A Prayer Prompted by John 11

Our Father in heaven,

You have your own perfect plans for us.  You know exactly how best to form us and shape us, how to mold our character and bend our will. Help us to trust you as you do your perfect work.

Cause us to always keep looking toward Jesus as the perfect example of humanity. He perfectly understands us in all of our trials and our weaknesses because he live through such things himself.

We receive him also as the perfect Savior, who died for us, rose again, and is the source of eternal life for all of us who believe.

With Martha we can respond to Jesus by saying, “Yes, Lord; we believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who has come into the world.”

Amen.

Lord, to whom shall we go? – John 6:66-69

66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 67 So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

If you have walked with Jesus long enough, you are familiar with this problem.  People hear things, experience things, do things, or maybe someone does something to them.  The end result is just as in John 6:66.  

After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him. 

Whatever the reason, this is a sad outcome.  At its root it is an expression of unbelief, of a lack of trust.  There is a way in which it belittles Jesus, his identity as God and his work on the cross for us.  It is saying that you, Jesus, are not big enough, nor is your cross effective enough to resolve this issue.  It is saying that my inability to understand why you work the way you do gets the final say.  There is nothing you, Jesus, can say or do to persuade me otherwise.

If we could see the big, eternal picture, we would know that this response would border on insanity.  However big our problem is, however difficult to understand, however wicked the forces that have raged against us, however cruel the attack, Jesus is bigger still and his cross provides the ultimate victory. 

Through faith in him we will eventually rise above the battle just as he rose from the grave and conquered death.  In eternity we will hear remarkable stories of incredible evil experienced by weak but trusting saints.  And the end of each and every one of them will be along the lines of, “But that is over now, and we have found everlasting joy in the presence of our Savior.  The cruelty of the battle that almost ended in utter defeat only makes the victory sweeter.  He rose, and he reigns forever and I am one of his.”

May our response to Christ when we don’t understand what he is saying or doing ever be,

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 16

Dearest heavenly Father,

You have so constructed this world that it has become, for us, a place to prepare for eternity.  Help us to get our hearts in the right place and keep them there – focused on you and not on ourselves, our possessions or our worldly pleasures.  Help us to use what material goods we have to serve you and prepare ourselves treasure in heaven.

Help us to see our trials as a gift from you, especially designed to train us and lead us to Jesus.  Your servant James once wrote (James 1:2-4) that we should, “Count it all joy, my brothers,when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

That’s what we want to be – “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  To the extent that we must endure trials, experience pain and undergo suffering, let it be for your glory and the honor of the name of Jesus Christ.

Amen

A Prayer Prompted by Luke 7

Dear Father in heaven,

We come before you in humility knowing that in ourselves there is nothing that would make us worthy to have you listen to our prayers.  We truly have nothing to offer but our faith in Christ.  We know that he came to proclaim forgiveness to sinners like ourselves, so we ask you to cleanse us of our sins.

We ask you to make us faithful intercessors, much like the centurion, with respect to those we love. Please hear the prayers that we offer up for others.

Help us to remain faithful in the midst of our own trials, even as John had to remain faithful in prison.

And as we recognize how great your forgiveness has been toward us, make us people who would show you great love.

In Christ,

Amen.