Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #31

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Prayer of Thinking on God (Paraphrase of Psalm 147)

Hearts glowing with thankfulness and awe, we think on You, God. Singing Your praises puts words to our reverence and opens the floodgates of our full-to-bursting hearts. To praise You, Father God, is not only fitting to Your majesty, it creates in us the fullest, highest, broadest and deepest pleasure we humans can experience.

You build up those who humbly bow to You; You gather to Your arms the lost and lonely. You heal hearts broken by this hurtful world, binding up our wounds and drying our tears. To think on You brings comfort.

You created the constellations of the universe by Your unequaled power and wisdom. You placed them in their vast settings and sustain them by Your ever-present might; You call them by name in Your intimate knowledge of each one, shining jewels of the macrocosm. To think on You brings wonder.

You cover the sky with clouds to water thirsty grass and trees, crops and animals. You send winds to clear the skies and allow the sun to warm our faces. Our souls are watered and fed by Your tender care for all our needs. To think on You brings satisfaction.

While You love to see Your creatures physically healthy and fit—wild herds thundering across varied terrain, ultra-marathoners achieving their conquests, what really brings You pleasure is available to the weakest and simplest of us: You delight in those who fear and respect You, who put their trust in Your unfailing love, and live with that in mind. So each of us may fulfill the purpose for which You made us. None may say, “I never had the chance to think on You and praise You, God!”

You strengthen the boundaries between good and evil—though our culture tries to blur them. You bless us when we turn our eyes to You, though opponents beleaguer us. You grant peace as we die to selfishness, satisfaction as we give up God-empty pursuits, and joy as we obey Your call to holy living. To think on You brings breathtaking thankfulness. Nothing is more important than praising You, LORD!

(Photo Credit: By USAID Africa Bureau (Elephant herd  Uploaded by Elitre) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #30

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Paradox Prayer (Paraphrase of Psalm 146)

Father God, I feel so glad when I think of You. My heart warms, my soul awakens, and my lips want to find a way to express my thankfulness to You. The best use for my life is to seize every opportunity to praise You.

There’s no point in praising princes, applauding the rich and famous, or flattering those who hint they have the power to do something for me. They’re just mortal like I am. Their glory passes, their lives end, and the memory of them eventually evaporates.

But You, Maker of all, You are Someone worth praising! In You we can put our trust and know it is well-placed. Not only is our unadorned simpleness not scorned by You, but You are the God of and for the weak. It’s a holy paradox.

You uphold the cause of the oppressed. You ensure that ultimate justice will be served one day, that the oppressed will be raised in glorious honour.

You give food to the hungry—not sparingly, but with prodigal generosity at the Great Banquet You are preparing even now.

You set prisoners free. Redemption frees those of us who have been in the worst kind of bondage, imprisoned in our senseless sin. Since Christ has taken the punishment that was our lot, we walk away from those chains free.

You give sight to the blind. We had not seen that the paths we had chosen would lead us into destruction. But as we admit our blindness, Spirit of Truth, You open our eyes to see there is more to life than the visible here and now.

You lift up those who are bowed down. We are all wounded in some way. Life leaves scars and weights that seem too heavy to bear. But You, LORD, are the Great Healer and Comforter. You lift us up in Your great arms of love and carry us to our journey’s end—the new beginning.

You love the righteous. The only truly Righteous One is Your Son, Jesus, whom You love with an infinite, inexhaustible and joyful love. Yet somehow, as we accept Christ’s gift of forgiveness, His righteousness covers our nakedness like a magnificent royal garment. Dressed this way, we enter Your presence in complete confidence that we are loved and accepted by You.

You watch over the alien. Those who have become refugees from society’s godless norms, who have faced its rejection, find refuge in You. You welcome us with open arms and give us citizenship in Your eternal Kingdom.

You sustain the fatherless and the widow. Great Father and Husband of our souls, we who have felt lost and alone find You to be all and more. You provide for our every need, Bread of Life and Living Water. We thrive under Your sustaining care.

Upholding, giving, freeing, revealing, lifting, loving, watching, and sustaining—LORD God You reign forever and for all generations. We praise You!

