Belonging to Jesus

This prayer is from Valley of Vision (p. 102-103). I’ve prayed this and meditated on this text this week.

Belonging to Jesus

Teach me to see

that if Christ has pacified thee and satisfied divine justice

he can also deliver me from my sins;

that Christ does not desire me, now justified,

to live in self-confidence in my own strength,

but gives me the law of the Spirit of life

to enable me to obey thee;

that the Spirit and his power are mine

by resting on Christ’s death;

that the Spirit of life within answers to the law without;

that if I sin not I should thank thee for it;

that if I sin I should be humbled daily under it;

that I should mourn for sin more than other men do,

for when I see I shall die because of sin,

that makes me mourn;

when I see how sin strikes at thee,

that makes me mourn;

when I see that sin caused Christ’s death,

that makes me mourn;

that sanctification is the evidence of reconciliation,

proving that faith has truly apprehended Christ;

Thou hast taught me

That faith is nothing else than receiving thy kindness;

That it is an adherence to Christ, a resting on him,

Love clinging to him as a branch to the tree,

To seek life and vigor from him.

I thank thee for showing me the vast difference

between knowing things by reason,

and knowing them by the spirit of faith.

By reason I see a thing is so;

by faith I know it as it is.

I have seen thee by reason and have not been amazed,

I have seen thee as thou art in thy Son and have been ravished to behold thee.

I bless thee that I am thine in my Savior, Jesus.

 

“Valley of Vision”

Lord, High and Holy, Meek and Lowly,

Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.

Let me learn by paradox
that the way down is the way up,
that to be low is to be high,
that the broken heart is the healed heart,
that the contrite spirit is the rejoicing spirit,
that the repenting soul is the victorious soul,
that to have nothing is to possess all,
that to bear the cross is to wear the crown,
that to give is to receive,
that the valley is the place of vision.

Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;

Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.

~from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, ed. Arthur G. Bennett

Prayer for Japan

Today marks the one-year anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan.

Click here for before and after pictures from the NY Times.

While some areas have shown signs of recovery an have made remarkable progress, many areas of northern Japan still have piles of debris heaped up on the sides of the road, the people are living in makeshift homes, hundreds of bodies have not been identified, and thousands are still missing. We need to continue to pray for the people of Japan and volunteer aid and donate money to help in the recovery efforts.

This is a prayer by John Piper posted on Desiring God on March 12, 2011.

Father in heaven, you are the absolute Sovereign over the shaking of the earth, the rising of the sea, and the raging of the waves. We tremble at your power and bow before your unsearchable judgments and inscrutable ways. We cover our faces and kiss your omnipotent hand. We fall helpless to the floor in prayer and feel how fragile the very ground is beneath our knees.

O God, we humble ourselves under your holy majesty and repent. In a moment—in the twinkling of an eye—we too could be swept away. We are not more deserving of firm ground than our fellowmen in Japan. We too are flesh. We have bodies and homes and cars and family and precious places. We know that if we were treated according to our sins, who could stand? All of it would be gone in a moment. So in this dark hour we turn against our sins, not against you.

And we cry for mercy for Japan. Mercy, Father. Not for what they or we deserve. But mercy.

Have you not encouraged us in this? Have we not heard a hundred times in your Word the riches of your kindness, forbearance, and patience? Do you not a thousand times withhold your judgments, leading your rebellious world toward repentance? Yes, Lord. For your ways are not our ways, and your thoughts are not our thoughts.

Grant, O God, that the wicked will forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts. Grant us, your sinful creatures, to return to you, that you may have compassion. For surely you will abundantly pardon. Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord Jesus, your beloved Son, will be saved.

May every heart-breaking loss—millions upon millions of losses—be healed by the wounded hands of the risen Christ. You are not unacquainted with your creatures’ pain. You did not spare your own Son, but gave him up for us all.

In Jesus you tasted loss. In Jesus you shared the overwhelming flood of our sorrows and suffering. In Jesus you are a sympathetic Priest in the midst of our pain.

Deal tenderly now, Father, with this fragile people. Woo them. Win them. Save them.

And may the floods they so much dread make blessings break upon their head.

O let them not judge you with feeble sense, but trust you for your grace. And so behind this providence, soon find a smiling face.

In Jesus’ merciful name, Amen.

