Prayer

A Lord’s Day Prayer

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A Lord’s Day prayer as we head off to worship:

“We are going to the house of prayer, pour upon us the spirit of grace and supplication; We are going to the house of praise, awaken in us every grateful and cheerful emotion; We are going to the house of instruction, give testimony to the Word preached, and glorify it in the hearts of all who hear; may it enlighten the ignorant, awaken the careless, reclaim the wandering, establish the weak, comfort the feeble-minded, make ready a people for their Lord.”

Shared FromValley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Beautiful Ruin

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As I peer deep into the depths of my own heart,
I run away in fear, who can stand your holiness?
My heart more wicked than I know.
Evidence is everywhere. What have I done?
Only the vilest of sinners could turn such beauty into ruin.

Suddenly I’m blinded by the light of your face.
Confusing grace brings clarity.

The levels of despair and misery I find in my own heart,
are not to be found in you. The deeper into myself I go,
the greater the sin. Level after level I’m amazed.
Yet there is something that amazes me even more.
The longer I look at you the more beautiful you become.
Me, more wicked, more sinful than I’ll ever know.
You, greater than I’d ever dreamed. Grace beyond comprehension.

Suddenly in the light of your grace it makes perfect sense.
This was the point all along.

As I peer into the depths of my own heart,
I run to you, longing for your grace.
Who can stand without your peace?
Your love greater than I know. What have you done?
Only a God as great as you could turn such ruin into beauty.

Perspective in Trials: A Gospel Primer

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“More than anything else could ever do, the gospel enables me to embrace my tribulations and thereby position myself to gain full benefit from them. For the gospel is the one great permanent circumstance in which I live and move; and every hardship in my life is allowed by God only because it serves His gospel purposes in me. When I view my circumstances in this light, I realize that the gospel is not just one piece of good news that fits into my life somewhere among all the bad. I realize instead that the gospel makes genuinely good news out of every other aspect of my life, including my severest trials. The good news about my trials is that God is forcing them to bow to His gospel purposes and do good unto me by improving my character and making me more conformed to the image of Christ.” ~Milton Vincent, A Gospel Primer

As Paul says in Romans 1:16, the Gospel is indeed the power of God for salvation. This being true, we never stop needing the Gospel. We never outgrow the Gospel. In fact we must preach the Gospel to ourselves daily,  lest we lose perspective in our lives. This is never more true than when we are going through trials. As we face the trials of life we must keep our faces turned towards Christ and his Gospel truths, so that we can keep in the forefront of our minds what the purpose of these trials are. Ultimately, trials are for our good.(Romans 8:28) Why so? Because through our trials we are being conformed to the image of Christ.(Romans 8:29)

In regards to preaching the Gospel to ourselves, one of the best tools I’ve found for doing that is A Gospel Primer For Christians. I tell my friends, If they don’t have this little volume in their libraries, they are doing themselves a great disservice. I completely stand by that statement. If you don’t have it, I highly recommend  you run over to Amazon and pick yourself up a copy. Simply click the link below to grab the kindle version for only $7.99!


A Gospel Primer for Christians

Ordinary Saint

“…they were saints in the most effective and telling way: sanctified by leading ordinary lives in a completely supernatural manner, sanctified by obscurity, by usual skills, by common tasks, by routine, but skills, tasks, routine which received a supernatural form from grace within, and from the habitual union of their souls with God in deep faith and charity.” Thomas Merton, The Seven Storey Mountain

Can this be said of us?

I want this…or maybe I don’t.

I suppose I want the spectacular. I don’t want to be ordinary.

Perhaps I should say that I want, to want this. The ordinary is the place where we learn the most about ourselves and our God. It is in the ordinary that we can truly understand how extraordinary our God really is. Perhaps this is why we long so much for the spectacular, or the extraordinary, because deep down it is really a longing for God.

May I strive to be an ‘ordinary saint’…Sanctified in obscurity.


