Sunday, March 4, 2012

Providence, A Prayer

"God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy." The Westminster Confession of Faith V.1

In my last couple of posts I have mentioned that I am taking a class on worship and our professor, Dr. Derek Thomas, has encouraged us to write out prayers on various subjects so that we can think about how we would lead a congregation in prayer before a sermon. This is not so that we would memorize prayers but so that we would engage in the practice of "studied prayers" and be prepared to pray well before a congregation.

Below is one I wrote on God's providence. It is not a theological treatment of the subject that can in any way compare with the Westminster Confession's time-honored wisdom, but I hope you find it helpful, perhaps something you can pray through, and perhaps a blessing to your soul.

Father, we come before You today as men and women who cannot control our lives. We confess our weakness and inability to control anything in our lives. We can’t even control our own hearts and minds, much less the hearts and minds of others or the workings of Your creation. But, You, Father, have established Your thrown in the heavens and Your kingdom rules over all. You work all things according to the counsel of Your will, and we want praise You, this morning, for Your providence by which, in Your holiness, wisdom, and power, You preserve and govern all Your creatures, their actions, and this world in which we live.

We join Your people throughout time in this praise of You. Thousands of years ago the psalmist prayed a similar prayer and You have preserved it for us in Psalm 104. Like him, we preach to ourselves, “Bless the LORD, O my soul!” For Father, You truly are very great and sovereign. You make the clouds Your chariots; You ride on the wings of the wind, so our souls bless You and praise You. You set the foundations of the earth so that they may not be moved. From those foundations You give drink to every beast of the field, and You cause the grass to grow for the livestock and the plants for man to cultivate, so our souls bless You and praise You. You made the creatures of the earth, and these all look to You to give them their food in due season, so our souls bless You and praise You. We praise You, Father, because we are never in the grip of blind forces, fortunes, or fates. You plan, preserve, and govern all that happens, for Your glory and for our good.

Jesus reminded us to think about these creatures and Your providential provision for them. He said, “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds!” Oh Father, how much more valuable are we than the birds and yet we confess that we doubt Your providence and Your provision. We may acknowledge with our mouths that You are the one who works all things together for the good of those who love You and are called according to Your purpose, but in our lives and hearts we often deny that truth. We confess that we worry about our money, our jobs, our rent, our mortgage, and our food. We confess that we often times lie awake at night preaching these promises to ourselves but our hearts just will not listen. Forgive us, Father, of our unbelief, our doubt, our little faith in Your mighty, sovereign control over everything in our lives. Two sparrows are sold for a penny and, as Jesus reminds us, not will fall to the ground apart from Your providence. Help our unbelief, Father. Remind us of Your glorious provision in our lives so that we might not doubt You when the darkness starts to close in. Work these promises of Your control down into every nook and cranny of our lives so that we might not doubt You.

Father, we thank You for these promises and Your providence in every aspect of our lives. We thank You that we don’t have to be anxious about anything but can bring everything to You in prayer knowing that You have it all under control. We thank You that when our lives seem out of control and we are powerless, You are not and You are working out Your providence even in those times. We thank You for Your most mighty work of providence in all of history: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—Jesus who You delivered up as a sacrifice for us according to Your definite plan and foreknowledge and who You raised up, loosing the pangs of death. Father, how can we doubt Your glorious plan when we remember that even Jesus’ death and resurrection was part of Your providence?

Remind us of this glorious truth when we begin to doubt. Remind us of Your promises when our hearts fail us. Help us to preach Your providence and sovereign control to ourselves so that we might never be anxious but have Your peace that transcends all understanding.

In the name of Jesus, our providential sacrifice, amen. 

By His Grace,

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