 

Weaving God’s Word into Your Prayers

Pastor Forehand has occasionally referenced praying God’s Word, and even before he came to Trinity, I was doing a little study on that practice, since I’d read several authors who encouraged it. I came across a relatively short, informative article called “Speaking God’s Language” written by Joni Eareckson Tada and recommend it to you as a tutorial and model for praying God’s Word back to Him.

Here are a few selections from the article:

“When we bring God’s Word directly into our praying, we are bringing God’s power into our praying. Hebrews 4:12 declares, “For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword.” God’s Word is living, and so it infuses our prayers with life and vitality. God’s Word is also active, injecting energy and power into our prayer. Listen to how God described His words to Jeremiah: “Is not my word like fire . . . and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” (Jer. 23:29). Scripture gives muscle and might to our prayers.”

“I’m convinced God enjoys it when we consciously employ His Word in our prayers. It shows Him the importance we attach to our requests. It demonstrates we have thought through our petitions and praises and lined them up against the plumb line of Scripture. It underscores to Him the high regard and appreciation we attach to His Word and demonstrates that we sincerely seek His heart in the matter for which we pray. Using God’s Word in prayer–Scripture praying, as it is sometimes called–gives a divine familiarity to our words, earmarking us as servants who possess a working knowledge of the most powerful prayer book ever written: the Bible.”

“Often it’s good to quote an entire passage, substituting a person’s name for the pronoun in the passage. Colossians 1:9-12 is a good example of scripture to pray this way: ‘I ask God to fill Susan with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And I pray this in order that Susan may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work she does, being strengthened with all power, so that she may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully give thanks to the Father.’

Remember, God’s Word is alive, active, and powerful. Prayers laced with the Word of God not only bring about fundamental changes in people and situations, but such prayers keep us in touch with God’s priorities. Weaving God’s Word into our prayers brings His purposes to the forefront of every request.”

HT: JT

Prayers from II Thessalonians

Paul weaves prayers for others and praise to God throughout his letters. Here are some selections from II Thessalonians, in which these prayers are prevalent.

II Thessalonians 1:3

We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers,as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing.

II Thessalonians 1:11-12

To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and everywork of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

II Thessalonians 2:13

But we ought always to give thanks to God for you, brothers beloved by the Lord, because God chose you as the firstfruits to be saved, through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth.

II Thessalonians 2:16-17

Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.

II Thessalonians 3:1-5

Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you, and that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one. And we have confidence in the Lord about you, that you are doing and will do the things that we command. May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.

II Thessalonians 3:16, 18

Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all. . . . The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Puritan Prayer: Vocation

Heavenly Father,

Thou hast placed me in the church
which Thy Son purchased by His own blood.
Add grace to grace that I may live worthy
of my vocation.

I am a voyager across life’s ocean;
Safe in heaven’s ark, may I pass through
a troubled world
into the harbour of eternal rest.

I am a tree of the vineyard Thou hast planted.
Grant me not to be barren, with worthless
leaves and wild grapes;
Prune me of useless branches;
Water me with dews of blessing.
I am part of the Lamb’s bride, the church.
Help me to be true, faithful, chaste, loving,
pure, devoted;

Let no strong affection wantonly dally
with the world.
May I live high above a love of things temporal,
sanctified, cleansed, unblemished, hallowed
by grace,
Thy love my fullness,
Thy glory my joy,
Thy precepts my pathway,
Thy cross my resting place.

My heart is not always a flame of adoring love,
But, resting in Thy Son’s redemption,
I look forward to the days of heaven,
where no langour shall oppress,
no iniquities chill,
no mists of unbelief dim the eye,
no zeal ever tires.

Father, these thoughts are the stay, prop, and comfort of my soul.

~from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers, edited by Arthur Bennett

A Puritan Prayer: “The Deeps”

Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me chastely to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be Thine alone.

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in Thee, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Thyself as saviour, master, lord, and king. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Thy Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from Thee.

Plough deep in me, great Lord, heavenly husbandman, that my being may be a tilled field, the roots of grace spreading far and wide, until Thou alone art seen in me, Thy beauty golden like summer harvest, Thy fruitfulness as autumn plenty.

