A Lenten Prayer

Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.
(Romans 12:9)

Our mighty God, You are a God of covenant loyalty and of never-ending love. Your faithfulness endures through the ages, your mercies never cease, and your steadfast love is more abundant than we can even imagine. You are not only the God of love, You are the God who is Love.

We praise You today for Your love, offered freely to us despite our rebellion.We give thanks because Your love always brings about what is best for us, preparing us for eternity with You even when it is uncomfortable for us here and now.

Lord, may we become intoxicated with Your love. May it motivate us to greater surrender to Your perfect will and to loving others as You have loved us – not because they deserve it, but because they don’t deserve it. But they need it.

We ask for the love of Christ to compel us to honor His sacrifice by complete obedience to You, to zeal for Your Kingdom, to have mercy on others, and to love without holding back as You held back nothing from us – not even Your Son.

Help our love to be genuine; an outpouring of the work of Your Spirit in our lives. Teach us to truly abhor what is evil, agreeing with You on the definition of evil and rejecting it without delay – even if the evil happens to be an old habit, a grudge, or even a seemingly innocuous pleasure.

Help us to cling to what is good in Your eyes. Incline our hearts to love Your word, to feast on it, and to obey it so that by testing we may know Your will and understand what is truly good and acceptable and perfect – not in the world’s ever-chaining definition, but in Yours. May we become what You desire us to be in Christ, amen.

Just a Prayer

 For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.
(Psalms 62:5-8)

Gracious Redeemer, You are the only One who can restore the wreckage of humanity caused by sin. You, Lord, restore our brokenness when we humbly seek and submit to Your ways. Thank You for coming into our terrible mess and bringing hope and for setting us free from slavery to sin. Thank You for providing in Your Son an example to emulate and a goal to strive for and for Your Spirit who provides guidance for the willing heart.

Lord, break our hearts afresh today for our sin and restore in us a proper awe and reverence for You! Restore to us the joy of our salvation this day and continue to do so in the days to come – a great flood of joy in You which will spill out on everyone in our path..

This day, we also ask for Your help in bringing our hearts to obedience. We confess that we are stubborn and often rebel against Your grace. We put higher priorities on the things of this world – things that will soon pass away – than we do on You and on Your Kingdom.

Forgive us, Lord. Help us to overcome our unbelief. Increase our love for You so that obedience to You is of utmost importance in our everyday lives and is evidenced by the way we live each day. Guide our priorities and show us the way they should be ordered, and teach our hearts obedience to Your ordained order.

Please also help our families. Heal broken hearts and restore damaged relationships and shattered trust. Crush our hearts for our sin towards our husbands, wives, parents, children, siblings, or anyone else and prod us to confess with humility and seek forgiveness.

Where we have been hurt, remind us of how we have grieved You, the God who is Love, and help us to extend to others the forgiveness You have already shown to us. Redeem our relationships in all aspects, Lord, and mold us into a people for Your pleasure and purposes, amen.

Review and Giveaway – Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer by Jeannie Blackmer

Today will be a little bit different from my average post. The Blythe Daniels Agency has graciously provided me with 2 copies of Jeannie Blackmer’s new book, Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer, which I have agreed to review.

In addition, you will find the link to a raffle below the review (near the bottom of this page) which you are welcome to enter. One randomly selected winner will be drawn from the entries to receive the other copy of the book!

So without further ado, I bring you:

Talking to Jesus: A Fresh Perspective on Prayer 

By Jeannie Blackmer

Jeannie says, “I’ve always looked at these dialogues with Jesus in scripture as interactions showing us the power he has and the miracles he did when he walked the earth. Suddenly, however, my perspective shifted. I began to see the conversations as prayers. After all, these people were just talking to Jesus. This realization changed my prayer life. These dialogues – authentic and desperate – became my prayers.”

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Some days, I wonder what it would be like to wake up and find that nothing hurts.

And yet, in the hands of the Almighty, no suffering is wasted.

