Do Thou for Me

“Do Thou for me, O God the Lord,
Do Thou for me.
I need not toil to find the word
That carefully
Unfolds my prayer and offers it,
My God, to Thee.

It is enough that Thou wilt do,
And wilt not tire,
Wilt lead by cloud, all the night through
By light of fire,
Till Thou has perfected in me
Thy heart’s desire.

For my beloved I will not fear,
Love knows to do
For him, for her, from year to year,
As hitherto.
Whom my heart cherishes are dear
To Thy heart too.

O blessèd be the love that bears
The burden now,
The love that frames our very prayers,
Well knowing how
To coin our gold.  O God the Lord,
Do Thou, Do Thou” (Amy Carmichael).

There are times when we simply don’t know how to pray for a circumstance or a loved one. Try as we may, the words will not come.

I think even then God hears the groans and sighs of our petitions and knows what they mean. He hears the deepest desires of our hearts and knows best how to grant them.

Even when we have words, they aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes, we ask without such a limited point of view. Sometimes we ask selfishly. Sometimes we have too small a view of God and ask too little.

In Jan Karon’s Mitford series, Father Tim Kavanaugh always has his go-to prayer, or “the prayer that never fails,” as he calls it. The prayer goes “Thy will be done.”

You can never go wrong with leaving the matter in God’s hands.

Praying the Unattainable

I was in a Bible study this evening, sitting at a table with some people that I barely knew or had just met. We were discussing why it is that thanksgiving isn’t more of a part of our lives of faith.

One girl said that when she prays, she starts off by thanking God for those certain attributes of His that she will never have.

That took me by surprise. At first, it sounded like she was copping out, but I figured I’d hear her out so I tuned all the way in to the rest of what she said.

She basically said that she praises God for attributes like His omniscience and omnipotence. That centers the rest of her prayers around the fact that God knows way more than she does and can see from a bigger vantage point than she can.

I wonder how that would change my own prayer life. If I was mindful of God’s ability to know and see things I can’t, it might change my perspective toward what I think God needs to give me. It might shift my focus from what I don’t have to what I do.

I might even choose to ask for less and pray more “Thy will be done,” leaving the choice to God to provide what He knows I need instead of what I think I want (that often times I don’t really want once I get it).

Thanksgiving comes first. It changes my mindset from entitled whiner to grateful praiser. It reminds me that everything I am and have is really only God’s doing, so I have no reason to think I’m all that and a bag of chips. Then I can rightly see myself as God sees me and understand that when God sees Jesus in me, that’s a very good thing.



A Puritan Evening Prayer of Praise

I have a collection of old Puritan prayers called The Valley of Vision. I honestly don’t know a whole lot about these Puritans, other than they prayed some of the most beautiful prayers ever, as evidenced by the book.

One of their prayers is my own prayer at the close of another day. It’s my own words put much better than I could ever pray them:

“Giver of all, another day is ended and I take my place beneath my great redeemer’s cross, where healing streams continually descend, where balm is poured into every wound, where I wash anew in the all-cleansing blood, assured that You see in me no spots of sin. Yet a little while and I shall go to Your home and be no more seen; help me to gird up the loins of my mind, to quicken my step, to speed as if each moment were my last, that my life be joy, my death glory.

I thank You for the temporal blessings of this world — the refreshing air, the light of the sun, the food that renews strength, the raiment that clothes, the dwelling that shelters, the sleep that gives rest, the starry canopy of night, the summer breeze, the flowers’ sweetness, the music of flowing streams, the happy endearments of family, kindred, friends. Things animate, things inanimate, minister to my comfort. My cup runs over. Suffer me not to be insensible to these daily mercies. Your hand bestows blessings: Your power averts evil. I bring my tribute of thanks for spiritual graces, the full warmth of faith, the cheering presence of Your Spirit, the strength of Your restraining will, Your spiking of hell’s artillery. Blessed be my sovereign Lord!”

I think that says it all. If I had any doubts about how blessed I am, I think those are put to rest for now.



No Plan B

“The key is that your request be anchored by your single-minded commitment to God. Those who depend only on their own judgment are like those lost on the seas, carried away by any wave or picked up by any wind.  Those adrift on their own wisdom shouldn’t assume the Lord will rescue them or bring them anything. The splinter of divided loyalty shatters your compass and leaves you dizzy and confused” (James 1:6-9, The Voice).

Tonight at the Room in the Inn Bible study, the teacher spoke from James 1 about what it means to be double-minded when it comes to prayer.

It occurred to me that praying in faith with no doubts (see James 1:6) is to pray with no plan B in mind, knowing that God hears your heart more than He hears your words, especially when words won’t come.