I have no master but Thee, no law but Thy will, no delight but Thyself, no wealth but that Thou givest, no good but that Thou blessest, no peace but that Thou bestowest. I am nothing but that Thou makest me. I have nothing but that I receive from Thee. I can be nothing but that grace adorns me. Quarry me deep, dear Lord, and then fill me to overflowing with living water.

~from Puritan Prayers and Devotions

Praying Scripture

About the same time I started studying how to pray Scripture, my pastor started talking about it too! Here are some prayers from the Scripture passages I read this week that you (and I!) can incorporate in our prayers.

“O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. Incline your ear, O LORD, and hear; open your eyes, O LORD, and see” (Isaiah 37:16-17a)

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the clouds.
6 Your righteousness is like the mountains of God;
your judgments are like the great deep;
man and beast you save, O LORD.

7 How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.

10 Oh, continue your steadfast love to those who know you,
and your righteousness to the upright of heart!”  (Psalm 36:5-10)

“I know that you can do all things,
and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
4 ‘Hear, and I will speak;
I will question you, and you make it known to me.’
5 I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear,
but now my eye sees you;
6 therefore I despise myself,
and repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6)

Puritan Prayer: “First Day Morning”

O Lord,

We commune with thee every day,
but week days are worldly days,
and secular concerns reduce heavenly impressions.
We bless thee therefore for the day sacred to our souls
when we can wait upon thee and be refreshed;
We thank thee for the institutions of religion
by use of which we draw near to thee and thou to us;
We rejoice in another Lord’s Day
when we call off our minds from the cares of the world
and attend upon thee without distraction;
Let our retirement be devout,
our conversation edifying,
our reading pious,
our hearing profitable,
that our souls may be quickened and elevated.
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.
Be a sanctuary to all who cannot come,
Forget not those who never come,
And do thou bestow upon us
benevolence towards our dependents,
forgiveness towards our enemies,
peaceableness towards our neighbors,
openness towards our fellow-Christians.
~From Valley of Vision

“A Prayer for Preaching the Gospel to Ourselves”

On Wednesday, my pastor reminded us that the gospel is not just for salvation, but also for our sanctification, and I thought of this prayer by Scotty Smith.

I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Rom. 1:15-17

Dear Lord Jesus, even as Paul was eager to preach the gospel to believers in Rome, I’m equally eager to preach it to my own heart today—this morning, afternoon and evening. All I really need is you plus what you choose to give me, but I really do need you all the time.

There was a time, however, when I thought the gospel was only for nonbelievers—the doorway, just the portal for beginning a relationship with you. I now realize the gospel is just as much for believers as it is for nonbelievers; because from beginning to end, our salvation is entirely dependent upon the grace, truth, and power of the gospel.

Thank you for showing me that salvation is not merely our post-mortem holiday—the good news of going to heaven when we die. It’s about dead people, like me, coming to life in you now. It’s about becoming like you, Jesus—being transformed into your loving likeness. Only the resources of the gospel are sufficient for such a task, for we’re not just separated from God by a great distance, we are thoroughly broken and corrupted by sin. We need a big gospel for our great need. Indeed, there’s nothing more than the gospel, there is just more of the gospel. (I believe this… free me to believe it much, much more)

So I praise you today, Jesus, that you’ve already accomplished everything necessary to completely save us. You came into the world as God’s promised Messiah—the man from heaven, the second Adam. You lived a life of perfect obedience on our behalf—as our substitute, fulfilling all the demands of God’s law for us. You died upon the cross for us—taking the criticism and judgment we deserve; and you have completely exhausted God’s righteous anger against our sin. (Sing and soar, O my soul!)

Through faith in you, all of my sins have been forgiven (past, present and future), and I’ve been given the gift of your perfect righteousness. God has already declared me righteous in his sight, for he has hidden my life in yours. He cannot love me more than he does today, and he will not ever love me less. In fact, because of your work for us, Jesus, God now loves me just as much as he loves you. Amazing! I’d be slap-worthy arrogant—make that a blasphemer, if this wasn’t revealed in the gospel.

By adoption, I’m God’s beloved child; by his generosity, I’m indwelt by the Holy Spirit; by his faithfulness, I’m an heir of the new heaven and new earth. Though a non-dancer, this makes me want to dance in the Spirit! Lord Jesus, keep pressing this gospel into my yet-to-be glorified heart—pound it, reveal it. So very Amen I pray, in your priceless and peerless name.