If the struggle with chronic migraine (and other assorted aches and pains) were not a part of my life, it is doubtful I would enjoy the rare privilege which is currently mine. Because of my experience with pain, I am able to share hope in God despite it with a certain blonde young lady who is one of my part-time daughters.

You see, I can relate to her pain because I share it myself, and in the sharing, I can point her to a God who can also relate to both physical and emotional suffering. Together, we can help one another pick out His voice above the cacaphony of pain, seeking the light rather than cowering in the dark.

In her book, Talking to Jesus, Jeannie relates a similar message in the stories of two pairs of blind men. Like my young friend and I, they  work together, pushing through physical impediments to find Jesus rather than remaining lost in the dark.

As I read through Talking to Jesus, I truly did find a refreshing perspective on prayer. Although I have always thought of prayer as a conversation between myself and the Lord, I have not thought of Scripture’s recorded face-to-face encouters with Jesus as prayers.

Jeannie Blackmer does just this by artfully weaving imaginative storytelling into selected Biblical narratives without changing any of the Lord’s words. In each recorded experience with Jesus, she imagines what may have gone on in each person’s heart and mind leading up to the divine encounter.

I thoroughly enjoyed viewing these well-known tales through a new lens as well as Jeannie’s personal responses to each one. I also appreciated the honest and grace-filled approach to some of humanity’s thornier habits. For me, the additional Scriptures provided for reflection and the space for journaling my personal observations is a thought-provoking and enjoyable tool to enrich my own prayer life.

If you or someone you know could use a little inspiration in your prayer life, pick up a copy of Talking to Jesus – or enter below for the chance to win a free copy!

You can find out more about Jeannie, including where to buy her book, on her webpage, Talking to Jesus. 

Follow the link below to enter the drawing:

Talking to Jesus Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: This drawing will begin at midnight on Monday November 20, 2017 and will close at midnight on Monday November 27, 2017.

 

A Prayer of God’s Splendor

El Shaddai, my Almighty God who has created the heavens and earth and all that are within them, today I find myself reflecting on yesterday’s eclipse. I am utterly in awe of Your sovereignty and power. In Genesis 1:14-15, Your word tells us that You created the sun, moon, and all the stars and put them in their place, and that they would be “for signs and seasons, and for days and years.”

Even though I was unable to see the total eclipse yesterday, the sheer knowledge of all the factors that had to be in place for an eclipse to occur at all is awe-inspiring. You did this, Lord!  You put this universe in motion and the heavens truly do declare Your glory and the sky above proclaim Your handiword, just as Psalm 19 states so well. Somehow, in the midst of a 99% eclipse, the wonder of Your power and plan gripped me. Yet even on a “normal” day, the heavens still proclaim You just as loudly. How I love to look up into the sky for that very reason!

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge.
Psalms 19:1-2

Today, I ask that You will tune my heart and the hearts of my family to hear this heavenly praise and join it. As we think of yesterday’s solara eclipse, remind us of that eclipse so many centuries ago that occured right as Your Son gave up his life as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

Not only that, but we ask You to reveal us of the things we allow to eclipse Your glory in our lives – family, money, career, entertainment – so many things! Forgive us for ever allowing anything at all to come between You and ourselves. Lord, remind us always that our eyes are to be set on Your glory and that our contentment, joy, and peace is found in You alone. Remind us also that even in our darkest hour, Your Light is never extinguished but only hidden for a time. Oh God, let Your Light shine brightly and boldly in us! Make us into blazing beacons for Your glory in this world, in the Name that is above all names, amen.

Psalms 19:7-14
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;
the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;
the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether.
More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb.
Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me! Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.

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A Prayer for Those in Pain

Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness! You have given me relief when I was in distress. Be gracious to me and hear my prayer!
(Psalms 4:1)

Giver of all good gifts, today we praise You for Your mercy and for the unbelievably precious gift of our salvation in Christ. Thank You for loving us even when we were in rebellion towards You and for saving us despite ourselves. You are truly a God of mercy, compassionate and faithful to the uttermost!

