9/20/2014

A Prayer For Comfort and Strength

O God, the King of glory,
you have exalted your only Son Jesus Christ
with great triumph to your kingdom in heaven:
Do not leave us comfortless,
but send us your Holy Spirit to strengthen us,
and exalt us to that place where our Savior Christ has gone before;
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, in glory everlasting.
Amen.
- The Book of Common Prayer

9/19/2014

No Other King But Christ: A Prayer of Bernard of Clairvaux

O Lord,
Come quickly and reign on Your throne,
for now often something rises up within me,
and tries to take possession of Your throne;
pride, covetousness, uncleanness, and sloth
want to be my kings;
and then evil-speaking, anger, hatred,
and the whole train of vices join with me
in warring against myself,
and try to reign over me.
I resist them,
I cry out against them,
“I have no other king than Christ!”
O King of Peace,
come and reign in me,
for I will have no king but You!
Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153

8/30/2014

Biblical Meditation


Benefits of Biblical Meditation

Psalm 1 shows a way to seek God for the prayers on His heart.

Psalm 1 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;” This is a clear warning of what not to do. If you do not walk with God, where will you get your counsel? If you do not stand for God, who and what will you stand for? If you sit in the seat of the scornful, you will become a scoffer and soon youwill walk, stand and sit with those who oppose God. Invitation: walk, stand and sit with God. What is your response?

WALK: Seek to walk in God’s counsel for the prayer time by meditating in the Word first as the source of your prayers. “Can two walk together unless they are agreed?” Amos 3:3 Respond to what you receive during the quiet time of meditation in the Word.
Come into some kind of honest agreement with God about what you receive. How could you pray for someone else what you are unwilling to do yourself? Agreement with God’s will suggests answered prayer. (1 John 5:14,15)

STAND: You stand for and with God protected, equipped in the armor of God. (Ephesians 6:10-18) You stand for the things God stands for – For example, His Word, His commands as sanctity of life, His words on marriage. You stand with God and pray for those who practice alternate life become your concerns; His prayers, your prayers.

SIT: You sit with the Lord at His table to receive the Word, then sit with Him at the place of prayerin submitted authority as the Word goes forth.As you sit on a regular basis, the Word becomes the bread of life to you. You learn to recognizeGod’s voice through the Word and sense the direction the Holy Spirit gives as Teacher. The table of the Lord is where your soul is restored and your spirit strengthened; it is a place of counsel, dialogue, fellowship, a place of delight.

Psalm 1:2
“But his delight is in the law (Word) of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night.”

To meditate day and night requires a conscious choice to keep God’s Word before your face, and in your heart. Choose to delight yourself in God’s Word. This is not impossible as you meditate negatively day and night without realizing it when you worry or complain. How much more will the Holy Spirit help you meditate on the Word if you ask?

Benefit: v3 “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.” Whatever
this meditator does shall prosper because He is in fellowship and agreement with God. He walks, stands and sits in alignment with God, therefore what he does will prosper. Prosper here means a breaking forth. This means you will find the breakthroughs you need. The intercessor who becomes rooted and grounded in the Word has a constant source of spiritual water from the washing of the Word, and draws strength from the wells of salvation within each believer. (Ephesians 5:26, Isaiah 12:1)

The prayer time prospers because it is supernaturally sourced and directed. There is fruit from the prayer meeting that endures. 
The intercessor is refreshed and strengthened from the Word; their leaf does not wither. This is a classic meditation scripture, perfect for a prayer meeting or as a private devotionalwith prayer. The context of the final three verses contrast the lack of blessing for the unsaved and can touch your heart to pray for the lost. There is a separate Psalm 1 meditation for this.

Application: 

Meditate to hear from God, go back through Scripture and reread it. This can be as simple as your attention being drawn to a word, a phrase. Let God peak to you through your thoughts and impressions
Receive and Respond personally to what God is saying to you through the Word. He knows your every thought. Be honest; He will meet you where you are.

Share: If in a group, share briefly just to get the full prayer picture and so others can pray with you and you with them. Pray out simply what you receive, pray with others about what they received. Pray for the Church, the Body of Christ and you will touch believers around the world and be blessed yourself.  http://www.asknetwork.net/teaching_resources.html 

8/18/2014

A Praryer of Blaise Pascal

O Lord, let me not henceforth desire health or life
…..except to spend them for thee and with thee.
Thou alone knowest what is good for me;
…..do therefore what seemeth thee best.
Give to me or take from me;
conform my will to thine;
and grant that, with humble and perfect submission,
…..and in holy confidence,
…..I may receive the orders of thine eternal providence;
and may equally adore all that comes to me from thee,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. 

