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Archive for January, 2015


Renewing Your Purpose

 

Sobriety is a journey, not a destination—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

The darkness has lifted—

Darkness permitted by You

To refine my character,

Purging each of my foolish ways

And making me more like

The man I’m supposed to be—

The man I’ve always wanted to be.

In the midst of my despair,

When at night I longed for the day,

And in the daytime desired it to be evening,

When sorrows made it difficult to breathe,

You were always there beside me,

Even when I was certain You were not.

As fear relentlessly rattled every part of me,

You continued transforming all that was needed.

Ever mindful of my frailties and weaknesses,

You purged, pruned and cleansed from within.

 

Then, one day, as I awaited my overwhelming gloom

To return, which had become my daily routine,

It was gone—vanished like it had never been there—

Leaving me stronger, more resilient, and far wiser.

My purpose returned to me, along with my smile.

I embraced life with renewed enthusiasm—

No longer chained to my heartache—

No longer imprisoned by my distress.

Now, being elevated to a new plateau,

I can thank You for making me a new person—

A greatly improved version of myself,

Amen.

 

For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ. (II Corinthians 4:6)

Jack Watts

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When Fear Paralyzes You

 

God will never give you more than you can handle—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

Sometimes I’m so afraid

That my skin grows cold

And I can hardly breathe.

I feel so helpless and all alone.

I’m afraid of so many things—

Of people, of places, of isolation,

Of death, and of economic insecurity.

The list seems endless, and I am powerless

To calm the fears that rob me of my serenity.

Without Your protective shielding,

I fear that imminent devastation

Will be my destiny, destroying my life.

I am so consumed with fear that

I can’t hear Your reassuring voice.

In my heart, I know that You are

My refuge and my source of strength.

My only hope is to rely on You completely.

In You, I am safe and sheltered from storms

That threaten to destroy my future.

Help me to be calm and confident,

Regardless of my circumstances—

Never shrinking away but standing firm.

Help me dwell in the safety of Your strength.

Guide me and protect me each day of my life,

Amen.

 

Many are saying, “Who will show us any good?” Lift up the light of Thy countenance upon us O Lord! Thou has put gladness in my heart, More than when their grain and new wine abound. In peace I will both lie down and sleep, for Thou alone, O Lord, dost make me to dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:6-8)

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Restoring Purpose to Your Life

 

If God seems far away, who moved?—AA Slogan

 

Father,

Sometimes, life can be so complicated.

Doing the right thing seems easy enough,

Until it comes time to do it,

When the dread of adverse consequences

Becomes an overwhelming nightmare.

My heart’s desire is for my life to become easier.

What makes me so special that my journey

Is constantly filled with so many difficulties?

Why can’t things go smoothly—just for a while?

Why me, Lord? Why me? Why? Why? Why?

 

I don’t want to sound like I’m whining,

But I know that I am. I’m complaining because

My shoes are too tight, while others go barefoot.

I know I should be more grateful,

But I want a respite from my travail and anguish.

I want to be far from despair and sorrow.

The “Be warmed and be filled” crowd of Christians

Smile and offer meaningless, glib platitudes,

As I try to nurse wounds that I fear will destroy me.

I want to serve You with gladness and joy,

But I have no sense of hope within me—

Nothing that can sustain for more

Than a few moments at a time.

I don’t want to be a disingenuous automaton,

Pretending everything is fine and joyous,

When I know things are dreadfully wrong.

My days, which are numbered by You,

Are passing before me, and it all seems

Like such a terrible, meaningless waste.

Intervene, Lord, and allow me to know

Joy and gladness once again.

Fill my days with peace and purpose,

So that I can tell other of Your fidelity.

Don’t leave me in this dismal situation forever,

Lest my sorrows overwhelm me,

Amen.

 

One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to meditate in His temple. For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; in the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock. (Psalm 27:4-5)

Jack Watts

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The Value of Forgiveness

 

The flip side to forgiveness is resentment—AA Slogan

 

 

Father,

Now that I have opened myself up completely,

Being as honest and forthright as I know how to be,

Having also admitted my faults to another,

I want to ask You as humbly as I can

To change anything in me that You desire.

You are Almighty God; and I am not.

I am weary of trying to walk a path,

Which has not been intended by You.

As I continue to purge my soul

Of all the toxic emotions that remain,

I know I need to go one step further.

I need to absolve those who have been hurtful,

Forgiving them completely from all culpability.

I have nursed my anger and bitterness

For far too long, and I have paid

A heavy emotional price for doing so.

 

I believed I was punishing them

By my steadfast refusal to forgive,

But I have only punished myself instead.

I don’t want to live like this any longer,

Having to pay a huge price for remaining callous.

I forgive them—just as You have forgiven me.

I release them completely—just as You have released me.

Give me the strength to put away my pain

And my anger, never picking them up again.

Allow me to walk into the future free from

The debilitating emotions that have been so wasteful,

Amen.