As we come before the throne of grace today, we come as those who are in desperate need. We need Your grace, Lord. There are many among us who are hurting either physically or emotionally; many who walk in darkness and struggle with burdens too heavy for us to carry. Yet You are the Light of the world who dispels the darkness, and upon Your able shoulders we are told to cast our cares and our worries.

Today, I ask that You will help those who are in need to do just that: cast their cares on You. Pierce the darkness with the light of Your truth and goodness, and lift the burden of those who are heavily laden. Refresh the weak and weary in spirit and revive the heart of the despondent. I humbly ask that You will lift the eyes of the downcast and cause them to be fixed steadfastly on You.
Be the Healer, the Provider, and the Joy of Your people, Lord! Make our hearts feel the rightness of Your presence and cause our spirits to soar on wings like eagles’. May it be that Your people are  so filled with the joy of the Lord that we naturally proclaim Your goodness and grace by our every action and word. Revive the hearts of Your people for Your own glory, Lord, and let it be that we display Your power as we walk in victory over sin and despair. For the glory of the risen King and in His name we ask this benefit, amen.

A Prayer for the Church

 

Our Lord who is our Portion, we truly have no good apart from You. You are the Giver of all good gifts, our Refuge and Strength, and Your grace alone is sufficient for us. Forever, You are faithful, holy, and just, and in You we find satisfaction.

Yet… we are a fickle people. We confess that we often try to find pleasure or fulfillment in things that seem to satisfy but are only temporary. Too often, we look to hobbies, entertainment, or even other people to placate us in our whims. Too often, we grow impatient or restless when You call upon us to wait on Your timing, and we endeavor to accomplish Your work through our own means or strength. In brief, too often, Lord, we fall short of believing that You are enough.

Still, You are enough. If we belong to You, then we can trust You no matter what our circumstances may appear to be. Just as You had a plan for Joseph in the actions of his traitorous brothers and even in his undeserved imprisonment, sometimes what seems impossible or horrible to us is merely a part of Your plan to bring glory to Your name.

God, forgive us for our unbelief! Forgive our mistrust of Your motives and ways, and teach us not to look for pleasure and contentment apart from You. Forgive, too, our self-focus as we concern ourselves with the gratification of our desires rather than with Your good pleasure.

Replace our self-focus with Christ-focus and restore us to a right relationship with You. May we become less in our estimation as You become greater. As the psalmist wrote, “you make known to us the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore,” (Psalm 16:11).  Let these words become reality for us, Lord, and may we become a people passionate to exalt the reputation of our mighty God. All this we ask for the sake of Your Son and in His name, amen.

 

A Prayer of Repentance: Great is Your Faithfulness

“O Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, we have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules…

O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations, and the city that is called by your name. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy.

O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act…”
(Daniel 9:4b -5, 18-19a)

Most High God, Creator of all things both visible and unseen, Refuge for Your people and wise and just Judge, You alone are good. To You belongs all manner of praise and honor. You are faithful and Your lovingkindness is without end. I rejoice in You today, for no matter what circumstances may lie in my future, You are enough and Your grace is sufficient for me.

But Lord my Strength, I also weep before You today for my weakness and the weakness of my people. I come to the Throne of Grace empty-handed, for I have nothing to offer the Almighty but my confession. Even my most noble deeds are stained and soiled by selfishness and pride.  To my shame, my mouth utters complaints that expose my unbelief and do not magnify the incredible benevolence of my God.

And my nation, O King of kings; my nation is reeling and staggering from the effects of a huge and horrible malignancy. My countrymen are consumed by our own sin. Like lepers, we can see the ravages of decay yet we are numb to the pain. Sadly, we are even in denial of the extent of the damage, for we have called what is evil, “good” and what is good, “evil” and reviled and ridiculed those who reject confusion and embrace purity and truth.

As a nation, our faces no longer burn with shame but instead we delight in debauchery and make it a source of entertainment, casually exploiting others for that which does not satisfy but only increases a peculiar, wasting hunger. We have cast off all inhibitions, even rejecting common sense and reason in favor of feelings and perceptions.

