A PRAYER ABOUT GRACE ALLERGIES

everyday prayers scotty smith“There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’ (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.'” John 4:7-10)

Dear Lord Jesus, you spoke these inviting words of hope to a broken woman trying her very best to keep her distance from you. She’d been on a quest to find life in the arms of men-many men-and it obviously wasn’t working for her very well. The more she tried to evade your gaze, the more you simply applied your grace. She ran; you pursued. She danced around; you stopped the music. How I praise you that you came to seek and save the lost, not just broadcast an offer from the distance.

Though the details of my story are different from this nameless Samaritan woman’s, the same foolish strategy is there: playing games with you, like hide-and-seek, only I do all the hiding and you do all the seeking. I wish this were just true of me a long, long time ago, but I still default to this insanity.

Jesus, deliver us from grace allergies-living with an aversion to the gospel. Why we choose broken cisterns, dumb idols, and self-help over your love is sheer madness. Grace is for sinners, not for pretenders, posers, and performers. You mean to heal us, not harm us; embrace us, not embarrass us; succor us with compassion, not shame us with contempt.

So Jesus, once again I bring real thirst to you today. I bring my penchant to avoid you. I bring my excuse making, my unbelief, my pride, my self-righteousness. I bring that part of me that would rather help others discover your grace than partake of it for myself.

I ask you for a fresh imbibing of living water, sufficient for the needs of my heart and the demands of the day. May this be a twenty-four-hour period in which I spontaneously join the chorus of many others who are singing, ‘Come see the man who told me everything I ever did, and he still loves me and is bent on my freedom. Certainly this is the Messiah, the Saviour, the Lord…. He is Jesus!’ I pray in our pursuing and all-satisfying name. Amen.”

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A PRAYER ABOUT THE IMPOSSIBLE

everyday prayers scotty smith“But he (Jesus), ‘What is impossible with men is possible with God.'” Luke 18:27

“Gracious Jesus, you offered these words of hope to disciples trying to picture a camel squeezing through the eye of a needle. You speak the same words to me in light of many situations for which I need to accept my limitations and lay hold of your sufficiency.

I begin this day remembering that your commitment is to make all things new, not make all new things. There is an enormous difference between the two. Indeed, Jesus, you’ve placed us in a story of restoration, not replacement. You are actively at work in the broken places and among broken people, including me. Through your resurrection, we’ve been given great assurance and hope for a redeemed universe. This is incredibly good news- the best news ever.

The hard news is that I have to accept that many things are impossible for me. My intentions, efforts, and resources are simply not enough. I see this especially in my relationships. This requires a humility and faith the gospel alone can provide. Grant me both, Jesus; grant me both.

I cannot change me, so why do I assume the omnipotence to fix others? As much as I long to see friends freed from addictions, marriages brought back from the brink of death, and stubborn people made gentle and kind, Jesus, you alone have the power of resurrection. Maybe the greater challenge will be for you to make me a patient, caring, present friend. Please show me the first nose hair of this camel poking through the needle’s eye. Hasten the day of perfect newness in my heart. I pray in your majestic name. Amen”

A PRAYER ABOUT THE PARADOX OF WEAKNESS

everyday prayers scotty smith“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weakness, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, than I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“Heavenly Father, as I meditate on these words of Paul, I vacillate between feelings of anger and relief, for as a young follower of Jesus, I wasn’t taught to delight in weakness but rather to despise weakness, to deny weakness, to demonize weakness, to dethrone weakness. That’s why I totally understand Martin Luther’s statement that ‘bad theology is the worst taskmaster of all.’ For I’ve suffered much under the merciless whip of several gospel distortions.

It was all about the ‘victorious Christian life’: overcoming and not underachieving, kind of like having a type A personality on spiritual steroids. I didn’t think in terms of sufficient grace, I wanted replacement grace- getting rid of anything unpleasant in my life.

