Thursday, January 01, 2009

A Prayer Of Mine For 2009

So you, by the help of your God, return,
Hold fast to love and justice,
And wait continually for your God.
Hosea 12:6
Father in heaven, thank You for these words spoken to Your covenant people Israel through Your prophet Hosea. Though they were first spoken hundreds of years ago, they have rung loud and clear in my heart on this last day of 2008. And as I stand on the horizon of the new year that we will welcome in just a few short hours, I would like to lift them up as the banner by which I pray You would carry me into and through this new year.

Father, You are my God. You are my help. There are no greater realities to me in the world than this. It seems like just yesterday that 2008 began. And if either of these realities ceased to be true for even one second, I wouldn’t be on the eve of welcoming a new year. So, I thank You for Your constancy. I ask with the psalmist, “What shall I render to You for all Your benefits to me?” And I answer with him, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD!” In response to all the help that You have been to me in 2008, O my God, I ask that You would be even more help to me in 2009. For surely as the measure of my days on this earth increase, Father, I don’t feel that I need Your help less and less. On the contrary, I feel the need for it more and more. I feel the need for You more and more. So be my help, I ask, to the praise of the glory of Your grace.

Of the many things You have taught me in 2008, I think I have grasped perhaps for the first time the bottomless depths of my sin. Redeemed I am because of the grace offered through the sacrifice of Your Son! And I praise You for Jesus, my wisdom and my righteousness and sanctification and redemption, with all that I am! But oh to be free from this body of death! Perhaps the reason Your apostle soared so high in the epistles that You inspired him to write is because he had sunk so low into depths that were dark and inescapable apart from Your grace. Our sin runs deep. Much deeper than we know. It’s so deceptive that it can convince us that we are doing Your will and even cause us to twist Your word to make it mean what You never meant for it to mean. Until the light of Your help shines on our path to show us the impending destruction we are headed for. Apart from You, Father, there is no repentance. Apart from You, Father, there is no returning. So please grant me more repentance, deeper repentance in 2009, Father. Grant me a greater suspicion of my heart. Against all the impulses of our society to dismiss and diminish the outrage and pervasiveness of sin, grant me to remember that there is nothing good that lives in me, that is in my flesh. Help me to be more concerned with the log in my own eye than the speck in my brother’s. Let me point the finger at myself rather than point the finger at others. And let the sinful behavior that I do see outside of myself cause me to recognize the sin that remains in my own heart so that I would grieve both their sins and my own. Humble me, O God, under Your mighty right hand.

Please do so by strengthening my grip of the old rugged cross that Your Son bore. Oh how weak my grip is! And so, by Your help, I sing: Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to Thy cross I cling. May this be what it means for me to hold fast to love and justice in 2009. Father, I know not the meeting place of love and justice apart from the cross of Your Son. So when I hear those two words in the same sentence, may I see Him hanging on that tree for my sins. Thank You that You so loved the world that You sent Your only begotten Son to be put forward as a propitiation for our sins in order that You might be both just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. Your gospel is summed up in love and justice. Forbid that I would lose either in a day when one is so much more widely embraced than the other. Spare me from trivializing Your gospel in compromising either, for the sake of my soul. Few things scare me more than singing about this love and justice demonstrated at the cross without any movement in my affections. So grant me the grace, I pray, to fight the familiarity with Your glorious gospel that daily aims to settle into my heart, destroying my joy and killing my soul. Rather unleash in my heart new wonders of Calvary that would daily thrill my soul and confirm that I am now living life eternal.

And finally, I pray that You would increase my faith in Your infinite reservoirs of future grace by making me one who continually waits for You. Thank You for opening my eyes to see how these two go together: faith and waiting. Where there is no waiting, there is no faith. And where there is no faith, there is no waiting. From cover to cover in the Bible You have given us, I cannot escape the innumerable exhortations You have given Your people to wait on You. So often in my life, I have applied these exhortations to specific requests that I desire for You to fulfill. But I am coming to learn that this is not what You intend when You charge us again and again to be a people who wait. Rather You call me to wait because this is what it means to live a life of faith, which is what my relationship has been with You from conversion and will be until Jesus comes or calls me home. In this life, I will always be waiting as long as my faith is in Jesus. No matter how many desires are fulfilled. How easily and often I forget this! Please remind me of this daily throughout 2009, for You know how weary I grow of waiting. Enable, empower, and energize me to keep on waiting by holding fast to the love and justice that You demonstrated 2000 years ago. Please grant me this grace to continually wait for You, that in and through every desire to be finished waiting for something would be the longing to be done waiting for the return of Your Son. You are the One we wait for, Lord Jesus. So more than any other desire that could be fulfilled in 2009, I pray with my whole heart that You would come. Even so, come Lord Jesus! In Your holy name I pray, Amen.

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