A Prayer for Good Friday

“Blessed Lord Jesus,

Before thy cross I kneel and see the heinousness of my sin, my iniquity that caused thee to be ‘made a curse’, the evil that excites the severity of divine wrath.

Show me the enormity of my guilt by the crown of thorns, the pierced hands and feet, the bruised body, the dying cries.

Thy blood is the blood of incarnate God, its worth infinite, its value beyond all thought. Infinite must be the evil and guilt that demands such a price.

Let me walk humbly in the lowest depths of humiliation, bathed in thy blood, tender of conscience, triumphing gloriously as an heir of salvation.”

Today, as I think about the cross, do I truly see the ugliness and severity of my sin? Am I duly humbled by the enormity of my guilt?

“O Lord, I marvel that thou shouldst become incarnate, be crucified, dead and buried.

Give me to die with thee that I may rise to new life, for I wish to be as dead and buried to sin, to selfishness, to the world.

O Lord, there is much ill about me — crucify it; much flesh within me –mortify it.

Purge me from selfishness, the fear of man, the love of approbation, the shame of being thought old-fashioned, the desire to be cultivated or modern.

Let me reckon my old life dead because of crucifixion, and never feed it as a living thing.

Grant me to stand with my dying Saviour, to be content to be rejected, to be willing to take up unpopular truths, and to hold fast despised teachings until death.

Help me to be resolute and Christ-contained.

Grant me more and more of the resurrection life; may it rule me, may I walk in its power, and be strengthened through its influence.”

Is my life crucified with Christ? Am I living as one dead to sin and selfishness? Am I willing to let Christ crucify the sin within me and mortify the flesh that still longs for the things of the world?

“O my Saviour,

I thank thee from the depths of my being for thy wondrous grace and love in bearing my sin in thine own body on the tree.

By thy cross crucify my every sin; use it to increase my intimacy with thyself;

Make it the ground of all my comfort, the liveliness of all my duties, the sum of all thy gospel promises, the comfort of all my afflictions, the vigour of my love, thankfulness, graces, the very essence of my religion.

O my Lord and Saviour, Thou hast also appointed a cross for me to take up and carry, a cross before thou givest me a crown.

Teach me, gracious Lord and Saviour, that with my cross thou sendest promised grace so that I may bear it patiently, that my cross is thy yoke which is easy, and thy burden which is light.”

Am I living in such a way that the cross is all my comfort, the essence of my faith, and the very center of my life? Do I live under the weight of the cross I must take up to follow Christ? Or is it just something I think about one Friday each year?

“Heavenly Father,

Thou hast led me singing to the cross where I fling down all my burdens and see them vanish, where my mountains of guilt are leveled to a plain, where my sins disappear, though they are the greatest that exist, and are more in number than the grains of fine sand;

For there is power in the blood of Calvary to destroy sins more than can be counted.

At the cross there is free forgiveness for poor and meek ones, and ample blessings that last for ever;

The blood of the Lamb is like a great river of infinite grace with never any diminishing of its fullness as thirsty ones without number drink of it.

In the midst of a world of pain it is a subject for praise in every place, a song on earth, an anthem in heaven, its love and virtue knowing no end.”

Does my life daily sing the good news of the cross?

“Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, athirst that I might drink, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, entered darkness that I might have eternal light.

My Saviour wept that all tears might be wiped from my eyes, groaned that I might have endless song, endured all pain that I might have unfading health, bore a thorny crown that I might have a glory-diadem, bowed his head that I might uplift mine, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, closed his eyes in death that I might gaze on unclouded brightness, expired that I might for ever live.

O that my every breath might be ecstatic praise, my every step buoyant with delight, as I see my enemies crushed; Satan baffled, defeated, destroyed; sin buried in the ocean of recoiling blood, hell’s gates closed, heaven’s portal open.

Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save.”

Do I truly understand the miracle of the cross? Can I ever really fathom it? Lord, on this Good Friday, show me the cross.

………………………

(All quotations taken from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions, emphasis mine. Specific prayers quoted: “The Precious Blood”, “Crucifixion and Resurrection”, “The Grace of the Cross”, “Calvary’s Anthem”, and “Love Lustres at Calvary”.)

A letter to Baby #2

Dear Baby,

Your mommy, daddy, and big sister are so excited to meet you. We love you tremendously already. You, sweet little one, are an answer to prayer. (Many, many prayers!) We can’t wait to add you to our little family.

Well, I take that back. We CAN wait. You see, Baby, God is already teaching us and sanctifying us through you! And one of the things He’s teaching us is to wait. We waited months for the news that you were on your way, and it was hard. Every time I realized we had to wait another month, I grieved. I grieved for a potential baby that was lost. I grieved for the time that was lost. I grieved (more selfishly) because I wanted something and I didn’t get my way. I know many families wait and grieve like this for months and years, but I’ve learned that it’s hard whether it’s a month or a decade. God had a plan for our family, and His timing was specific. While we were waiting, He was teaching us to trust Him and rely on His plan. God didn’t want to just give us a baby; He had a specific baby for us. This specific baby required specific genetic material, and any different timing would have resulted in a totally different baby! God had us waiting for you, Baby, and you’re absolutely worth the wait.