Maybe you’ve had a plan B in the past. You pray the words, but you have a backup plan just in case God doesn’t come through. You hedge your bets, so to speak, and don’t fully trust in God.

I wonder how many of our prayers go unanswered because they aren’t really prayers at all. They’re more like wishful thinking while we implement our own plans and rule our own lives — or at least we have the illusion that we do.

Have you ever stepped out in faith and prayed boldly in such a way that if God doesn’t come through, what you’re doing or hoping for will fail spectacularly? It’s a lot like stepping out on a high wire with no safety net below. It’s scary but that kind of faith never goes unrewarded.

Pray big and pray boldly, knowing that it’s not a great faith in God that brings about answers to prayers but faith in a great God who always keeps His promises to His people.



Remember Me


“Lord, Eternal One, remember me” (Judges 16:28, The Voice).

I was reading a very familiar passage about Samson and Delilah when I saw something I had never seen before. It almost literally jumped out of the page.

The story may or may not be familiar. Samson was a Nazirite and a Judge over the people of Israel. Basically, a Nazirite was someone dedicated to God from birth who had certain restrictions, like no alcohol, no haircuts, no touching dead bodies. As a judge, he essentially ruled over the Israelites. He had extraordinary strength and could not be bound by any ropes or chains.

Most of the time, he was ruled by his appetites. He saw what he liked and went after it, no matter what the consequences. Even though God said for His people to have nothing to do with the Philistines, Samson continually wooed their women and spent time in their cities.

Then Delilah showed up. She agreed to betray Samson into the hands of the Philistine rulers for a hefty sum, or a king’s ransom, you might say. Of course, Samson fell in love with her.

She asked three times how he could be bound. Three times he fibbed. You would have thought he’d catch on to her motives but apparently his love blinded him to her wiles.

Finally, she nagged him to the point where he gave in. You can probably figure out that she got her reward and Samson got captured. He ended up with his eyes gouged out, working at the grindstone as a slave, reduced to a joke.

Samson’s very last actions were his best ones. The Philistines brought him out to taunt and mock him in a celebration to their god, Dagon. He ended up between the two main pillars of the temple. He prayed one last prayer for strength and pushed out the pillars, toppling the temple and killing everyone inside, himself included.

I’d never paid much attention to his last prayer. “Remember me.” Suddenly, it dawned on me. I remembered someone else in the Bible whose last words were the same. It was the  thief on the cross next to Jesus who said, “Remember me when You come into Your Kingdom.”

Such a beautiful prayer that says so much in so few words. It’s not so much that God has forgotten who we are but that we’ve forgotten who He is.

It’s a declaration of dependence, an acknowledgement of great need. It says to God, “I’m unworthy to ask but still I know you are a gracious God, slow to anger and abounding in love. Come to my aid and save me.”

The Bible is still living and active. God still speaks through His word to those with ears to hear. Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening.


A Celtic Prayer

“O God
In my deeds,
In my words,
In my wishes,
In my reason,
And in the fulfilling of my desires,
In my sleep,
In my dreams,
In my repose,
In my thoughts,
In my heart and soul always

A Dhia, ann mo ghniamh
Ann mo ghniamh,
Ann mo bhriathar,
Ann mo mhiann,
Ann mo chiall,
Ann an riarachd mo chail,
Ann mo shuain,
Ann mo bhruail,
Ann mo chluain,
Ann mo smuain,
Ann mo chridh agus m’anam a ghnath”

I think this prayer captures the heart of the Apostle Paul’s injunction that we “pray without ceasing.” I also can’t help but think of an Alison Krauss song that speaks of making my life a living prayer to God.

I want this to be my prayer in 2018, to live in an ever mindful awareness of God’s nearness in all my waking moments. To have every single thought, word, and act be an offering of worship and a declaration of thanksgiving.

I realize that I’m very much human and I have distracting thoughts and desires all through the day. I’m sure that I will have to remind myself of this prayer at least once a day to recenter my attention away from everything else back to God.

I’m very much with the Apostle Paul in that I very often do what I know is wrong and don’t do what I know is right. I very often stray and take my eyes of Jesus. Maybe this little prayer will help get my eyes back to where they belong.

May this also be your prayer in 2018.


A New Year’s Day Prayer for 2018

I’m sharing this prayer from one of my heroes, Billy Graham, at 12:51 am on January 1, 2018. Happy new year!

“Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.

We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.

In the midst of life’s uncertainties in the days ahead, assure us of the certainty of Your unchanging love.

In the midst of life’s inevitable disappointments and heartaches, help us to turn to You for the stability and comfort we will need.

In the midst of life’s temptations and the pull of our stubborn self-will, help us not to lose our way but to have the courage to do what is right in Your sight, regardless of the cost.

