Loving you involves putting legs on my prayers

I realize that loving you involves putting legs on my prayers. 
To whom would you send me today, in my neighborhood or in my city? Whom should I call and check on? 
A concern for the poor is closely connected to your sobering words I just read in Matthew warning about the danger of our love growing cold. 
When our affections for you chill, then our concern and compassion for others diminishes as well. What a tragic domino effect. What a disgrace. 
May I never stop singing the last line in the hymn “O Sacred Head Now Wounded”: “Should I fainting be, Lord, let me never, never outlive my love for thee.” That’s my earnest, impassioned prayer, Jesus. I don’t fear losing my salvation. I will stand firm to the end because of my standing in grace. 
What could be worse than for my love for you to cool down, degree by degree, as I get older? Don’t let that happen to me, Jesus. Don’t let that happen. What could be worse than to finish the race with an ingrown, icy heart? 
Holy Spirit, breathe upon the embers of my heart and rekindle 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 in fire and power. Preach the gospel to my heart today—right now, as though it were the very first time. 
I pray expectantly, in Jesus’ kind and powerful name. Amen.
From my favorite devotional prayer book: Scotty  Smith, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith

A Prayer about My Dad’s Welcome Home

I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far. (Phil. 1:23 NIV) We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. (2 Cor. 5:8 NIV)

Dear Jesus, I already had so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving season, but now you’ve upped the ante considerably; you’ve fueled the furnace of my gratitude; you’ve added grace upon grace. I praise you that my dad finally knows the “better by far” of being with you. As of last night, he’s gone from that ninety-one-year-old, Alzheimer’s-invaded body and is free at last. He’s at home with you. What more could I possibly want for my dad? Hallelujah, the gospel is true!

No more of my dad looking at me with kind eyes but with a clueless expression about who I am or even what the word son means. No more loss of dignity and no more limits on delight; no more grabbing for a thought or gasping for a breath; no more confinements, confusion, or cares about anything; no more wandering around, just the wonder of your glory and the fullness of your grace. Hallelujah, the gospel is true!

Jesus, though my dad and I were never able to carry on deep conversations about you or engage in meaty biblical and theological discussions, right now he knows more about you than I ever dreamed was knowable. He’s experiencing the promised “more than all we ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20 NIV), while I still have to ask and try to imagine. Everything I know about your beauty and bounty can fit into a thimble, with room left over, compared to what my dad now knows to be true about you. Hallelujah, the gospel is true!

Jesus, knowing he’s with you also thrills me to think about the company he’s now keeping—the fellowship dad is enjoying. I love the thought of my dad and mom seeing each other again after forty-nine years. Indeed, to be present with you is to be present with everybody else in heaven. My dad is in heaven not because he was a good man (though he was) but because you are a great Savior. Hallelujah, the gospel is true! I make my prayer with great thanks, in your merciful and mighty name. Amen.

Scotty Smith. Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith

A Prayer about Loving Well

And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:16–19 NIV)

Gracious Jesus, today I’m remembering the call to love well all kinds of people in all kinds of situations. I’m recognizable as one of your disciples by the way I love others (John 13:34). This would be an unbearable burden if you didn’t love us as you do. We love you, and anybody, only because you first loved us.

Because of your great love for us, Jesus, we don’t have to fear judgment day. Your cross is judgment day for all who trust in you. You took the punishment I deserve for all the ways I love so poorly. I now rely on the love you have for me. In that assurance, here’s my plea, Jesus. Help me love well the members of my immediate family. They are at the same time the easiest and the hardest people to love, day in and day out. Sometimes I think I have the greatest family on the earth; sometimes I think we’d trade one another in for a Diet Coke. Bring your kindness, compassion, patience, and perseverance to bear. Help us to provoke one another to love and good deeds, and not just provoke one another.

Jesus, help me to love my friends well. Help me not to take them for granted. Help me know how to give my friends feedback lovingly and receive feedback from them without being defensive. Forgive me when I want friendship to be simply a mutual admiration society rather than a community of groaning, grace, and growth. Help me to know how to love the irritating people in my life, those I try hard to avoid. Help me know how to love the foolish people in my life, the ones making destructive choices, the ones I’m mad at right now.

Help me know how to love the depressed and sad people in my life. I instinctively try to fix them and make them happy, but I know that’s not really what they need from me. Help me to love the poor, the orphans and widows, the marginalized, “the least and the lost,” for among them I will surely find you, Jesus. I pray in your compassionate name. Amen.

Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith

A Prayer Praising Jesus for His Persistent Love

Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Rev. 3:19–20) 
Dear Lord Jesus, every day we have the privilege of living the hymn “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go,” for you love us tenaciously and you pursue us constantly. As hard as it is to imagine, you desire fellowship with us, and not occasionally but continually. It’s even harder to imagine that you actually enjoy being with us. We believe; help our unbelief. 
In the gospel we enjoy eternal union with you, but for various reasons, we tend to flow in and out of vital communion with you. The sad thing is, sometimes we don’t recognize our heart drift for quite a while—days, even months. It’s usually the people around us who first recognize our being out of communion with you, for rich fellowship with you changes the way we relate to everyone. 
Jesus, there’s no greater rebuke than to hear you knock on the door of our hearts, yet that knock comes like a kiss. Nothing is more convicting than to hear your voice on the other side of that door, yet your voice is that of a bridegroom wooing his beloved bride. It’s because you love us that you confront us and discipline us. All of your rebukes are life-giving, and when you discipline us, though it’s painful, it’s for our good and our freedom. It’s your kindness that leads us to repentance. 
Jesus, your knock and your voice in the gospel are so powerful, and by faith we rise to greet you. Come in and let us feast together this very day. You are the bread we need the most. You give the water that alone quenches our thirst. Until the day when daily fellowship meals are replaced with a wedding feast, may we have to hear your knock on the outside of the door way less often. We pray with gratefulness, in your loving name. Amen.
Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith . I highly recommend getting this book. It has been part of my devotions for several years.

A prayer about gospel words and gospel works

We you give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in words, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction. 1 Thessalonians one. 2 – 5

Heavenly Father, it is a great time to be alive, for even as there is growing turmoil in the world, there is unruffled triumph in heaven, a peaceful certainty that the gospel will win the day, the nations, and the cosmos. I am overjoyed today as I consider the gospel of your grace, the gospel of the kingdom, the great story of redemption and restoration.

In fact, I don’t remember a time when there has been a greater proliferation of the gospelspeak. Everywhere I look I find an openness and earnestness to re-examine and rethink what the gospel is all about. All the public discourse about the gospel, by believers and nonbelievers alike, is a very good thing.

But as I look at my life, the body of believers with whom I walk, and the community in which I live, I am praying that the gospel will increasingly in practice the way it impacted the men and women of Thessalonica. What a stirring image: “Not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction” 1 Thessalonians 1.5.

Dear Father, many gospel words lead to gospel works in my heart. In particular, I am praying for the power of the gospel to be at work in my marriage and other relationships. It is still easier for me to live in the world of words that you really invest in the complexities of heart-to-heart engagement.

May the love you have lavished on me in Jesus, and the love you have given me for Jesus, really work it in me. Made the gospel prove its resurrection power in turning me further from my idols to serve you, the only true and loving God. To be specific, I acknowledge and repent of the idols of control of self-protection.

Lastly, Father, made the great hope you have given us in Jesus, including the hope of a new heaven and new earth, deepen and lengthen my endurance. I pray in Jesus’ matchless name. Amen

~Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers

A prayer about interpreting prophecy

As soon as you [Daniel[ began to pray, a word went out, which I have come to tell you, for you are a highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the word and understand the vision: seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put it into sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy Place. Daniel 9:23 – 24

And is said to them, “Oh foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things that enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. Luke 24:25 – 27

Lord Jesus, every time I read certain prophetic sections of the Old Testament, like this one in Daniel, I get flashbacks of big charts, bombastic preachers, and a bevy of fears. As a young believer in the late 1960s to early 1970s, I was convinced hours what’s the terminal generation. Surely you were going to come back within a few years. The political climate was perfect for that last of the last antichrist to emerge. All things 666 eschewed –– credit cards, phone numbers, drivers licenses. The truth is, we gave the antichrist more credit than Satan himself. The egregious truth is, some of us spent more time fearing the antichrist then really getting to know you, the Christ!

Jesus, I grieve that I didn’t know how to look for you in all the Scriptures, and therefore in all of history and life. You who have given me more than 70 times 7 worth of forgiveness parentheses (Matthew 18:22) are best qualified to help me understand Daniel ‘s seventy sevens and every other prophecy, simple or complex.

Whatever else is going on in this portion of Daniel, this I know for sure: Jesus, only you will one day put it into all sin. Jesus, only in you can perfect and complete atonement for us to be found. Jesus, only you will one day usher in a world of everlasting righteousness –– The new heaven and new earth ( Revelation 21: 1-5). Only you could seal up vision and prophecy, ( Hebrews 1:1 – two) and that yes and amen to all of God’s promises ( 2 Corinthians 1:20). Only you could fulfill every symbol and stick of furniture in the holy of holies and make a way for us to enter there ( Hebrews 10:19 – 22).

Only you, Jesus, are worthy of our adoration, affection, attention, and allegiance–– only you! I pray in your most glorious and gracious name. Amen

Psalm 63 – thirst

Oh God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
My soul thirst for you;
As in dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
Beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life,
My lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live;
In your name I will lift up my hands.
My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
And my mouth will praise you with joyful lips. Psalm 63: 1 to 5

Dear Jesus, we come before you today asking for the gift of thirst. Renew and intensify our thirst for you. Make a so faint that unless you hydrate our hearts with the Gospel, we will surely perish.

It is a dangerous thing to no longer deeply crave fellowship with you, Jesus. It is a deceptive thing to enjoy but no longer actually need you. It is a deceitful thing to be satisfied with correct theology about you, without experiencing rich communion with you. It is a demonic thing to find our ultimate satisfaction and anyone or anything else but you.

