express our love for You in obedience, following Your commands, hearing Your voice, loving others as You love us.  In each kind word and good deed and selfless thought and adherence to Your word, let us move a step closer to You, let us move a step closer to who we really are.  Let us feel the goodness and the love that You exude.  Help us to stand up for what is right and true and good as You did, as Your word says.  We don’t know how to do that, we are but children, so teach us, gently and kindly, but teach us truth and teach us how to spread it to others in love.

I love that word, abide, LORD.  It feels cozy, it feels safe.  How wonderful that we get to abide forever with You.  It makes me believe that You are right there beside me, as You are, walking each step, closer than I can imagine.  I am not alone.  I do not have to figure things out by myself.  Not only do You help me, but You walked this path before I did.  You know every twist and turn, You prepared a way for me.  You showed me how to live by living the perfect life on this earth, loving Your Father as I hope to love You, obedient and unified.

And, as a result, You had such joy and I want that, I crave it.  Joy seems to be in short supply these days.  We find more to despair over than to rejoice in.  Jesus, change that.  Change that as we celebrate the season of Your birth.  Help us to understand that when we love and follow You, our joy is complete.  We may still have bad things happen to us, they may be happening right now, but that does not mean that our ultimate joy is diminished in any way.  Help us to hold on to that truth in the sadness and despair.  Help us to hold on to You, for Your joy.  It’s not something we can conjure up ourselves.  It comes only from You, only from Your life. 

I want it.  Jesus, give it to me today.  Correct in me the things that keep me from joy.  Help me to avoid distractions and busyness.  Help me to carve out time today to focus on You, Your love, our relationship.  I want to be present in my time with You.  I want to give my all to You.  I pray this for everyone today.  We all need it so much and You are so powerful and capable, You can give it to all of us.  Help us to ask, help us to receive.  Thank You, Jesus, in advance for Your affirmation and response.  You are so good and we praise and worship You today.  We receive Your joy in the midst of our sorrow and we know that it is perfect as You are.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.    


Fearless Hope

Hope has been my constant companion for this past year.  You might be familiar with the tradition of picking a word for the new year instead of making a New Year’s resolution.  As I’ve started to do this in the past couple of years, the strangest thing is that it feels like the word chooses me most of the time, as if God is granting a benediction over my year.  This year, without my actively choosing it, my word became hope.  I was invited to speak about this at my church for the Christmas party and I laughed because it just fit, like everything God does when we keep our eyes open.

So, I’m writing about hope, our great hope in Jesus, and my goal is to illustrate why it is so important.  It’s a fitting topic for this time of year because Christmas is when true hope entered our world, in the form of a baby.  Jesus was the fulfillment of centuries of waiting by not just the Jewish people, but the whole world, for redemption and deliverance from darkness.  We have a lot of traditions around Christmas that celebrate this.  We sing songs, we light candles.  We practice the season of Advent.  Unsurprisingly, hope is the theme of the first week. 

Advent looks forward to a coming.  Most people use it to celebrate Jesus’ first coming long ago.  In this season, we anticipate something.  We’re waiting.  The world waited a long time for Him, and He did come!  He came bringing hope, and we recognize that at Christmastime.  One of the reasons I think we celebrate the birth when we do is because it fits so well with the pattern of seasons.  Typically, October-March is the darkest part of the year.  At least, where I live.  The dark is hard to get through, right?  We all tend to feel it, like a burden weighing us down.  We hate getting up when it’s dark.  It feels like we have to go to bed when we get home.  We have less energy for things.  We need something in the middle of that six months to help us remember what light looks like.  I think that’s why so many people put Christmas lights up, even if they don’t realize that’s the reason.  In December, we can kneel at the manger and say, we’re half-way out of the dark. 

However, the Jews may not have realized the baby’s birth was leading them out of the darkness, after the 400 years of silence from God they had endured.  It’s no surprise that today, we need a powerful and hopeful reminder, since we’ve been waiting 2000 years for Him to come again.  What He accomplished on the cross was powerful, was for all time, and is the instrument of deliverance for us, but we need to remember what He brought us the moment He was born, the hope that all will be made right.