The waiting wasn’t over, however, with a positive pregnancy test. Oh no, the waiting had just begun! We had to wait for the first doctor’s visit, the first ultrasound, hearing the heartbeat for the fist time, and finally feeling you move. We’re still waiting to find out whether you’re a boy or a girl, and we have months to wait before we can meet you. But I’m learning to enjoy the waiting. Instead of being impatient and looking forward to the next milestone, I’m trying to enjoy the here and now. I’ve loved every minute of being pregnant, and I want to enjoy it without rushing through to the end. I know now, as a second-time mom, that it all goes WAY TOO FAST! If I rushed impatiently through this pregnancy, I would also be rushing through your sister’s toddler phase. While I may be anxious to have you in my arms, I am in no hurry for her to grow up. So we’re taking things slowly, enjoying milestones as they come, and focusing on the present instead of keeping our sights set on a due date.

Waiting patiently is a valuable lesson, but it’s not the only thing God has taught me in the last few months. I’ve been learning to trust His sovereignty more and worry less. I’m not a worrier by nature, but motherhood has changed that! I never spent too much time meditating on Jesus’ teachings about worry, because I needed His help with other sins more. But lately He’s shown me that I do harbor worry in my heart instead of trusting Him. When I was expecting your sister, I didn’t have as many concerns and anxieties as I do now. Now, several years later, I know much more about miscarriage and infertility. I have close friends who have experienced loss. I’ve read more about pregnancy and potential complications. And this increased knowledge has increased my worry. It doesn’t help that my children (I’m talking to you, baby!) like to scare me senseless. At twelve weeks, both you and your sister hid from the doctor so she couldn’t find your heartbeat. Do you know how long the walk to the ultrasound room is when you’re not sure if your baby’s heart is still beating? Do you know how long it seems to take for the ultrasound tech to get everything ready? Do you know what a relief it is to finally hear that heartbeat? No, I guess you don’t, or you wouldn’t have put your mother through that! At least those long minutes leave plenty of time for prayer. It’s not easy to choose trust over worry, Baby, but God is teaching and I’m learning. And you’re helping with that process, for which I’m grateful to you.

Baby, we are praying for you. We’re praying that you will grow strong and healthy. We’re praying for your character, and that you will value honesty, kindness, integrity, patience, diligence, and perseverance. But, Baby, most of all we’re praying for your heart. You see, in our family, Jesus is most important. We’re praying that you would grow up knowing and loving Jesus, and that you would trust Him as your Savior at an early age. Baby, we want you to have a heart that above all else loves and treasures Jesus. We pray that you would grow up to care about God’s kingdom and His mission. We want you to live your life for Jesus, and not only for yourself. Baby, God has you in his hands and He has an amazing purpose for your life. Follow Him. Love Him. Serve Him.

Your parents are so thankful for you, and the blessing you have been to our family already. We love you and we’re so excited that God chose us to be your parents. In only a few short months your mommy and daddy (and sister, and grandparents, and aunts, etc!) will get to hold you in our arms and kiss your cheeks. Until then, grow strong; and thank you for teaching us and drawing us closer to our Father.

A Prayer for a New Year

O Lord,

Length of days does not profit me except the days are passed in thy presence, in thy service, to thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains, sanctifies, aids every hour,

that I may not be one moment apart from thee, but may rely on thy Spirit to supply every thought, speak every word, direct every step, prosper every work, build up every mote of faith,

and give me a desire to show forth thy praise; testify thy love, advance thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year, with thee, O Father, as my harbour, thee, O Son, at my helm, thee, O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt, my lamp burning, my ear open to thy calls, my heart full of love, my soul free.

Give me thy grace to sanctify me, thy comforts to cheer, thy wisdom to teach, thy right hand to guide, thy counsel to instruct, thy law to judge, thy presence to stabilize.

May thy fear be my awe, thy triumphs my joy.

(from The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Emphasis mine.)

A Prayer for Year’s End

O Love beyond compare,

Thou art good when thou givest, when thou takest away, when the sun shines upon me, when night gathers over me.

Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world, and in love didst redeem my soul; Thou dost love me still, in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.

Thy goodness has been with me during another year, leading me through a twisting wilderness, in retreat helping me to advance, when beaten back making sure headway.

Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead; I hoist sail and draw up anchor, with Thee as the blessed Pilot of my future as of my past.

I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.

If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation, thou wilt be with me in them;

If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation, I shall not drown;

If I am to die, I shall see thy face the sooner;

If a painful end is to be my lot, grant me grace that my faith fail not;

If I am to be cast aside from the service I love, I can make no stipulation;

Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial, as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.

(From The Valley of Vision: Puritan Prayers and Devotions. Emphasis mine.)

A Puritan Prayer

Several years ago I was introduced to a wonderful book called The Valley of Vision. Edited by Arthur Bennett, it is a collection of prayers from a dozen well-known Puritans including John Bunyan, David Brainerd, and Charles Haddon Spurgeon. These prayers all follow a poetic structure (which my inner grammarian loves,) and I love to read through them as my heart echoes their words to God.

A prayer about the family is my current favorite, especially this excerpt:

Let those that are united to me in tender ties be precious in thy sight and devoted to thy glory. Sanctify and prosper my domestic devotion, instruction, discipline, example, that my house may be a nursery for heaven, my church a garden of the Lord, enriched with trees of righteousness of thy planting, for thy glory. (from The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, edited by Arthur Bennett.)

This has been my prayer lately. I need constant reminders that my “domestic devotions” of laundry, cleaning, cooking, etc. are a means that God uses to sanctify me. I need to remember that my purpose in instructing and disciplining Piper is her eventual salvation and sanctification. I love the image of my home being a nursery for heaven where I am raising and training future saints. And the last part reminds me that everything I do as a woman, a wife, and a mother is for His glory.

Good stuff. I’m thankful for the Puritans and the way that centuries later, I can echo their prayers and “amen” their words.