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.

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 -|—

Now therefore, go…

Exodus 4:10–12 (ESV) ~ 10 But Moses said to the LORD, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” 11 Then the LORD said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the LORD? 12 Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”

Oh God,
through Jesus Christ,
You have called me.
You have called me to Yourself.
You have called me to a new life and to New Life.
You have called me to Go therefore to all nations…
You have called me to bring glory to Your holy name.
You have called me to things that scare the living daylights out of me.
You have called me to suffer in many ways.
You have called me to set aside my selfish desires.
You have called me to obedience.
You have called me,
an unqualified sinner,
to speak of You and to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
You have called me.
Some days I just want to run away.
Some days I just want to say, “Send someone else“.
Some days I just want to hide.
When those “Some days” rear their ugly head,
Kick me in the butt as you did Moses.
Now therefore go…
And may I have the faith to trust You,
and rejoice in the certainty of Your plans.
Oh God,
You have called me.
Help me to go.

The Pastor -|—

The Persecuted Church

Mighty God,
You are holy and sovereign,
gracious and merciful.
I commend my brothers and sisters in Christ to You;
those who are undergoing persecution
because of the Name; Jesus Christ.
Jesus said that if the world hated him,
they would hate those who follow him.
Today, that is as true as it was then.
Many are dying because of the Name.
Many are imprisoned because of the Name.
Many are tortured because of the Name.
Many live in fear and worship in secret because of the Name.
Protect their faith, oh God, and give them perseverance.
Shield them with the hope of the resurrection.
Strengthen them to serve in a dangerous mission field.
Surround them with Your angel armies.
May the Name of Jesus be praised.
I also lift up to You those who are doing the persecuting.
You changed the heart of Paul,
and so I know You can change the heart of anyone,
namely, those who hate You.
May their eyes be opened and their hearts softened.
May they see the Truth of Your love
and refrain from the atrocities that they inflict upon Your children.
May they see their sins;
confessing and repenting of their hate-filled actions.
And through their conversion,
may You be glorified in the world.
It seems to be a far-fetched prayer,
but with You anything is possible.
Oh God, the world can’t stop You or Your Church.
May we take comfort in that truth.
May our worship and rejoicing be unhindered
by this world.
In the mighty Name of Jesus I pray,
Amen.

The Pastor -|—