I think we tend to have the idea that hope is flimsy, it’s a whimsical notion, something for dreamers and fools.  If you try to grasp it in your hands, it will slip through your fingers.  We use it a lot in poetry and symbolism and to describe wishful thinking.  But real hope, the kind Jesus brought, is made of steel.  It’s a formidable ally in our journey through the darkness.  It’s no coincidence that in the book Pilgrim’s Progress1, Hopeful is the name of Christian’s companion on his journey to the Celestial City, joining him halfway through.  Hopeful keeps Christian from giving up and committing suicide in the Doubting Castle, kept by Giant Despair.  You see, hope isn’t something that flares up in the moment; hope is built on patience and endurance.  It’s why we talk about it first during Advent, because hope is what sustains us when we wait.  Hope is the foundation that peace, joy, and love grow from.  The Bible tells us to hold unswervingly to the hope we have because we know God is faithful.

I am not pretending this is easy.  There is much that would try to extinguish the light of hope in our lives.  Does anyone else feel like the world we’re living in is practically designed to induce despair and that hope is very hard to come by?  I know I’m not alone in that, but I still feel alone.  One of the enemy’s greatest weapons against us is despair.  If we give up, we’ve given in and we’re lost.  We become isolated, and that starts to feel normal.  Doubt gnaws at us, and we second-guess what we’re supposed to do and what is good or what is true.  Clearly, the enemy is a fear-monger, and he wants us to be afraid.  Afraid people don’t fight.  Afraid people shrink down and do not let themselves be used for their God-given divine purpose.  The enemy laughs when we are afraid and when we despair that anything will ever be made right again on this earth. 

As Christians, we may have a flickering candle flame of hope that at least heaven will be better than this, but I guarantee you, if that’s your only hope, despair will blow it out.  What we need is a wildfire of hope, right here and right now, spreading fiercely and proudly, devouring despair, and leaving growth and wholeness and opportunity in its wake.  I read a phrase the other night: ‘fearless hope had been their guide.’2  My spirit soared when I read it.  Do you know why?  Because I realized that hope combats fear.  Hope isn’t afraid.  It’s what allows us to keep going even when we are bombarded on every side.  Even when we are divided.  Even when we are persecuted.  Even when we are weary.  Hope takes a stand and decrees that despair 

We know the reason why.  It will not win because Jesus already did.  He gave up more than we can possibly understand when He became one of us, but He did not give up hope when He came to earth, no, He embodied it.  He faced fearful trials and torments, including everything each of us have faced, and more.  Yet Jesus never lost faith, was always hopeful, and lived His life without fear.  Please understand He still felt fear, but He did not allow it to take control.  His hope was not found on this earth.  His hope was found in His Father.  And that’s what we must do.  Fear is going to continue to make war upon us, but we don’t have to give in.  We can look up and say, ‘Father, You saved me, now enable me to hear Your voice amidst every distraction and assault that is my daily experience on this war-torn earth.  Let my ears be open, let my heart always admit Your presence.’

This leads me to something important.  When you have hope, you can’t keep it hidden.  You can’t keep it to yourself.  Proclaim it openly.  It might be easy to try to keep hope safe in the heart, an inward flame that keeps the inner self going.  But the flame of hope needs oxygen, expelled from our lungs in victory, declaring to all who can hear that our hope is found in Christ alone.  When we do that, I believe the flame grows stronger.  Sharing is part of what keeps hope alive.  Jesus did not come to save just you, but to save all those around you, using your help.  We need boldness and courage to share in whatever way God has prepared us.  Sharing is the model Jesus walked and one the disciples followed for the rest of their lives.  It’s how the body of Christ was formed and how it grew.  It’s one of the tools Jesus provided so we don’t feel isolated and afraid.  So, please, do not attempt life on your own.

Those who know me will not be surprised at my referencing Lord of the Rings3 at any opportunity.  When I think of hope, my thoughts always go to the scene in the Return of the King movie, which is very different from the books, by the way, but in this one instance, I think might be better.  The scene is when Gandalf has Pippin light the beacons to ask Rohan for help against the soon coming war.  The first beacon lights, breathless anticipation wonders if the chain will ignite, then the second flares, and on and on.  The cinematography is phenomenal, the tiny flames lit by courageous men fulfilling their purpose, shining brightly amid the massive heights of snow-capped mountains, with a gorgeous score rousing every bit of emotion in my body to fever pitch.  Go now and watch it.  It’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen and it never gets old.  And do you know what Gandalf says when the second beacon is lit?  ‘Hope is kindled.’ 4

I want my flame of hope to be a beacon … His hope available to all.  I want to fight against selfishness and timidity, against being afraid of what others might think.  I want to think less of me and more of Jesus.  It does not matter if other people approve of me.  Only His opinion counts.  With that, I cannot fail.

