A Father’s Prayer for Every Day

The Valley of Vision is a collection of old prayers that exemplify intentionality, passion, and a Bible-focus in prayer. The language can seem foreign to modern readers since it resembles a loftier tongue of days gone by. And yet, the content of these prayers is of such high quality that modern Christians will no doubt benefit from such examples.

Here is how I prayed, in my own words, the prayer entitled “The Family” (especially because of Father’s Day)

O Sovereign Lord,

You are Creator and Father of all people. You made all people, and you now sustain them as well.

And yet, You are the special Father of those who know, love and honor You. Your special children find Your yoke to be easy and Your burden light; they feel fulfillment in Your good work and glorious joy in Your commands.

Oh, how I shutter to think how little Your goodness has affected me!

Even though You have given me such good gifts – Your Word, Your Spirit, and Your Church – I have not given proper time and effort to such things. How negligent I have been in doing good to others, and how foolish I have been with my resources.

Here I am before You in my sins and my disobedience. Oh God, have mercy on me, and may Your goodness and patience bring me to repentance and renewed fervor.

Help me to hate and forsake every false way. Help me to be alert, making an honest assessment of my condition and my character.

Help me control my tongue, and make my heart burn with diligent desire for godly things. Help me watch and pray against my many temptations, and help me defeat and destroy the sinful desires remaining in me.

Pierce my heart through with sorrow and concern for the salvation of others, and make me especially aware of the souls of my family.

Oh God, I cannot stand the thought of the eternal destruction of those I love. May those who are precious to me be all the more precious to You! May they be devoted to Your glorious grace and not Your righteous justice.

Lord, please make my devotions among my family effective and holy. Make my instruction, my discipline, and my example to permeate my house, so that it becomes a nursery for heaven and like the garden of the Lord.

Enrich the little lives for which You have made me overseer, and cause these little trees to grow in fruitful righteousness for Your glory.

Lord, please make those of my household fit for heaven, and not merely suitable citizens of this world.

Oh God, grant that the experiences of grace, the exposure to Your Word, the examples of godliness, and these prayerful requests be effective means in saving those I love from their due punishment.

I rest finally and ultimately in Your goodness and Your grace. May You bring all things to their appointed ends for Your glory and our good.

Help me Live as You have called Me

The Valley of Vision is a collection of old prayers that exemplify intentionality, passion, and a Bible-focus in prayer. The language can seem foreign to modern readers since it resembles a loftier tongue of days gone by. And yet, the content of these prayers is of such high quality that modern Christians will no doubt benefit from such examples.

Here is how I prayed, in my own words, the prayer entitled “Vocation [or Calling].”

My God and Father in heaven,

You have placed my in the church, which Your Son purchased by His own blood. Add grace to grace that I may live worthy of my calling into Your family.

I am a voyager across life’s ocean. May You keep me safe in troubled waters, like You preserved Noah in the ark of Your salvation; and may You bring me into the harbor of Your eternal rest.

I am a tree in the vineyard You have planted. Grant that I would not be fruitless, with worthless leaves and wild grapes. Prune my useless branches, and water me with the dew of Your blessings.

I am part of the Lamb’s bride, the church. Help me to be true, faithful, chaste, loving, pure, and devoted. Keep me from giving in to any strong affection I have for the things of this world.

May I live high above a love of temporal things, and may I be drawn to those things that are holy, clean, unblemished, and set apart by Your grace.

May I be fully satisfied in Your love, joyful in Your glory, guided by Your rules, and restful in the shadow of Christ’s cross.

Oh God, You know that my heart is not always a flame of adoring love, but help me find hope and rest in Your Son’s redemption and the promise that one day I shall be free from those things that now hinder and distract me.

I look forward to the days of heaven, where no fatigue shall overcome me, no guilt shall overwhelm me, and no doubt shall overpower me.

I look forward to those days when I shall never grow tired and never run out of time to worship and honor You.

