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Father, we know it is good to give thanks to you, to sing praises to your name, to declare your steadfast love in the morning and your faithfulness throughout our days, for you, O Lord, have us glad by your works and at the work of your hands we sing for joy!  How great are your works, O Lord! Your thoughts are unsearchable and your ways inscrutable!  We are exceedingly glad that you reign and that your throne is established from of old and you are everlasting.  We declare to the nations this day your glories unending!  For you are great and greatly to be praised!  You alone are God!  All the gods and idols of this world are worthless.  Merciful Father, help us to see that they have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear. God we are here, asking for you to shower us with your grace to see that the things of this world are worthless, the work of human hands.  Help us to see that those who trust in them become like them.  Lord God of our salvation, it is NOT to these that we have come, but to you for you have been our dwelling place in all generations.  Before the mountains were brought forth or you had formed the earth, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.  So teach us this morning from the depths of your Word.  We need your Spirit to help us this day.  We cannot understand in and of ourselves, so upon you we wait… You tell us that those who wait upon you will not be put to shame, so make us to know your ways and teach us your paths.  Lead us in your Truth and teach us for you are the God of our salvation and upon you we will wait all the day long.

Remember your mercy, O Lord, and your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.  Remember not the countless sins of our youth, nor our daily transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember your people and for Your Name’s Sake, pardon our guilt for it is great!!  We pray that you would turn to us and be gracious to us.  Guard our souls this day and keep our minds from wandering.  Let us see Christ in ways we never dreamt possible.  Let us hear His voice in ways we never have experienced.  Let those who are unrepentant hear you beckon, “Come, you poor and needy, weak and wounded, Come to the Everlasting Rest!”  Open all our hearts with the Sword of Your Truth.  Break the pride that dwells deep inside with the weight of your glory and your beauty.  Stamp out the false humilities, vanities and love of self by the power of your Spirit through Christ’s precious blood!  We thank you for Christ and his work on our behalf on the cross.  Unstop our ears and unharden our hearts that we may hear him, follow him, cling to him and satisfy ourselves in Him alone.  O Merciful Shepherd, blind your flock this morning with your glory!  Unveil your glory to your people this hour.  Come to us in power and in truth!  We pray all this and even more than we can imagine asking in Jesus’ precious and glorious name. Amen.

Lord’s Day Evening from The Valley of Vision:

May the close of an earthly sabbath remind me that the last of them will one day end.
Animate me with joy that in heaven praise will never cease,
that adoration will continue forever,
that no flesh will grow weary,
no congregations disperse,
no affections flag,
no thoughts wander,
no will droop,
but all will be adoring love.
Guard my mind from making ordinances my stay or trust,
from hewing out broken cisterns,
from resting on outward helps.
Wing me though earthly forms to thy immediate presence;
May my feeble prayers show me the emptiness and vanity of my sins;
Deepen in me the conviction that my most fervent prayers,
and my lowly confessions, need to be repented of.
May my best services bring me nearer to the cross,
and prompt me to cry, ‘None but Jesus!’
By thy Spirit give abiding life to the lessons of this day:
May the seed sown take deep root and yield a full harvest.
Let all who see me take knowledge that I have been with thee
that thou has taught me my need as a sinner
hast revealed a finished salvation to me,
hast enriched me with all spiritual blessings,
hast chosen me to show forth Jesus to others,
hast helped me to dispel the mists of unbelief.
O great Creator, mighty Protector, gracious Preserver,
thou dost load me with loving kindnesses,
and hast made me thy purchased possession,
and redeemed me from all guilt;
I praise and bless thee for
my sabbath rest,
my calm conscience,
my peace of heart.

“All that may be known of God for our salvation, especially his wisdom, love, goodness, grace and mercy on which the life of a soul depends, are represented to us in all their splendor in and through Christ. No wonder then that Christ is glorious in the eyes of believers!”

~ John Owen, The Glory of Christ, 20

Open our eyes this Lord’s Day, O Father, to see the beauty and glory of your wisdom, love, goodness, grace and mercy revealed to us in Jesus Christ. Raise your people’s affections for your Son, Jesus, this day. Glorify yourself in your Son as you liberate captives from death, break open the prison of those bound, and pour out a gladness and joy that washes away the mourning.  Speak, O Lord, this day by your Son through the Spirit and let us see You in our Savior in new and glorious ways!

Abundant, overwhelming and overflowing joy in God is normal. Parched, dry, starving souls are abnormal… but our experience and battle with sin leads us to believe it is normal because parched and dry is more our daily experience than abundant and overflowing joy.  If your soul is starving, look to see how far you are from the throne of grace.   Prayer is the road to a deeply satisfying, drought-resistant joy in God.  Listen to Spurgeon:

“Starving souls live at a distance from the mercy-seat and become like parched fields in times of drought. Consistent wrestling in prayer with God is sure to make the believer strong- if not happy.  The nearest place to the gate of heaven is the throne of the heavenly grace. Much alone [with Jesus], and you will have much assurance; little alone with Jesus, your religion will be shallow, polluted with many doubts and fears, and not sparkling with the joy of the Lord. Since the soul-enriching path of prayer is open to the very weakest saint; since no high attainments are required; since you are not bidden to come because you are an advanced saint, but freely invited if you be a saint at all; see to it, dear reader, that you are often in the way of private devotion. Be much on your knees…”

~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning By Morning, October 18

One of the books I read while on vacation here in Florida is A Praying Life by Paul Miller.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to you as an encouragement for your prayer life.  One thought that I particularly thought was striking was his belief that people struggle with prayer because they are pursuing prayer rather than God.  This book helps rightly refocus the pursuit!  Tim Challies has posted a great review and talks about one area of caution in the book.  If you are looking for a new book on prayer, I echo David Powlison: “A Praying Life will bring a living, vibrant reality to your prayers. Take it to heart.”