What Gratitude Does for God’s People: Wisdom from CVCers

by Founding Pastor Rick Duncan

As I was getting ready for my message on Psalm 103 – The Remembering Soul – I reminded our friends that we must remember the great things God has done for us so we can bless Him and give Him thanks.

Then I asked the CVC Facebook group to brainstorm a quick list.

What are the benefits of gratitude?

I received a great many great thoughts from CVCers and friends of CVC about the power of gratitude.

Here’s the list below. As you read through this list, ask yourself a few questions:

  • Which ones did you most need to read?
  • What changes could you make in your life to better access that benefit of gratitude?
  • What habits do you need to form to become more grateful?

***

The Benefits of Gratitude

It focuses our mind on blessings, filling our soul with joy and peace as we remember that our heavenly Father cares so immensely for us!

Gratitude keeps you present in the moment and gives you perspective.

Gratitude glorifies God. Gratitude helps us to see God better! 2 Corinthians 4:15, James 1:16-17

Gratitude puts us in the dead center of God’s will. “…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Gratitude draws us to God. (Jesus healed 10 lepers, only one came back to give thanks.) Luke 17:17-19.

Gratitude for who God is and what He has done helps to keep us humble and content which results with more peace and joy.

Gratitude also helps us to remember what He has done which reminds us that He is faithful and can be trusted which grows our faith! From all this springs a deeper love for Him and a desire to serve Him!

You can’t be grateful and negative at the same time. Having gratitude for everything we have in our lives and for our salvation aligns us with God’s purpose for our lives.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough.

When you bookend the day–with your very first thoughts and your very last thoughts–with gratitude, that mindset just doesn’t allow any room for complaints or discontentment.

Gratitude is the broom that cleans out that stuff…and when you find the room that had been previously occupied by complaints and discontentment. And that’s more room that blessings can fill. God longs to bless, but sometimes we have to make room…get rid of the junk in our minds and hearts, so He can fill it with good things.

I would say that when we rejoice, pray, and give thanks (gratitude) we are in God’s will for us (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18); it glorifies God (Psalm 50:23); it helps us find the supernatural peace of God (Philippians 4:6-7).

It glorifies God! Also gratitude adjusts our attitude. It opens our eyes & heart to see God’s truth & love more clearly when our attitude is adjusted away from the attitudes & things of this world.

When we are grateful, or feeling feelings of gratitude, our brain releases dopamine and serotonin…. the “feeling good” chemicals! So it makes us feel happier!

It puts focus on Jesus and the eternal life and not how our various circumstances make us feel in the moment. He is with us, goes before us, goes through things with us, carries us, sustains us and is our everything. Therefore, we are grateful in all. Hallelujah! Thank you Father, Son and Holy Spirit!!

Gratitude gives us a more peaceful existence.

Gratitude fosters trust.

Gratitude enhances our humility.

Gratitude helps us give back to others.

Gratitude puts a smile on my face all the time.

Gratitude makes your heart feel good.

Gratitude fosters contentment.

When I turn my focus on thanking God I have peace and happiness in return.

Gratitude takes the focus off of me and any pride in my own strength or wisdom.

Gratitude helps me to remember how faithful God has been to me, always.

Gratitude reminds me of when life was hard.

Gratitude shows me just how much Jesus did on my behalf.

Gratitude leads me to praise God.

Gratitude is acknowledging what is true about God’s character and deeds! It keeps me firmly trusting in His ability to act in the world and on behalf of His children.

Gratitude acknowledges that God did it…not you.

Gratitude puts the focus on the positive so the negative cannot win. I feel it is human nature to complain and whine. Gratitude makes you feel blessed and safe with our Creator. Gratitude gives me energy and comfort like the sun.

Have you ever gotten new glasses and suddenly the world looks crisp and clear and beautiful? You look at the trees that had been hazy green and you see individual leaves that were there all along but you just had never seen them? That’s what I feel like thankfulness does for me. It gives me new lenses to view my world differently and actually be able to SEE things that have been hidden in plain sight.

Gratitude is one of those things I sometimes forget. I find myself taking things for granted and wondering how we got here. It’s little things sometimes…the kids folded the towels (wrong, but still folded), why am I ungrateful? I am learning along my recovery journey that even the littlest thing are big. Examples are endless. Waking up, having all my senses, having a job that I love, a car that runs, water, electricity, a house, clothes, a bed, a God that keeps me safe on the road, like I said the list goes on and on, but once we remove our blinders to all the things we take for granted, we begin to feel Blessed instead.