And yet, we are still waiting, right?  All of us.  Not just waiting for Jesus to come again, but for some individual desire or promise to come true.  Waiting is hard.  Waiting tempts us to give up, to run away, to give in to despair.  Since we spend our whole lives waiting, we need something tangible to hold on to.  We need some kind of direction through the mire of life.  Hope is that direction. It is what we can grasp as tightly as we need. 

Because Jesus is so kind and thoughtful, each year we are directly reminded to renew our hope in His promises and to let Him light a flame that He can keep burning the whole year through.  We can’t do it, but He can.  So, this Christmas, I want to ask that we think of hope, not as a candy-coated, easily broken promise just out of our reach, but as the powerful gift of Jesus.  His birthday gift to the world.  One that will never break, one that will endure, one that is solid and real and bright and easily shared.  One that leads us out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.  Do not choose despair.  Let Fearless Hope be your guide. 

1Pilgrim’s Progress. John Bunyan. 1678.

2The Golden Road. L.M. Montgomery. 1910. pg. 213.

3Lord of the Rings. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954.

4The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. DVD. Directed by Peter Jackson. 2003. New Line Cinema.

Scripture paraphrases found in the NIV and ESV.

Hebrews 10:23


Praying Hebrews 10:23


Today’s verse is Hebrews 10:23.

Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Let’s pray together.

LORD, I find it very easy to let go of things when I shouldn’t.  Instead of grit and determination being my goal, I languish towards laziness and fear.  I do not want that anymore.  Today, Jesus, we ask for perseverance.  We ask that when things are hard, we hold on tighter.  We ask that when something tempts us to let go of our faith in You, we do not answer the call.  Let us learn from Your example, from the way that You walked through Your life here on this earth.  You walked through temptation, through torment, through taunts, through trials, through traps, through terror.  Give me and those who can hear my voice the strength, Your strength, to defeat that which would cast us away from You.  Only You could do this perfectly so we depend on You to help us through each day, each hour, each minute.  I know that I can be weak, so I want Your strength.  I want to, day by day, exercise and build up my stamina as I walk through the endurance of a life on earth.

Because my hope is not found on this earth.  My hope is found in You.  You saved me, enabled me to hear Your voice amidst every other distraction and assault that is our daily experience on a war-torn earth.  So let my ears be open, let my heart always admit Your presence.  Now that I have found You, help me to proclaim it openly.  It is so easy to try and keep hope hidden in my heart, my inward flame that keeps me going.  But the flame of hope needs oxygen, expelled from our lungs in victory, declaring to all who can hear, that my hope is found in Christ alone.  And when I do so, I believe my flame grows stronger.  Sharing is part of what keeps my hope alive.  Jesus, You did not come to save me by myself, but to save all those around me.  Give me boldness and courage to do so, in whatever way You have prepared for me.  I want my flame to be a beacon, Your hope given to the masses.  Help me not to be selfish and timid, afraid of what others might think.  Let my thoughts of approval be towards You alone.  In that way I cannot fail because You will give me what I need to accomplish Your will. 

Hope might be conceived as flimsy, Jesus, but I do not think it is.  The candle flame might flicker, but a wildfire is not easily extinguished.  So let us be steady and faithful as You are.  Your hope provided is constant and it shines all the brighter through adversity.  Jesus, we do face such adversity.  You know for You faced the same.  Help us to defeat our enemy, help us to face them without running.  The forces of darkness that pervade our world are strong, but You told us that You have overcome the world.  The war is won, help us to fight the battle.  I don’t want to flinch at evil, I want to laugh at it.  Diminish its power, Jesus, defeat the despair that surrounds us in the world today.  That despair might be global, it might be deeply personal.  Our own minds can turn against us and make us think life isn’t worth living.  Jesus, we ask You to pour Your light into that darkness and whisper Your words of love and invitation instead.  Be the healer of depression and turn us from sickness to health.  We need it and only You can provide it. 

Jesus, You are faithful.  Your promises are true.  We can count on You.  Help us to believe that even when it doesn’t seem like it’s true.  It’s so hard here under this veil of sin, but You have promised to be with us.  You kept Your promise to come into the world and save us.  So help us keep our promise to believe Your word and to follow Your truth.  Help us to know it, give us discernment.  Break deception over us, Jesus.  Show us Your faithfulness.  Show us Your constancy.  We all have individual promises from You.  Some of them haven’t come true yet.  Some of them might not come true in ways we can understand.  But You promised that Your word does not return void.  So, Jesus, we ask for fulfillment though we know to be humble and ask for it in Your timing.  But when it is hard to wait, we ask for patience and for your wisdom, so we can see Your Providence and Your intervention in our lives.  Don’t let us speak of coincidences, let us speak of miracles. 

