This is not the first time I’ve mentioned this book of written prayers, nor will it be the last. This book is the biggest part of my daily quiet time routine. This book is ….drumroll…Everyday Prayers by Scotty Smith.
The prayer for April 12 (which I also read last year on April 12) just stunned me and I must share.
A Prayer About Pain-Generated Compassion
Jesus, the gospel should be all the motivation I need for living as a compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient man—especially when I consider this is how you relate to me 24/7, in full view of my ill-deserving ways. I’ll never experience you as insensitive, unkind, proud, harsh, or impatient. Indeed, through the gospel, I’ve become a member of God’s chosen, holy, dearly loved people.
Yet it does take more: sometimes it takes pain. Today is just such a day. As I pray, I’m hurting big-time. Today it will be easier for me to clothe myself with compassion than with cotton. Yesterday afternoon I forgot that exercising at the gym doesn’t qualify me to be a refrigerator mover. But as I hurt, I’m moved to pray today for chronic sufferers—those who cry, ‘How long, O Lord?’ for better reasons and with more tears than I have.
Jesus, I pray for people with unrelenting pain in their bodies—those who no longer get any relief from physical therapy or medication. I pray for people with emotional and mental diseases, who live in the cruel world of delusional thinking and sabotaging emotions. I pray for their families and caregivers.
I pray for the unconscionable number of children in the world who are suffering from hunger and malnutrition and for their parents who feel both shame and helplessness. Lord, these and many more stories of great suffering I bring before you.
I also pray for the worst chronic suffering of all: for those who are ‘separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.’ (Ephesians 2:12). Come, Holy Spirit, come, and apply the saving benefits of Jesus to the religious and the nonreligious alike—to those who may be in the church or in the culture but who are not in Christ.
Jesus, I anticipate getting over this back pain pretty soon, but I don’t want to get over compassionate praying and compassionate living. I pray in your kind and caring name. Amen.
Ouch. Oh dear Jesus, I pray…
For the April 13 prayer, he wrote this:
But today it gives me compassion as I pray for a few friends who are feeling exactly what Jeremiah felt (Jeremiah 20:7, 18).
For the friend I sat with yesterday who’s feeling set up, chewed up, and spit out by you, bring the gospel to bear. She loves you, but she feels abandoned by you. She knows better, but she feels bitter. My instinct is to ‘fix her,’ but the way the gospel is to listen and love before launching. Give me patience and kindness as I trust you to restore her to gospel sanity.
For my friend whose spiritual melancholia is heading to an even darker place, Father, give me wisdom. What’s purely physical? What’s to some degree demonic? What’s just plain ol’ pity party? I don’t know. I just don’t know.
Help me, Lord, and heal my friends. Meet them as you met Jeremiah. I pray in Jesus’ strong and living name. Amen.
Who prays with such vulnerable pain as this author? Ouch. But then again, don’t we all have such broken situations in our lives? And the ability to give our pain to God in prayer? But we have to name our pain to do that, don’t we?
Sometimes I wonder why would anyone ever read this Brave Faith stuff. It is about broken-heartedness and shame and vulnerability and pain.
There is hope offered too. When pain is the beginning, hope becomes Plan B and real.
And know this, people are praying for you. People are praying for your pain. Be brave.
(Photo credit: http://proverbs31.org/online-bible-studies/2013/04/20/sll-week-2-prayer-requests-praises/, http://www.buzzfeed.com/kellyoakes/cute-aggression#.leMmvz1ORd)