Even in my therapist trainings we were taught the importance of gratitude exercises for mental health clients. This included gratitude journals, simple daily verbal expressions. Here is a Ted Talk (be sure to watch till the end). Benefits are phenomenal for emotional, mental, and even physical health. Spiritually keeping focused on eternity and recalling all God has done and all He has yet to do brings my mind into focus and my heart into peace even in the midst of uncertainty.

Gratitude produces so many benefits. Sleep better. Improved self-esteem. Improved physical health even with dementia. Lessened resentment. A more positive, optimistic outlook. A happier life. Reduced blood pressure.

Material wants lessened.

If my gratitude (to God) is right, I can handle all situations whether I am rich or poor, sick or healthy. Thank you Jesus for your peace!

Gratitude is the way we bless the One who gives you the gift by saying “Thank you.”

Gratitude gives us a deeper walk with and dependence on God, His peace that passes understanding regardless of circumstances, and a full heart.

Gratitude requires you to be humble and others-focused. It shows love for others.

Gratitude gives us a freedom from anger, resentment, greed, lust, and all the other wicked deed of the flesh that war against us.

Gratitude is the antidote to discontentment. our joy and contentment is being fought for each day by the enemy. There is great power against Satan in having gratitude to Jesus. I have learned to verbalize daily and many times daily “Thank You, Jesus.” My kids hear that all of the time and others who are around me. Gratitude toward Him shows that we know He is the author of it all. I couldn’t imagine life without fighting for a grateful heart. Sometimes it’s harder than other times, but there is always something to be thankful for. And when we acknowledge God’s hand and kindness in it all, it humbles us and makes our hearts swell with even more gratitude!!!! AMAZING!!!!!! Thank You, Jesus!!!!!

Psalm 23 Flipped!

by Lead Pastor Chad Allen

Last weekend I taught a message on Psalm 23. You can find that message here.  This may be the most well-known passage of the Bible.  It is often referred to by its first line, “The Lord is my shepherd.”  I wanted to provide this post as a little extra food for thought and interaction on this passage.  So just follow along!

Review Psalm 23

Psalm 23 – A Psalm of David

[1] The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. [2] He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. [3] He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. [4] Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. [5] You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. [6] Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. (ESV)

What if we flipped this Psalm?  What if we turned it inside out or backwards to see what it would read like if the Lord wasn’t our shepherd, but instead, if we continued to try and lead/shepherd our own lives?  Sometimes to grasp the beauty and depth of a passage of Scripture, we need to look at it from the opposite perspective to see the rich truths that God has given us in His Word.  If we did that to Psalm 23, maybe it would look and sound like this…

Psalm 23 Flipped

I am my own shepherd, so I’m always in want. I seek out green pastures in the fields of the world, but I cannot find them.  And what I do discover is inadequate and unfulfilling.  The water I drink of is tainted and poisoned. I am led by this world to a well with the appearance of sustainment, but after drinking, I am left thirsty.  I am never truly satisfied.  I cannot say that I lack nothing, for I find myself wanting everything.  I’m trapped trying to feed my greed rather than just my need.  Therefore my soul suffers.  

I feel trapped on uncertain and unsafe paths of unrighteousness, doing what I shouldn’t do and trying to make my own name. I walk through the valley of the shadow of death and I am distraught, alone, and afraid.  I see evil all around me and in me, and there is no possession, ritual, argument, philosophy, or even person who provides me comfort at the core of my inner being. My enemies surround me – fear, death, temptation, condemnation – and I feel overwhelmed, anxious, restless, weak, vulnerable and tired. 

Will I ever flourish?  Will I ever be at peace?  Will I ever have a sense of belonging and purpose?  Will I ever feel secure? Will I ever find true rest for my soul? Is there anyone who can help me or rescue me, or am I doomed to feel this hopeless and restless forever?

I am my own shepherd, so I’m always in want.

Reflection

After reading what God said in Psalm 23, followed by my distorted version, reflect on these questions:

  • How have I seen God shepherd my life and how has it led me to trust Him more?
  • How have I resisted God’s shepherding of my life and what has it cost me?
  • What is one action step I can take to better surrender to God’s shepherding over my life?  When will I take that step and who will I tell about it?

