Over the years it has been my practice, learned from others, to offer up praises and petitions framed by a passage of Scripture. Some of these passages were read in preparation for preaching, others offered material for meditation in daily devotion; still others were plundered specifically for the purpose of finding fresh material for prayer. As I continue to learn how to pray I have shared a few prayers with my family and friends for their use or adaptation. The Alliance has asked me to share some with you too. Here is the third in a series on "Praying Through the Scriptures:"
Deuteronomy 3: Life in Light of the Law
O Lord our God, we confess that when you speak, you speak clearly. The promises of your covenant are perfect; your rules are righteous; the law you have delivered to us is not hard to understand. We also confess, O Lord, that have every reason to study your commandments and follow them carefully - for you are not only the God who has made us for yourself; you are also the one who has redeemed us for yourself. It is the story of our lives that we were enslaved until you rescued us. We served other gods, we made our own idols, we honoured our names above yours, we took little time to be holy, and these are but a few of our sins. We thought we were free, but in truth, we were chained to our sins.
As if that were not enough, even after your deliverance, we are strangely drawn to dark places that we know too well. We still fail to give our parents their full honour, we've held hate in our hearts, and we sometimes lust with our eyes. The covetousness hidden in our hearts has leaked out into our lives: we want what is not ours, and then cover the sins we ought to confess. Sometimes we our greed comes out in our actions. Often it is evident in our speech. We have taken from the reputation of others in attempts to exalt our own. We have lied by exaggerating our abilities, and denying your work in us by failing to mention it. Forgive us, we pray, for our many sins.
Our Father, we confess that in ourselves we deserve to be under a cloud, to live in thick darkness, or even to die. What have we earned for ourselves, except a full measure of your judgment? And so how can we find words that measure our true thankfulness? How can we praise you enough for delivering us from such fears by sending your Son? It was He who endured the darkness. It was his soul that was consumed by the thunder of your wrath. An eternity of our punishment was rushed upon Him in our place and for our sakes. We bless you this day that we are allowed to taste the glory and greatness of your grace, because he was crushed under the awesome power of your anger.
But will you help us? Will you aid us by your Holy Spirit to be careful to do what you command, and not to turn away to the right hand or to the left? Will you help us to walk in your ways, and to live, to thrive in so doing? Will you give us a heart like this always? And then beyond all our deserving, will you give us many days to live for your praise, until our Redeemer returns, or until you call us home to that eternal land which we will possess through Jesus Christ our Lord?
Chad Van Dixhoorn is Chancellor's Professor of Historical Theology for Reformed Theological Seminary. He is a graduate of Westminster Theological Seminary (MDiv, ThM) and the University of Cambridge (PhD). In 2013 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society in recognition of his five-volume work on the Westminster Assembly, published by Oxford University Press. Chad and his wife Emily have five children. He organizes his free time by coaching little league, losing tennis matches against all comers, and reading NYT bestsellers. [Editorial note: This prayer may be used or adapted freely and without authorial attribution. If printed in an order of service, simply cite the source of the prayer as "reformation21.org." As with other written material on Reformation21, it may not be reproduced for any commercial purpose without the author's written permission.]