Father, in the mean time, will You keep my mind and soul comforted and focused with these thoughts?

May You make me the shining light You’ve called me to be, as I await the day when darkness shall be no more.

Oh God, Make Me True!

The Valley of Vision is a collection of old prayers that exemplify intentionality, passion, and a Bible-focus in prayer. The language can seem foreign to modern readers since it resembles a loftier tongue of days gone by. And yet, the content of these prayers is of such high quality that modern Christians will no doubt benefit from such examples.

Here is how I prayed, in my own words, the prayer entitled “True Religion.”

Oh Lord, God Almighty,

Please ensure that my blessings from You are spiritual and not merely earthly and temporal.

Make it my present, highest, and constant concern to obtain those blessings which are spiritual in nature, eternal, and truly satisfying.

God, Please preserve me from false views of my own character, and help me to see myself truly and honestly.

Make me to understand and guard my beliefs as well as my actions, my motives as well as my words and deeds.

Help me, God, to never mistake my emotional highs for the renewal of the Holy Spirit, to never judge my spiritual health by way of impulses or feelings, but instead by constant and prevailing patterns in my thoughts and actions.

May my heart be right with You, and may my life be lived so as to bring You glory and so as to demonstrate my gratitude for Your grace.

May I keep my eternal home in view and grow increasingly more joyful at the thoughts of Your heavenly promise, and may I feel and confess myself to be a stranger and a pilgrim in this world that is not my home.

Lord, please grant me all the direction, defense, support, and consolation my journey here requires; and keep my mind constantly fixed upon You.

Above all, please fill me abundantly with the Spirit of Christ, that I may be prepared for every duty, love You in all Your mercies, submit to You in every trial, trust You when walking in darkness, and have peace in You amid life’s many changes.

Oh God, my Redeemer, my Shelter, and my Friend, I believe and trust You, and yet I also ask that You would mercifully help my unbelief.

Oh God, May I Never!

The Valley of Vision is a collection of old prayers that exemplify intentionality, passion, and a Bible-focus in prayer. The language can seem foreign to modern readers since it resembles a loftier tongue of days gone by. And yet, the content of these prayers is of such high quality that modern Christians will no doubt benefit from such examples.

Here is how I prayed, in my own words, the prayer entitled “The ‘Nevers’ of the Gospel.”

O Lord, May I never fail to come to the knowledge of the truth.

May I never rest in a system of doctrine, even if I believe it is biblical and right, that does not bring me salvation, or extend my trust in You, or teach me to deny sin and worldly lusts, or help me to live a self-controlled life of goodness and godliness.

May I never rely on my own convictions and resolutions, but make me confident in You and in Your might.

May I never cease to find Your grace sufficient for me in all my trials, conflicts, and obligations.

May I never forget to correct my foolish thinking about You when spiritual distresses and outward troubles would try to change my proper perspective.

May I never fail to seek refuge in Christ, who is full of grace and truth, the friend who loves at all times, the God-man who knows what my mortal infirmities feel like, and the Savior who can do exceedingly more for me than I may think or know.

May I never confine my Christianity to only those extraordinary occasions, but make me to acknowledge You in all my ways – especially in the ordinary times of life.

May I never limit my devotion to You by only trusting and obeying when times are good, but make me to value and revere you all of my days.

May I never be godly only on Sundays or only in a church building, but make me a godly disciple on every day, at my job and in my home.

May I never make godliness only an outward facade or merely a habit, but make me to love righteousness and to pursue You as a way of life.

Oh Lord, please do good to me as I seek to know and love You through reading Your Word, communing with You in prayer, and singing Your praises.

Finally, my Redeemer and King, let me at last enter into that city You have prepared for all those who love and trust You – that heavenly home where Your glory is supreme and the Lamb reigns forevermore.

