The Greatest, Safest, Most Satisfying Place in the World
Where is the greatest, safest, most satisfying place in the world to be? In the very center of God’s will, that’s where! So why not move there—like ASAP. And here’s a prayer that’s a great first step in making the move in that direction: “Father, not my will, but yours be done!”
Enduring Truth // Focus: Matthew 26:39
Jesus went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”
Where is the greatest, safest, most satisfying place in the world to be? In the very center of God’s will, that’s where!
When we can learn to not only pray, but earnestly desire God’s will for our lives—unpleasant and undesired circumstances notwithstanding—then we will have discovered what Jesus knew all along when he prayed that prayer on the very night he was betrayed: The Divine “eye” of the Satanic storm.
Jesus desired his Father’s will more than anything else—even life itself. He knew his purpose in life was to fulfill God’s plan: To redeem a lost world by his sacrificial death. He entrusted his own personal preferences to the One who not only works out all things for His own glory, but for the good of His children as well. (Romans 8:28) That’s why Jesus, whom Hebrews 12 calls, “the author and finisher of our faith,” looked at the cross with great joy. That’s why he endured this ghastly assignment heroically. That’s why he even despised the shame of hanging upon that cross like a death-row inmate. For Jesus knew that the path to the crown was by way of the cross. Now he has arrived and is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
Have you come to that place where you can subjugate your own preferences to the will of God? When you can so entrust your life to the Father’s perfect plan, no matter what that means, you will have discovered, as Jesus did, the Divine eye in the midst of every Satanic storm. And that is the greatest, safest, most satisfying place in the world!
Take a moment to absorb how Hebrews 12:1-3 says it:
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses [Jesus and others who heroically fulfilled God’s will], let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Are you struggling with God’s will? Does it seem a little too much to handle? Keep your eye on Jesus! Consider what he went through! For if you endure your cross now, then afterwards comes the crown!
Before he was martyred by the Naizis, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in a letter from prison, “Much that worries us beforehand can afterwards, quite unexpectedly, have a happy and simple solution… Things really are in a better hand than ours.”
That’s why Jesus’ prayer, “Father, not my will, but Yours be done,” is a really good prayer for you to pray. Your life—unpleasant and undesired circumstances notwithstanding—is in better hands than yours.
And after your cross, if you endure by doing the will of the Father, comes the crown.
Why not pray this prayer over your life before you go out for the day? “Father, not my will, but yours be done!”
52 Simple Prayers for 2018
What would happen in our marriage relationships—in all of our relationships, for that matter—if the primary motive was to introduce our significant other to Christ? I am not talking about badgering a spouse into the kingdom through a non-stop, hard sell verbal witness. I’m talking about offering them the real Jesus. I’m talking about showing them what authentic salvation is all about. I’m talking about living every dimension of your life in such a way that Jesus shines through. That’s really what Christians are meant to do, after all. We are to make the Savior attractive to those who are far from him by the way we live—how we respond, how we serve, how we give, how we navigate disappointment, how we suffer, how we freely forgive, how we love proactively and how we extend grace unconditionally. Who wouldn’t be attracted to Christ when we are living that kind of winsome witness.
A Simple Prayer for a Winsome Marriage:
God, my prayer today is simple: Help me to so live that my spouse sees you in the way I live. When I speak, in my body language, in my actions, in my attitude, help me to be the Gospel in the real world of my everyday marriage.
And It’s Not You!
There is room for only one God in your life, so let God be God. He has a great track record in that role, you know—and you don’t!
Enduring Truth // Focus: Psalm 131:1
My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me.
There is only One who is God—and that’s not you! Basically, that is what the King David is saying of himself in this brief song of assent. The Message translates verse one this way:
God, I’m not trying to rule the roost,
I don’t want to be king of the mountain.
I haven’t meddled where I have no business
or fantasized grandiose plans.
Yet this business of godship is more prevalent than we care to admit. You see, when we fret and worry over matters we can’t control, when we meddle and manipulate to get our plans fulfilled, when we come to God after the fact for help, when we pray as a last rather than a first resort, when we cut corners in our financial stewardship because we can’t afford to give to the Lord’s work, and when we put our hope in government (or anything else) at the expense of our trust in God, in effect, we have removed God from his rightful throne.
There is room for only one God in your life, so let God be God. He has a great track record in that role, you know, and you don’t.
And by the way, when you allow God to be God, good things happen for you:
- You become the recipient of greater grace. Recognizing God’s rightful role takes true humility (the opposite of pride and haughtiness), as David describes, “My heart is not proud, O LORD,my eyes are not haughty”—Psalm 131:1a. Of course, the Bible repeatedly tells us this is always the catalyst for greater grace. (Proverbs 3:34)
- You become the recipient of greater security. You put things that are above your pay grade back into the hands of the only One wise enough to handle them—what David calls “great matters or things too wonderful for me” —Psalm 131:1b (See how Paul describes them in Romans 11:33-36)
- You become the recipient of greater confidence. Someone else is running the universe, which means you don’t carry that great weight upon your shoulders. David says, “But I have stilled and quieted my soul” —Psalm 131:2a … which is possible only when you first walk with the Shepherd who leads you beside quiet waters and restores your soul.