Today, if you are feeling weak or hopeless, I pray God’s supernatural infusion of hope and peace for you.  Let Him refresh You.  Take a deep breath.  Be reminded of your first love.  He does not fail.  Be open and honest with God and let Him speak to you and hear His truth.  God, let us spend time in Your word, being reminded of Your promises.  Let us speak them and encourage each other with them.  Be our Father, renewing us daily by Your Holy Spirit. 

I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Psalm 107:9


Praying Psalm 107:9


Today’s verse is Psalm 107:9

For he satisfies the longing soul,
    and the hungry soul he fills with good things.

Let’s pray together.

This is my daily prayer, Father: satiate me with Your Presence.  I think most of us live with a deep and abiding hunger, yearning for whatever will make us happy and content.  We try so many different ways to fill this need in us and it never works.  We try wealth, we try pleasure, we try people, we try power, we try competence, we try creativity, we try self-care, but nothing ever fully does what we are trying to make it.  The simple truth is, LORD, we need You.

Jesus, fill our souls with good things.  Not just good things, but the things You designed for us.  You created us, knit us together in the womb, and so you know us best.  You have wonderful things in store for us, unique things that no one else will be satisfied with.  They all come from You, as every good and perfect gift does, coming down from our Father.  I want to savor them like a kid on Christmas morning, knowing the waiting is over and my need is being gratified.  Help me rip open the wrapping on my presents, begin playing with them unashamedly, and, unlike a child, may I never be tired of them.

As I make my way through today, trying my best to control everything, judging how others do it, wanting to somehow make my own life better, teach me to wait for You.  Teach me how You and You alone can satisfy the longing in my life.  Speak to me, let me hear You, speak to me in the words I read, the speech of others, the circumstances I find myself in.  We can so easily doubt Your voice, so easily crowd it out with other influences or our own stubbornness.  Penetrate the wall we have built around us.  Storm the castle!  I want to be conquered by Your love and given the rich benefits of being Your child, despite having scorned them, despite not earning them, despite not deserving them.

You know, God, the longings each of us have.  Someone today might be desperately lonely in their singleness, someone else might be overwhelmed by the responsibility of being a parent.  Maybe today there is someone who is grieving a terrible loss or someone else suffocated by an unbearable work situation.  Whether you are in perfect harmony with all of God’s creatures or you would rather never see another soul as long as you live, today, let God in.  Let Him fill you up with His goodness, His rich mercy, His truth, His wisdom, His direction, His peace.  Breathe deeply knowing He is able to destroy all that harms You, to protect You, to hold all the crazy threads in His capable hands.  He will show you the right way to go, provide the things and people you need to get there, and He will be with you every step of the way.  The LORD never fails.

There are so many ways that we rebel against You, God.  So many directions to run from Your grace.  Help us not to run.  Help us not to fight.  Destroy fear in us.  Instill Your truth in us.  We submit to You today, to Your Sovereignty.  We ask You to show us how good You are and how capable You are of taking care of us.  Help us to submit our pride to You, laying it down at Your feet.  Let us receive instead the full bounty of Your satiating Presence.  Let us be satisfied with being relationship with You.  Whether You are Father, Brother, LORD, Lover, Friend today, be our Shepherd in all things.

When it seems impossible to us, it is not impossible to You.  When it seems overlong to us, You know the perfect time.  When it seems like we would do it better, You know best.  Let us be wise and attend to this message from Your word.  Let us reflect on and consider how steadfast Your love is.  Even when we abandon You, You do not abandon us.  You are right there, waiting, eager to bestow on us Your love.  You always want to restore us to our place at Your side and to fill us with every good thing You lovingly created for us.  Let us receive and let us be thankful and never, ever forget Your mighty and enduring love.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.     

Matthew 11:28-30


Praying Matthew 11:28-30


Today’s verse is Matthew 11:28-30

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Let’s pray together.

Jesus, what a perfect picture of who You are, given in Your own words.  You said that You are gentle and lowly in heart.  It’s easy to create pictures of who You are in our head, ones that have been influenced by our parents, our cultures, and so many other things.  I pray that instead we will always come back to Your word, to Your literal words here, to see who You say You are.

I want to know You, I want to draw close to You.  I want to discover the beating heart of Your desires and make them my own.  You are inspiration, You are a guide, but I see You said above all, You are gentle.  You are kind.  You are merciful.  You are humble.  What does all this mean?  Teach us, Jesus.  Let us be Your disciples here and now, as eager and as confused as the twelve so many years ago.  We have much to learn.  So show us Your heart and help us to understand Your story.

