Teach Me To Listen

Again, it’s been a while since I’ve posted, because life feels “crazy-busy” right now. In fact, I think this prayer by A. W. Tozer is exactly what I need to pray:

Lord, teach me to listen. The times are noisy and my ears are weary with the thousand raucous sounds which continuously assault them. Give me the spirit of the boy Samuel when he said to Thee, ?Speak, for thy servant heareth.? Let me hear Thee speaking in my heart. Let me get used to the sound of Thy voice, that its tones may be familiar when the sounds of earth die away and the only sound will be the music of Thy speaking Voice. Amen.

– A. W. Tozer, from The Pursuit of God

An Empty Vessel

Behold, Lord, an empty vessel that needs to be filled. My Lord, fill it. I am weak in the faith; strengthen Thou me. I am cold in love; warm me and make me fervent that my love may go out to my neighbor. I do not have a strong and firm faith; at times I doubt and am unable to trust Thee altogether. O Lord, help me.

Martin Luther (1483 – 1546)
(as quoted in Ken Gire’s Between Heaven and Earth)

Martin Luther’s prayer reminds me not to stop at confessing my sin, but move beyond that to a place where I trust in God’s transforming power. Sometimes when God shows me a weak area in my life or convicts me of a sin, all I look at is that flaw. “What a horrible person I am! I’m hopeless!” I forget in my heart what I know in my head: that God has the power to not only cleanse me, but change me. When I wallow in self-condemnation and defeat, it amounts to nothing less than unbelief — it’s like saying Christ’s death on the cross was not enough to provide forgiveness and new life for me.

God is able to fill my emptiness, give me strength for weakness, and warm my cold heart, but He will only do that when I place my faith in Him. When I trust Him to change me, my flaws and failures can become wonderful opportunities to experience His power at work within me.


Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant…But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us…But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
– 2 Corinthians 3:5-6, 4:7; 12:9 (NIV)

Breathe In Me, Holy Spirit

Breathe in me, Holy Spirit, that all my thoughts may be holy.
Act in me, Holy Spirit, that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, Holy Spirit, that I may love only what is holy.
Strengthen me, Holy Spirit, to defend all that is holy.
Guard me, Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.

– Augustine of Hippo (354-430)

Augustine, bishop of Hippo in what is now Algeria, is one of the most influential figures in all of church history. He was a theological giant whose teachings are considered foundational by Protestants and Catholics alike. His prayer quoted above seems to me to be a fitting one to start off the new year. Though it is short, it clearly expresses a strong desire to please God in every area of life, both in attitude and in action. It also expresses a clear recognition that we cannot do this on our own, but must depend on the Holy Spirit to accomplish this in and through us.

But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”
– 1 Peter 1:15-16 (NLT)

Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
– John 15:5 (NLT)

So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won?t be doing what your sinful nature craves… But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit?s leading in every part of our lives.
– Galatians 5:16, 22-25 (NLT)

Need of Jesus

I recently found a wonderful book called The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions. I love the prayers in it because they express passionate devotion to God, honest confessions of failure and need, and deep dependence on God’s grace. Unfortunately, even though the editor lists sources (John Bunyan, David Brainerd, Charles Spurgeon, Isaac Watts, Richard Baxter, and others), he doesn’t note which prayer comes from which source, so the author of the following prayer will have to remain anonymous.

Lord Jesus,
I am blind, be thou my light,
    ignorant, be thou my wisdom
    self-willed, be thou my mind.
Open my ear to grasp quickly thy Spirit's voice,
    and delightfully run after is beckoning hand;
Melt my conscience that no hardness remain,
    make it alive to evil's slightest touch;
When Satan approaches may I flee to thy wounds,
    and there cease to tremble at all alarms.
Be my good shepherd to lead me into the green pastures of thy word,
    and cause me to lie down beside the rivers of its comforts.
Fill me with peace, that no disquieting worldly gales
    may ruffle the calm surface of my soul.
Thy cross was upraised to be my refuge,
Thy blood streamed forth to wash me clean,
Thy death occurred to give me a surety,
Thy name is my property to save me,
By thee all heaven is poured into my heart,
    but it is too narrow to comprehend thy love.
I was a stranger, an outcast, a slave, a rebel,
    but thy cross has brought me near,
        has softened my heart,
        has made me thy Father's child,
        has admitted me to thy family,
        has made me joint-heir with thyself.
O that I may love thee as thou lovest me,
    that I may walk worthy of thee, my Lord,
    that I may reflect the image of heaven's first-born.
May I always see thy beauty with the clear eye of faith,
    and feel the power of thy Spirit in my heart,
    for unless he move mightily in me
    no inward fire will be kindled.

– Puritan prayer, from The Valley of Vision.

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