A prayer for gospel Pharisees and Scribes

And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with the file hands?

And he said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, this people honors me with their lips, but there’re heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines and the commandments of men. You leave the Commandments of God and hold the tradition of men. Mark 7. 5 – 8

Jesus these are strong words. What could be more tragic than to hear you say, you talk about me a whole lot, using plenty of spiritual language and biblical quotes. You are quick to recognize and correct faults teaching.  You’re even zealous to apply what you know to others. But your heart is very far from me?

It would be one thing you’re such a review came to us because we were acting like Mosaic Pharisees and scribes – distorting and misapplying Old Testament law; putting people under the yoke of performance–based spirituality; replacing your Commandments with our traditions. But it is an altogether different thing to be a gospel Pharisee and scribe.

Forgive us, Jesus, when me love exposing faults gospels more than we love spending time with you in prayer and fellowship.

Forgive us when we are quick to tell people what obedience is not but failed to demonstrate what the obedience of faith and love actually is.

Forgive us when we call ourselves recovering Pharisees or recovering legalists when in actuality, were not really recovering from anything.

Forgive us when we talk more about “getting” the gospel then how we have been “gotten” by the gospel.

Forgive us for being just as arrogant about grace theology as we were obnoxious about legalistic theology.

Forgive us when we don’t use our freedom to serve one another in love, but rather use it to put our consciences to sleep.

Forgive us what our love for the gospel does not translate into a love for holiness, world evangelism, and caring for widows and orphans.

Forgive us for having a PhD in the indicatives of the gospel yet feeling so miserably when it comes to the imperatives of the gospel.

Forgive us when we love the gospel more than we actually love you, Jesus, as impossible as that may seem.

~ Scotty Smith

A prayer about our tireless, Weariless God

The Lord is the everlasting God, The creator of the ends of the earth.
And his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:28 – 31

Gracious Father, this was one of the first scriptures I memorized as a young believer, yet reading at today is like finding a new treasure in an old field. That is one of the things I most love about your word. It is never antiquated or redundant but always vintage and ever knew. You are the God who speaks in specific ways without stuttering. You are the father who knows what we need even before we ask, and you provided before we ask.

This passage from Isaiah is underlined in multiple times in my favorite Bible, and for good reason. It reminds me but you are not like me, in so many ways. you never get tired or weary. I do and I am. Accepting limitations, finiteness, and weakness has never been one of my strengths. But I must. Since youths grow tired and weary and young men stumble and fall, why do I think I am exempt from running on empty and hitting the wall?

Father, I am not asking to soar like an eagle, as fun as it might be, And I’m not seeking to run like a sprinter or a marathoner. Just walking upright with a renewed heart, and a steady gait, and replenish straits will be enough.

My hope is in you, father – merciful Abba, who brings refreshment into the wilderness; generous Lord, who promises sufficient grace everyday; mighty God, who raises the dead. Right now I look to you for all the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical strength I will need to live out the implications of the gospel just today. I am not depleted, though heading there, but I have no doubts about your great compassion for me in Jesus.

Because Jesus embraced the ultimate weakness and weariness of the cross, I am confident of your burden – bearing love. I may be weary in my servant hood, but I am thriving in my sonship. Nothing can separate us from your love. I pray in Jesus is tender and triumphant name. Amen

~ Scotty Smith

A prayer and praise of the Holy Spirit

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the spirit. To set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind of the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. You, however, are not in the flesh but in the spirit, anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him. Romans 8.5–9

Heavenly father, I am particular grateful today for the person at work of the Holy Spirit. Though I don’t understand stand everything he is up to, these things I gladly affirmed today…

Just as assuredly as Jesus stood up outside of Lazarus’s Truman said, “Come forth”, you sent the Holy Spirit to preach the gospel to my heart, and I came out of the tomb of my sin and death. How I praise you for your sovereign goodness and power. Unless you had breathe new life into my spirit, I would have never, could have never believe the gospel.

When you raise me up in Jesus, you baptize me with the Holy Spirit, making me a member of your family in Christ’s bride. You sealed me for eternity by the Spirit, marking me as your own possession. You sent the Spirit to live as a permanent resident in my heart—to constantly preach the gospel to my heart, convict me up soon, make me like Jesus, and tell me that I am your beloved child.

According to the truth of the Gospel in your Word, I am all ready controlled by the Holy Spirit. I am no longer controlled by my sinful nature. You have given me all the gifts of the Spirit I need to live as a functioning part of the church and a caring service in your kingdom. You gave the Spirit to me as the first fruits and guaranteed other full inheritance salvation that Jesus completely earned for me. What a generous and loving God you are!

Therefore, I acknowledge my desire to be more fully and consistently filled with the Holy Spirit, to walk according to the Spirit, to keep in step with the Spirit, to set my mind on what the Spirit desires. All of two which I say, “Hallelujah, what a Savior! Hallelujah, what a salvation!” I pray in Jesus name. Amen

~ Scotty Smith

Prayer thoughts from Scotty Smith

Even as we first needed grace to respond to your love (Ephesians 2.8–10), so we need grace to stay alive too your love and to love as you deserve to be loved. Your love for us is the one constant in our lives. Everything else changes. Everything else is subject to whim and fancy. Our brothers and sisters in Heaven are more happy than we are, but they are not more loved. But our love for you ebbs and flows.