We do need rest, Jesus.  This world has beaten us down, built us up unfairly with one hand and torn us down subtly with the other.  It seems there is nowhere safe for us, nowhere to rest.  Even in Your church today among Your body of believers.  I’m sorry for my part in that, LORD.  Help us to find unity.  But it seems that, though we struggle and we are weary, You are the only place for us to find rest.

I was afraid of these verses before, God.  I didn’t want another yoke.  I didn’t want something that would require service of me.  I still don’t understand fully, so please reveal to me Your meaning.  But I think now I know that a yoke is not intended to be a burden.  A yoke is a mercy and it’s a guide.  I do have a field to plow and how can I do that without Your yoke?  I will just wear myself out if I do not yield to a burden created for me by the Creator.  So I pray to submit and to yield and to rest.

I pray to know what true rest is.  Not just rest for my body and my mind, but for my soul.  I pray that my spirit is renewed in Your company, that I seek You out.  I want to seek out Your gentle heart.  May that be my purpose, to understand who You are and to sit at Your feet, learning and loving.  I know You love us so much, but it’s still hard for me to picture.  So show it to me in vivid color and practical example.  I want to learn and to grow and to rest under Your guidance.  And when I do need to work, help me to do it so I do not falter and strain and grow too weary.

Thank You, Jesus, that You do not turn anyone away.  Your compassion and Your mercy are strong.  You desire us to learn and to come.  This is an invitation, oh, let us heed its call!  Thank You for inviting us to come to You.  Thank You for wanting our company and our devotion.  You have mine, Jesus.  I pray You have all of ours.  I think You are a good friend, Jesus.  Help me to be a good friend to You.  Help me to listen.  Teach me, teach all of us, to reflect Your gentle and lowly heart.

I pray this in Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Isaiah 43:1


Praying Isaiah 43:1


Today’s verse is Isaiah 43:1

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Let’s pray together

LORD, I love this section of Your word because it talks so much about Israel’s failures and how they turned their backs on You.  Judgment, just judgment, fell on them.  They suffered the consequences of their actions.  They had hardships, they had such great suffering.  Your chosen people were scattered and fallen.  But You did not give up on them.

God, You never give up on Your people.  Not all of us are part of Israel, Your chosen nation, but You welcomed all people, all the Gentiles, into Your family through Your Son Jesus.  When Israel was in captivity You were still with them and You spoke to them through the prophets.  You brought them back to their land and helped them rebuild as they turned their wandering hearts back to You.  You redeemed them and told them they were still Your people.  And that is what You do for us today.

Jesus, You are our Redeemer.  You have claimed us.  We are Your children, created by You for Your glory.  I’m not sure we view this message in quite the way we should.  See, it offends our pride to be considered made for someone else.  To be told that we can’t earn or win our own salvation.  To understand that no matter what we do, our very breath depends on Your gracious Providence.  I am sorry for being offended by this and for turning my back on Your gifts.

Teach me humility, teach me gratitude.  Teach me obedience and submission.  Such dirty words to our humanity’s ears but such needed words.  Not just words, actions, intentionality, lifestyles.  This is what we need in our lives if we are to be at peace.  We cannot achieve it on our own.  We have to be taught to know You, to submit to who You are, our Creator, our LORD, our Redeemer.

Teach me to lose my breath in the wonder that You, so powerful, so creative, so pure and holy, would create someone like me.  You did it on purpose.  You use me to show a part of You that no one else can reflect.  Oh, let me reflect it well.  Let me be redeemed so I may reflect it well.  I want to be excited about my purpose.  I want to be determined to follow Your path.

It’s scary to think of following You entirely, to think of submitting my own will to Yours.  I want to wander in the desert, I want to be in captivity in Babylon, I want to worship other gods, I want to earn my way by my religious life.  But that’s not how You designed me.  You tell me not to be afraid.  You tell me that I don’t have to worry.  You tell me that I am Yours.

We all want security, we want control, we want safety.  Funny how we only get it through surrender.  In being called His.  In being named by Him as a child of God.  In letting Him wash away the sins of our pasts and turning our back on the darkness He’s called us out of.  Sometimes that’s the scariest part, the most confusing part.  How could God want me after all I’ve done?  I know my heart and it feels rotten.  I can’t go five minutes without being selfish or greedy or unkind.  My pride says that even the God of the universe can’t make me clean.  Or that He wouldn’t want to.

