The Essential Gospel: A Prayer based on Ephesians 6:14-20

O sovereign Father,

Thank You that I am Your child, heavenly Father. Since I am Your child, then I am Your heir – an heir of God and a fellow heir with Christ. When the enemy causes me to doubt my identity in Christ – telling me I’m a worthless sinner, a lost cause, an embarrassment to You – remind me of whose I am and who You say I am – a saint, a new creation, Your beloved child, living new in Christ. Because I am in Christ, I can now resist the devil as He did. In Christ, I claim the promise that no weapon formed against me or my family shall prosper (Romans 8:15-17; 1 Peter 5:8-9; Isaiah 54:17; Ephesians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 5:17; John 3:16).

I know that the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion wanting to devour me. He and his demons are seeking to steal, kill, and destroy everything good and godly that I hold dear. I recognize that the devil is attempting to incite me to sin – to prompt me to do evil. I’m desperately dependent on You to fight off the enemy’s deceitful attacks. Help me today to trust in You, to win today’s spiritual battles, and to bring glory and honor to Your name (1 Peter 5:8; John 10:10b; Ephesians 6:12; Luke 10:18; 1 Chronicles 21:1; John 13:2; Acts 5:3).

Sovereign God, keep me from the enemy: the evil one, the tempter, the accuser. Protect me from his followers, the fallen angels who are now the evil spirits who are seeking to minimize and neutralize my life in Christ. Lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from the evil one (Revelation 12:7-9; Matthew 6:13; 1 Thessalonians 3:5; Revelation 12:10, Leviticus 17:7; Luke 8:30; Luke 7:21).

Help me remain strong in Your mighty power and stand against the enemy’s wicked schemes. Almighty Lord, thank You for spiritual armor for the spiritual battle – the belt of truth; the breastplate of righteousness; the helmet of salvation; and shoes that speed me on as I proclaim the Gospel of peace. Keep teaching me that truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Help me learn more and more how to apply them. Help me to hold the shield of faith that will quench every burning missile the enemy hurls at me. Help me to wield the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God which is an indispensable weapon. By faith, I now put on each piece of Your armor. Keep reminding me that prayer is the means by which I clothe myself in Your armor and by which I wage war in this ongoing battle (Ephesians 6:10-18).

Help me to submit again today to Your authority, Your control, and Your will. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done in and through me. Lead me to say “no” to the devil and his temptations and “yes” to You and Your abundant life. By Your power, help me resist the devil and see him flee (Matthew 6:10; Luke 9:23; John 10:10; James 4:7).

Thank You for spiritual weapons such as faith, truth, and righteousness that demolish strongholds.  Help me to keep my mind fixed on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy (2 Corinthians 10:3-6; Philippians 4:8).

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who shed His blood on the cross and rose from the grave, I ask You, Father to command any evil spirits to leave me, my family, and my ministry. Because I am in Christ and stand in His victory, all demons must flee. Through You, Father, evil spirits, rulers, authorities, cosmic powers, spiritual forces of darkness, are no longer free to steal, kill, and destroy my mind, my body, my soul, my family, my home, and my ministry. In the name of Jesus, I resist the devil and all demons.  

And now, Father, may Your Holy Spirit lead me and guide me today. Fill me. Bear Your fruit through me. Grant to me the ability to discern between righteousness and wickedness and the wisdom to choose the path of righteousness (Romans 8:13-14; Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:10; Joshua 24:14-15).

Lord God, help me to live in the light of Your presence. Lead me in Your paths of righteousness and away from anything evil. Thank You that because Christ is victorious, I need not wage war for victory but from victory. (John 17:15; Ephesians 1:18-23; John 12:26; Psalm 23:3).

Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 6:14-20. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the J.B. Phillips New Testament, The Message, and the Living Bible. This prayer has also been composed with help from Dean Ridings, author of the Pray!Prayer Journal (NavPress) and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology

The Essential Gospel: A Prayer based on Ephesians 6:10-13

My Father in heaven, 

You are my Hope, my Victory, and my Peace. Because you are the only sovereign King who rules over all heaven and earth, may I be confident and unafraid today. My strength, my courage, and my joy come only from You, Lord. You alone are my Savior (Matthew 12:20-21; Isaiah 9:6-7; 1 Timothy 6:15-16; Isaiah 41:10; Isaiah 12:2).

I come to You, Father, only through the merits of the Lord Jesus Christ, the One who died on the cross and shed His blood to forgive all my sins – past, present, and future – and who rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and sent His Spirit to live in me (Romans 5:8-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-6; Acts 1:8-9).

I come to You, Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit who has caused me to be born again, who now lives in me, and who intercedes for me with groanings too deep for words (John 3:3-8, John 14:16-17, Romans 8:26).

I come boldly to Your throne of grace to find Your help in my time of need. I need You today, Lord. I am desperate for You. I trust You, Lord God, to defeat my enemies – the world, the flesh, and the devil – that wage war against the physical, relational, emotional, and spiritual health of my family, my ministry, and my soul (Hebrews 4:16; Psalm 63:1; Ephesians 6:10-18).