(Photo Credit: By JFXie (Flickr: O Praise Him) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons)

Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #29

Eternity Prayer (Paraphrase of Psalm 145)

I praise You, Sovereign and Almighty God. My words mix with the praises of Your worshipers from ages past to eons future in a symphony of eternal praise. Each day I lend my note to the throng of voices calling out to You. My prayers today are but the middle of a song that will continue forever and ever. Here are some of the verses:

You are Great. Your height and depth and breadth of existence and character are so great they are beyond comprehending. No one can fully fathom You. This is enough to warrant our unending praise.

You are Glorious. We’ve caught glimpses of Your splendor of majesty in Your creative works here in this universe: glorious mountains and majestic sunsets, intricate designs in nature and vast constellations, songs of birds in the morning and smells of the earth on the wind. We’ve heard tell of more in the descriptions told by men like Isaiah and Daniel and John, pictures of Your glorious visage. Some day we’ll see as much of Your glory as we can bear—what worship then will come from our hearts and lips!

You are Mighty. You are tirelessly involved in Your creative acts in our world. One generation after another has had ample opportunity to see You working for our good. Transforming hearts and minds—restoring lives broken by sin—is Your ongoing task among us. Your open hand satisfies the desires of every living thing.

You are More: faithful to Your promises, loving to all You have made, righteous, near to all who call on You, upholding those who fall, and lifting up the lowly. The list goes on.

So my voice is tuned to sing Your praises, LORD. Let every creature great and small praise Your holy name forever. And as our ears become attuned to the song of the ages, we’ll hear Your own voice, deep and rich and melodious singing from eternity. What joy is ours to sing with You for ever and ever.

(Photo Credits: By Astroval1 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons; By Mount_Everest_as_seen_from_Drukair2.jpg: shrimpo1967derivative work: Papa Lima Whiskey 2 (talk) – This file was derived fromMount Everest as seen from Drukair2.jpg:, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18262217; By Andrew – originally posted to Flickr as Rock wren, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4215694)

Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #28

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Island of God’s Goodness (Paraphrase of Psalm 142)

Help me, Father, by Your great mercy; attend to my call. I appeal to You because You are good, and because I know only You can help me. When my spirit grows faint within me and all my other supports fall away, then I begin to realize that only You understand what I am experiencing and are able to turn it into good for me.

You see the snares hidden in my path—traps waiting to trip me up, sea storms threatening to capsize, capture and destroy me. Some appear at first glance to hold fortunes, illicit treasures mine for the taking, yet they will be nothing but trouble if I turn toward them. They are all opiates, tranquilizers that remove me from the reality of Your goodness. The evil one is willing to destroy my faith by overt attacks or by subtle temptations—whatever means are within his control to imprison me.

But with You, Father, I have discovered a true path, a refuge and a rescue, freedom for my soul. With You I am freed from the prison of fears and inconsistencies, rebellions and selfishness, these dreadful enemies of mine.

Your connection with me fulfills my deepest yearning—my need for an island of goodness. It’s an oasis of love and compassion where You offer me the deepest of relationships for my good.

So here I come again, desperately in need of Your protection. Give me safe passage to Your Island of Goodness where all that pursues me is blocked from entering. Here I am safe. I am freed to praise Your Name.

I praise You, God of goodness, who does good to me and to all that come willingly to Your island. You surround us with Your faithfulness and grace for eternity.

(Photo Credit: By en:User:Mwanner – en:Image:Small Island in Lower Saranac Lake.jpg (photographer: en:User:Mwanner), CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4703476)

Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #27

Prayer of Refuge (Paraphrase of Psalm 141)

Great Father hidden from our eyes but not from our hearts, our prayer is a cry to You: reveal Your presence here with us. We need You now more than ever. With uncommon speed come into our conscious awareness and fill it with Your trueness and love.

Like fragrant incense bringing You a pleasing aroma, may our prayers proclaim our worship of You, God above all. May our hands lifted to You in praise fulfill our greatest purpose—accepting who we are today by admitting who You are in infinity.