National Day of Prayer – Thursday, May 6, 2021

We can pray for America today and every day by lifting up seven critical centers of influence in our nation.

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  1 Timothy 2:1-2

1. GOVERNMENT (Federal/State/Local)

“For God is the King of all the earth; sing to Him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on His holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; He is greatly exalted.” Psalm 47:7-9

“May all kings bow down to Him and all nations serve Him.” Psalm 72:11

2. MILITARY and FIRST RESPONDERS

“From His dwelling place He watches all who live on earth — He who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear Him, on those whose hope is in His unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. In Him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in His holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, LORD, even as we put our hope in You.” Psalm 33:14-22

3. MEDIA

“…put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:22-24

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4:8

4. BUSINESS

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Colossians 3:17

“A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches, and favor is better than silver or gold.”  Proverbs 22:1

5. EDUCATION

“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:6

6. CHURCH

“So then, just as you received Jesus Christ as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.” Colossians 2:6-8

7. FAMILY

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.” Romans 12:9-13

Sources

https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/spiritual-growth/prayer/pray-for-government-leadership.html

https://www.nationaldayofprayer.org/prayforamerica

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 5:15-21

O Lord God, the Source of wisdom, truth, and goodness,

How deep are Your riches and wisdom and knowledge, God! How unsearchable are Your judgments and how inscrutable are Your ways (Romans 11:33). Your foolishness is wiser than men, and Your weakness is stronger than men (1 Corinthians 1:25). You are wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom (Isaiah 28:29).

I thank You, Lord, that You do not keep Your wisdom to Yourself. You have been gracious and generous in offering Your unfailing wisdom to me. From Your mouth come knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:6).

Yet I have spurned Your wisdom. I have sinned against You and have lived foolishly. I have not looked carefully enough at how I’ve been living my life. I have not made the most of every opportunity that You have provided me. I’ve not used my head and watched my steps. Even though You have revealed Your ways in Your Word, I have not understood Your will.

As a result, my unwise choices have not only hurt me, but have hurt the people around me. I deserve to experience the painful consequences of my ill-advised attitudes and actions. 

But You, Lord, are a God of grace. You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ – Wisdom personified – to pay for all my foolish ways. He suffered on the cross in the place of a fool like me. He rose again and became my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30). Thank You for this gospel of grace.

So, Lord, help me to be careful how I live. Since these are evil times, help me to make every minute count. Teach me what You want me to do. Save me from being drunk on anything that could distract me from You. Instead, help me to be so filled with the Holy Spirit that I am constantly being guided by Him.

Help me to surround myself with Your wise children. Help me to be in a gospel-saturated community with people who address one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, who sing and make melody to You, Lord, with our hearts. I want to live in close proximity with people who always give thanks for everything to You, Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And teach us all how to submit to – to yield to, to honor, to prefer – each other because of our common reverence for Christ. This truly is the way of wisdom.

My Father in heaven, only You can teach me to walk in wisdom. That’s why I give praise to You, the only wise God! To You be glory forevermore through Jesus Christ (Romans 16:27)!

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 5:15-21. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, the Contemporary English Version, the J.B. Phillips New Testament, The Message, and the New Living Translation.

ephesians

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 5:8-14

O God of hope,

In a world filled with distress and despair, darkness and death, You are the blazing center of light and life. Because of who You are, You are able to fill everyone who comes to You with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit we may abound in hope (Romans 15:13).

Yet I have chosen to walk in the world’s darkness rather than in Your light. I have chosen to embrace what is bad and wrong and false. Over and over, I have done what is displeasing in Your sight. I have wasted time pursuing the fruitless deeds of darkness. It is shameful to even speak of the things I have done in secret. No wonder I feel depressed and dejected.

Even though I don’t deserve Your light in my life, You graciously offer me hope. You sent Your Son, Jesus, the Light of the world, to step down into my darkness. He lived the life I could not live. The fruit of His life was light, all that is good and right and true. He died the death I should have died. He suffered on the cross in darkness to pay for the shameful deeds I have done in secret. He rose again to give me light and life. Jesus is the Source of new life and new hope for all who believe. Truly, this is good news!

