Make life your prayer

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Pray constantly (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

1. Make life your prayer,
And prayer, your life –
Then Christ will guide you
On his way.

2. Make work your prayer,
And prayer your work –
Then he will teach you
What to say.

3. Make rest your prayer,
And prayer, your rest –
Then Christ will help you
To forgive.

4. Make love your prayer,
And prayer your love –
Then he will show you
How to live.

I give myself to prayer (Psalm 109:4; NKJV).

 


References

1. He guides me along right paths (Psalm 23:3; NLT).

2. God will give you the right words at the right time (Matthew 10:19; NLT).

3. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you (Matthew 6:14; NLT).

4. Teach me how to live, O Lord (Psalm 27:11; NLT).

It’s prayer

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Pray all the time (1 Thessalonians 5:17; MSG).

1. The Lord is always very near —
It’s prayer that brings me
Close to him.

2. He’s always ready to forgive —
It’s prayer that shows me
All my sin.

3. He always waits for me to ask —
It’s prayer that opens up
The door.

4. He’s always pouring out his love —
It’s prayer that makes me
Love him more.

 


References

1. The Lord is near to all who call on him (Psalm 145:18; NIV).

2. O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive (Psalm 86:5; NLT).

I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me (Psalm 51:3; NIV).

3. The Lord must wait for you to come to him so he can show you his love and compassion (Isaiah 30:18; NLT).

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20; NIV).

4. Each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me (Psalm 42:8; NLT).

I love you, Lord (Psalm 18:1; NLT).

Teach me

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Lord,

1. Teach me, when I’m foolish;
Forgive, when I’m unkind.

2. Save me, when in danger;
Soothe, when I’m maligned.

3. Brace me, when I’m tempted;
Console, when I’m afraid.

4. Warn me, when I’m angry;
Calm, when I’m betrayed.

5. Hold me, when I suffer;
Support, when I despair,

6. And guide my soul in death, Lord,
T0 meet you in the air.

 


References

1. Teach me how to live, O Lord (Psalm 27:11; NLT).

Forgive us our sins (Luke 11:4; NLT).

2. Save me and rescue me (Psalm 71:2; NLT).

Let your unfailing love comfort me (Psalm 119:76; NLT).

3. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure (1 Corinthians 10:13; NLT).

With his love he will calm all your fears (Zephaniah 3:17; NLT).

4. Don’t sin by letting anger control you (Ephesians 4:26; NLT).

I begged my allies for help, but they betrayed me (Lamentations 1:19; NLT).

5. Your right hand upholds me (Psalm 63:8; NLT).

From the depths of despair, O Lord, I call for your help (Psalm 130:1; NLT).

6. Though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).

The Lord will guide you continually (Isaiah 58:11; NKJV).

We […] will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17; NLT).

The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7; NIV).

Let the Father in

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In the Lord alone are deliverance and strength
(Isaiah 45:24; NIV).

1. Let the Father in today,
For he, alone, can pardon sin.

2. Let the Teacher in today,
For he, alone, can save your life.

3. Let the Spirit in today,
For he, alone, can heal your soul.

4. Let the Lord God in today,
For he, alone, can make you whole.

 

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References

1. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends (Revelation 3:20; NLT).

He forgives all my sins (Psalm 103:3; NLT).

2. You call me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am (John 13:13; RSV).

God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:19; NLT).

3. God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth (John 4:24; NLT).

He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3; NKJV).

Their souls shall be like a well-watered garden; and they shall sorrow no more at all (Jeremiah 31:12; NKJV).

4. “I am the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come – the Almighty One” (Revelation 1:8; NLT).

He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5; RSV).

I found you

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Seek and you will find (Matthew 7:7; NIV).

1. I found you, Lord,
And you forgave me;
Found you, Lord,
And you have saved me.

2. Found you Lord,
And you redeemed me;
Found you, Lord,
And you have healed me.

3. Found you, Lord,
And you have crowned me;
Found you, Lord,
And you surround me.

4. Found you Lord,
And you befriend me;
Found you, Lord,
And you defend me.

5. Found you, Lord,
And you restore me;
Found you, Lord,
And you adore me!

 


References

1. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me (Jeremiah 29:13; NLT).

You forgave me (Psalm 32:5; NLT).

He saved me (Psalm 34:6; NLT).

2. I have redeemed you (Isaiah 44:22; NIV).

You healed me (Psalm 30:2; NIV).

3. He […] crowns me with love and tender mercies (Psalm 103:4; NLT).

Just as the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people, both now and forever (Psalm 125:2; NLT).

4. You are my friends (John 15:15; NLT).

The Lord is their defender (Proverbs 22:23; NLT).

5. He restores my soul (Psalm 23:3; NKJV).

He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).