A Morning Psalm: Psalm 96

Worship in the Splendor of Holiness
Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
        sing to the LORD, all the earth!
    Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
        tell of his salvation from day to day.
    Declare his glory among the nations,
        his marvelous works among all the peoples!
    For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
        he is to be feared above all gods.
    For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
        but the LORD made the heavens.
    Splendor and majesty are before him;
        strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
    Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
        ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
    Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
        bring an offering, and come into his courts!
    Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
        tremble before him, all the earth!
    Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
        Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
        he will judge the peoples with equity.”
    Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
        let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
        let the field exult, and everything in it!
    Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
        before the LORD, for he comes,
        for he comes to judge the earth.
    He will judge the world in righteousness,
        and the peoples in his faithfulness.
~Psalm 96~

What an amazing exhortation to praise and worship our God and King…not just for the people of God, but all of creation! What amazing promises…Oh the glory that awaits! May we all ‘tremble before Him’ as we offer up our praises and worship the LORD…

Give us this day…Jesus

Pray then like this:
    “Our Father in heaven,
    hallowed be your name.
    Your kingdom come,
    your will be done,
        on earth as it is in heaven.
    Give us this day our daily bread,
    and forgive us our debts,
        as we also have forgiven our debtors.
    And lead us not into temptation,
        but deliver us from evil.
~Matthew 6:9-13 

Over the past several months I have fallen more and more in love with what I believe is the shining jewel of Christian prayer. Many of us know it as the Lord’s Prayer. Many good and sincere Christians debate this prayer and its meaning. Are we to recite it verbatim, is Jesus simply giving us an outline of a good prayer, or just telling us essentially what prayer is to be? I think perhaps all of the above is true. We cannot go wrong if we take any of those things to heart, and pray keeping those things in mind.

As I’ve spent more and more time over the last several months praying this prayer and meditating on its meaning I’ve become convinced of this truth…And perhaps I’m slow and it is perfectly obvious to everyone else…but I have become convinced that at the heart of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ is this: surrender/submission…and Jesus. Ultimately Jesus is at the heart of all things Christian, but you guys know what I mean.

“Our Father in heaven,
  hallowed be your name.
  Your kingdom come,
  your will be done,
  on earth as it is in heaven...”

As we say those words, what are we saying but that, “Lord we acknowledge who you are…we acknowledge your greatness…we stand in awe of your holiness, your might, your power, your beauty, your majesty…may we see that here, now, on earth…visibly and physically.” We can’t do it. As we see who God is, and meditate on that reality, we realize our utter helplessness.

“…Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

I’m struck immediately as I see the words, “Give us this day our daily bread…” by the fact that Jesus tells us time and time again that He is the ‘bread of life’ and the ‘living bread that came down from heaven’. (See John 6) So when we pray these words, yes we are praying for God to provide our needs for the day, but even deeper than that, especially deeper than that, what we are essentially praying for is Jesus. Now when I say these words, in my heart I say, “Give us Jesus…Give me Jesus.” What more do we need? What is more essential to our lives and our daily living, and our walks of faith, than Jesus? As we pray through the rest of the prayer we essentially see what Jesus does, and through the power of His Spirit, what He does through us, in us, and with us. He graciously forgives our sins, and grants us the grace to forgive others. He allows us to overcome temptations, and ultimately He delivers us from all evil…both daily and eternally.

This prayer is drawing me closer to my Savior daily. As I say this prayer and meditate on its meaning daily I am more and more in awe of God, and fall more and more in love with Jesus. I am learning about surrender. I am learning more about Jesus. Nothing is more essential and at the heart of the Christian life more than those two truths. Surrender and Jesus. Christianity in two words.

Many Christians do not recite this prayer on a regular basis…for years neither did I. I suppose some feel it is too elementary. This attitude is dangerous. Regardless of your thoughts on what the meaning is behind this prayer…”Should it be recited? Is it simply an example?” The fact is saying it, and reciting it, and most importantly meditating on its meaning is a good exercise, and one that I believe will build you up, equip you, and help you love God more. I’ve even began reciting this prayer with my oldest son each morning before school, and slowly I am trying to talk to Him about what it means. Sometimes he wants to, sometimes he doesn’t, sometimes he’s just indifferent. That’s okay. I think all of us approach prayer like that. He is learning the importance of all prayer…as am I.

There are many great Christian and theological minds out there. They have said, and observed things about this prayer, and spoken about it much more beautifully and in depth than I ever could. More than likely what I’ve said is nothing new…But perhaps as I pour out my heart as to the importance this prayer, and all it means to me and my faith…you will be encouraged and drawn to explore and meditate deeper on this prayer, and ultimately Jesus Himself..which I believe is the embodiment and ultimate fulfillment of ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.