 

 

Pursue after peace with all men, and after the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by it many be defiled. (Hebrews 12:14-15)

Jack Watts

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Calm, Strong, and Sane

 

Let go and let God—AA Slogan

 

Father,

In my pain and my anguish—

When my heart was broken

And darkness threatened to overwhelm me—

I felt so lost and abandoned, but I wasn’t.

Despite my anxiety and my trembling heart,

You were there, never leaving my side,

Diligently working within my heart,

Stripping me of all of my pretense,

Scourging me of all of my arrogance,

And revealing each of my self-serving ways,

Which have made my life a wasteland.

For so long, I had no concern or awareness

About anything You desired for my life.

My only desire was to find relief from my torment,

But Your determined pruning ran far deeper

Than anything I ever conceived or imagined.

I thought my anguish would never end

And I would never smile at the future.

In my distress, I revealed the desires of my heart,

Repeatedly asking You to grant my wishes,

But You never would, compounding my sorrow.

What I have gained through my loss,

I now realize may have been

The most valuable lesson of my life.

 

Out of my pain and ennui, You have raised me up,

Placing my feet on solid, immovable ground,

Strengthening me with power in the inner man,

Making me sound at the core of my being.

No longer fearful or timid, I am peaceful and confident.

Instead of filling my hours with fretful apprehension,

My state of mind has become one of strength and resolve.

None of this could have taken place

Had You not changed my heart’s desire—

Irreversibly transforming my perspective.

Without Your loving, consistent attention,

I would never have learned my lesson,

Which would have destined me

To repeat my mistakes endlessly,

Like an unreasoning animal

Rather than like Your blessed child,

Amen.

 

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins. Look upon my enemies, for they are many; and they hate me with a violent hatred. Guard my soul and deliver me; do not let me be ashamed, for I take refuge in Thee. Let integrity and uprightness preserve me, for I wait for Thee. (Psalm 25:16-21)

Jack Watts

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Insisting on My Way

Let go and let God—AA Slogan

 

Father,

I want to control the outcome

Of events that impact my life.

You know that the desire of my heart

Is for You to orchestrate circumstances

That would allow me to have my own way.

I pretend to more noble than this,

But I really am not.

When things don’t go the way I want—

The way I want them to be—

Which seems to occur far too often,

I become sulky, peevish, and petulant.

I resent that You don’t conform Your will to mine,

Even though my desires might not be the best thing.

When I behave like a child, I think like one as well,

But I don’t realize how juvenile my thinking has become.

It never occurs to me until my fretful emotions

Have run the gambit and I am spent—

Emotionally exhausted from dictating my will to You.

When I become worn out from stress—like always—

I become humble, contrite and sorrowful,

Realizing that You are God, and I am not.

Forgive me for my waywardness, and restore

A sense of humility to me.

Teach me to focus on my role,

Which is to do the next right thing,

Regardless of what that might be,

Rather than the things I cannot control—

Which are clearly in Your domain.

I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O Lord, but with justice; not with Thy anger, lest Thou bring me to nothing. (Jeremiah 10:23-24)

Jack Watts

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I Am So Ashamed

Pain is the touchstone of progress—AA Slogan

 

Father,

As I have done so many times before,

I come before You feeling worthless,

Feeling like I can never hold my head high,

Feeling broken, scorned, and devalued.

The Scriptures say You’ve forgiven my transgressions,

Which have been so egregious,

But I can’t forgive myself for what I’ve done.

I can’t divest myself of my culpability.

My sin is ever before me,

Relentlessly wearing me down,

Telling me that I’m not a good person,

Which in my heart I know is true.

Living in a dense fog of despair,

I wander through life purposelessly,

Never free from shame—never able to be myself—

Never able to experience internal peace.

I want to enjoy life and to cast aside

My debilitating low self-esteem,

But I have no power to accomplish my goal,

Regardless of my earnest desire—

Regardless of my determined efforts.

My enemies scold me for my wrongdoing,

Wagging their fingers in mirthful condescension,

Mocking me with disingenuous smiles,

Reminding me of what I have done,

Grinding me to the ground with their contempt.

I doubt I will ever be of value again.

I loathe their reproachful, insincere counsel,

Which constantly reminds me of my failure,

Chipping away at my self-worth, day by day.

 

Help me, Father. I have no other place to turn.

Forgive me and restore me to wholeness.

Help me regain my strength and my sense of wellbeing.

Let my heart know joy and serenity once again.

Teach me to face my enemies with self-confidence,

Knowing that their condemnation no longer has merit—

Not when I have found forgiveness in You.

O God, arrogant men have risen up against me, and a band of violent men have sought my life, and they have not set Thee before them. But Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth. Turn to me, and be gracious to me; oh grant Thy strength to Thy servant, and save the son of Thy handmaid. Show me a sign for good that those who hate me may see it, and be ashamed, because Thou, O Lord, hast helped me and comforted me. (Psalm 86:14-17)

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