8/10/2014

Prayer of Intention by John Coe

Ways to Pray without Ceasing 1 Thess. 5:17

Dr. John H. Coe
Director, Institute for Spiritual Formation, Talbot School of Theology
© Copyright 2010 John H. Coe. All rights reserved.

To protect the heart from moralism and the flesh
To protect the heart from under-effort and the flesh
To open to the filling of the Spirit in all things and no longer be alone

1. Prayer of Presenting Oneself as a Sacrifice (Rom. 12:1-2): the spiritual discipline of presenting oneself to God as a living sacrifice, open to Him and His will in all things.

Prayer of Intention: “Lord, I am here, I present myself to you. Here I am.”

This protects the will from becoming asleep to the will and Person of God.

2. Prayer of Recollection (Phil. 3:7-9): the spiritual discipline of reminding the self of its true identity in Christ (full pardon, full acceptance) and “Christ in me” (that I am not alone).

Prayer of Intention: “God, whatever I do today, I want to do this in you. I don’t want to do this alone, in my own power or as a way to hide and cover. I don’t want to find my identity in anything but Christ. I am in Christ and that is my true identity.” (Confess any idolatry)

This protects the life from idolatry, false identities and moralism or making decisions from false guilt, shame in life in the power of the self.

3. Prayer of Honesty (Ps. 15:1-2, Ps. 139:23-24): the spiritual discipline whereby we open to God and ourselves in what is truly going on in our heart in order for truth-telling to take place in our relationships and life in general.

Prayer of Intention: “Lord, what is going on in my heart right now with You, with others, with my life, my situations? Search me, O God, and know my heart. Open my heart to you today in truth, lest I deceive myself.” (Confess any idolatry)

This protects us from superficial obedience, from presenting ourselves in arrogance, closed heartedness, dullness of heart, etc. Let the heart be a mirror to the truth and open to God.

4. Prayer of Discernment (Eccles. 7:13-14): the spiritual discipline whereby we learn to watch what the Spirit is doing in us and not merely our work, to “consider the work of God,” what His will is in all things versus ours or the devil’s so that we can bettercooperate with the Spirit. Here we seek wisdom on how to respond to His work that is ongoing within us.

Prayer of Intention: “Lord, what are you doing and what is it that you want me to become and do if I am to do your will?”

This protects us from responding to false calls of guilt of what to do in our life, to fantasy, to the demonic, to our grandiosity, to working alone. Here we learn to wait on God and watch His work more than our own.

5. In receptivity to the Spirit, hear the Word of God (Lectio Divina [Heb. 4:12])
(Jn. 15:5) “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

8/08/2014

Prayer of Recollection by John H. Coe

To rouse our soul and prepare us to meet with God in truth (Ps.15:1-2).

To put away all falsehood and awaken to our true identity in union with Christ by the Spirit (Col. 3:1-4).

1. Present and open your heart to the Lord and intend to learn from Him.

Prayer of Presenting: Lord, I am here; I present myself to you. Open my heart to the truth of what is
going on in my life. (Rom. 12:1-2)

2. Open to the truth that in Christ and by means of Christ in you that you have already died with Christ to the old Adamic nature that used to live apart from God. Remind yourself in prayer that by the Spirit, who is your new existence at the core of your personality, you have already (indicative) put off and put to death the old nature’s habits such as excess anger, wrath, malice, excess fear, worry, pride, arrogance, selfishness, impatience, unkindness and all the deeds of the flesh. Open to the truth of these matters and talk to the Lord about this, whether you still struggle with these matters of the flesh (Col 3:9).

Prayer of Detachment: At the core of my spirit, I am no longer an angry person, a fearful person, a worrier, arrogant, prideful, envious, distrustful, unkind, impatient, jealous, full of malice, wrath. At the core, my identity is not longer being a sinner, wicked, rebellious and unloving. I am not a . (Confess any sins of the heart that are brought to consciousness by the Spirit)

3. Affirm to your soul and the Lord your true identity in Christ and as Christ in you, so that being in union with Christ, you are no longer condemned but accepted in Him, your debt of sin being cancelled. And open to your true self by the Spirit, that you have already (indicative) put on compassion, kindness, humility, patience, trust, love, self-control, peace, goodness and all the fruits of the Spirit. Be open to the truth of this, whether this is truly
what you experience or not and talk with the Lord about this (Col. 3:10).

Prayer of Attachment: I am now clothed with Christ's righteousness, with full pardon from guilt and full acceptance from God. I am precious in God's eyes. God calls me His beloved. And by the Spirit, at the core of my personality, I have put on His fruits of love, compassion, humility, kindness, forgiveness, gentleness, patience, self-control, peace and goodness. That is who I truly am. (Confess any unbelief.)