- You become the recipient of greater contentment. David describes it “like a baby content in its mother’s arms, my soul is a baby content” —Psalm 131:2b (MSG) Paul says, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (I Timothy 6:6)
- You become the recipient of greater hope. “O Israel, put your hope in the Lord both now and forevermore”—Psalm 131:3. It is by Biblical hope, as Paul teaches, “we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?” (Romans 8:24) “Hope” as Paul says in Romans 5:5, “does not disappoint us…”
Hmmm…grace, security, confidence, contentment, hope. I think I’ll let God be God!
Have you told the Lord lately that you have no God but him? Maybe you should do it now!
A Bad Regulator but a Powerful Spring
Simon Peter was a well known bumbler, but he sure was passionate! Perhaps that’s why Jesus gave him so much attention and placed him so prominently on his leadership team. Like the very flawed King David, Peter had a heart after God. I suspect God prefers the passionate over the perfect. (By the way, there are no perfect people, only those who think they are.) The Gospel writers were not shy about including Peter’s famous gaffes to remind us that God uses imperfect people, especially the passionate ones!
Enduring Truth // Focus: John 18:25
Meanwhile, as Simon Peter was standing by the fire warming himself, they asked him again, “You’re not one of his disciples, are you?” He denied it, saying, “No, I am not.”
Peter usually takes a beating when evaluated alongside the eleven disciples. He gets labeled as the stumbling, bumbling, think-before-you-speak, foot-in-the mouth, inconsistent goofball from Galilee, who for reasons God only knows, got chosen to be one of Jesus’ first disciples. Good old Peter—the first century version of Gomer Pyle in the Lord’s little band of foot soldiers.
But let’s give Peter some credit. He may not have been perfect—by a long shot—but he sure was passionate! And he was there—at least give him that. In John 18, as Jesus was arrested and brought to trial, when everyone else but John had fled, Peter figured prominently. He was like a bull in a china shop—passionate, yes; perfect, no—but he was there:
- He whacked off the ear of one who came to arrest Jesus. (John 18:10-11, NLT) Passionate—but misguided!
- He surreptitiously followed as the High Priest’s SWAT team took Jesus to jail. (John 18:15-17, NLT) Passionate—but fearful!
- He stood among the soldiers as they warmed themselves by the fire. (John 18:18, NLT) Passionate—but silent!
- He denied knowing Jesus when questioned, but at least he was there to be questioned. (John 18:25, NLT) Passionate—but weak!
- He doubled down on his denial when questioned again. (John 18:26-27, NLT) Passionate—but fundamentally flawed!
Yes, Peter was all of those things we’ve said—there is no doubt about it—but passionate? You bet—imperfect, but passionate to the core! Perhaps that is why Jesus gave Peter so much public attention and placed him so prominently on his leadership team. Like the very flawed King David, Peter had a heart after God.
God can use people like that. In fact, I suspect God prefers them over the perfect. Oh, and just a little hint: There are no perfect people, only those who think and act like they are. Of course, I am not excusing Peter’s imperfection; only explaining it. But I think the reason the Gospel writers included Peter’s gaffes with regularity was not to put him down as the dunderhead we often think he is, but to remind us that God uses imperfect people, especially the passionate ones!
Ask God to give you greater passion. Pray for self-control and wisdom, too—but if you are like me, you probably need more passion than the other two.
52 Simple Prayers for 2018
Do you ever feel inadequate to come before a holy God in prayer? Have you witnessed prayer warriors interceding with such ease that it intimates you because you could certainly never pray like that? Do you ever run out of words when you pray? When it comes to prayer, do you feel as Ringo Star once sang, “it don’t come easy.” Guess what! That’s okay! When I don’t know how to pray or what to pray or feel so incredibly inadequate to pray, the Holy Spirit dwelling within me does the praying for me. He takes my inarticulate, jumbled thoughts and raises them to the Father above, making perfect sense of the things that are running through my mind and burdening my heart. My prayers don’t have to be smooth, they don’t have to have perfect grammatical structure, they don’t even have to make sense. They just need to come from a heart that is crying out for the Father’s best in my life, and the indwelling Spirit does the rest.
A Simple Prayer to Pray Powerfully:
God, through the indwelling presence of your Holy Spirit, take my inarticulate thoughts, my unclear mind, my annoying insecurities about being good enough in prayer, perfect them and bring them near to your heart. Turn my feeble efforts to pray into mountain moving prayers. As I offer what’s in my heart to you, I will thank you in advance for turning them into that which glorifies you.