My action plan

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Introduction

On 19.8.20. I posted an article called “My dilemma”. It described the inner conflicts I face each time someone behaves unacceptably towards me. As a Christian, should I speak out, or should I say nothing? Jesus used both of these approaches at different times in his life, so I have never been able to reach a conclusion about how I should respond.

Unfortunately, this uncertainty means that regardless of how I handle each individual situation, I ruminate for months afterwards about what happened, and whether I reacted correctly. My endless self-questioning generates a constant sense of guilt, worry and dread, which I find impossible to shake off, and which can easily lead me into depression.

Since writing that article, I have spent a lot of time praying, reflecting, and talking this issue over with others. From the insights gained, I have put together an action plan to follow next time a hurtful situation arises.

Rather than seeing my response as a straight choice between speaking out and staying silent, I am now treating it as a series of stages, each of which is open to reflection before taking any further action.

1. Withdraw, pray, reflect

So, from now on, when someone behaves unacceptably towards me, I will withdraw to sleep on what happened for at least one night, taking time out to pray and reflect before responding. This will prevent me from reacting in the heat of the moment, with a high risk of damaging both the other person, and our relationship.

2. Decide whether or not to speak out 

A. If I decide it is pointless, or inappropriate, to speak out to the person concerned, I need take the matter no further. Instead, I will work on forgiving them, and praying for them.

B. If I decide to tell the other person how their behaviour has affected me, I need to think carefully about how best to approach them, perhaps by email, text, a phone call, or by arranging a meeting. It’s important to remember that they may have had no intention at all of upsetting me, and may therefore be taken very much by surprise when I raise the subject.

3. Speak out briefly, and lovingly

If I decide to give the person feedback, I will do so as briefly and lovingly as possible. My aim will simply be to remind them of what they said or did, and to be honest about how it has hurt or disturbed me. Anything beyond this is superfluous, and risks generating angry retaliation.

4. Wait to see if there is a response

A. If the other person doesn’t respond, there is no need for me to say any more. The matter is finished, and I will let it go. Each of us is responsible for our own behaviour, and I can’t expect everyone to respond as I wish. Instead, I will focus on loving them, forgiving them, and praying for them.

B. If the other person contacts me, I will take time to consider how best to reply, depending on what they say:

i. If they take responsibility for their behaviour, and apologise, I will accept this immediately, reassuring them that I have completely forgiven them. We will be reconciled, and the whole matter will be closed.

ii. If they react hurtfully, I will withdraw, considering the matter as being finished. Anything else is pointless, and risks generating more damage. Of course, I will still forgive them, and pray for them, but I can choose not to expose myself to further hurtful behaviour, in order to protect my own mental health.

5. Start again

Finally, if, despite doing my very best, the situation doesn’t work out as I hoped, or turns out badly, I will resolve to put it behind me, and start again. Every time I find myself ruminating about what happened, I will remind myself that it’s finished. There is always more to learn in life, and I can refine my action plan in the light of each new experience.

Conclusion

Throughout my life, when anyone hurts me, I’ve never known whether I should be honest with them, or say nothing. When I say nothing, I am left with a burden of powerlessness and distress. When I speak out, and the other person reacts angrily, I am left with a burden of guilt and dread, believing that I have sinned, and that the breakdown in relationship is all my fault.

From now on, when someone hurts me, I will remind myself immediately that I always have choices about how to respond, and that I have an action plan to follow. My overall aim will be to keep a careful, Christian balance between being honest, preserving relationships, and protecting my own mental health.

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Acknowledgement

My warmest thanks to all those who have engaged in discussing this issue with me, especially Alan, Dianne, and John. Your contributions have been invaluable.


References

Introduction

Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NIV).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV).

He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7; NLT).

The churning inside me never stops; days of suffering confront me (Job 30:27; NIV).

1. Withdraw, pray, reflect

Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer (Luke 5:16; NLT).

The Lord of Hosts […] is wonderful in counsel and excellent in guidance (Isaiah 28:29; NKJV).

Harsh words make tempers flare (Proverbs 15:1; NLT).

Fools vent their anger, but the wise quietly hold it back (Proverbs 29:11; NLT).

2. Decide whether or not to speak out

When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there [and] Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:33-4; NIV).

When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins (Mark 11:25; NLT).

3. Speak out briefly, and lovingly

Speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

4. Wait to see if there is a response

Love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27-8; NLT).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying ‘I repent,’ you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV).

NB Matthew doesn’t mention whether the person has to say sorry or not:

Then Peter came to him and asked, “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven!” (Matthew 18:20-21; NLT).

5. Start again

Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, 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 (Matthew 11:28-9; NLT).

I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly (Ecclesiastes 1:17; NLT).

