Tuesday Prayer: Light

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 

Isaiah 9:2


Light of the world, today we honor You as the one true God, the Light of the world who illuminates the dark places in our hearts and along our paths. When our lives are darkened by sin – some addiction or idolatry that has taken precedence over You – Your light reveals it and Your loving discipline teaches us to repent of it. When the darkness is on the outside – surrounding us and seeming to close in as we walk through our private valley of the shadow of death – Your light is not extinguished but guides us safely through to the other side.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

This Advent, we thank You for sending Jesus who is the Light of the world. Thank You for His promise that if we follow Him, we will not walk in darkness but have the light of life. In the same discourse in John chapter 8, our Lord Jesus informs us that His true disciples abide in His word. Thank You for giving us the written word of God so we may know the Father, Son, and Spirit. Thank You for the gift of the Word made flesh in Jesus, whose commandments we love and whose second advent we eagerly await. 

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

John 8:31-32

As we wait on Your appearing, Lord, we pray for those who walk in darkness still. Help us to scatter Your light wherever we go – in the packed-out stores, in traffic, in line at the post office, in the privacy of our homes, even in the secrecy of our thoughts. May our choices reflect Your light to all men, and may You be honored not only by the way we conduct our lives but by our responses to others. 

Through our obedience, open doors for conversation so we may proclaim the truth that has set us free to those who are still in bondage. We each have friends and loved ones who walk in darkness, enslaved to the prince of this world and unaware of their plight. Please, Lord, whether by us or by others, shine Your light into their lives. Reveal the hideousness of sin and the lies of the enemy for what they truly are. Brighten the dark places of despair and hopelessness and give them hope and new life in Christ.

This Christmas, we ask for a mighty outpouring of Your Spirit in our lives, our families, our churches, and our communities. Set the captives free. Bind up the brokenhearted. Open the eyes of the blind, and save those who unknowingly walk the broad path that leads to destruction, bringing them to know You and to crave the light of Your everlasting love, amen. 

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…”  And he [Jesus] began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Luke 4:18-19, 21; see also Isaiah 61:1



Tuesday Prayer

Somewhat erratically, I have posted a prayer for the Church. Many of these have sprung from prayers for my own local church body, but nearly all are applicable for the wider Church – the Body of Christ which exists worldwide and transcends differences in complexion, language, geography, or any other. So why not post them here? 

Why not, indeed… Let’s shoot for weekly and see what we get. 

Light of the world, You are the only source of true wisdom, revelation, and love. There is no dark side to Your inclinations nor any taint in your purity. You are good and holy and just, compassionate in Your dealings with us and patient to the extreme.

We worship You not only for the incredible works You have done but for who You are. Our God. Our King. You are enough. Your grace is sufficient for us.

Lord, as you know, we live in an age where even reality is called into question – as if there can be multiple realities based on nothing more substantial than the fluctuating mood of capricious beings such as we. In such times, You are the firm foundation which does not change; the solid Rock to which we can cling as the cultural storm rages around us.

But Lord, You are so much more besides.

You are also our Strength so that in You we do not merely cling to a dubious existence, barely getting through. Instead and by Your power at work in and through us, we are more than conquerors, able to thrive even in adversity and live out our trust in You day by day. Because of our salvation, we can even feel joy despite pain and loss.

Your Holy Spirit who gives us the strength to love the unlovely and to forgive those who hurt us in unforgivable ways – because we know we have been loved and forgiven so much more by You.

It is You, also, who gives us the boldness to stand firm on the Word of Truth even when the very idea of absolute truth is unpopular. Not because we are an argumentative and hateful people, Lord. May You forgive us if and when we are!  But instead, by Your Spirit we are a people who love others enough tell them the truth and to answer rejection and even persecution with forgiveness because we realize it is You they are rejecting, not us. And again, You are enough for us.

