Although prayer is central to the Christian life, and God promises that some things will turn out differently if we pray than if we do not, prayer does contain some confusing elements. I seek to help us overcome some of the more confusing elements that discourage us from praying as we should. The confusion arises from a deep sense of not understanding how prayer really can change me, other people, things, and events or outcomes in light of the biblical teachings like God’s sovereignty, praying “Your will be done,” predestination, and God’s eternal foreknowledge of every future event. So that we can pray in faith and confidence, I seek to answer questions that can seriously discourage passionate praying such as:
Grant that I would confess unguardedly to You since You know my sin more fully than it shall ever be known by me (1 John 1:9).
Grant that I shall confess unhesitatingly and not suffer the loss of one moment of fellowship with You (1 Cor 1:9). Continue reading →
As our Father, God has delighted himself in granting us some things without our asking him in prayer. He does this out of love. He also withholds some things until he is asked, and this is also done out of love. This latter aspect of prayer relates to things God has made conditional; that is to say, if we ask, he will answer, but if we do not ask, he will not work in these specific areas. James says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (Jas 4:2). We can miss God’s blessing because we do not ask. Continue reading →
“Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He will do it” (Psalm 37:5).
At times Lord, it seems I am overly concerned about the future. You have more than provided for us. Still, I feel that I have failed to plan for the future. But Lord, You know in my deepest being, I desire to follow you; not that I have truly sacrificed, but it seems to be a sacrifice because I am so frail, weak, and sinful.
Lord, you know in my weakness, I seek to make my decisions based upon following you. I have no regrets except that I have not served you in any way like you deserve; for then I would go, stand, speak, and give without ever considering how it might affect me, but instead, I wrestle with fear. Only by your grace am I able to walk away from earthly things and pursue what I cannot see.
You know I desire to know what is coming and to prepare for such, but that is rarely a part of the walk of faith. What if I lose my job, am disabled, must retire, or die and leave my family in want? I have no answer. Not that I believe I would have been a financial success if I had sought something other than the path you have me on, but I know that would have been a priority, whereas, in following you it has not. I pray that today I will not let you down. Please let me not come to the end, which only you know, having let your holy name down.
You have been so gracious to rebuke me about fretting over the future, and I pray that you would remind me again so I will trust only you. I can think of countless things that could happen for which I have not made provisions. May I walk in my faith knowing that you have provided plenty. May I seek to be a good steward of what you have provided today. I am in your hands, and that is what I desire. Let me not make decisions about the future that tempt grace or eschew trust. Let these years honor you more than my earlier years of following you.
May my day, my thoughts, my words, my plans, and my deepest emotions be enraptured by gratefulness, be enveloped in thankfulness, and may my thankfulness not be in stale sayings as I speak all the while sauntering the walkways of complaining and self-pity.
Oh my Lord Jesus please once again forgive me. May my thankfulness never be followed by “but” since that is the human’s sinful disguise of appearing spiritually thankful all the while lamenting our less than perfect situation. May I be mature in my gratitude and dismissive of the trivial inconveniences of this sinful world and my life so that I may truly “in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
May I be thankful that I have a stomach when it hurts. May I be thankful for periods of painlessness when I am in pain. May I focus on what I have rather than what I do not have. May I bless You for the small and great things I have and You have given rather than have roving eyes and discontented heart of the flesh. May thankfully seek your presence in everything. “I will give thanks to You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, And will glorify Your name forever” (Psalm 86:12).
My Lord Jesus, I pray You will keep me strong to continue my calling to “equip the saints” and to “preach the whole counsel of God” (Eph 4: 11-12; Acts 20:27). It seems I am surrounded by people, movements, and pressures to let other things push this to the side. To let such things as church problems, countless needs of the church, administration, a flurry of trendy ideas, and the desire to be liked draw me away from my call to preach and teach; may that fear never be realized in my life.
You have been faithful to protect me from abandoning your call to faithfully preach your Word; although it is at times quite lonely, scary, and difficult. I am thankful for the sweet freshness that the study of Your Word deposits in my life, and the maturity you so graciously have given me to both live and deposit in the lives of others. You are so true to Your Word.
While I never seem to fully escape the burden I feel for those who fail to grow in Christ, I thank You for the growth I see in so many; I am blessed beyond measure by the people who hunger to know You deeper. Lord, let me never forget the words of Peter, which remind we shepherds we can only shepherd those who are active in the body of Christ.