Let us search and try our ways, and turn again to the Lord (Lamentations 3:40; KJV).

Conclusion

Be angry but do not sin (Ephesians 4:26; RSV).

I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say (Psalm 39:1; NLT).

Love your neighbour as yourself (Luke 10:27; NLT).

To acquire wisdom is to love oneself (Proverbs 19:8; NLT).

Your will be done

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1. I offer my body and mind to you,
I open my heart and soul.

2. Forgive my sins, and heal me, Lord;
I beg you: make me whole.

3. But if it’s your desire
That I should suffer with your Son,

4. Please help me to accept my lot with joy:
Your will be done.


References

1. You and I both belong to God (Job 33:6; NLT).

2. He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases (Psalm 103:3; NLT).

3. I want to suffer with him, sharing in his death (Philippians 3:10; NLT).

God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps (1 Peter 2:21; NLT).

4. By God’s power accept your share of suffering for the gospel (2 Timothy 1:8; NET).

I am overflowing with joy in the midst of all our suffering (2 Corinthians 7:4; NET.

If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).

One day at a time

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Don’t worry about tomorrow,
for tomorrow will bring its own worries.
Today’s trouble is enough for today
(Matthew 6:34; NLT).

Lord,

1. May I live one day at a time,
And forgive one hurt at a time.

2. May I learn one rule at a time,
And discern one truth at a time.

3. May I meet one test at a time,
And defeat one sin at a time.

4. May I face one fear at a time,
And embrace one hope at a time.

5. May I grieve one loss at a time,
And receive one grace at a time.

6. May I sow one seed at a time,
And go on, one step at a time.


References

1. Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:34; NLT).

If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive (Luke 17:4; NLT).

2. Learn that the Most High rules over the kingdoms of the world (Daniel 4:25; NLT).

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6; NLT).

3. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

Get your sins out of my sight. Give up your evil ways (Isaiah 1:16; NLT).

4. My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NIV).

You have been called to one glorious hope for the future (Ephesians 4:4; NLT).

5. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss (Lamentations 3:20; NLT).

We will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:16; NLT).

6. The farmer plants seed by taking God’s word to others (Mark 4:14; NLT).

If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me (Luke 9:23; NLT).

Anyone who puts a hand to the plough and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God (Luke 9:62; NLT).

Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble (Proverbs 3:23; NIV).

When someone hurts me

When they came to the place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross [and] Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing” (Luke 23:33-4; NLT).


1. Lord,
When someone hurts me,
Please help me to forgive,
To love, and bless, and pray for them,
However long they live.

2. Lord,
When someone harms me,
Please help me to be glad,
Thanking you for what they did,
For you bring good from bad.

3. Lord,
When someone wounds me,
Please help me to hold on,
For you bring hope from everything,
Although my hope is gone.

4. Lord,
When someone grieves me,
Please help me to rejoice;
Then peace will be my watchword,
And your way of love, my choice.

To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! (Ephesians 3:20-21; NIV).


References

1. If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you (Matthew 6:14; NLT).

Love your enemies! (Matthew 5:44; NLT).

Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you (Luke 6:27; NLT).

2. I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, prosecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:10; NLT).

Should we accept only good from the hand of God, and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:6; NIV).

Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18; NLT).

In all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28; NIV).

3. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise (Hebrews 10:23; NLT).

“I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11; NLT).

The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until at last all hope was gone (Acts 27:20; NLT).

4. We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us to develop endurance (Romans 5:3; NLT).

Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15; NLT).

Follow the way of love (1 Corinthians 14:1; NIV).

Trust

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Even my best friend, the one I trusted completely,
the one who shared my food, has turned against me
(Psalm 41:9; NLT).


Lord,

1. My path is very dark;
I put my trust in you.

2. May I love my enemies
In all I say and do.

3. Help me to forgive all those
By whom I am reviled,

4. And though my heart is broken, Lord,
May we be reconciled.


Father, forgive them,
for they don’t know what they are doing
(Luke 23:34; NLT).


References

1. If you are walking in darkness, without a ray of light, trust in the Lord and rely on your God (Isaiah 50:10; NLT).

2. Love your enemies (Luke 6:27; NLT).

I will watch what I do and not sin in what I say (Psalm 39:1; NLT).

We will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

Do everything with love (1 Corinthians 16:14; NLT).

3. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us (Luke 11:4; NLT).

My adversaries revile me (Psalm 42:10; NASB).

4. My heart is broken (Lamentations 1:20; NLT).

If your brother or sister sins against you, rebuke them; and if they repent, forgive them. Even if they sin against you seven times in a day and seven times come back to you saying, “I repent,” you must forgive them (Luke 17:3-4; NIV).