And in the midst of our daily preoccupations and pursuits, open our eyes to the sorrows and injustices of our hurting world, and help us to respond with compassion and sacrifice to those who are friendless and in need. May our constant prayer be that of the ancient Psalmist: ‘Teach me, O Lord, to follow your decrees; then I will keep them to the end’ (Psalm 119:33).

We pray for our nation and its leaders during these difficult times, and for all those who are seeking to bring peace and justice to our dangerous and troubled world. We pray especially for Your protection on all those who serve in our armed forces, and we thank You for their commitment to defend our freedoms, even at the cost of their own lives. Be with their families also, and assure them of Your love and concern for them.

Bring our divided nation together, and give us a greater vision of what You would have us to be. Your Word reminds us that ‘Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord’ (Psalm 33:12).

As we look back over this past year we thank You for Your goodness to us—far beyond what we have deserved. May we never presume on Your past goodness or forget all Your mercies to us, but may they instead lead us to repentance, and to a new commitment to make You the foundation and center of our lives this year.

And so, our Father, we thank You for the promise and hope of this new year, and we look forward to it with expectancy and faith. This I ask in the name of our Lord and Savior, who by His death and resurrection has given us hope both for this world and the world to come.

Amen” (Billy Graham).

Pray Big

(Ann Voskamp)

With only two more days left in 2017, one resolution I intend to restart in 2018 is to pray bigger and bolder.

I’m not so much praying the impossible for myself (though I will be bold in my own prayers) as much as I’m praying it for family and friends.

Maybe our new motto, modified from the original Star Trek slogan, is to pray boldly where no man (or woman) has ever prayed before.

So pray big. Pray boldly. Pray in such a way that the answer can only be explained by God– and nothing or no one else.

Pray, knowing that the Holy Spirit still helps us when words fail and only groans and sighs come. Even if it seems you get it wrong, the Holy Spirit always gets it right.

Pray as much and as often as possible.

Just pray.


A Good Mid-Week Prayer

Enlighten what’s dark in me,
Strengthen what’s weak in me,
Mend what’s broken in me,
Bind what’s bruised in me
Heal what’s sick in me,
And lastly,
Revive whatever peace and love
Has died in me.

Many of us come to this point in the week and wonder how we can ever muster up enough energy and strength to make it through the second half of the weak.  We already feel so depleted and drained.

The hope expressed in this prayer is that when we feel completely inadequate, we find that God is truly enough. God is our strength in weakness, our joy in despair, our overcoming in defeat.

I found another prayer you can say when feeling weary and overburdened. I’m posting a link to the source so you can read the rest and subscribe if you like what you read.

Anyway, here’s that prayer as promised:

“God, I am tired.
Give me rest. Give me peace when there is not enough rest.
Grant me patience. Grant me forgiveness when there is not enough patience.
Lend me clarity. Lend me charity when there is not enough clarity.
Help me love. Help me believe there is always enough love.

Last of all, I wanted to add a benediction I found on the inter-webs. It’s a fitting close to this blog post:

“May God the Father
prepare your journey,
Jesus the Son
guide your footsteps,
The Spirit of Life
strengthen your body,
The Three in One
watch over you,
on every road
that you may follow.”

Amen to that.

Prayer and the Weekend

“Whenever the insistence is on the point that God answers prayer, we are off the track. The meaning of prayer is that we get hold of God, not of the answer” (Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest).

First of all, I am lamenting that one all-too-brief sneak preview of fall. I honestly thought it would last a few more days, but the hot stinky sweatiness has returned. Boo.

I’m still churning over Matthew Page’s sermon from The Church at Avenue South in my head. It was about prayer, not as a means to treat God as a celestial vending machine, but as a way to get to know the heart of the God who is both Father and the Infinite Almighty.

I confess I’ve fallen into the trap of making prayer a sort of laundry list of wants and needs. It’s gotten less and less about remembering who God is and what He’s already done for me and more and more about me and my needs.

I keep thinking about the Better Together celebration at Hadley Park where two churches of different backgrounds came together as one. Mt. Zion Baptist Church, a historically black congregation, and Brentwood Baptist Church, made up of mostly whites, both joined in this event to show that the Gospel trumps racism and inequality, and that the hope of Jesus is for everyone from every kind of background.

That in itself was the answer to the prayers of a lot of people. I have a feeling that the closer we as believers get to the heart of God (what God desires and longs for from us), the closer we get to those outside of our normal comfort zones and routines. The more we understand that Heaven will be comprised of people from every tongue and tribe and race.

One last thought on prayer before I go. This is essential to understanding prayer and how it works:

“Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work” (Oswald Chambers).