Reprise/Revised: A Prayer Before Preaching

I have never done this before but I am re-posting a post. The following is a prayer I wrote on September 20, 2015. It is a post that I can tell people still visit, so I decided to read it again. And you know something, I needed this prayer.

You see, in the span of two weeks I get to preach 5 sermons: Midweek Lenten worship, funeral, Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Easter. Five very different settings but with one very important purpose: The Gospel. And as a pastor and preacher, this is a task I take very seriously (as all preachers should). I don’t want to take any moment for granted. For to handle the Word of God flippantly is a dangerous thing. A messenger would never mess with a king’s message and so why would anyone take a lackadaisical approach to the Word of God; a message from our King. Too many pastors/preachers have tinkered with the King’s message and have deceived many. What a horrible thing to do. May I be found faithful with the King’s message.

And so, I pray this prayer — again — as I have four more sermons in this stretch of preaching. What an amazing opportunity to deliver my King’s message. Oh God, my King, hear my prayer…

To approach Your holy Word faithfully,
oh God and King,
is to do so with fear and trembling;
not only because it is Your holy Word,
but it convicts us of sin
through the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.
Your Word kills and gives life through Jesus Christ.
It convicts and redeems.
It’s alive.
It’s does something.

And so may I approach Your Word with great expectation;
leaning on Your promises
and joyfully basking in Your faithfulness.
May I toss off all that would hinder my hearing of Your Word;
fixing my eyes on You.
May I receive this Word with all joy,

handle it with care,
and proclaim Your glory.
May I embrace its transformative power
that gives courage in a fear-filled world.

Oh God and King
All glory, honor, worship and praise
be onto You,
through Christ Jesus my Lord,
Amen.

Liturgy of Repentance ~ Use Me

The following is the Liturgy of Repentance for Lenten worship tonight. The text is Acts 9:1-19; the call and conversion of Saul/Paul. May God use you to bring glory to His most holy name…

Father, You are holy, and thus Your Church is holy.
It is precious to You, for Jesus, Your Son, is the bridegroom.
So precious is his bride, Jesus died for her salvation.
As the Church, we are forever connected to You through Jesus.

We are one with him.
But Your precious Church is under persecution.
Attacked by Satan.
Denounced by the world.
Threatened by governments.
Assaulted by those who hate You.
And even ambushed…by those from within?
Yes! Within!
Oh God, how can this be?
How can members from within be culpable?
Is it I, Lord?
Holy Father, as You shine Your light on me, it is clear.
It IS I.
I have sinned.
Granted, I haven’t dragged people to jail because of the Name,
but I haven’t always spoken well of my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Show me my faults.
Convict me.

Forgive me.
Transform me.
Save me.
Use me to bring glory to Your holy name, but first…
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry: I repent…

Sugar-Coated Garbage

My dad’s birthday is coming up and there is a very good chance I will get a card in the mail soon so he can actually get it before or on his birthday. It would no doubt shock him if I were to accomplish that amazing feat. More than likely my wife will pick it out, but I will actually sign, address and mail it. When I address it, I will write out his name (legibly), put the address below his name and then below that, his city, state and zip code. Why…because I want it to actually get to him.

[Why in the world are you writing about this?]
Great question. I’m glad you asked. Hang on, I promise you that I have a point.

Now, if I were to simply write on the envelop, “Dad”, with a stamp and return address, what would happen?

[Well duh, the post office would return it to you.]

That is correct, because it is not clear who I am talking about. It could be anyone’s dad. The note inside would probably only work for my dad, but I am sure someone could twist it to make it work for their dad too.

[Okay, I’m ready for your point now.]
Well, here you go.

Recently I came across a prayer that was used in a Christian church that started in this way…

Mother of all Wisdom, and Father of Surprise

[Umm, I thought you said a “Christian church”]
That’s what I said. Shocking, I know.

You see, this has bothered me ever since I came across that prayer and far be it from me to leave it alone. What is wrong with that address? Simply this – it is not clear to whom it is being addressed. The prayer could have been used with any religion; mystic, naturistic, cult, etc. There was nothing Christian about the prayer. And worse yet, this type of language is being peddled in many mainline denominations as trendy and progressive, but it is anything but Christian. It is sugar-coated garbage, and it is killing people. And the antidote/defense? Actually, read the Bible and listen.

