Exercise in Daily Prayer

Written by: Curt Deming, MCC Teaching Pastor

Since tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, I'm asking our congregation to accept a Lenten challenge from now until Easter. Rather than giving up anything (except time), I'm proposing that we accept the invitation to daily prayer in three ways:

1. Pray John Calvin's daily prayers (4 times each day)
2. During one of those times, spend a few extra minutes meditating on Scripture each day. It could be any passage, but since we're approaching Easter, I'd recommend working through one of the gospels.
3. Once each week, preferably Saturday or Sunday, pray through the confession questions based on George Whitefield's quote.

John Calvin’s Daily Prayers:

Upon waking:  “My God, Father, and Savior, since you have been pleased to give me the grace to come through the night to the present day, now grant that I may employ it entirely in your service, so that all my works may be to the glory of your name and the edification of my neighbors.  As you have been pleased to make your sun shine upon the earth to give us bodily light, grant the light of your Spirit to illumine my understanding and my heart.  And because it means nothing to begin well if one does not persevere, I ask that you would continue to increase your grace in me until you have led me into full communion with your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who is the true Sun of our souls, shining day and night, eternally and without end.  Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Beginning of workday:  “My good God, Father, and Savior, grant me aid by your Holy Spirit to now work fruitfully in my vocation, which is from you, all in order to love you and the people around me rather than for my own gain and glory.  Give me wisdom, judgment and prudence, and freedom from my besetting sins.  Bring me under the rule of true humility.  Let me accept with patience whatever amount of fruitfulness or difficulty in my work that you give me this day.  And in all I do, help me to rest always in my Lord Jesus Christ and in his grace alone for my salvation and life.  Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Midday:  “O Lord God, I give you thanks for all the benefits and gifts you constantly shower on me.  Thank you for sustaining my physical life through food and shelter; for giving me new life through the gospel; and for the certainty of the best and perfect life, which is yet to come.  In light of all of these blessings, I now ask that you would not allow my affections to be tangled in inordinate desires for the things of this world, but let me always set my heart on things above, where Christ, who is my life, is seated at your right hand.  Hear me, merciful Father, by our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.”

Bedtime:  “O Lord God, now grant me the grace not only to rest my body this night, but to have my spiritual repose, in soul and conscience, in your grace and love, that I may let go of all earthly cares so I might be comforted and eased in all ways.  And because no day passes that I do not sin in so many ways, please bury all my offenses in your mercy, that I might not lose your presence.  Forgive me, merciful Father, for Christ’s sake.  And as I lay down to sleep to safely wake again only by your grace, keep me in a joyful, lively remembrance that whatever happens, I will someday know my final rising – the resurrection – because Jesus Christ lay down in death for me, and rose for my justification.  In his name I pray, Amen.” 

Meditation Questions (once per day, while reading through one of the gospels):

 George Mueller’s:

  •  Is there any example for me to follow?
  • Is there any command for me to obey?
  • Is there any error for me to avoid?
  • Is there any sin for me to forsake?
  •  Is there any promise for me to claim?
  •  Is there any new thought about God Himself?

Or Martin Luther’s:

  • Does this text show me anything for which I should praise God?
  • Does this text show me anything I need to confess?
  • Does this text show me anything for which I need to petition God?

Confession questions based on George Whitefield’s quote (once per week):

Deep Humility

  • Have I looked down on anyone?
  • Have I been stung by criticism?
  •  Have I felt snubbed and/or ignored?

Well-guided zeal

  • Have I avoided people or tasks that I know I should face?
  • Have I been anxious or worried?
  • Have I been rash or impulsive?

Burning love

  • Have I spoken (or even thought) unkindly of anyone?
  • Am I justifying myself by demonizing someone else?
  • Have I been impatient or irritable?
  • Have I been self-absorbed, indifferent or inattentive?

Single eye

  •  Am I working for the glory of God and the good of others, or am I driven by fear, need for approval or desire for control?
  •  Am I envious?
  • Am I giving in to lust or gluttony?
  • Am I spending my time on urgent things over important things?