With pride grown grotesquely bloated, we have believed our foolishness to be evidence of our great intellect and mocked the very God who gave us life. We have exchanged Your truth for a lie and we worship our selves along with our own mad notions rather than the Creator of life.

What was formed in hopes of a “more perfect Union” has become a disunion. My race, the human race, has become impulsive in our fears and prejudices and have divided ourselves up into groups bordered by nothing more than economic and cosmetic differences. We seem to live fueled by rage, harboring grudges and licking our wounds instead of extending kindness and forgiveness. Rather than bear with others patiently, we jostle and jockey for positions as silly as being the first in line at the next streetlight.

We have attempted to rationalize evil by sanitizing the words we use to speak of it and have attempted to escape the consequences of our deeds by eliminating or ignoring them. Just as Israel did, we have sacrificed our children to worship prosperity, prostituting ourselves to the gods of wealth, convenience, entertainment, and comfort.

We have dressed ourselves in the garments of our success, yet we cannot see that they are mere tatters, soiled by the stench of our own putrefaction.

In all this and so much more, we have sinned and fallen far short of Your grace. And yet, Lord, I do not believe the sickness and folly of this nation in which I sojourn is beyond hope. Your grace is sufficient even for this great burden of guilt.

In 2 Chronicles 7:14, You declared to Israel:

…if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.

I believe You, my Lord.

I repent of my own wickedness, of my critical and unforgiving nature, of my careless words and my unbelief. On behalf of the waywardness and wickedness of my nation, I repent as well and plead with You on behalf of those who have been blinded and hardened by the deceit of our ancient enemy.

As I lift up my supplication to You, I know I do not pray alone. Even so, O Lord, hear the cry of Your people! Oh Lord, forgive! Oh Lord, save!

Send Your Holy Spirit in full force, piercing the hearts of this nation, healing the blindness and opening many eyes to see Your Truth, replacing numb and stony hearts with vulnerable hearts of flesh that ache with the pain of contrition.

Bring about a flood of compassion for others, of mercy and tenderness for those who hurt, of zeal for Your Kingdom, and of hunger for Your truth.

Teach our hearts to forgive the little slights we have endured because of the immensity of what You have forgiven us. What a gift You offer in Jesus! May the eyes of many, many enslaved souls be open to see the wonder of His sacrifice and the riches of Your grace. How astonishing that we who deserve dishonor, contempt, and death have been offered forgiveness, mercy, and everlasting life!

Then, O Lord, as many come before the Throne of Grace in true repentance, replace our leper’s rags with garments of praise. Place a new song in our mouths and teach us to magnify Your name together, opening our lips in praise for the marvel of our Salvation and for love of our Savior.

No matter what the future holds for our nation, may it be that we soon see an influx of new sheep to Your flock, and may we welcome them with tears and shouts of joy.

For those who are in Christ already, we ask that You increase our thirst for You, O Living Water. We confess our distraction and our spiritual lethargy and ask You to renew the joy of our salvation. Renew our passion and our fervor for Your Kingdom.

Fount of Living Water, fill Your people to overflowing, drowning out the chattering lies of our enemy in a thunderous cascade of Your righteousness. Help us to hear only Your voice, our Good Shepherd, and compel us to obey swiftly with eager diligence.

As a nation, I pray that You will humble our hearts and bring us to our knees in gratitude for the work that Jesus has completed on the cross. Turn our mocking into shouts of adoration and praise. Let us magnify You, our God! Restore that which is broken, cut away the festering disease, and heal our land.

And then, O Gracious Redeemer, restore us to Yourself that we may be fully restored. Even if we should wait weeks, years, decades — even lifetimes — remind us that Your timing that is perfect. May we never doubt Your goodness nor waver in trust, for what You have begun You will surely bring to pass.

Great is Your faithfulness;  even when we falter in unbelief, You are steadfast and Your mercies are new each morning. O Lord, give strength to Your people! Amen.

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But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”
Lamentations 3:21-24