So, again today, I repent and believe the gospel. At one time I was darkness, but now I am in the light. Therefore, help me to walk as a child of Your light, taking in and giving out all that is good and right and true. Let my life be a living proof of all that pleases You, God.

May I take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness. Instead, help me to expose them. Keep me from a scandalous waste of my life. Save me from doing shameful things in secrecy.

Remind me that nothing escapes Your eternal, watchful, loving eyes. Your light shows everything for what it really is. All my intentions will be exposed when Your light shines on me. Your light makes everything visible.

So, Lord God Almighty, awaken me. Don’t let me sleep spiritually! I now live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me. By Your grace and for Your glory, I have risen from the dead to new life in Christ.

So, may there be no more distress and despair, darkness and death for me. Because of the power of Your indwelling Spirit, I abound in hope. I claim the promise that Christ will shine on me. Shine, Jesus, shine on me, in me, and through me. Right now. This day. And every day.

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 5:8-14. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, The Message, the New International Version, and the J.B. Phillips New Testament.

ephesians

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 5:1-7

God of light and love,

You made the stars to worship You. The mountains bow in reverence to You. You caused the oceans to roar Your greatness. Since everything exists to lift You high, so will I. You are worthy. 

You are not only worthy to be worshipped, You are worthy to be imitated. In fact, my imitation of You should be an expression of my exultation in You. As a child who has a good father longs to walk in his daddy’s steps, so I should copy You.

Yet I fail to pattern my life after Yours. My love too often turns into lust. Instead of being generous, I have the itch to get my hands on what belongs to other people. My greed proves that I am in reality an idolater who worships the things of this world. Too often my mouth pours out filthiness, nastiness, silliness, foolish talk, flippancy, and crude joking. I am a child of disobedience. Because of my defiance, O God, I deserve to experience Your wrath.

How could a sinful person like me ever come into Your presence? I know, deep down, that apart from Christ no immoral, impure, or greedy person like me could ever inherit the Kingdom of Christ.

Yet even though my life has been filled with idolatry, Christ Jesus still loves me. Thank You, Lord, that He offered Himself on the cross as a sacrifice. The offering of His life to die in my place was a pleasing aroma to You, God. His love for me was not cautious but extravagant. He gave everything of Himself to save me. Therefore, I repent and I receive the undeserved gift of Your forgiveness that has been offered to me through Christ. 

You are the God of my salvation. You chased down my heart through all of my failure and pride.

On a hill called Calvary, the Light of the world was abandoned in darkness to die. All my failures disappeared there where Your Son lost His life. He lost His life so I could find mine. And then He left the grave behind. And one day, so will I.

Now, help me to live a life that is worthy of this gospel. May I not be fooled by those who try to excuse their sins. Don’t even let me hang around people who deceive others with their empty words. Save me from participating in the sinful things these people do. Remind me often that sin has no place among God’s people. 

Instead, help me to give thanks, to live in purity, and to be generous. As Your beloved child, help me to watch what You do and then mimic Your ways. I want to follow the example of my Lord Jesus Christ, living a life overflowing with Your love.

Since the wind goes where You send it, so will I. Since even the rocks cry out Your praise, so will I. Since the sum of all my praises still falls shy, then I look forward to singing to You again in heaven a hundred billion times.

Lord God of my salvation, truly You are worthy.

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 5:1-7. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, The Message, the New American Standard Bible, the J.B. Phillips New Testament, and the song “So Will I.”

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 4:25-32

Dear Lord God almighty, my heavenly Father,

You have called us to love – freely, fully, unconditionally. You gave us Your word to teach us what loves does. You have sent Your Son to show us Who love is.

Yet I have chosen to live selfishly. No matter how hard I try, I cannot love like You. My failure to love has created for me a twin burden that I carry, namely guilt and shame. But in spite of all my selfishness, You have not turned away from me. Jesus came from heaven to die on the cross to pay for my self-centered failure to love. He rose again, ascended to heaven, and sent His Spirit to live in me. Now I have the divine ability to love like You. 

Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to live in me and through me. Thank You that the gift of Your Spirit identifies me as Your own, guaranteeing that I will be saved on the day of Your redemption. Help me never take the gift of Your Spirit for granted. Help me never to bring sorrow to the Holy Spirit by the way I live. I don’t want to break His heart.