A Sinner’s Psalm

The Psalms are a fascinating compilation of Hebrew poetry. The rhythmic and emphatic language soars in joy-filled air and plunges into sloughs of affliction and misery. While Hebrew poetry is not marked by sounds of rhyme, it does have many distinguishing features. Parallelism (using different phrases to say similar things or contrasting things), structure (moving from line to line in a pattern), and posture (distinctly celebrating, lamenting, or requesting something) are some of the features of Hebrew poetry.

Once you understand the movement and methods of Hebrew poetry, it can be a stimulating exercise to formulate your own heartfelt prayer with similar features. The Psalms are uniquely God’s authoritative Word (just as all of holy Scripture), but the Psalms are given as exemplary prayers of praise, thanksgiving, confession, and supplication. Therefore, it seems warranted that the Christian disciple should follow these examples.

Here is a psalm-like prayer I wrote some time ago:

Oh God, my Redeemer and Comforter,

My fear and insecurity confuse my awareness of Your presence.

Here I am, alone and anxious in the confines of my mind.

I feel around in the dark, but my hands do not touch You.

Where is Your kind countenance in the fog of my despair?

Am I not helpless when my thoughts possess me so?

Oh God, have You forgotten me? Have I become too much a burden to You?

I am tossed to and fro by waves of my own miserable invention.

These panic inducing torrents are the concoction of my own sinful suspicions.

I despondently seek safety among the wind and waves.

What an abandoned wretch am I!

 

I know the place of hope and light, yet I seek it not.

I hear the chant of Sirens, and long for their embrace.

I prize esteem from others, and cannot bare the loss of it.

When some prestigious adage is presented, I want it too.

Is there anyone else who cannot resist these?

Am I the only one who loves You and loves sin as much?

I scarcely meet a soul who admits such a rivalry within.

My own soul looks for refuge where it cannot be found.

What a tormented degenerate am I!

 

Who will deliver me from this ocean of bondage?

How can I be free from my stormy sea of self-inflicted anguish?

Will You wait forever and only listen to my helpless sobs?

May it never be! I know these thoughts to be foolish!

Oh, my soul, God is my Rock and my Redeemer!

The Lord is the saving God and the refuge of the weary!

In Him I will find all the security and affirmation I was created to know!

Oh God, my Redeemer and Comforter,

You are near indeed, and my soul rejoices at Your warm gaze.

Behold love and grace, joy and peace; in You only are they found.

What a beloved child am I!

 

I know I am loved and accepted for Another’s sake!

I am upheld and raised to heights unknown to worldly men.

God is my safety; He is my ever-present help in time of need.

The Lord has kept all His promises and none will ever fail.

Oh, my soul!  Bless the Lord of your salvation!

Do not think of the surges about you, but love the Rock of Ages!

So many swells are only His beckoning call to find your mooring in Him.

Behold, God is; He is good; and He loves me!

What a gracious and merciful Father have I!

Jesus, Prayer & Evangelism

Prayer is essential in the life of every Christian.  Most churchgoers would fully acknowledge this as a reality, but some may be embarrassed to answer any questions regarding the frequency, intentionality, or purpose of their own prayers.  Likewise, most churchgoers would accept some responsibility for evangelism generally.  However, personal evangelism and the clear requirement of every Christian to participate would cause a bit of discomfort to say the least.  Prayer and evangelism should mark the lives of every Christian, and no less than Jesus Himself has commanded His followers thus.

Regarding prayer, Luke tells us that Jesus said people ought to “always pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1).  Jesus Himself provides examples of prayer.  “[H]e would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (Luke 5:16), He “went up on the mountain to pray” (Luke 9:28b), and there was a time when “all night he continued in prayer to God” (Luke 6:12).  People brought children “to him [Jesus] that he might lay his hands on them and pray” (Matt. 19:13), and Jesus prayed when He healed people from sickness and death (Jn. 11:41-42).