Only your steadfast love is better than life, Jesus — only your contra-conditional, irrepressible affection for us. Nothing else will do. You have created a gospel–shaped vacuum in our hearts –– a screaming empty place that fits only you. Forgive us we try to cram human love, creature comforts, or anything else into that place. Don’t let us be so easily satisfied. Give us redemptive discontent until our hearts rest again in you.

Jesus, we are asking this not just for ourselves as individuals, but for our churches as well. Forgive us when we get so organized, creative, and “right” that we no longer miss your presence. Is it really you we are worshiping, or are we just worshiping worship? Is it really you we are serving, or are we just serving ourselves as religious consumers?

If you actually “left the house,” how long would it take before we knew the difference? In all honesty, Jesus, how much of what we do in our churches doesn’t require the Holy Spirit at all? Show us, convict us, forgive us, and change us.

Let us see and experience your power and glory in fresh ways, Jesus,. We want to lift our hearts, voices, hands, and whole lives to you as a sacrifice of praise. May the truth and grace of the gospel satisfy us as fat and rich food. We pray longing hearts. Amen

~ Scotty Smith, Everyday Prayers

Listen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GmsgYY-INf8

Help me to see people with gospel eyes.

Help me to see people with gospel eyes. Father, when I am only looking at people with the aberrations of a fallen heart, when I want to see the things in people that irritate our 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 …. In my friends … even in total strangers.

~ Scotty Smith

A prayer about loving

The end of all things is at hand and sober minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s very grace. 1 Peter 4. 7 – 10

Dear Jesus, may Peter’s words sink and settle deep into my heart. If I really believe the end of all things is at hand, if I really believe that your return could happen within my lifetime, it seems he would make a significant difference in how I live and love.

Whenever I attend a funeral, I always go away with a sense of my mortality and the fragility of life. At least for a few days, I hug loved ones a little tighter and linger little longer any conversations. But then it’s back to normal, and the same old harried pace takes over in the same old broken patterns and relationships resume.

Normal sinners go on loving as normal sinners do: rather than covering sins, we get irritated with one another’s sins; rather than welcoming one another without grumbling, we guard our own space with complaining; rather than using our gifts to serve each other, we hoard your grace to satisfy ourselves; rather than administering your multifaceted grace to one another, we withhold it from one another. Yet the end of all things is at hand. God, have mercy on me, the sinner.

Jesus, please bring the gospel to bear in fresh and powerful ways in my way of relating to others. I don’t want to love by guilt but by grace. I don’t want to love my fear but by faith. I don’t want to love with the hearts of manipulation but with the heart of ministry. I don’t want to love with a view to another funeral but with the view of your second coming. I don’t want to love to get anything but because I’ve received everything in you.

Jesus, you are the one who loves us deeply. You’re the one who has covered not just the multitude but all our sins. You’re the one who always offers us hospitality without grumbling. You’re the one who’s always serving us and giving us more grace in all its forms. Live in us and love through us, whether you return in 15 minutes or 1500 years. We pray you and your faithful name. Amen

A Prayer About Singing Mountains and Clapping Trees

by Scotty Smith

“My word that goes out from my mouth, it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” Isaiah 55:11-12

Gracious Father, you know how much I love mountains, of all shapes and sizes. There’s just something about mountains that causes my heart to feel the greatness of your glory and grace—the weightiness of your majesty and the endlessness of your mercy. What a glorious creation… what a magnificent Creator you are.

It all started with excursions to the foothills of western North Carolina, and then onto exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains around Boone and Banner Elk, NC. And I’ll never forget my first sighting of the Rocky Mountains in Estes Park, Colorado… and bright yellow Aspen leaves dancing against the rich blue backdrop of a haze-free fall skyline.

But then there was the day I stepped off the train in the village of Interlaken, Switzerland, and got hammered with the holy wonder of three Alps, the Eiger, Monch and the Jungfrau. I can still see, smell, feel and taste the sensual overload of that day. Indeed, Father, the works of your hands declare your glory, loud and clear. For those who have ears to hear, there is no place in all creation where your loving and wooing voice cannot be heard singing your praise. (Psalm 19:1-6)

But, Father, these words of Isaiah envision a Day when the mountains themselves will burst into song—the new song of the new creation… the regenerating, renewing and restoring melody of the gospel. Though your glory is clearly revealed in the beauty of your creation, it is revealed ten thousand times more in the redemption that you freely give us in Jesus. Jesus is the Alps of your mercy, grace and love for us.

Because of Jesus, we, your redeemed people, will go out in joy and be led for into the peace—into the shalom—the perfect order, society, environment and world of the new heaven and new earth. You have spoken… you have promised… and so shall it be. Your Word will accomplish everything you decree and every one of your delights.  Hasten that Day, Father. Bring in on… make it happen, the sooner the better.

In light of the Day of singing mountains and clapping trees, we enter this day groaning inwardly and waiting expectantly… confident that your Word will not return empty (Romans 8:18-27). Joy is coming to the world because Jesus has come to the world, and is coming again. So very Amen, we pray, in His matchless and merciful name.