Help me to embrace Your truth and to tell Your truth to others. Remind me that in Christ’s body – the church- we are all connected to each other. Show me that when I don’t tell the whole truth I end up not only hurting myself but also everyone else. So, help me put away all falsehood.

Lord, help me to be angry only with what makes You angry. Save me from any sinful, selfish kinds of anger that linger on and on – that I take to bed with me. May I never use anger as fuel for revenge. Save me from self-seeking anger that can give the devil a foothold in my life.

Help me not be a taker, but a giver. Guide me into my career calling so that I will use these hands You’ve given me for good hard work so that I might give generously to with anyone in need.

Help me to watch the way I talk. I don’t want to corrupt anyone with my speech. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of my mouth. Instead, help me be intentional to build others up – to say only what helps. May everything I say be good and helpful, so that my words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. May my words be gifts to bless others’ lives.

Teach me how to make a clean break with bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander along with all malice. Help me to be gentle with and sensitive to others. Thank You for forgiving me though the gospel of Christ. How could I not forgive others as quickly and as thoroughly as You have forgiven me? May more and more of Your kindness, tenderheartedness, and forgiveness flow from my life to others.

Thank You for enabling me, by Your Spirit’s power, to love like You in Jesus’ name,

Amen

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 4:25-32. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and The Message.

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 4:17-24

Dear Giver of life,

You alone are the Lord. You have made the heavens, the heaven of heavens with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them. And the heavenly host bows down before You (Nehemiah 9:6). With You is the fountain of life (Psalm 36:9). You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever (Psalm 16:11).

But I chose the path of death rather than the path of life. My understanding was once full of darkness. I was alienated from Your life, God, because of my ignorance and the hardness of my heart. My mind was closed. I had lost touch not only with You but with reality itself. I could not think straight. I became callous. I lost my sense of shame. I lived for lustful pleasures and eagerly practiced what was impure.

But You helped me see that this was no life for me! You brought me to Christ – the One who is the way, the truth, and the life. He died on the cross to forgive me, rose again to justify me, and sent His Spirit to enliven me. As I heard about Jesus, I came to know Him. I learned Christ! You helped me pay careful attention to Him. Because He is the truth, He has become my Source of truth. Thank You for instructing me in the life-giving word, will, and ways of Jesus.

Now, help me no longer walk as those who are unsaved do, for they are hopelessly confused, like I used to be. May I no longer go along with the ungodly, the empty-headed, the mindless crowd.

Thank You for giving me the ability to put off my old self, which belongs to my former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires. Everything – and I do mean everything – connected with that old way of life has to go. It’s rotten through and through. O Lord, help me to get rid of it! Instead, let the Spirit renew my thoughts and attitudes. 

Thank You for not only giving me the ability to put off the old self, but for giving me the power to put on my new self, created after Your likeness, God. Make me truly righteous and holy. I want a life fashioned by You, a life renewed by You from the inside out. Please reproduce Your character in me.

May Your life work itself into my day-to-day conduct. As I experience new life in Christ, help me to invite others to experience that new life, too – a life offered, purchased, and secured by the death and resurrection of Your Son, Jesus. Lord, I believe and I receive all of who He is for all of who I am.

Amen

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 4:17-24. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the New Living Translation, and The Message.

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 4:7-16

O great and generous God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,

I praise You, Lord, for Your overflowing heart. You richly provide all things for us to enjoy – family, friends, food, stories, sports, sunshine, masterpieces, music, mountains, books, beaches, ballfields, laughter, love, and life itself… all things that I have ever enjoyed are gifts from You (1 Timothy 6:17). You, my Father in heaven, delight to give good things to those who ask You (Matthew 7:11). You, Lord, bestow favor and honor. No good thing will You withhold from those who walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from You, the Father of lights (James 1:17). You love to give gifts to men.

And You have called me to be like You, overflowing with generosity to others. You have given me gifts to share. Yet I have failed to use my gifts to serve You and to bless the lives of my family, my friends, my neighbors, my co-workers.

Instead, I have acted selfishly. Sometimes, I ignore my gifts. Other times, I hoard my gifts. Therefore, the lives of the people You have put in my path are impoverished because I have failed to build up, encourage, and serve them.