4. Resolve in your heart and in prayer to obey the Lord, to put off the old and put on the new (the biblical imperatives) by setting your mind continually on Christ, who is your life, and as the appropriate moments arise, to let go of any sin or “old self” residue and to live out who you are from the heart (Col. 3:1-4, 8, 12).

Prayer of Obedience: Lord, may my mind and heart all day open to Christ, who is my life. And may I have the wisdom when the time is right to lay aside the old person residue and its ways and to simply
put on Christ, to obey you in all things and to reaffirm who I really am in Christ. Lord, have mercy.

5. Hear the Word of God Col. 3:14 Beyond all these things, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

PRAYER OF RECOLLECTION IN COLOSSIANS Dr. John H. Coe Director, Institute for Spiritual Formation, Talbot School of Theology © Copyright 2012 John H. Coe. All rights reserved.

7/27/2014

I Believe So That I May Understand by Anselm of Canterbury


Jul 27, 2014 | Trevin Wax
I confess, Lord, with thanksgiving,
that You have made me in Your image,
so that I can remember You,
think of You,
and love You.
But that image is so worn and blotted out by faults,
and darkened by the smoke of sin,
that it cannot do that for which it was made,
unless You renew and refashion it.
Lord, I am not trying to make my way to Your height,
for my understanding is in no way equal to that,
but I do desire to understand a little of Your truth
which my heart already believes and loves.
I do not seek to understand so that I can believe,
but I believe so that I may understand;
and what is more,
I believe that unless I do believe,
I shall not understand.
Anselm of Canterbury

7/26/2014

“A Sojourning Prayer” by Richard Foster

(Written while on a trip to Southeast Asia.)
O Lord, my Lord, I am a stranger in a strange land. Absent are all the subtleties of custom and language and sight and smell and taste which would normally give me my bearings.
Jesus, ever-living Teacher, use my out-of-placeness to remind me again of my alien status in this world. I belong to another kingdom and live out of another reality. May I always be ultimately concerned to learn the nuances of this eternal reality so that when it becomes my permanent residence, I will not find it strange in the least.
In the name of him who entered a foreign land so that all who will might come home to that for which they were created.
—Amen.
Peace and joy,
Richard J. Foster

7/01/2014

Forgive Our Sins: A Prayer By John Wesley

Forgive them all, O Lord:
our sins of omission and our sins of commission;
the sins of our youth and the sins of our riper years;
the sins of our souls and the sins of our bodies;
our secret and our more open sins;
our sins of ignorance and surprise,
….
.and our more deliberate and presumptuous sins;
the sins we have done to please others;
the sins we know and remember,
…..
and the sins we have forgotten;
the sins we have striven to hide from others
….
and the sins by which we have made others offend;
forgive them, O Lord, forgive them all for his sake,who died for our sins and rose for our justification,.and now stands at thy right hand to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ our Lord.

6/22/2014

Accept Jesus In My Place: A Puritan Prayer

O Lord of grace,

All Your lovingkindness is in Your Son,
I bring Him to You in the arms of faith,
I urge His saving name as the One who died for me.
I plead His blood to pay my debts of wrong.
Accept His worthiness for my unworthiness,
His sinlessness for my transgressions,
His purity for my uncleanness,
His sincerity for my guile,
His truth for my deceits,
His meekness for my pride,
His constancy for my backslidings,
His love for my enmity,
His fullness for my emptiness,
His faithfulness for my treachery,
His obedience for my lawlessness,
His glory for my shame,
His devotedness for my waywardness,
His holy life for my unchaste ways,
His righteousness for my dead works,
His death for my life.
Puritan Prayer

6/13/2014

Come Thou Holy Spirit: A Latin Hymn From The 13th century



Jun 08, 2014 | Trevin Wax
Come, thou Holy Spirit, come:
And from thy celestial home send thy light and brilliancy.
Come, thou father of the poor,
Come, who givest all our store,
Come, the soul’s true radiancy.
Come, of comforters the best, of the soul the sweetest guest,
sweetly and refreshingly.
Come in labour rest most sweet,
shade and coolness in the heat, comfort in adversity.
Thou who art the light most blest,
come, fulfill their inmost breast, who believe most faithfully.
For without thy Godhead’s dower,
man hath nothing in his power, save to work iniquity.
What is filthy make thou pure,
what is wounded work its cure,
water what is parched and dry.
Gently bend the stubborn will,
warm to life the heart that’s chill,
guide who goeth erringly.
Fill thy faithful who adore,
and confess thee evermore,
with thy seven-fold mystery.
Here thy grace and virtue send,
grant salvation in the end, and in heaven felicity.  Amen.
Latin hymn from the 13th century

6/10/2014

A Grandfathers Prayer

A Grandfather's Prayer: "I ask God most often that we would be an unbroken line of Christians until Christ shall return."

"Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments." Deuteronomy 7:9

6/03/2014

Divine Assistance: A prayer of St. Catherine of Siena

"You, light, give us light.
You, wisdom, give us wisdom.
You, supreme strength, strengthen us. 
Today, eternal God,
let our cloud be dissipated
so that we may perfectly know and follow your Truth in truth,
with a free and simple heart.
God, come to our assistance!
Lord, make haste to help us!"

Amen.

6/02/2014

Enlighten Us: A Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi

"Most High, Glorious God, enlighten the darkness of our minds.
Give us a right faith, a firm hope and a perfect charity,
so that we may always and in all things act according to Your Holy will. Amen." -St. Francis of Assisi

5/13/2014

The Greatness Of Christ: A Prayer by Ignatius of Antioch

Please pray for me,that I may have both spiritual and physical strength to perform my duties; that I may not only speak the truth but become the truth; that I may not only be called a Christian, but also live like a Christian.Yet I do not want people to look to me as an example,for at best I can only be a pale reflection of Christ Jesus; let people look away from the reflection and turn to the reality. Christianity is not a matter of persuading people of particular ideas, but of inviting them to share in the greatness of Christ. So pray that I may never fall into the trap of impressing people with clever speech, but instead I may learn to speak with humility, desiring only to impress people with Christ himself.

- Ignatius of Antioch, 35-108 A. D.

5/04/2014

Give Us Your Spirit: A Prayer of Apollonius

O Lord Jesus Christ,
give us Your Spirit
that we may be enabled
to obey Your teaching:
to pacify anger,
to take part in pity,
to moderate desire,
to increase love,
to put away sorrow,
to cast away vain glory,
not to be vindictive,
not to fear death;
ever entrusting our spirit to the immortal God
who with You and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns
world without end.
Apollonius, 170-245 A.D.

3/22/2014

Saint Augustine on Prayer by Tim Keller

Saint Augustine on Prayer
March 2014
by Tim Keller

Anicia Faltonia Proba (died  AD 432) was a Christian Roman noblewoman. She had the distinction of knowing both St. Augustine, who was the greatest theologian of the first millennium of Christian history, as well as John Chrysostom, who was its greatest preacher. We have two letters of Augustine to Proba, and the first (Letter 130) is the only single, substantial treatment on the subject of prayer that St. Augustine ever wrote. 

I had the chance to read the letter over the Christmas holidays and was impressed with its common sense and some of its unusual insights. Proba wrote Augustine because she was afraid that she wasn’t praying as she should. Augustine responded with several principles or rules for prayer.

The first rule is completely counter-intuitive. St. Augustine wrote that before anyone can turn to the question of what to pray and how to pray it, they must first be a particular kind of person. What kind is that? He writes: “You must account yourself ‘desolate’ in this world, however great the prosperity of your lot may be.” He argues that no matter how great your earthly circumstances they cannot bring us the peace, happiness, and consolation that are found in Christ. The scales must fall from our eyes and we must see that—if we don’t all our prayers will go wrong. 

Second, he says, you can begin to pray. And what should you pray for? With a bit of a smile (I think) Augustine answers you should pray for what everyone else prays for: “Pray for a happy life.” But of course, what will bring you a happy life? The Christian (if following Augustine’s first rule of prayer) has realized that comforts and rewards and pleasures in themselves give only fleeting excitement and, if you rest your heart in them, actually bring you less enduring happiness. He turns to Psalm 27 and points to the Psalmist’s great prayer: “One thing have I desired of the Lord, one thing will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord to behold the beauty of the Lord.” This is the fundamental prayer for happiness. Augustine writes: “We love God, therefore, for what He is in Himself, and [we love] ourselves and our neighbors for His sake.” That doesn’t mean, he quickly adds, that we shouldn’t pray for anything else other than to know, love, and please God. Not at all. The Lord’s Prayer shows us that we need many things. But if God is our greatest love, and if knowing and pleasing him is our highest pleasure, then it transforms both what and how we pray for a happy life. 

He quotes Proverbs 30 as an example: “Give me neither poverty nor riches: Feed me with food appropriate for me lest I be full and deny you…or lest I be poor, and steal and take the name of my God in vain.” Ask yourself this question. Are you seeking God in prayer in order to get adequate financial resources—or are you seeking the kind and amount of resources you need to adequately know and serve God? Those are two different sets of motivations. 

