In no particular order, here are several prayers that I find myself offering to the Father repeatedly….
I pray for my mouth: I have a tendency to say the wrong things.
My mouth has gotten me in trouble for my entire life. It has been known to write checks I could not cash, to blurt out exactly what I was thinking but should not have been, and to cut people down just to get a laugh from the spectators. God has let me learn the hard way to discipline my tongue. So, over the years, I have often found myself praying Psalm 141:3 alongside Psalm 19:14.
“Set a guard upon my mouth, O Lord. Keep watch over the door of my lips.”
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
(Someone reading this wondered how the Lord let me learn to discipline my tongue. The best thing to happen is that when I was young in the ministry, more than once a church member called me on the carpet for the cruel thing I’d said just for laughs. When I apologized profusely–and on one occasion, even apologized before the entire church–it left a lasting impression. I didn’t ever want to do that again!)
I pray for forgiveness: I am so often negligent, disobedient, and rebellious.
Who among us does not feel the need for forgiveness every day of our lives? (The single exception might be my wife. Last night as we chatted with a couple who stopped by to visit, Bertha mentioned something about confessing her sins each day. Everything inside me wanted to shout, “What sins? You are about as sinless as anyone I’ve ever known.” I didn’t say it, of course, but I thought it.)
However, my wonderful wife is married to an accomplished sinner. So very often, I find myself praying these words of Psalm 51, followed by the confession of the publican in Luke 18:13….
According to the multitude of Thy tender mercies, blot out my transgressions, O God. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin…. Create in me a clean heart O God, and renew a right spirit within me.
O Lord, be merciful to me “the” sinner.
And then I gladly pray this from the 103rd Psalm…
You have not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our iniquity. But as the heavens are higher than the earth, so great is your lovingkindness toward us. As far as the east is from the west, so far have You removed our transgressions from us. And just as a father has compassion on his children, so You have compassion on us.
I pray for forgiveness in another way: The Lord is a promise-keeper.
Moses did this. As he interceded for Israel, he said, “Lord, you said this and you said that. Now, Lord, we’re counting on you to keep your word.” Okay, that’s my paraphrase, but I guarantee you that’s what he was saying in Numbers 14:17-19. Notice where he says, “Just as Thou hast said….” (He’s quoting the Lord’s own words in Exodus 34:6-7 back to Him.)
So, when I’m confessing my sins and seeking that precious closeness to Him, I might pray, “Lord, you said if we confess ours sins, you are faithful and just to forgive us….” (I John 1:9). And you said, “Your sins and iniquities I will remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).
And then, I thank Him. In no way do I see this as a legal thing, that I’m insisting on the Lord keeping His word because I deserve it or happened to use the magic words.
It’s all of grace. Everything the Lord gives us is of grace. Every day I live above ground, as the saying goes, is about His grace.
I pray about my praying: I need help to get me jump-started in the mornings….
Most people don’t necessarily feel like praying in the morning. So, we have to prime the pump by quoting scripture or a song or something. Nothing works for me better than the Lord’s Prayer, found in Matthew 6 and Luke 11….
Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name.
Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory. Forever. Amen.”
For the record, I do not consider this prayer as some magic formula for anything. We’ve all heard of people who quoted this prayer as they died, as though it was some kind of last rites or a password to get them into heaven.
I say this prayer to focus my mind and heart on the Lord. And often, after quoting it, I will realize my mind was not yet fully engaged, so will say it again, and possibly a third time, each time working to think about what I’m saying. I want to pray with my mind as well as with my heart.
I’m so grateful to the Lord: so I offer up a prayer of praise
Sometimes when I am talking to the Lord while driving down the highway, I’ll quote that praise of Revelation 5, which we are told the heavenly chorus will be singing to the Savior at some future time…
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive Power and Riches and Wisdom and Strength and Honor and Glory and Blessing. Forever and forever. Amen.
And this might be a good place to say how I memorized that list of wonderful accolades. The words “Power” and “Strength” did it. From “power,” we have the P-R-W words (first and last letters, then the middle letter), and from “strength,” we have the S-H-G words (first and last letters, then ‘g’ from the middle), followed by an all-encompassing word, “blessing.” Simple. And I always need things to be simple if I’m to remember them.
I want to praise my Lord now, and get a head start on praising Him forever.
I quote Habbakuk 3:17-19 about “praising the Lord anyway.” (You can read it for yourself; there’s nothing else in the Bible like it. A golden treasure.)
And possibly others that escape my mind at the moment. But the article is long enough, so I’ll stop here.