“shepherd the flock of God among you” (1 Peter 5:2). (italics added)
People often tell me God feels distant. They do not sense his presence as they once did. This is not because God has left us, but it is often because we are seeking him in ways he is not to be found. We cannot find God in our own way, or based upon our personal view of how we should be able to find him. Rather, God is to be found on his terms and according to his ways.
The Lord is near, and will come close to us when we call out to him in truth. When we truly desire to hear him, obey him, and live for him he will come near. We cannot just call out to him, but we must seek him in his truth and with hearts desirous to live out his truth in our lives.
We must also seek him reverently. God is not someone we can manipulate or seek only for our own purposes as though we are God. He can be found, only when we pursue him in reverential fear.
We must seek him because we love him. This is quite different from seeking him to get something rather than to find him. When we seek him with an adoring and loving heart, he responds by holding us close in an unbreakable security; one in which we can face today’s challenges.
We need never believe God is distant if we call upon him in truth, reverence, and love; for those are the keys to experiencing the presence of God.
“The Lord is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. He will fulfill the desire of those who fear Him; He will also hear their cry and will save them. The Lord keeps all who love Him, But all the wicked He will destroy” (Psalm 145:18-20).
May I praise You God with every breath and for every breath, the grand, minor, and even the humbling for even they remind me of Your greatness and grace. “Every day I will bless You, and I will praise Your name forever and ever. Great is the Lord, and highly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable” (Psalm 145:2-3).
“Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul! I will praise the Lord while I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being. Do not trust in princes, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation” (Psalm 146:1-3).
Oh Lord, may I not allow the worries, demands, and hurts of the ups and downs of life to silence my praise, love, and thankfulness to You while I live. Grant me spiritual maturity to never take anything for granted and thereby fail to praise You, or, even exceedingly more evil, give your praise to me.
Thank You for continuing to grow me so that I may praise You more when I ponder the majesty of Your being, the greatness of Your creation, and those daily actions that I so easily can take for granted; may I praise you for such things as the ability to see, speak, button a shirt, or comb my hair.
I repent of such ingratitude for these, and a thousand more that I have taken for granted or selfishly complained about in some way. I praise You for the thousands of things that must operate for me even to write out this humble prayer.
May I focus upon praising you for all things and with equal dedication fight every thought or act of pride until praise is all which comes from my lips.
“Sing praise to the Lord, you His godly ones, And give thanks to His holy name” (Psalm 30:4).
May I lead only out of what You teach me as I follow You. May I be strong in leading others to follow You while always being gentle in demeanor, patient in temperament, and forgiving in failure.
May I lead through the prism of my weaknesses so that I may more clearly see the strengths of those whom I lead. Protect me from leading through the prism of my strengths thereby unnecessarily highlighting weaknesses of some whom I lead.
Thank You for constantly reminding me of my woeful inadequacy, incalculable failures, and what others must accept to be led by me so that I may lead out of humility and not pride and arrogance. May I bless You and them for their strengths and pray for their weaknesses.
“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves” (Philippians 2:3).
Pride is the great canopy for a galaxy of sins.
Today I am reminded once again of my pride because of the power of Your Word and the work of the Holy Spirit in my life. I can truly say with David, “My sin is ever before me” (Psalm 51:3).
My pride calls, wants, needs, and forefends every whimper of my flesh. Lord, my fear of praying about my pride is that I cannot possibly see it in all of its ghastly horror as You see it. Confessing it is even harder because my blindness to its subtleties only allows a miniscule portion to be confessed. I hate it! I hate it! I hate it! For as I grow in my walk with You, I see it is the seedbed of everything ungodly.
Although in this life, I may never eradicate the pride of my flesh, may You say of me as you did Hezekiah, “However, Hezekiah humbled the pride of his heart” (2 Chronicles 32:26).
Thank You for increasing my walk and reverence for You so that I may hate my pride. “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way, And the perverted mouth, I hate” (Proverbs 8:13).
I do believe with all of my heart that “A man’s pride will bring him low, But a humble spirit will obtain honor” (Proverbs 29:23).
Oh my Lord, how You can love me is beyond my understanding, but I thank You that You do, and that I know it.