Lord, please forgive me for the ways I have given the enemy opportunities to gain any foothold or stronghold in my life, my family, or my ministry.  By Your grace and for Your glory, help me take back any ground he’s gained. Help me to be aware of his schemes and to not be ignorant of his devices (Deuteronomy 18:9-12; Psalm 139:23-24; Ephesians 4:27, Ephesians 6:11; 2 Corinthians 2:11).

Thank You, Father, for sending the Lord Jesus to rescue me from my sins and from the devil’s strongholds by going to the cross for me. In Christ You have disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame by triumphing over them through Christ’s work on the cross (Colossians 2:13-15; 2 Corinthians 2:14). 

Thank You for clothing me in the righteousness of Christ Jesus. I am Your property, Father. I belong to You, Lord. Grant to me Your prosperity as I delight in Your law and meditate on Your Word (Isaiah 61:10; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20; Psalm 1:1-3; Joshua 1:8).

I ask You, Lord God, to demonstrate Your great power over the enemy. Win victories this day in, through, with, and for me. Enable me to put on all of Your spiritual armor so that I will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. Show me how to stand up to everything the devil may throw my way so that I can successfully resist all the devil’s methods of attack. Teach me that this invisible spiritual warfare is an actual life-or-death fight to the finish against the devil and his fallen angels. Keep reminding me that I am not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places (Ephesians 6:10-12).

Now, I ask You, Lord God, to build a hedge of protection around me and my loved ones throughout this day and night. I ask You, in the name of Jesus, to send angels to surround us and to protect us today and every day. Guard our souls – our bodies, minds, wills and emotions.  May Your holy angels protect us from any and all harmful demonic attacks. Because the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is with me, I live by faith and know that You, the God of peace, will soon crush Satan under my feet (Job 1:10; Psalm 3:3; Psalm 34:7; Romans 16:20).

Almighty God, use me as a soldier in Your spiritual battles. I need not live in fear because greater are You who lives inside me than the enemy who is in the world. Enable me to fight the good fight and to advance Your Kingdom into the enemy’s occupied territory (Colossians 2:15; 1 John 4:4; 2 Timothy 4:6-8).

Father God, keep me alert to the evil one with spiritual eyes wide open as You use me to make a difference for eternity by helping other people come to know You, to grow in You, and to live for You (1 Thessalonians 5:6; Proverbs 4:23, 1 Corinthians 10:12; Matthew 28:19-20).

O Lord, thank You that absolutely nothing – not even the spiritual forces of evil – can separate me from Your love (Romans 8:38-39; Luke 4:1-13).

I ask all of this in the name of Jesus.

Amen and Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 6:10-13. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the J.B. Phillips New Testament, The Message, and the New Living Translation. This prayer has also been composed with help from Dean Ridings, author of the Pray!Prayer Journal (NavPress) and Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology

The Essential Gospel: A Prayer based on Ephesians 6:5-9

O God, Ruler of all creation,

I praise You for being the Master who rules and reigns over all. As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, so my eyes look to You, Lord God (Psalm 123:2). As Your servant, it is right for me to give You my complete obedience.

But my loyalty to You as my one and only Master has wavered. Too many times I have sought to serve two masters. You have said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other” (Matthew 6:24). My love for the world and the things of the world has led me down the path of disloyalty to You. I have been a faithless servant. For this, I deserve to be cast out.

You, however, have invited me to turn to You. You declared, “Return, O faithless ones, for I am your Master” (Jeremiah 3:14). You made my return possible through the gospel by sending Your Son, Jesus, to be the Suffering Servant. He is my Pardon, suffering in my place as though He were the faithless servant. He is my Pattern, showing me how to be a faithful servant. He is my Power, sending His Spirit to live in me so that I can serve You fruitfully. When I repented and believed the gospel, You forgave my faithless servitude and have now accepted me as if I had served You as faithfully as Jesus did.

Even though I am now Your servant, I still fail to obey You in everything. One day, though, in glory, I will become completely conformed to the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ. On that day, I will serve You as my Master in all the ways You have always deserved. Until then, Lord God, You have made all master-servant relationships on earth to be profound pictures of the relationship that is to exist between You, our heavenly Master, and all Your servants.

As an illustration of the relationship between You, O heavenly Master, and Your servants, may leaders and followers – may employers and employees, government officials and citizens – learn to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

Help followers seek to please their leaders all the time, not just when they are being watched. May employees not just do what they have to do to get by, but may they work heartily as employees of Christ, doing the will of God from their hearts. Help citizens serve with enthusiasm, as though they were serving the Lord rather than serving governing officials. And may servants work with a smile, always keeping in mind that no matter who happens to be giving the orders, they are really serving God. Help us to know that whatever good anyone does, this we will receive back from the Lord.