In both cases the external action is a prayer: “Oh, Lord—give me a job so I won’t be poor” but the internal reasons of the heart are completely different. If, as Augustine counseled, you first became a person “desolate without God regardless of external circumstances”—and then began to pray, your prayer will be like Proverbs 30. But if you just jump into prayer before the gospel re-orders your heart’s loves, then your prayer will be more like: “Make me as wealthy as possible.” As a result, you will not develop the spiritual discretion in prayer that enables you to discern selfish ambition and greed from a desire for excellence in work. And you will be far more crestfallen if you have financial reversals. A Proverbs 30 prayer includes the request that God not give you too much, not only that he not give you too little. 

The third rule was comprehensive and practical. You will be guided, he said, into the right way to pray for a happy life by studying the Lord’s Prayer. Think long and hard about this great model of prayer and be sure your own appeals fit it. For example, Augustine writes: “He who says in prayer… ‘Give me as much wealth as you have given to this or that man’ or ‘Increase my honors; make me eminent in power and fame in the world,’ and who asks merely from a desire for these things, and not in order through them to benefit men agreeably to God’s will, I do not think he will find any part of the Lord’s Prayer in connection with which he could fit in these requests. Therefore, let us be ashamed to ask these things.” 

The fourth rule is an admission. He admits that even after following the first three rules, still “we know not what to pray for as we ought in regard to tribulations.” This is a place of great perplexity. Even the most godly Christian can’t be sure what to ask for. “Tribulations…may do us good…and yet because they are hard and painful…we pray with a desire which is common to mankind that they may be removed from us.” 

Augustine gives wise pastoral advice here. He first points to Jesus own prayer in Gethsemane, which was perfectly balanced between honest desire “let this cup pass from me” and submission to God “nevertheless, not my will but thine be done.” And he points to Romans 8:26, which promises that the Spirit will guide our hearts and prayers when we are groaning and confused—and God will hear them even in their imperfect state. 

Anicia Proba was a widow by her early 30s. She was present when Rome was sacked in 410 and had to flee for her life with her granddaughter Demetrias to Africa where they met Augustine. Augustine concludes the letter by asking his friend, “Now what makes this work [of prayer] specially suitable to widows but their bereaved and desolate condition?” Should a widow not “commit her widowhood, so to speak, to her God as her shield in continual and most fervent prayer?” There is every reason to believe she accepted his invitation.

See Augustine’s Letter 130 (AD 412) to Proba found in Philip Schaff, ed., “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” First series, vol. 1, 1887. Christian Classics Ethereal Library pp. 997-1015.

3/13/2014

A Quote From Sidlow Baxter

Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers.- Sidlow Baxter

3/12/2014

Wrestling For A Blessing Can I Really Say That To God? By James Banks



“I will not let you go unless you bless me” (Gen. 32:26).

In one of the boldest prayers in the Bible, Jacob cries out during a wrestling match with God. His words hardly sound like something anyone should say to God. But the context indicates he is talking with God here: “I have seen God face to face, yet my life has been spared” (Gen. 32:30, NLT).

Throughout the Bible we find “wrestling prayers”—prayers made in those challenging moments when we don’t know what God is doing and may even disagree. These are prayers from the ragged edge, when we’re walking by faith but struggling with the next step:

David prayed, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1).
Isaiah inquired of the Lord, “Where is the passion and the might you used to show on our behalf? Where are your mercy and compassion now?” (Isa. 63:15, NLT).

Elijah, afraid that Jezebel would kill him after God had shown His power against the prophets of Baal, fled into the wilderness and prayed, “I have had enough, Lord. . . . Take my life” (1 Kings 19:4).
When Jonah was angry with God for His mercy on the repenting citizens of Nineveh, the prophet responded with an I told you so! He complained to the Lord: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish!” (Jonah 4:2, NLT).
Even Jeremiah “grappled with God.” Although he obeyed God and warned His people that Jerusalem would be invaded if they didn’t repent, he then lamented that instead of being blessed for his obedience, his only reward was rejection: “O Lord, you misled me, and I allowed myself to be misled. You are stronger than I am, and you overpowered me. Now I am mocked every day; everyone laughs at me” (Jer. 20:7, NLT).
All of these prayers are raw and rough, giving vent to the deepest emotions of the human heart. They combine belief and unrelenting candor, pushing the limits in a struggle to understand what God is doing. These are prayers that make us uncomfortable, pressing us with the question, “Can I really say that to God?”