We need divine help if we are ever to gain victory over our own mouths, LORD. We find ourselves saying false and hurtful words that cause conflict and injury when our words ought to bring life and light and hope. Be the guard over our mouths that we need, LORD. Keep the door of our lips under lock and key when in our passion the barbed remarks threaten to erupt.

Our words reflect our hearts, LORD, so we need Your discipline there too. Protect our hearts from being drawn to evil. Keep us true to You, to Your love and light that motivate godly living. Guide our eyes and ears, our hands and feet by hearts obedient to You, Holy One.

May we accept correction and rebuke from Your Word and from each other as a precious gift. May Your discipline fill our hearts and flood every aspect of our being so we are truly ruled by You and for You. We’ve seen the results of lives that reject You—bones scattered around open graves.

So we fix our eyes on You, O Sovereign LORD; we take refuge in You. Only You can spare us that end, You Who give life beyond earthly struggles and beyond the grave. Our lives are in Your good and faithful hands.

Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #26

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Prayer for Help (Paraphrase of Psalm 140)

Rescue me, O LORD, from evil thoughts; protect me from doing violence to truth in the self-made courtroom of my mind where I set myself up as jury and judge. There I devise stories to defend my selfish behaviours. There I create rationales and retorts to support my man-made arguments. My tongue has become as sharp as a serpent’s when it ought to be as gentle as a lamb’s. I know, LORD, that the tongue is never tamed until the thoughts are held captive by the restraint of love.

Keep me, O LORD, from godless actions. Help me notice when my hands fall under the unspoken command of selfish thoughts. Help me attend to the direction my feet move me throughout the day, especially in moments of leisure. I catch glimpses of the snares about to trip me up as I push forward in my proud and selfish plans, yet I so often ignore them. Help me see the nets and webs and traps those paths hold.

O LORD, I hear myself saying to You, “You are my God,” but I wonder if I actually think and speak and live it. Hear, O LORD, my cry for mercy. O Sovereign LORD, my strong deliverer, who rescues me from myself. Do not grant me the prayers that arise from my selfishness. Cause my desires to grow out of a love and respect for You and for every person You created, for Your glory and their good.

I know You uphold the cause of the needy—I am that person, Father. Change me. remake me according to the pattern of Your True Son, Jesus. Then I will be able to praise Your Name with a tongue that is not forked. And then my upright living will not be skin-deep but rather be genuine to the core. You, God, are my only help.

(Photo Credit: By Chris Paul from England – CNP_3289, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=25737936)

Thirty-one Ordinary Prayers, #25

Prayer Exploring God’s Transforming Presence (Paraphrase of Psalm 139)

Nothing about me is hidden from You, God. You know my actions, my thoughts and my mind, my goals and intentions better than I know them myself.

You are a hedge around all sides of me; Your hand rests over me. Your presence pervades my being and my doing. Is there any situation, I ask myself, where Your Spirit will leave me?

On the bright days when I feel on top of the world, I’m convinced of and thankful for Your presence. I’m beginning to sense Your presence just as much on the dark days—the dull, or disappointing, or terribly painful moments when I’m at the end of myself. Your loving, guiding, comforting hand never leaves me. It is knowing Your presence that turns my darkest night into brightest daylight.

I get the sense You’ve been intimately involved in my life right from the start, LORD; from the time I was nothing more than a few tiny cells embedded in my mother’s womb, on into eternity, You’ve known all my days. As I’ve become more aware of Your true and noble presence, Lord, I’m more aware of my own proud and selfish tendencies. I am my own worst enemy! Like a mercenary army, this bent of mine to think and do evil will destroy me unless You do all in Your power to change me.

So I’m opening myself to Your human-transformation project, God: the costly-to-Yourself cleansing of forgiveness, the birthing of a new Spirit-led nature in me, and the vesting of my person with a blamelessness that comes straight from Jesus. Search me to the depths of my heart and soul. Replace my anxieties with the peace of Your presence, and my offensiveness with the goodness of Your presence. Change me back into the image of Yourself You designed me to embody, and lead me in the way everlasting

(Photo Credit: MeghanBustardphotography)