A Prayer for Saturday

From The Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers:

My God, I bless you that you have given me the eye of faith to see you as Father, to know you as a covenant God, to experience your love planted in me; for faith is the grace of union by which I spell out my entitlement to you.

Faith casts my anchor upward where I trust in you and engage you to be my Lord.

Be pleased to live and move within me, breathing in my prayers, inhabiting my praises, speaking in my words, moving in my actions, living in my life, causing me to grow in grace.

Your bounteous goodness has helped me believe, but my faith is weak and wavering, its light dim, its steps tottering, its increase slow, its backsliding frequent; it should scale the heavens, but lies groveling in the dust.

Lord, fan this divine spark into glowing flame.

When faith sleeps, my heart becomes an unclean thing, the fount of every loathsome desire, the cage of unclean lusts all fluttering to escape, the noxious tree of deadly fruit, the open wayside of earthly tares.

Lord, awake faith to put forth its strength until all heaven fills my soul and all impurity is cast out.

Be Thou My Vision

As a college student I lived on the edge of the dangerous cliff of pleasing men and pleasing God. I wanted others to like me, yet knew I wanted God to like me too. I wanted to do God’s will and peoples’ will too. I was part of a men’s college choir with a remarkable director who brought out the best in us. We wore crisp tuxedos, traveled to mostly Methodist churches and performed. My hypocrisy wasn’t so obvious…it was internal. The hypocrisy of others was very obvious. They would get drunk the night before, show up the next morning and sing hungover.

Ironically a song I learned for the very first time as a member of Wofford’s Glee Club was Be Thou My Vision. I knew better than living the double life I was living…many of my fellow Glee Club members didn’t. Thankfully God didn’t give up on me. Naomi knew better than to be bitter over what happened to her–but she was bitter anyway. Be Thou My Vision should have been the song she sang on the long road back from Moab to Bethlehem. Maybe it needs to be your song today. Pray these words to God today:

  1. Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
    Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;
    Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
    Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
  2. Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
    I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
    Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
    Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
  3. Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
    Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
    Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tow’r:
    Raise Thou me heav’nward, O Pow’r of my pow’r.
  4. Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
    Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
    Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
    High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
  5. High King of Heaven, my victory won,
    May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heav’n’s Sun!
    Heart of my own heart, whate’er befall,
    Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

If you have four minutes, Fernando Ortega sings it beautifully: 


Resting on God

Slowly and deliberately pray this prayer. Find your rest in God who longs for your to rest in Him. And invite someone to worship tomorrow.

O God Most High, Most Glorious

The thought of your infinite serenity cheers me, for I am toiling and moiling, troubled and distressed, but you are forever at perfect peace.

Your designs cause you no fear or care or unfulfilment, they stand fast as the eternal hills.

Your power knows no bond, your goodness no stint.

You bring order out of confusion, and my defeats are your victories: The Lord God omnipotent reigns.

I come to you as a sinner with cares and sorrows, to leave every concern entirely to you, every sin calling for Christ’s precious blood.

Revive deep spirituality in my heart; let me live near to the great Shepherd, hear his voice, know its tones, follow its calls.

Keep me from deception by causing me to abide in the truth, from harm by helping me to walk in the power of the Spirit.

Give me intenser faith in the eternal truths, burning into me by experience the things I know; let me never be ashamed of the truth of the gospel, that I may bear its reproach, vindicate it, see Jesus as its essence, know in it the power of the Spirit.

Lord, help me, for I am often lukewarm and chill; unbelief mars my confidence, sin makes me forget you.

Let the weeds that grow in my soul be cut at their roots; grant me to know that I truly live only when I live to you, that all else is trifling.

Your presence alone can make me holy, devout, strong and happy.

Abide in me, gracious God.

After Two Whole Years

After two whole years, Pharaoh dreamed that he was standing by the Nile…

Two long years passed. His brothers had sold him. Potiphar’s wife falsely accused him. The cupbearer forgot him. He waited. Then Pharaoh had a dream. Joseph didn’t know Pharaoh had a dream until Pharaoh sent for him. Genesis 41:14 recounts the events: Then Pharaoh sent and called Joseph, and they quickly brought him out of the pit. And when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came in before Pharaoh.

I am convinced that all of Scripture is inspired by God and useful. I have often wondered why the writer included this detail. In a story with such high stakes, why would the writer talk about shaving and changing clothes. I am convinced that while the prison may have changed Joseph on the outside, it did nothing to affect him on the inside. Though Joseph had waited years for this moment, he didn’t rush into Pharaoh’s court. He shaved. He changed his clothes. And then he appeared before Pharaoh.

And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, and there is no one who can interpret it. I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” Joseph answered Pharaoh, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.” (Isaiah 41:15-16)

This is Joseph’s moment of glory–and he deflects it to his God. The pit had not thwarted Joseph’s faith. False accusations did not derail Joseph’s resolve.  The prison had not not made Joseph bitter–he was better.

Joseph interpreted the dream. Pharaoh was blown away. He responded:

Can we find a man like this, in whom is the Spirit of God? Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has shown you all this, there is none so discerning and wise as you are. You shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command. Only as regards the throne will I be greater than you.” And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt.” Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph’s hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck. And he made him ride in his second chariot. And they called out before him, “Bow the knee!” Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. (Genesis 41:39-43)

In one day Joseph moved from the prison to the palace. In one day Joseph transitioned from taking care of criminals (and being accused of being one himself), to saving a nation from starvation. For the next seven years Joseph led the people to grow and save grain and other produce. Because of the imminent famine, Egypt must be ready. Joseph was 30 years old when he became the Prime Minister of Egypt. Half of his young life had passed and his dream hadn’t been fulfilled. Now he could see the possible fulfillment of those long-ago dreams!

He married and had two boys. Their names reveal Joseph’s heart.

Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” (Genesis 41:51-52)

God saved Joseph so that Joseph could save a nation. Joseph saved a nation so that the nation could save his own brothers and dad. God preserved Joseph’s brothers because God promised Joseph’ great-great grandfather (Abraham) he would. While Joseph waited, he had no idea the great plan God was unfolding.

The cupbearer may have forgotten him but God hadn’t. HIs brothers may have tried to kill him, but God preserved him. Potiphar’s wife may have tried to seduce him, but God strengthened him.

God waited with Joseph.

Joseph waited on God.

His dream became a reality.

I Will Not Be Greatly Shaken

For God alone my soul waits in silence;
from him comes my salvation.
He alone is my rock and my salvation,
my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken. (Psalm 61:1-2)

Waiting can be exhilarating or excruciating. Airports unveil both the excitement and the misery. I once sat in an un-airconditioned plane for more than an hour on the tarmac because we couldn’t “take off yet.” On the other hand, I have watched moms hug their sons they haven’t seen in months, seen children run into the arms of their fathers and watched a soldier relish the embrace of his wife. Waiting is both exhilarating and excruciating.

What changes how you wait is who you’re waiting for. In Psalm 62 David says, “For God alone.” Often we wait for what God brings, not for God Himself. At this time of year it is a timely reminder that God is not a divine Santa, He is a dear Savior. David says, “from him comes my salvation.”

On this Sunday morning as you come into worship we will have a time of silent waiting.  As you wait reflect on the God who is your salvation. If you are a born again follower of Christ, He saved you. If you have gone out of darkness into light, He led you out. If you were “sinking deep in sin, far from the peaceful shore” then his “love lifted you.”

When God rescues you, you are secure. You can say with David, “I will not be greatly shaken.”

Whatever seems to have a hold on you stands no chance. God’s grip is greater than your strongest temptation, your bitterest enemy, your greatest fear.