God Can Take It

There’s more faith in these prayers than first meets the eye. Underlying these prayers is the firm conviction that God is strong enough to take it. He has allowed these prayers to be included in His Word for a reason. “Wrestling prayers” teach us that we can be absolutely honest with God and hold nothing back.

This is one of the most painful and rewarding lessons we learn as we grapple with what it means to have a personal relationship with a Heavenly Father who is sovereign over even the most intimate details of our lives. Painful because these are prayers wrested from the grip of life’s difficult circumstances, and rewarding because somehow, through it all, God has a way of showing Himself faithful. The result is the strengthening of our faith.

I prayed my first “wrestling prayer” before my final year as a philosophy major in college. I had resisted God’s call into ministry for years. Then, as soon as I became obedient, the circumstances of my life became more difficult. A financial crisis, a personality conflict with a professor, and a broken relationship with a girl I loved—all within a few months—left my emotions ragged and my head reeling.

One afternoon, angry and frustrated with God, I sat in my old Dodge behind my apartment building and wondered where the money was going to come from to finish my senior year. I prayed, “Father, I did what You called me to—and look what happened! Now I hardly know what to believe. If You’re really there and You want me to go into the ministry, do something! Do something so that I know it’s unmistakably the power of the living Lord Jesus Christ.”

I resolved to wait, thinking that if God really wanted me in the pastoral ministry, He would make it clear. And if an answer didn’t come I would be free to go in another direction.

Two days later I received a phone call from the college. The public relations department had just received word about a new scholarship offered locally. “All you have to do,” they told me, “is go to the First Baptist Church and sit down and have a talk with the pastor.” The next afternoon I was sitting in his office.

“This scholarship was given by a family who was nationally successful in the restaurant business,” he explained. “They were saved through the ministry of our church. But you need to know that it is given for one reason only: to show the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

One week later, a check arrived at the college in my name, covering all the remaining funds needed for my senior year. God had grappled with me, and He had a new hold on me, pinning me in a way I would never forget. My calling was set, and in the following years God provided for every need until my education was complete.


Not a Neat Package

As I’ve told that story over the years, some have responded: “You shouldn’t have prayed like that. It was almost like you were giving God an ultimatum.”

But wrestling prayers don’t always fit into neat theological packages. Gideon put his fleece out not once but twice (Judges 6:36–40). Hezekiah asked for the shadow on the sundial to go backward ten steps (2 Kings 20:8–11). Few theologians would argue these prayers are models for anyone’s daily practice, but they point to the rough beauty of wrestling prayer. God loves us. And, in His mercy, He meets us where we are—even with our limited vision, self-focus, and struggling hearts. Why? Because “he knows how weak we are” (Ps. 103:14, NLT).

Our Heavenly Father accepts our brutally honest prayers. He uses them to deepen our relationship with Him and give us new confidence in His wisdom, goodness, and strength.

Jesus once encountered a man who cried out to the Lord, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” The Master responded, not by rebuking the man for his lack of faith, but by healing his demon-possessed son (Mark 9:24).

We know God “looks on the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7, ESV) and discerns even our “secret motives” (Jer. 17:10, NLT). He sees when we’re sincerely seeking Him. He understands that we may struggle to understand what He’s doing at any given moment. But the fact that we’re struggling doesn’t mean we are doubting Him or being “double-minded” (see James 1:5–8). We’re just being human.


A Limp and a Blessing

God uses our wrestling prayers to interact with us in ways that touch our hearts and lives more deeply. We are never the same. Jacob’s encounter with God left him with a limp but also a blessing. He wasn’t just Jacob anymore (he who grasps the heel—Gen. 25:26). He was Israel—one who has “struggled with God” and “overcome” (Gen. 32:28).

But what kind of a name is that?  How can anyone “overcome” God? The only way Jacob could have won was if God let him. And that’s just like a loving Father, isn’t it? Sometimes (not always), we let our kids win because it’s good for them, helping them gain new strength through the struggle.

We can wrestle in prayer because God allows us to—and because God loves it when we give ourselves passionately to Him with every fiber of our being: “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most” (Heb. 4:16, NLT).

When we let ourselves be real with God, He makes Himself real to us.

JAMES BANKS is a pastor, speaker, and author on the topic of prayer (jamesbanks.org). His books Prayers for Prodigals and The Lost Art of Praying Together are available at prayershop.org.

(c) 2014 Prayer Connect magazine.