Thank you Father, for rescuing me from this and other misrepresentations of life in Christ. Thank you for the godly men and women you’ve brought into my life in Christ over the years, the humble and courageous servants of Jesus who’ve helped me understand the true riches of the gospel and the way of the cross. Increase their tribe, Lord: increase their tribe.

Father, I know I’m not be be defined by my weakness and brokenness, but I realize more than ever, that’s where Jesus meets me. I have no ability to change my heart. I very much want your power to rest on me. I very much need your power to rest on me. I am desperate for all the sufficient grace you will give me.

As you continue to humble and gentle my heart, greatly increase my compassion toward others in their weakness and brokenness. Forgive my irritation, impatience, and avoidance of people whose need is much greater than my supply.

What a wonderful, merciful Saviour you are, Jesus. Indeed, it was because you embraced the weakness of the cross that I can gladly boast in the weaknesses of my life and the more-than-sufficient supply of your grace. What a most profound, liberating, and hope-filled paradox. I pray in your holy and loving name. Amen.”

A PRAYER OF DESIRE FOR FRESH GRACE

everyday prayers scotty smith“And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he spoke this plainly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.’” Mark 8:31-33

“Jesus, one of the many things I cherish about the Bible is the way it robs me of my penchant for hero worship. Who but God would write a book documenting the foibles and failures of so many of his sons and daughters? Who but God would chronicle the ways his chosen leaders limp along and prove themselves to be in constant need of mercy and grace?

This gives me great encouragement and hope. It also gives me freedom to acknowledge that I need the gospel today just as much as the first day I believed it. This will be just as true tomorrow, and the next day, and the next. Keep me convinced, Jesus, because I am like Peter.

It’s one thing for me to stress and stew about the ways this generation is distancing itself from your cross. But it’s quite another to see the subtle ways I try to keep you from the cross. Deal with me as you dealt with Peter.

When I mute my heart to the insult of grace, I deny your cross. When I think, even for one moment, that my obedience merits anything, I deny your cross. When I put others under the microscope and measure of performance-based living, I deny your cross. When I wallow in self-contempt and shame, I deny your cross. When I’d rather do penance than repent, I deny your cross.

By the gospel, help me to mind the things of God more than the things of men. May your cross get bigger, and may my boast in it grow louder. Jesus, you’re the only hero in the Bible, and I’m fine with that. I pray in your patient and persistent name. Amen.”

A PRAYER FOR DAYS WHEN YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE PRAYING

everyday prayers scotty smith“In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:26-27 NIV

“Dear Father, this is one of those days when I could create a long prayer list and methodically go through it, but I’m not sure I would really be praying. I could go through the motions, but to be quite honest, it would be more ritual than reality- more about me than the people and situations I’d bring before you. I’m feeling a bit distracted this morning, scattered and not very focused.

It’s one of those days I’m glad the gospel is much more about your grasp of me than my grip on you. I’m grateful your delight in me is not contingent upon my delight in you. I’m thankful for the prayer ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Gracious Father, I have no problem or reluctance in acknowledging my weakness this morning. In fact, it’s freeing to know your Spirit doesn’t abandon us when we’re weak but helps us in our weakness, faithfully praying in us with ‘wordless groans’. Though I don’t understand everything that means, I do get that you search our hearts and you know the mind of the Spirit, and that brings me great comfort today.

No one knows our hearts better than you, Father. And you search our hearts to save us, not to shame us; to deliver us, not to demean us; to change us, not to chide us. You know my dignity and my depravity, my fears and my longings, my struggles with sin and my standing in Christ.

And at this very moment your Spirit is praying inside of me, perfectly tuned in to my needs and in total harmony with your will. I cannot measure the peace that brings. I surrender right now, Father. I will gladly groan to your glory. I know you are at work for my good in all things, including this season. You have called me to life in Christ, and you will complete your purpose in me, in each of your children, and in the entire cosmos. I do love you; I would love you more. I pray with thankfulness, in Jesus’ merciful and faithful name. Amen.”