Jesus, help us to understand Your sacrifice and Your heart for us.  You came on purpose for us.  For me.  To accomplish the impossible.  To satisfy the justice of my sin and to provide the mercy I do not deserve.  You have Redeemed me.  I am clean.  I am Yours.  I can hear You calling me.  Help me to answer that call.  Help me to walk straight forward into Your loving embrace and break my proud heart under the onslaught of Your mercy and grace. 

Jesus, this verse does not need to heap shame on us.  Your word says there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus.  Our pasts do not define us.  Indeed, You loved us and called us good inside the womb.  You have never not loved us despite all You knew we would eventually do.  Your sacrifice cleansed us and so we do not need to feel guilty, wrong, or ashamed.  If you feel guilt piling on you, I pray that Jesus will remove that feeling of weight from you.  If you are suffering under the burden of judgment and guilt, stand up and throw it off, Jesus already paid the price.  We have sinned, but we are forgiven.  Praise God!

Jesus, how wretchedly thankful I am for You.  Please help us to accept Your gift of Redeeming love.  Please help us to relinquish our pride.  Please help us not to be afraid.  Please help us to find our way home to You, our Creator, Our Redeemer, the One who truly knows us as we will never otherwise be known.

I pray this in Your name.  Amen.

Psalm 62:8


Praying Psalm 62:8


Today’s verse is Psalm 62:8

Trust in him at all times, O people;  pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

Let’s pray together.

Jesus, I don’t trust You enough.  I am working on it, You know that I am.  So often these days You are showing me who You are, what You are capable of, and You consistently prove Yourself to me.  Yet, still, I tend to trust in myself, in my own abilities, in what I know I can do.  Is it because You will always be somewhat of a mystery to us humans?  We will spend eternity moving closer to You and still never know.  Some might find that discouraging, but I am comforted by that.  It serves to prove to me once again that You are worthy to be trusted because I will never be able to fully fathom You out.

But trusting You is an exercise in vulnerability and I think we are scared of that, LORD.  I know I am.  We have been hurt so many times by the people in our lives, by the circumstances we find ourselves in, by the choices we make for ourselves.  We have learned to be guarded, learned to fend for ourselves, learned to try and control everything around us.  At least then we know what we’re getting ourselves into.  We know who to blame when it goes wrong.  We know we can depend on ourselves to try.  Jesus, save us from us self-important protection.  It is useless.

I make strides towards trusting You, but, Jesus, I want it all the time.  I want every second of my existence to be dependent on You.  It truly already is, but I want to feel it and know it and surrender to it.  You are the giver of our life, the giver of our breath, the giver of our talents, our bodies, our families, our birth place, our ability to learn.  May I be aware, not just intellectually, but deep within myself, of this fact.  May I learn to be grateful for it and to trust in it.  Help me to learn that I am not the keeper of my own time.  All times are from You and only You are not bound by it.  I do not need to so desperately control what happens in my day, what others do with time, with how I can achieve something.  Because I am to trust in You at all times.  In good or bad, sad or happy, alone or surrounded by others.  Every second belongs to You.

But, Jesus, I am afraid of relinquishing control to You.  Like most fear, this is illogical, but very real.  You have never failed me.   You have been with me through every hard moment.  You have always comforted me.  Most times when I was lost and afraid and sad and angry, they were moments when I had blocked You out, when I had told You I would handle it on my own.  You ask me to pour out my heart to You.  This tells me we are safe to tell You our troubles.  You are not afraid of our anger.  You can handle our feelings.  You desire connection and intimacy, even when we are not praising You.  How prideful am I to think that by refusing to give up control and to tell You what I feel and by being unwilling to be vulnerable means that I am somehow more capable than the Creator of the universe!

Instead create in me humility, not thinking of myself in hateful terms, but instead thinking of myself less.  I do not need to worry about me at all.  I am held in Your hands.  You are my Shepherd.  You are a strong place of refuge.  All power belongs to You.  Steadfast love is the hallmark of who You are.  You give generously, without ceasing.  Salvation is ours, that we could not win or buy.  It was freely given through You, Jesus.  You are so kind and compassionate and You desire to give us mercy and grace.  May we stop shunning it and pushing You away and attempting to be our own savior.

The battle rages outside, Jesus.  Help me to run to You.  I am hungry and worried about the future.  Help me to run to You.  Others hate and revile me.  Help me to run to You.  The devil and his powers of darkness threaten to overwhelm me.  Help me to run to You.  I am weak and frail and in pain.  Help me to turn to You.  I am ravaged by loss and grief-stricken.  Help me to run to You.