Jesus, give us grace to love you with an undying love. May the cooling of our affection for you bother us more than the fragile economy, are broken relationships, political of people in the world, concerns about Our health, growing older, or anything else. Jesus, don’t let us get use to status quo, middle-class, business–as-usual love for you.

But because of this hope, we will not to doubt, numb out, or checkout. We will seek to show up. Lead us, King Jesus. Lead us into your work of redemption and restoration. What will it mean to love mercy, do justice, and walk calmly with you in the broken places of your world?

I’m feeling a bit distracted this morning, scattered and not very focused.

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

It is freeing to know your spirit doesn’t abandon us when we are weak but helps us in our weakness, faithfully praying it us with “wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).

You search our hearts to save us not to shame us; to deliver us, not today demean us; two change us, not to chide us.

And at this very moment your Spirit is praying inside me, perfectly tuned into 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 called me to life in Christ, and you will complete your purpose and me, in each of your children, and in the entire cosmos. I do love you; I would love you more. I pray for thankfulness, and Jesus is merciful and faithful name. Amen

A prayer for seeing with gospel eyes

But the Lord said to Samuel,”Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look on the things people looked at it. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Sam 16. 7

Loving father, I have worn prescription glasses since high school, moving from regular to progressive focus lenses over the course of years. Recently I have had laser surgery to help me see more precisely than ever. Yet there is an ophthalmologic or corrective that can only take place as a gospel does it’s work on the eyes of my heart.

Even if I could see with 20/15 or 20/10 vision, if I am only focusing on the “ outward appearance” of people and things, I am still not seeing as you intend. My plea? Open the eyes of my heart, Lord, soI may see Jesus — and as I begin seeing Jesus more clearly, help me see everything else from his perspective.

Help me to see people with gospel eyes. Father, when I am only looking at people with the aberrations of the fallen heart, show me what true beauty consists of. What I only see the things and people that irritate or inconvenience me, help me to see their dignity, their brokenness, and your image in them. When I only see people in terms of how they might harm or help me, expand my vision beyond my story to your larger story of redemption and restoration. Help me to see what you see in my spouse … In my children … And my friends … Even In total strangers.

Help me to see creation with gospel eyes. Father, don’t let me look at the ocean, mountains, stars, sunrises and sunsets, flora and fauna, or even weather patterns just in terms of me and my plans. As you’re open and heal the eyes of my heart, enable me to live more as a worshipful steward of your creation and left as a selfish consumer of your creation.

Help me to see pain and suffering up gospel eyes. Father, sometimes looking at all the crucibles, crises, and cruel stores of life make me want to run, hide, fix, or deny. Help me to see with the eyes of Jesus when overwhelming need to staring me down. I pray in Jesus healing name. Amen

Selections from recently read prayers by Scotty Smith

It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace. Hebrews 13.9

While bodily training is some value, godliness is of value in every way, as a told promise for the present life and also for the life to come. 1Timothy 4.8

Our spiritual hearts need to be strengthened by the grace of the gospel daily, all year long. We cannot afford periods of “cruise control,” when we leave the banquet of your love for a buffet of comfort food, fast food, and junk food. Just like the physical hearts you have given us, our spiritual heart muscles will atrophy if we don’t take care of them.

Father, you will love us more or less based on our use of these great gifts. But we certainly demonstrate and deepen our love for you as we do so.

Heavenly father, today we want to affirm that nothing has to change for us to know your joy — neither people nor circumstances. We don’t late love you simply because you make us happy. We reject Satan’s assumption that the only reason we, your children, love you is because you buy our affection with “the good life”.

My love for you does not depend on you’re being a 24-7 convenience store for me. Your name is Abba Father, not Sugar Daddy. I love you in response to your great love lavished on me in the Gospel.

What could be worse than it from my Love for you to cool down, degree by degree, as I get older?

Holy spirit, breathe upon the embers of my heart and rekindled the love I first had for Jesus when the gospel of grace was first applied to my heart, when nothing else mattered. Come Holy Spirit, come with fire and power.

A prayer about our called and shared life in Christ

To God’s elect, exile scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia, who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance. 1 Peter 1 – 2

Gracious father, we praise you for the gift of community. It’s a tremendous joy to begin this new year together as brothers and sisters in Christ — adopted by your grace, shaped by the gospel, and in built by the Spirit. Bring much glory to yourself as you’re transform us and liberate us for your redeeming purposes.

May this be a year in which we reengage with our corporate calling as your beloved people. We are your family, not just your individual sons and daughters. Our selfishness and the busyness and the driveness of our culture conspired to make it easy for us to think only of ourselves. But the gospel contradicts all such isolated an independent living.

You chose us by your foreknowledge, Reading this by your son, and set us apart by your spirit to demonstrate the reconciling and redeeming power of the gospel in cities among the nations of the world. Indeed, you have called us to live as strangers in this world, not as strange people. If there is to be a anything offensive about us, may it only be the gospel of your grace.

Renew our churches and help us plant new churches that make the gospel beautiful and believable. May we live as good citizens of heaven and the cities where you have placed us. May our neighbors be glad we are among them. Help us to offer a meaningful glimpse of the future we share because the gospel is true.

Lord Jesus it’s only because you were obedient to death — even death upon the cross — we can offer back and an obedience of grateful faith. Live and love, Ben Austin through us, all year long to your glory. Be magnified in our hearts, revealed in our cities, and revered among the nations of the world.

~ Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel–centered Faith