It saddens me and sickens me that people I know and care about are taking this in, thinking it is biblical because their pastor endorses it. God is God; Father, holy, mighty and powerful. God is Creator, Healer and Sovereign. God needs to be addressed appropriately. There is no need to get creative, progressive or trendy. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. We don’t need to grow with the times and/or the culture.

To use titles and terms like I shared above is misleading and paints a picture of a god that does not save. Stick to the Bible and address your prayers in such a way that the recipient (God) is honored, glorified and revered, not using terms like…

Mother of all Wisdom, and Father of Surprise
Mother God
Our Mother who art in heaven

Allow me to call it what it is: sugar-coated garbage.

Holy God, Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, may Your name be held in honor and esteem. Teach us to use Your name in such a way that You are glorified. You are worthy and thus may we never take liberties with Your name in order to be trendy and “with the times”. Father God, You are awesome. All praise be to You through Christ Jesus our Lord, Amen.

Found

It is indeed right and salutary
that we should at all times and in all places
give thanks and praise to you,
oh God,
Father almighty.
You sent Jesus Christ to seek and save the lost.
He stopped at nothing to reach lost sinners.
He defied the authorities.
He defied the world.
He defied death.
We were lost, but now we are found.
We were without hope but now we celebrate.
We were without meaning, but now we are in Your family; defined by You. We were dead, but now we are alive.
Oh God,
You settled for nothing short of finding lost sinners.
And so we worship You;
joining with the Church on earth and the hosts of heaven in singing Your unending praise…

Father

Father God,
I fall into Your arms today to be
cradled,
comforted,
protected,
soothed,
held,
listened to,
spoken to,
forgiven,
healed,
and lifted up.
I fall into Your arms today,
Father,
as my child runs to me in distress.
I fall into Your arms today,
Father,
as my child who simply wants to cuddle with daddy.
I fall into You arms today,
because,
well,
just because
YOU are my Father.
And so I fall into Your arms….
…Father.

Fall into Your heavenly Father’s arms and know that you are loved, beyond anything that you can imagine.

Your Ways

Your ways, oh Lord, are right. They are true. Yet, the fork in the road always seems more appealing. Satan’s signs are deceptive and thus I follow. And once on that path of lies, I see the darkness. I desire Your path but take easier ones. I desire Your truth but embrace a lie. I desire You but follow others. In the words of Paul, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” Help me, oh God. Forgive me. Heal me. Empower me. Lead me. I want Your path. I want Your ways. I desire You. In the name of Jesus, draw me unto You and show me Your ways. Make me to dwell in Your light. Transform my heart to take the correct fork in the road. May Satan be sent packing and return to hell, for You are my God; my light and my salvation. May all my desires be that which please You. Oh to walk in Your ways, oh Lord. Yes, that is where I want to be. I want Your path. I want You. Your ways, and Your ways alone. And so, as I begin this day, lead me to take the correct fork in the road. In the name Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior I pray, Amen!

The Pastor -|—

Crying Out

The theme for worship tonight is the call of Moses. The people of Israel called out to God and God heard their cries. God chooses Moses to be His instrument of freedom and but he resists…at first. Has God chosen you for for a specific task; to proclaim freedom in someway? Have you resisted? Are you doubtful that you can do it? Listen and trust God.

Oh God,
Your people are crying out, and You hear them.
They are crying out from bondage;

lost and alone.
They cry out, but I often know not their cry.
Their cries are often missed by my ears and I perceive them not.
Some even cry out without knowing they do.
They cry out through their actions and choices.
They don’t know their dire situation.
They are in bondage.
They fight and struggle.
They search and search, but they find no relief.
They search for meaning but find no firm foundation.
They cry out, and YOU hear them.
Oh God,
I cried out once, and You heard me.
I cried out, and You showed me mercy.
I cried out, and You sent Jesus.
Your people are crying out, and I either do not hear or refuse to hear.
I confess my deafness to You.
Forgive me.
Heal me of my deafness, oh God, and send me.
Send me that Your people may hear and know Jesus.
Oh Lord, my God, hear my cry:
I repent…

The Pastor -|—