Let this be true for all who hear me today.  Help us to run to You.  Be our strong tower, a refuge against our foe.  Help us to talk to You and to trust in You.  We love You, Jesus, help us to love You more.

In Your name I pray.  Amen.

Psalm 34:18


Praying Psalm 34:18


Today’s verse is Psalm 34:18

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Let’s pray together.

LORD, how many of us are brokenhearted today.  We have corporate loss as humanity and personal loss as individuals.  The weight of it can definitely feel like it is crushing our spirits.  A heavy darkness weighs over us and it seems like no light can dispel it.  We have all lost something important to us.  We have all had disappointment, grief, sorrow, pain, anguish.  We have been betrayed or abandoned.  We have lost parents, siblings, children, spouses, grandparents.  We have lost jobs, health, friends, or dreams.

Help us not to despair.  Jesus, You promised to be near to us.  Always, but especially when we need comfort, when our hearts are broken.  Holy Spirit, You are the Great Comforter.  Only You can mend what was shattered beyond human repair.  Please be with us.  Whisper comfort to our hearts.  Tell us how you never abandon us.  Let us feel Your presence.  Don’t leave us bereft and alone.  We can feel trapped and isolated in these times, God, but assure us with Your companionship.

Jesus, I pray for extra strength and endurance.  We need to persevere through these hard times when we feel like giving up.  When it seems so much easier to give up.  But that is not the answer, LORD, for You are a mighty Victor.  You are our Champion!  The war is won, though we still have to battle while we are on this earth.  I ask You to show Your strength and to show Your military might, by fighting for us and achieving the impossible end we didn’t think was possible.  Prove us wrong when we doubt, help our unbelief.  Grow our faith, give us hope, shine a light in the darkness.

God, I do not want to remain a captor of the darkness.  I want to come out, broken, but saved, then mended and restored by Your love and Your blood.  You saved us already, You sacrificed everything, Jesus.  I do not need to wallow in my sin and the consequences of it, both mine, everyone else’s, and of the broken world.  I admit that I am nothing without You.  So I am so grateful I do not need to remain away from You.  You want to be near me, You came down to earth for me, You live inside of me.  I literally cannot escape from Your Presence or Your help.  When I try, forgive my foolish pride and independence.

Help us to be humble, to be seekers of truth and wisdom, to acknowledge our guilt and helplessness.  To never try to control or seek to fix or fight on our own.  We literally can’t do it.  We will fail, we will be miserable.  It will be a wretched cycle of grief that You sacrificed Yourself to save us from.  So, Jesus, be near to the brokenhearted because then we have the greatest ability to surrender.  Our defenses are weakened, so come and conquer our hearts with Your mercy.  When we have lost all, we know we need a Savior.  We all need a Savior.  Use this opportunity, LORD to save us, from sin, from the enemy, from ourselves.

Father, there are wounds that seem too deep to mend, losses that can never be restored, people we will never get back.  But that is only true on this earth and what reunions and rejoicing we can have in Your kingdom.  Help us to look forward to that with hope, to hold on to the truths and love and images of You those we lost taught us.  I do not say it is not hard and that there aren’t tears and that it isn’t okay to feel the pain.  Jesus, be with us in the pain.  Help us not to run from it or hide from it or stuff it away or bury it with distraction.  Instead, hold us tight as we ride those waves, the uncertainty and the weird timing of pain and the loneliness of it all.  It certainly is not something we can handle on our own, but something You can help us carry.

Thank You, Jesus, that You are close to the brokenhearted and You do not forget those crushed in their spirits.  There is not a need, a grief, a loss, a pain, a trial, a sickness, a situation that You cannot handle.  Jesus, whatever it may be that we are dealing with today, You know it.  You know it and though it grieves You as well, it does not scare You.  Thank You for helping us, help us to be grateful and to see that help, however it comes through Your wisdom.

I pray this in Jesus’s name.  Amen.

Romans 5:1-5


Praying Romans 5:1-5


Today’s verse is Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Let’s pray together

Today, God, I want to acknowledge that the only reason I can have peace in my life and throughout eternity is because of You, because of Jesus.  You provided the only way forward, the only way to true life.  My sins in thoughts and actions and words were standing in the way, blocking happiness and hope, but You did not stand idly by while I floundered in them.  You committed the ultimate sacrifice and there is nothing more important than that.  I don’t ever want to lose sight of that, so please let the Cross be in my mind and on my heart all of the time.