The most beneficial passage in the Scriptures concerning prayer is found in the sixth chapter of Matthew in the form of what we call the Lord’s Prayer.  Matthew records Jesus’ helpful statement just before this exemplary prayer, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father” (Matt. 6:6).  We can observe at least a few things from this single phrase.  First, Jesus assumes that Christians will pray.  He says ‘when you pray’ as though there is no question that one will indeed participate in prayerful expressions towards God.  As has already been mentioned, prayer is essential to the life of every Christian.

Second, Jesus expresses the intentionality of prayer as being relationally vertical rather than horizontal.  He says, ‘go into your room and shut the door.’  This does not seem to be a statement about methodology, as though Jesus were saying that one should not pray outside or even inside with any doors open.  Instead, it seems to be a statement about the intentions of the human praying.  We are to pray not in order to be heard by others around us, but in order that we may be fixed on the God of heaven.  Our prayerful relationship is meant to engage us primarily with God.  Third, prayer is an intimate connection with an imminent counselor and omnipotent provider.  Jesus refers to God not only as His Father, but ‘your Father.’  This immediacy of relationship and accessibility of such a powerful refuge is no small thing to consider.

Regarding evangelism, Jesus commissions all who would follow Him to “make disciples” of all people groups everywhere (Matt. 28:19).  While some may attempt to distinguish the group described by terms like believer and disciple, I find no reason at all in Scripture to do so.  In fact, the two appear to be synonymous when referring to one’s relationship to Christ (Acts 9:26; Jn. 8:31).  Therefore, the commission given by Christ to all His followers at least includes evangelism.  Discipleship may refer to much more than conversion, but no one would rationally argue that it refers to less.

Evangelism, then, is the privilege and obligation of all Christians everywhere.  Yet, there is a very real sense in which the conversion of sinners from death to life is something that no Christian can produce.  Indeed, only God can create life where there is none and bring faith into the hearts of those who are bent on disbelief and rebellion (Eph. 2:1-10).  At this, an astute person may ask, “What role does a Christian play in evangelism?”  Well, the Apostle Paul makes a helpful assessment in his first letter to the Corinthians.  Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth” (1 Cor. 3:6-7).  He states clearly that evangelism is about ‘planting’ and ‘watering’ ‘seed,’ but God is the one who causes life, growth and salvation.  The analogy of seeds and sowing is not new, and Jesus explained an analogy very much like Paul’s in Matthew 13, Mark 4, and Luke 8.  The ‘seed,’ Jesus says, is the ‘word of God.’

This subject deserves more time and reference than it is given here, but the word of God may refer to every word that proceeds from the mouth of God, a specific prophecy concerning an immediate event or person, or some compilation of words attributed to God.  The word of God is certainly inclusive of all God’s words, but most particularly it refers in Biblical terms to the Gospel (Acts 11:1) and to Christ as the embodiment of that message (Jn. 1:1-4).  So, then, Christians participate in evangelism by proclaiming and defending (planting and watering) the message of the Gospel (seed).  Christ followers may tell others of the good news, and rely upon God to give the growth; that is they rely upon the Spirit of God to transform the soul of sinners (Jn. 3:3).  This then is where evangelism and prayer intersect, and again Christ affords both instruction and example.

Because God alone makes sinners alive with eternal life, and because Christians have immediate and intimate means of communication with the God of salvation, it is then vitally important that Christians express their reliance upon God through prayer.  Jesus prayed just this way when He prayed, “I do not ask for these only [that is His accumulated followers during His earthly ministry], but also for those who will believe in me through their word [that is all subsequent believers], that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn. 17:20-21).  Jesus clearly associates this belief in His being sent from the Father with trusting Him as Savior or Messiah (Jn. 5:38-40).  Jesus asks the Father to bring unity of belief in the truth of Christ’s person and work to all those that the Father gives the Son (Jn. 17:24).

In summary, Christ teaches us to pray that God save sinners and He emboldens Christians to participate in the work of planting, watering and harvesting the growth only God can bring (Luke 10:2).  Prayer and evangelism go hand in hand.  As Christians tell the story of salvation, it behooves them also to pray that God performs the regenerating work that only He can.