Help people in positions of authority reflect Your authority, Lord God. May they be conscientious and responsible towards those who serve them. May they not misuse the power over others that has been put in their hands. May they never use threatening and abusive words. Help them not forget that they are responsible and accountable to You, their heavenly Master. Remind them that as their Master in heaven, you play no favorites and make no distinction between those who lead and those who follow.

May those who have been entrusted with the stewardship of leadership glorify You by imitating Your kindness, goodness, and love as our Master in heaven. May those who have been entrusted with the stewardship of followership glorify You by obeying their leaders sincerely with a proper sense of respect and responsibility, as service rendered to Christ Himself.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 6:5-9. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, the J.B. Phillips New Testament, The Message, the New Living Translation, and The Amplified Bible.

The Essential Gospel: A Prayer based on Ephesians 6:1-4

O God, my Father,

I give You praise that You have not only revealed Yourself as our Creator, King, and Judge – titles that emphasize Your power, authority, and sovereignty over us, but You have also revealed Yourself as the eternal Father – a title that emphasizes Your loving heart. It is Your nature as a Father to protect and provide, to lead and to guide. You are the Father who teaches, reproves, corrects, trains, and disciplines those whom You love. Your Fatherly lovingkindness is better than life.

Yet just like Your first creatures, I have spurned Your love. I have been unteachable. I have rejected Your reproofs. I have been determined to lead and guide myself. I have acted as though Your Fatherly wisdom is foolishness. Because I have been so very rebellious, I have sadly paid the consequences. I have missed blessings that I could have enjoyed. Even worse, my sin against You and enmity toward You have earned Your wrath. 

In spite of my waywardness, though, You determined to pursue me. You loved me so much that You gave Your Son as the propitiation for my sin. You drew me to Yourself so that I would offer You a broken heart and a bended knee of repentance. You turned me, a child of wrath, into an adopted child of God. Now, I can call You my Abba, my Father.

Even though I am Your child, I fail to obey You perfectly and honor You fully. One day, though, in glory, I will become completely conformed to the image of Your Son, Jesus Christ. On that day, You will be honored as my Father in the ways You have always deserved. Until then, Lord God, You have made the Christian home to be a profound picture of the relationship that is to exist between You, Father, and Your sons and daughters.

As an illustration of the multifaceted, beautiful relationship between you, Father, and Your children, may daughters and sons in our homes do what’s right, obeying their parents in the Lord. May they accept their parents’ guidance and discipline. Help our children to honor their fathers and mothers, esteeming them, valuing them, and respecting them. May You fulfill Your promise to those who honor their parents; may things go well with them so that they may live long in the land.

May parents, especially fathers, not provoke their children to anger, frustrating them. Hold back parents from demands that are trivial or unreasonable or humiliating or abusive. May they not show favoritism or indifference. Keep parents from exasperating their children to the point of resentment. Give parents the desire and the ability to bring their children up tenderly, with lovingkindness in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. Help them to take their children by the hand and lead them in the way of the Master.

Father, Thank You for using the parent-child relationship to picture something profound – the relationship between You and Your children. Thank You for adopting me. Thank You for never acting in a way toward me that could possibly exasperate or frustrate me. Thank You for providing me with discipline and instruction that come my way day after day from Your heart of lovingkindness. Help me as Your child to obey You more fully and to honor You more deeply for being the good and great Father that You have been, that You are, and that You always will be.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

***

This prayer has been inspired by Ephesians 6:1-4. Some of the words and phrases in this prayer have been taken directly from the English Standard Version, The Message, the New Living Translation, and The Amplified Bible.

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?

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.

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.

Not Again!

With disbelief and a heavy heart, we add the name Ravi Zacharias to the list of names of Christian leaders who have fallen morally.  How tragic to have a man so well known for his intellect and persuasive handling of God’s truth in the arena of apologetics, to now be stained with sexual scandal.  It is heart-wrenching to think a man we so admired could be capable of what he did, and it is anguishing to think of what fear and torment his victims had to experience and now live with.

We are again reminded that Christ is the cornerstone of our faith, not any one Christian man or woman we admire or look up to.

What do we do during times like this?  What does our mind and heart need to engage in when navigating the pain of these situations?  Sometimes passing on a good resource is better than creating new content.  That is what I will do here.  I commend this article from The Gospel Coalition for you to read and reflect on.  The author of the post gives us 10 good ways to navigate grievous moments like these when Christian leaders hurt others and fall from their influential status. 

As you read through these, which one is the easiest for you to do and which one is the most difficult?  I encourage you to have a conversation with another Christian friend around the answer to those questions.

As a Christian leader, I plead with you to keep your pastors and ministry leaders in regular prayer.  There are a lot of ways to pray for us, but if I had to summarize how you could pray in one word, I would say “Integrity.”  Integrity will cover most of the areas we need prayed for most – our personal relationships with God, our families, our choices, and our ministries.  Will you pause for a minute now and pray for your pastors and ministry leaders to have integrity?  Will you commit to do so on a regular basis so that the name of Christ will be glorified, and that we will be leaders who help others and not hurt them.

Live new,

Chad Allen