Pastoral Prayer for December 1, 2019

Led by Jim Hollenbach

Almighty God, we who, by your grace, have seen the wretchedness of our sin, repented of it, and surrendered to Jesus as Lord – humbly come before you now at His invitation; not on our own merits but on His. We come reprising the words of Isaiah, O Lord, you are our God; we will exalt you; we will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure. (Isa 25.1)
Father, among all the wonderful things that you planned, surely there is none greater than your Son being born a man to save His people from their sins (Mt 1:21b). It rightly takes our breath away that in love Jesus took on flesh, lived a life of perfect obedience to you, suffered and died on the cross in our place, was resurrected on the third day, and 40 days later ascended into heaven to sit at your right hand, where He is interceding for us even now.

As we celebrate Christ’s incarnation this advent season, we pray that our hearts – the hearts of all his disciples – will reverberate with that glorious message the angel declared to the shepherds: I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (Lk 2:10-11)

Yet we must confess, dear Father, that even in this Christmas season, “great joy” is too often absent from our lives. You tell us in Psalm 5:11, let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. In Philippians 4:4 you instruct us to Rejoice in the Lord always. But sadly, we often let our earthly cares obstruct our joy. We too often walk by sight, not by faith.

Some of us spend the Christmas season recounting past hurts by family members rather than counting the joy of being adopted into your family through faith in Christ.

Some of us let the trials we’re experiencing steal our joy, not taking James’ counsel to Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds.
Some of us let disappointment with our circumstances darken our view of almost everything, forgetting that you tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 to Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Please forgive us Lord, for our joy being not continual, but sparse. May we not confuse joy with being jolly or merry. Holy Spirit, please impress on our hearts, and daily remind us, that true joy is being reconciled to God through repentance and faith in the One whose incarnation we celebrate at Christmas.
May we obey Jesus’ command in Luke 10:20b, to …rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

May Paul’s declaration in Romans 5:11, be true of us, that…we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for the comforting, joy-inducing promise of Romans 8:28, that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
Help us, Holy Spirit, to remember this promise in difficult times. Even when our tears are flowing, may we be sorrowful, yet always rejoicing, as Paul testifies in 2 Cor 6:10.
We thank you, Father, for missionary Amy Carmichael’s wonderful maxim, that “Joy is perfect acquiescence in God’s will.” We plead that each Christian would likewise know the abiding joy of resting in your sovereign reign over their lives.
We pray Lord, that you will galvanize in our hearts the wonder of our own salvation! May we continually exult that we have been rescued from your wrath, reconciled to you, adopted by you, and will one day be with you in heaven. May we regularly, humbly, and joyfully declare with David, You have made known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore! (Ps 16:11)

We praise you, Triune God, for being the source of all true joy. Thank you, Lord, for the greatest Christmas present of all: faith in Jesus Christ and with it, an inheritance in heaven that can never perish, spoil or fade. Let each Christian say, with David, in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy (Ps 63:7).



Posted on: December 3, 2019 - 3:51PM

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