Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Prayer for Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Deny

O God,

Jesus tells me to deny myself. What does that mean? How do I do that?

After all, I can’t help but be me; me is who I am. I can’t believe that you would by your grace allow me to be born into this world as the genetic result of the unions of so many particular people before me and then tell me to deny that I am who I am. I can’t believe that you would by your grace cause me to be born into this particular historical period, into this particular social milieu, into my particular family, and with my particular gifts and then tell me to deny that I am who I am.

Yet there it is in your Book: Jesus says that I am to deny myself, to take up my cross, and to follow him.

How can I deny myself and still be myself?

Does it have to do with the limiting influence of all of the factors that go into making me who I am? As blessed as I am to have been born to the people to whom I was born, in the time that I was born, and in the setting in which I was born, those blessings also serve to limit my worldview and my perspective. My default setting is to see myself and to see the world as “my people” and as “my culture” do. Maybe to deny myself is to live beyond the limits that naturally characterize my life.

Does it have to do with my pride? It is a very short step from self-awareness to self-absorption; I am all too prone to think way more highly of myself than I ought to think and to value my life above the lives of all others. Since Jesus was determined to give himself away, even if it meant his death, maybe to deny myself means to value the lives of others at least as highly as I value my own—and maybe even to move toward valuing their lives more than I value mine.

Does it come down to learning to look to you for the ultimate meaning of my life? After all, my life is your gift and only you know what my life could and should mean if I would live it as fully as you intend for me to live it. Perhaps so long as I insist on living my life my way I choose to accept unnecessary limitations on it. Perhaps if I can somehow learn to see my life the way you see it and to let you take my life wherever you want it to go I will learn that the less I think about me and the less I act on my own behalf the more alive I will become.

O God, your Son Jesus tells me to deny myself; I want to obey. Please show me how …

Amen.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Prayer for Monday, October 20, 2014

This

O God,

As we go through this week, help us

to live fully in this day,
to make the most of this moment,
to pay close attention to this task,
to listen carefully to this person, and
to experience gratefully this life.

Don’t let us become distracted
by all of the “thats”
that compete for our attention …

Amen.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Prayer for Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Lord’s Day

O God,

“God is love,” your Book tells us.

Since you are love, let our worship of you today be motivated by our love for you that is our response to your love for us. Let your love for us, the reality and nature of which are seen most clearly in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, inspire us to praise you in worship today and to praise you through our service to others during the coming week.

We praise you today because the fact that you are love means that you love us.

We praise you today because the fact that you are love means that we can love you.

We praise you today because the fact that you are love means that we can love each other.

We praise you today because the fact that you are love means that we can love those who don’t love us.

We praise you today because the fact that you are love means that we can show our love for others in the way that you showed your love for us—by giving ourselves away in radically sacrificial ways.

Amen.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Prayer for Saturday, October 18, 2014

Connections

O God,

Frankly, the vast majority of the time life seems pretty random and chaotic.

Every once in a while, though, life happens in such a way that we catch a glimpse of how it might just all fit together after all. We glimpse connections between the various times of our lives, the various people of our lives, and the various events of our lives and we say, with great insight, “Huh! How about that!”

Thank you for those glimpses of those connections.

Help us to keep our eyes open for the connections and to believe that they exist even when we can’t see them.

Amen.

Friday, October 17, 2014

A Prayer for Friday, October 17, 2014

What?

O God,

What will happen today?

What will happen tomorrow?

What will happen a year from now?

What will happen ten years from now?

We wonder even though we know we can’t know; deliver us from the wastefulness of anxiety over things we cannot know much less do anything about.

Help us to remember that no matter what happens, you are with us and we are in you. Help us always to be growing in our awareness of your presence so that when hard times come we won’t forget that you are there.

Thank you for never leaving us to face our troubles alone …

Amen.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Prayer for Thursday, October 16, 2014

Helpless

O God,

I don’t have enough faith, I don’t have enough love, and I don’t have enough hope to expect that my prayer will be in any way effective. I simply don’t have in me what I need to come before you with the expectation that you will hear my prayer.

I am helpless before the big problems, before the ultimate questions, and before the great unknowns; I cannot help myself and I do not deserve your help.

It is the truth; help me to acknowledge and accept it.

Having acknowledged and accepted my helplessness, I come to you. I come to you because I have nowhere else to go. I come to you because no one else can help me. I come to you because it is not what is in me but rather what is in you that causes you to hear and answer my prayer. I come to you because it is not for my sake but for Jesus’ sake that you hear and answer me.

I am helpless.
Please help me.
Thank you …

Amen.

(Note: this prayer is inspired by the book Prayer by O. Hallesby)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A Prayer for Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Self-Examination

O God,

There are ways that we can examine ourselves for physical problems and perhaps detect them early so that something can be done about them before they become too advanced. Make us wise enough to take advantage of such opportunities for self-examination.

There are also ways that we can examine ourselves for the sake of our spiritual health. Make us wise enough to be diligent in such spiritual self-examination.

Help us to examine ourselves for the presence of love, mercy, grace, faith, hope, peace, understanding, selflessness, and sacrifice so that we can nurture them and encourage their growth.

Help us to examine ourselves for the presence of pride, envy, fear, anger, prejudice, selfishness, despair, unforgiveness, and apathy so that we can take steps to eliminate them.

Remind us that our standard for self-examination is Jesus Christ; guide us by your Spirit to read and to understand what your Book teaches us about him and about us. Make us constantly aware of your constant presence with us through your Spirit and help us to listen to your whispers and to be sensitive to your nudges as we try to find our way.

Help us to examine ourselves so that we can build on what is helpful and root out what is harmful so that we can better love you with all that we are and better love our neighbor as we love ourselves.

Amen.