A Prayer to the God of Peace

“Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Hebrews 13:20-21)

God of peace,
Bringer of shalom to a world of unending conflict,
Maker of unity amidst currents of angst,
Giver of the gift of the Lamb who takes away sin and death
by dying and rising in miraculous power,
guide us through this wearisome way
that we might enjoy abundant life in You.
Equip us in the midst of weakness
that we might follow Your word and walk in Your will.
Work in us what brings You greatest pleasure,
for living in Your joy and delight we find You as our greatest treasure.
We look to You, our loving Father.
We look to You, the glorified Son.
We look to You, the ever-present Spirit.
Three in One, thrice holy God,
our lives are Yours,
now and forever.
Amen.

A Prayer for Wholeness: drawn from Psalm 80

Restore us again, O Lord God of hosts;
show the light of your countenance,
and we shall be whole.”
(Psalm 80:19, New Coverdale Psalter)

You, who are beyond me yet near me,
who are at One with Yourself,
yet interacting with a confused world:
speak wholeness into me.

You, who are God of all and over all,
who are holy, holy, holy,
yet are merciful beyond measure:
breathe wholeness into me.

You, whose presence is brilliance and light,
whose majesty is incomprehensible,
yet whose light brings illumination so personal:
shine wholeness into me.

You, who know all things comprehensively,
who have created the world in grandeur,
yet who intimately knows each one:
mold wholeness into me.

You, God, holy and mighty—
You, God, loving and merciful—
You, God, majestic and personal—
make me whole like You.

What Does It Look Like to Rest in God?: insights about the easy yoke from Dallas Willard

Renovation of the Heart

One of the most striking aspects of the writing and teaching of Dallas Willard is his ability to open up with fresh perspective what it means to be a disciple of Jesus. One of Willard’s most powerful contributions to disciple is found in his explanation of Jesus’ well-known invitation:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)

Willard refers to our discipleship response to this invitation as living in “the secret of the easy yoke” in his book The Spirit of the Disciplines. As I recently re-read Renovation of the Heart, I came across this basic description of what Willard sees as the essence of discipleship in the easy yoke of Jesus. I hope it speaks to you as much as it did to me.

Jesus heard the soul’s cries from the wearied humanity he saw around him. He saw the soul’s desperate need in those who struggled with the overwhelming tasks of their life. Such weariness and endless labor was, to him, a sure sign of a sou not properly rooted in God—a soul, in effect, on its own. He saw the multitudes around him, and it tore his heart, for they were ‘distressed and downcast’ like ‘sheep without a shepherd’ (Matthew 9:36). And he invited such people to come and become his students (‘learn of me’) by yoking themselves to him—that is, letting him show them how he would pull their load. He is not ‘above’ this, as earthly ‘great ones’ are, for he is meek and lowly of heart (Matthew 11:28-30).

His own greatness of soul made meekness and lowliness the natural way for him to be (Philippians 2:3-11). Being in his yoke is not a matter of taking on additional labor to crush us all the more, but a matter of learning how to use his strength and ours together to bear our load  and his. We will find his yoke an easy one and his burden a light one because, in learning from him, we have found rest to our soul. What we have learned is, primarily, to rest our soul in God. Rest to our soul is rest in God. My soul is at peace only when it is with God, as a child with its mother.

What we most learn in his yoke, beyond acting with him, is to abandon outcomes to God, accepting that we do not have in ourselves—in our own ‘heart, soul, mind, and strength’—the wherewithal to make this come out right, whatever ‘this’ is. Even if we ‘suffer according to the will of God,’ we simple ‘entrust our souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right’ (1 Peter 4:19). Now, this is a major part of that meekness and lowliness of heart that we also learn in his yoke. And what rest comes with it!

[From Dallas Willard, Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002), 209.]

A Morning Prayer of Closeness to God

“Let the dawn bring news
of Your unfailing love
for I put my trust in You.
Show me the road
that I must travel
for You to relieve my heart.”

(Psalm 143:8, NJB)

Early in the morning I draw away
to be only with You.
The time seems to move too quickly
and I know I must step toward what comes next.
But here, in this treasured hour,
this spot of rest and place of being,
I draw near to You—
to hear from You,
to savor You,
to delight in You,
to rest in Your love,
and to share my love with You.
I have nothing in me that is good
save the goodness You planted in me.
Neither am I overcome by evil
because You lavished grace upon me.
Keep me close to You today, God,
for You are my true joy, life, and peace.

A Prayer for the Road of Life with Jesus

“Let the dawn bring news
of Your unfailing love
for I put my trust in You.
Show me the road
that I must travel
for You to relieve my heart.” (Psalm 143:8, NJB)

“Jesus said, ‘I am the Road, also the Truth, also the Life. No one gets to the Father apart from me.” (John 14:6, Message)

You who have called me to follow You,
take me into Your Road—Your Way.
Lead me away from other ways
that I might find Your truth and Your life
as I walk within Your road.

I admit that many times I seek Your life
apart from Your Road,
doing damage to my own soul and others
by trying to calm new wine into old wineskins.

Forgive me, LORD, and show me again
the Road that I must travel
to find Your peace, Your truth, and Your life.

Open my eyes when I become blind.
Open my ears when I become deaf.
Guide my feet when I lose my bearings.
And strengthen my heart when I lose courage.

I am Yours, and I rest in Your road
and Your truth and Your life.