2/18/2014

God Directs Our Path: A Prayer by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

"God of the day and of the night, in me there is darkness, but with you there is light. I am alone, but you will not leave me. I am weak, but you will come to my help. I am restless, but you are my peace. I am in haste, but you are the God of infinite patience. I am confused and lost, but you are eternal wisdom and you direct my path; now and for ever. Amen."
–Dietrich Bonhoeffer

1/25/2014

A Spiritual Warfare Prayer

Cast down, O Lord, all the forces of cruelty and wrong. Defeat all selfish and worldly-minded schemes, and prosper all that is conceived among us in the spirit of Christ and carried out to the honor of His blessed name. Amen. - A Renovare Prayer

1/18/2014

O God Rule Our Hearts: A Prayer

"O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen."

-The Book of Common Prayer

1/12/2014

The God of All Grace

"Thou God of all grace, thou hast given me a Savior, produce in me a faith to live by him, to make him all my desire, all my hope, all my glory. Amen."

-The Valley of Vision

12/31/2013

A Prayer For Help

"Heavenly Father, when I come to the end of my rope, my strength, myself, I'm finally open to the help you offer. Teach me then, God, the basics of prayer, like 'help', 'please', and 'thank you'. In the name of Jesus, amen."

-Heidelberg Catechism

12/12/2013

Nativity Prayer of St. Augustine

Let the just rejoice,
for their justifier is born.
Let the sick and infirm rejoice,
For their Savior is born.
Let the captives rejoice,
For their Redeemer is born.
Let slaves rejoice,
for their Master is born.
Let free men rejoice,
For their Liberator is born.
Let All Christians rejoice,
For Jesus Christ is born.

11/20/2013

Deeper Trust: A Puritan Prayer

Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in You, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of Yourself as Savior, Master, Lord, and King. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in Your Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from You. 

-The Valley of Vision

11/12/2013

A Prayer For Guidance

O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of Your people: grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; he who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen. 

-The Book of Common Prayer

11/05/2013

Meditate on The Word: A Prayer From Jerome

Lord, thou hast given us thy Word for a light to shine upon our path; grant us so to meditate on that Word, and to follow its teaching, that we may find in it the light that shines more and more until the perfect day; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. 
-Jerome

10/30/2013

Saint Augustine's Prayers To The Holy Spirit: Day 3

"O HOLY SPIRIT, sweet Guest of my soul, abide in me, and grant that I may ever abide in Thee. Amen." - St. Augustine

10/29/2013

Saint Augustine's Prayers To The Holy Spirit: Day 2

Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may all be holy. Act in me, O Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy. Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit, that I love but what is holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy. Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit, that I always may be holy. Amen.

10/28/2013

Saint Augustine's Prayers To The Holy Spirit: Day 1


Holy Spirit, powerful Consoler, sacred Bond of the Father and the Son. Hope of the afflicted, descend into my heart and establish in it your loving dominion. Enkindle in my tepid soul the fire of your love so that I may be wholly subject to you. We believe that when you dwell in us, you also prepare a dwelling for the Father and the Son. Deign, therefore, to come to me, consoler of abandoned souls, and protector of the needy. Help the afflicted, strengthen the weak, and support the wavering. Come and purify me. Let no evil desire take possession of me. You love the humble and resist the proud. Come to me, glory of the living, and hope of the dying. Lead me by your grace that I may always be pleasing to you. Amen.

10/27/2013

A Prayer of Praise From Jude 1:24-25


"Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

A Prayer Peace: A Syrian Clementine Liturgy

O God, Who are the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings, and the giver of affection, Who sends peace to those that receive it; open to us this day the sea of Your love, and water us with the plenteous streams from the riches of Your grace. Make us children of quietness, and heirs of peace. Kindle in us the fire of Your love; sow in us Your fear; strengthen our weakness by Your power; bind us closely to You and to each other in one firm bond of unity; for the sake of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

--Syrian Clementine Liturgy

10/26/2013

C. S. Lewis on Prayer

"There is no question whether an event has happened because of your prayer. When the event you prayed for occurs your prayer has always contributed to it. When the opposite event occurs your prayer has never been ignored; it has been considered and refused, for your ultimate good and the good of the whole universe."

~ Miracles

10/25/2013

A Prayer For Spiritual Fruit by Polycrap

"May God the Father, and the Eternal High Priest Jesus Christ, build us up in faith and truth and love, and grant to us our portion among the saints with all those who believe on our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray for all saints, for kings and rulers, for the enemies of the Cross of Christ, and for ourselves we pray that our fruit may abound and we may be made perfect in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen."