And we thank You, Lord. We praise Your name for the many prayers You have already answered and the many more You will answer. We thank You for the lost who are saved and for our loved ones whom You will save in time. We praise You for the healing of broken families and for families You will heal in the future as Your Spirit works in hearts and lives.

We honor You for setting us free from sin and we choose to live as an example to others, daily dying to ourselves so we might live for You.

We long to see Your Kingdom come and Your will be done here on earth as it is in heaven, and so we set ourselves to faithful diligence in doing our part to see it done.

We recognize to fully engage our world with the Good News of salvation from sin, we must first engage it within ourselves. Before we lead others to the Gospel, we must believe it enough to live in continual humility, accepting responsibility for our sins and repenting fully – not once only but as a practice in cooperation with You for our sanctification.

And as a body, we hold one another accountable within our church local churches, loving one another with such a balance of grace and truth that our oddity stands out to the world as clearly as a city on a hill in a full blaze of electric lights in the dark of night.

Light of the world, let Your light shine in us as a beacon of hope for the disillusioned, the miscreant, the prodigal, and all who are deceived and lost so they may find their way home to You, amen.

Uneclipsed

Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.

A mere 40 miles to the north or northeast of my house lies the path of totality for the solar eclipse this coming Monday afternoon. Being a bit of a natural phenomenon junkie, it might seem strange that I am not planning on packing up my crew and hitting the road to get inside that swath of real estate in which I could view the first total eclipse to happen in Tennessee in my lifetime.

But I am not.

While I confess that I would dearly, dearly love to see the sun in total eclipse, I also have a healthy respect for Nashville traffic. I know without a doubt that Nashville will have no shortage of traffic on eclipse day.

Just yesterday, I did have some hearty laughs with my friends who are making the trek. We imagined ourselves all stranded on one of the interstates in a gridlock of cars, the pre-eclipse August sun baking its way into our patience, and her spending more time looking to be certain that her youngest two children’s eyes were properly covered by the protective lenses than actually seeing the big event itself.

We laughed ourselves even sillier as we imagined putting their 6 kids and my 3 to work on a couple of preposterous inventions we came up with to protect the eyes of small children who had not been able to acquire the NASA-approved filtered lenses, hawking them on the sides of packed-out streets and parks in hopes of redeeming the hours lost to traveling north – or even find some way to turn the thing around should we be caught in a traffic jam a mile or two south of the path of totality and miss the thing entirely.

To be fair, I had been up since 4 that morning and they had just returned from a long road trip. But it was certainly funny at the time…. though you probably had to be there.

Anyway, all this eclipse talk and planning got me thinking about God. I admit that I did think of Joel 2:31 (The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes), but even beyond that, my mind strayed to the types of things that eclipse God’s glory in my own life.

Pain. That’s one for sure.

By His grace, I have been able to find purpose, hope, and even joy in the middle of chronic migraine and other assorted physical delights. Yet I have to admit that at times, weeks of relentless pain can seem to cast a pall over all of life, even seeming to grow so large as to hide the radiance of the Almighty in my days.

Then, of course, there is family strife – which is just another type of pain. Difficult circumstances. Riots and wars. Woe.

But not only hardship – sometimes the temptations and comforts of life in America can can loom large and I find myself quite suddenly walking in their shadow instead of walking in the Light.

Yet in each instance, whether trial or ease, I find that His glory has never actually changed. It only seems to be so because for that fateful instant, I have taken my eyes off Him. I have either allowed some promised pleasure or some dreadful difficulty snare my attention and come between me and my King.

How I wish that these spiritual eclipses were as infrequent as the solar variety! Even still, I take heart in knowing that they, too, are really nothing more than natural phenomena – simply a part of the process of sanctification as my Lord patiently allows me to see the transient nature of whatever it is that I have allowed to dominate my mind.

Whether it is pain or pleasure, I am thankful that the shadow always passes, revealing once more the steady and unfading Glory of the Lord.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Psalms 19:1

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