Because we don’t want to just be saved for eternity, we want to walk out our faith here.  We want to taste the victory You achieved in our every day lives.  It brings joy and hope and peace that we could never reach on our own.  There is still so much darkness and brokenness and hatred among us and we would be lost today, despite the ultimate victory, if we did not have You to look upon and to give us strength. 

We can learn from You, LORD, from the trials we walk through.  We would remain such small people if we did not have the experiences that build endurance in us.  What tame hearts we would have and what petty friends we would be.  God, build lion hearts in us.  Build generous rivers of giving in us.  We want to be the best possible version of ourselves.  You created us for a purpose, to be something, and I want to attain that for myself.  I want everyone I know to attain that. 

I think we would live our lives ashamed, sad we were not more, regretting the people we could become, if not for You.  Because You bring us hope, you shed it abroad in our hearts, so we are overflowing with it.  When we have hope, we can keep fighting through the battle, we can laugh in the face of the darkness.  We cling desperately to Your Spirit, who provides all grace to us. 

Jesus, I am weary today.  I believe many are weary.  We live with shades of gloom and persecution and fear and trials and division.  I want to give up and sink to my knees and stop fighting.  Jesus, lift me up.  Pour out Your Spirit, Your hope, and give me the strength to keep going.  Please do this for all who can hear my voice.  Do it for us, help us keep fighting for You, help us keep shaping our characters into Your perfect vision of who we are meant to be, who You formed us in the womb to be. 

Thank You that You will answer this prayer.  Thank You that nothing can keep You from coming to our aid.  Thank You for the gift of Your Son, who makes all of this possible.  Thank You that we do not have to be afraid.  Let us go forth and fear no darkness today.

I pray all of this in Your name.  Amen.

Isaiah 32:17


Praying Isaiah 32:17


Isaiah 32 17

And this righteousness will bring peace.  Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever.

Let’s pray together,

Father, bring us Your righteousness.  We cannot be righteous on our own.  You have told us that all have fallen short of Your glory.  We have all sinned.  I can certainly attest to that in my own life.  I know my sins and failings are many.  But your power is made perfect in our weakness.  So, Jesus, come with your power, your righteousness, help us to accept your help.  I do not want my pride to be the mainstay of my life.  I want to submit to your rule, your truth.

This passage also talks about complacency and I know that I can so often relax into the mundane.  When there is nothing urgent happening, I fall into the lie that everything is good, that I myself am good.  But that isn’t true peace.  I cannot make that on my own.  I need your help.  Because my pride would tell me either that I am too high or too little.  I would be over-inflated or deflated entirely.  I can judge everyone around me or I can be laid low by the smallest criticism.  Father, help me to think of myself less and think of You more.  Give us peace in this way.

Because it is only when Your Spirit comes and works in us that true redemption is possible.  We need Your help to combat the wilderness we find ourselves in.  A wilderness of our own making, forged by our own pride.  We strive against each other and desire to be deemed right.  But none of us are.  So sweep that away by Your mighty but gentle correction, Holy Spirit.  We surrender to Your will for our lives.

And help us to find that when we surrender and stop striving, there is actually the justice we had hoped for all along.  When we follow Your designs and seek to understand Your will, the answer we had fought for is given to us.  We can see the world renewed and help us to know whatever small part You want us to play.  But let us act only when given that answer, not because of our own hidden desires and opinions.

We are insecure, Father.  For all our blustering, we are weak and feeble and frail.  We know it in our heart of hearts and it can be our greatest desire to hide that from all others.  But we cannot hide it from You.  You see all and know all and You love us anyway.  I don’t want the opinion of other people or even the opinion of myself to rule my heart.  I want to know what You think of me.  I want to know the identity I have because of Christ’s sacrifice.  This is true quietness and confidence.  I can wake up every day knowing that who I am, is because of You.  And who I want to be, is who You made me to be.  It is everlasting and can be renewed, despite the constant beating my ego takes on a daily basis. 

Jesus, when I doubt, send me Your faith.  When I am afraid, send me Your hope.  When I am angry, send Your peace.  As Your people, we come to You today and we ask that You dress us in Your righteousness, washing us clean by Your blood.  Let us present ourselves to the world today as Your chosen people, living quietly in Your will, speaking Your words of life and peace, confident in our knowledge of ourselves, a humble example of living free from ego and pride.  This is only accomplished today through our union with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. 

We are grateful today to You for Yourself.  I pray for all those who hear my voice, that they feel Your quiet, confident peace, and that no matter what they face today, they never cease to hear Your voice and seek Your will.

We pray this in Your Name, Jesus.  Amen.