-Polycarp

10/20/2013

Inflame Our Hearts: A Prayer of Francis of Assisi

Almighty, eternal, just and merciful God,
Grant us the desire to do only what pleases You,
and the strength to do only what You command.
Cleanse our souls,
enlighten our minds,
and inflame our hearts with Your Holy Spirit,
that we may follow in the footsteps of Your beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
- Francis of Assisi

10/15/2013

Light Eternal, Shine in My Heart by Alcuin of York, 735-804 A.D.

Give me, O Lord, I ask You,
firm faith, unwavering hope, perfect charity.
Pour into my heart
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and spiritual strength,
the Spirit of knowledge and true godliness,
and the Spirit of Your holy fear.

Light eternal, shine in my heart.
Power eternal, deliver me from evil.
Wisdom eternal, scatter the darkness of my ignorance.
Might eternal, pity me.

Grant that I may ever seek Your face
with all my heart and soul and strength;
and, in Your infinite mercy,
bring me at last to Your holy presence
where I shall behold Your glory
and possess Your promised joys.

- Alcuin of York, 735-804 A.D.

10/13/2013

Six Benefits of Daily Devotions by Jon Bloom

Private devotions aren’t magic. We know that (for the most part).
But still, we can be tempted to think that if we just figure out the secret formula — the right mixture of Bible meditation and prayer — we will experience euphoric moments of rapturous communion with the Lord. And if that doesn’t happen, our formula must be wrong.

The danger of this misconception is that it can produce chronic disappointment and discouragement. Cynicism sets in and we give up or whip through them to alleviate guilt because devotions don’t seem to work for us.
Our longing for intimate communion with God is God-given. It’s a good thing to desire, ask for, and pursue. The Spirit does give us wonderful occasional tastes. And this longing will be satisfied to overflowing some day (Psalm 16:11).
But God has other purposes for us in the discipline of daily Bible meditation and prayer. Here are a few:

Soul Exercise (1 Corinthians 9:24, Romans 15:4): We exercise our bodies to increase strength, endurance, promote general health, and keep unnecessary weight off. Devotions are like exercise for our souls. They force our attention off of self-indulgent distractions and pursuits and on to God’s purposes and promises. If we neglect this exercise our souls will go to pot.

Soul Shaping (Romans 12:2): The body will generally take the shape of how we exercise it. Running shapes one way, weight training shapes another way. The same is true for the soul. It will conform to how we exercise (or don’t exercise) it. This is why changing your exercise routine can be helpful. Read through the Bible one year, camp in a book and memorize it another year, take a few months to meditate on and pray through texts related to an area of special concern, etc.

Bible Copiousness (Psalm 119:11, Psalm 119:97, Proverbs 23:12): A thorough, repeated, soaking in the Bible over the course of years increases our overall Biblical knowledge, providing fuel for the fire of worship and increasing our ability to draw from all parts of the Bible in applying God’s wisdom to life.

Fight Training (Ephesians 6:10–17): Marines undergo rigorous training in order to so ingrain their weapons knowledge that when suddenly faced with the chaos of combat they instinctively know how to handle their weapons. Similarly, daily handling and using the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) makes us more skilled spiritual warriors.

Sight Training (2 Corinthians 5:7, 2 Corinthians 4:18): Jesus really does want us to see and savor him. Savoring comes through seeing. But only the eyes of faith see him. “Blind faith” is a contradiction, at least biblically. Faith is not blind. Unbelief is blind (John 9:38–41). Faith is seeing a reality that physical eyes can’t see and believing it (1 Peter 1:8). And “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). So if we’re going to savor Jesus, we must see him in the word he speaks. Faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8). And like most of God’s gifts, they are intended to be cultivated. Daily devotions are an important way to train our faith-eyes to see the glory of Jesus in his word and training our emotions to respond to what our faith-eyes see. Keep looking for glory. Jesus will give you Emmaus moments (Luke 24:31–32).

Delight Cultivation (Psalm 37:3–4, James 4:8, Psalm 130:5): When a couple falls in love there are hormonal fireworks. But when married they must cultivate delight in one another. It is the consistent, persistent, faithful, intentional, affectionate pursuit of one another during better and worse, richer and poorer, sickness and health that cultivates a capacity for delight in each other far deeper and richer than the fireworks phase. Similarly, devotions are one of the ways we cultivate delight in God. Many days it may seem mundane. But we will be surprised at the cumulative power they have to deepen our love for and awareness of him.
There are many more benefits. You could certainly add to this list. But the bottom line is this: don’t give up on daily devotions. Don’t whip through them. Don’t let them get crowded out by other demands.


Brick upon brick a building is built. Lesson upon lesson a degree is earned. Stroke upon stroke a painting is created. Your devotions may have seemed ordinary today, but God is making something extraordinary through it. Press on. Don’t short-change the process.