My selfish lack of love is not a small sin. My sins of omission are heinous in Your sight. When I don’t bless others the way You’ve gifted me to bless them, then I am actually harming them. I am not fulfilling Your plan to love them through me. My failure to love, to serve, to give, to bless is deserving of Your judgment. 

I praise You, Lord God, that You have provided a way of escape from that judgment. You have made forgiveness available through Christ’s descent and ascent. He descended from His home in heaven to this lowly world. He lived the life I could never live and died the death I should have died so I could be forgiven for all my selfish ways. You raised Jesus from the dead. Afterwards, He victoriously ascended on high and out of His generosity, through His Spirit He gave gifts to undeserving sinners like me.

Your grace was given to me through Jesus – not so I would look and speak and act the same as everyone else but so I could bless the lives of others according to my own unique gifts. As I join with others in using our gifts, the presence of Christ will one day fill all things; that is, the whole universe!

So, Lord, let me be fully equipped by the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds, and teachers that You have given to train people in Your church. And guide me to embrace the role I am to play in Your church – whether it be apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, shepherding, or teaching. Help our leaders and me equip other saints to do their work in the ministry so that the whole body of Christ might be built up.

Give to me and to all Your church a greater desire to be one in our faith. Help us grow to know Jesus better so that we can become fully mature, fully developed, fully imitating Jesus Christ.

Since I am a gifted part of Your body, the church, may I no longer be spiritually immature like a child, an easy prey for spiritual predators. Help me never to be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. May I not be influenced when false teachers try to trick me with their crafty lies and deceitful schemes.

Thank You for the spiritual gifts You have given to me. Thank You for the role that I have been called to play in Your church. I want to learn to speak the truth in love. I long to be more and more like Christ, the head of Your church, in every way. Help me to take my lead from Him, who is the Source of everything I do.

And as each gifted person in Your church serves uniquely, may the whole body of Christ become increasingly harmonious, joined and held together in love. Keep us in step with each other. May each individual part of the body of Christ function properly. Cause us to grow, to mature, and to build one another up in unselfish love.

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 4:7-16. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, the Phillips New Testament in Modern English, the New Living Translation, and The Message.

ephesians

A Gospel Prayer based on Ephesians 4:1-6

I praise You, God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

I believe in You, God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, the only Son, our Lord. I believe in the Holy Spirit. You are one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. In perfect love and unity You worked to create, to rescue, and to restore. You, Lord, display Your unfathomable unity within Your Trinitarian diversity.

Because You are one, You have called Your people to live as one – to live in love and peace with You and with one another. But too often my love has turned inward – toward myself. And so I have chosen selfishness over selflessness, division over connection, and hostility over unity. I have been at odds with people that I should have embraced and served.

I have not walked in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called. I have not always pursued the kind of unity that Jesus prayed for on the night before His death. I have not always sought the kind of unity that the apostle Paul wrote about when he compared the church to a single body with many parts which work together. I have not exemplified the kind of unity that John saw in his vision of heaven – every tribe, tongue, and nation gathered to worship. I have not lived a life that measures up to the Great Commandment You have given, which is to love.

Lord, I confess that I have been guilty of pride and harshness in my relationships. I have been impatient and arrogant. I have focused on what divides rather than on what unites. I have been at war with You, with others, and within myself.  What I have earned as a result of my sin – my love turned self-ward – is death. I need a Savior!

And, thankfully, You have provided me with a Savior, Your Son, Jesus Christ. He was pierced for my transgressions. He was crushed for my iniquities. Upon Him was the chastisement that brought me peace. I am like a sheep that has gone astray. I turned to my own way. But You, Lord, laid my iniquity onto Jesus.

Once again, I repent of my sin and trust in Jesus. You have sent Your Spirit to live in me. As I yield to Your indwelling Spirit, I can now live a life worthy of Your calling. Help me always be humble and gentle. Help me be patient with others, making allowance for their faults because, in Christ, You have made allowances for me. May I be eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 

Thank You for the diversity that exists in the Church, in my community, in the nation, and in the world. Please let me be an agent of unity within that diversity, showing the world that there is one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all. Help me, God, join You in calling others into the glorious hope that we can all share in Christ Jesus.

Amen.

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This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 4:1-6. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the Amplified Bible, the Contemporary English Version, the Good News Translation, the New Living Translation, and The Message. Words were also used from Apostles’ Creed.