FROM PASTOR MEYER’S DESK: I can remember it as if it happened yesterday. After months of preparation, months of practice, and months of anticipation laced with a bit of anxiety, it finally arrived. And what exactly was “it”? “It” was the first time I ever preached. It happened during my second year of college when I signed up to preach a chapel service at the school I was attending at the time – St. Paul’s College in Concordia, Missouri. I could have done it the preceding year, but the thought of doing so turned my stomach into a nest of fluttering butterflies. I’m not exactly sure what changed the following year, but I put my name on the sign-up sheet to preach my first sermon ever. And it began with a bang – literally! Sometime between the preceding morning’s chapel service and the one at which I was scheduled to preach, somebody snuck into the sanctuary and planted a firecracker in each of the two candles that stood on the altar. So when the acolyte lit the candles, those two firecrackers ignited and let loose with a loud BOOM followed by another one. To my knowledge, the individual or individuals who did it were never caught. And if it was done to shake me up, well, it succeeded, but only for a few seconds. For then I thought at least I would have something to tell my kids and grandkids someday and maybe even write about in a monthly newsletter in the year 2019. And as for whether or not I would be able to deliver my sermon that day after such an inauspicious beginning, that really wasn’t a problem either, for I had that message so ingrained in my brain that I could have done it in my sleep, standing on my head, or frontwards and backwards.
I still remember what my sermon text was – James 4:2 which states “You do not have, because you do not ask.” It was a no-brainer then that I would preach on the subject of prayer. I don’t remember everything I said in that sermon for it is stored away somewhere in the cobwebs and far recesses of my brain. But I do remember talking about what an exciting thing prayer can and should be because when we pray, we get to talk to the Creator and Ruler of the universe. To put that into perspective, I shared with my listening audience an experience I’d had at the Illinois State Fair one year when our high school band was the official State Fair band, which meant that we stayed there all week and had to perform two concerts a day. The rest of the day was pretty well ours to do with as we pleased. So two nights in a row some of my friends and I snuck behind the stage in the Grandstand and got to meet two very special performers whom some of you older folks will remember: Don Adams who starred on the television program “Get Smart” and Flip Wilson who had his own television show and who was best known for his “The Devil Made Me Do It” comedy routine.
So in my sermon I talked about what an exciting privilege it was to speak to those two fellows and get their autographs. But then I added how that was nothing compared to being able to speak to God Himself any time, any day, about anything.
And I still feel that way. In fact, I’ve become a collector of prayers over the years. Not wanting my prayer life to spiral into a boring routine where I say the same thing every day, when I come across a prayer that gives a fresh new perspective on something that I pray for regularly, I save it and keep it with my devotional materials so that I can use it from time to time.
So allow me to share some of my favorites with you, starting with what I call a Prayer of Surrender that I typically pray at the beginning of each day:
- Lord, I want to be a part of what You are doing in Your world today. Apart from You, my work is nothing; my efforts are nothing; and I am nothing. But with You by my side, with You speaking through me, with You working through me, I know great things can happen. So I surrender myself to You right now. Lead me, fill me, use me, and nourish others through me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Here are a few more of my favorites:
- To go as I’m led, to go when I’m led, to go where I’m led, that is my prayer today, Lord.
- Lord, we have so many questions about life and its unfairness. You have shown Yourself good to us. Help us to trust You for what we cannot understand.
- Calm my spirit in the storms, Lord. Grant me Your peace and the strength to walk through this day.
- God, I’m so anxious. I churn inside. Would You help me trust You with my night, with my day, with my life?
- Lord, let my children and grandchildren far surpass me in their faithfulness to You. Protect them from evil and unbelieving hearts that would turn them away from You, the living God.
- Lord, I pray for the sheep who have wandered from the fold. Find them, Lord; pick them up and carry them home on Your shoulders.
- Lord God, in You I live and move and exist. I acknowledge my total dependence on You for life itself. I depend on You to be my hope, my future, and my anchor. I love You, Lord.
- God of the future, I give You my precious children and grandchildren. I entrust them to You with confidence and what You will do in their futures.
- Dear Lord, I pray that all the world may know Jesus as Lord. Today I especially pray for those lost souls who are close to me. Grant that their directions be changed, their drifting be brought to an end, and they be taken to a safe harbor.
- Lord, life today so easily breaks peoples’ hearts and crushes their spirits. Please be with the broken-hearted and discouraged in my community, church, and family.
- Lord God, most of us have wanted to quit at one time or another. And not just our jobs – I’ve sometimes wanted to quit life. Protect me, Lord, not just from the mistakes I all too frequently make, but also from stifling discouragement which renders me useless to You and Your kingdom.
- Lord, You are mighty to save! Please show Your strength as You fight for me today. And please let Your saving power reach every person in my family.
- Lord, lead and comfort those who mourn. May they know Your peace and healing power.
- When days of trouble are upon me, Lord, be my strength, my fortress, my refuge. I have no one I can go to except You.
And lastly, this one that I recently came across and that inspired me to write this article:
- Heavenly Father, I know that no earthly power, problem, or struggle is too big for You. I trust You and rest in You today. The battle is Yours, not mine. Thank You.