I love the richness of my Presbyterian and Reformed heritage. I know, I know. . . Calvinists have oftentimes gotten a well-deserved bad rap for the way they represent, or more accurately misrepresent, their theological heritage. But when you understand the deep commitment to truth and the sovereignty of God, you wind up with an anchor that is rock solid. I communicate this reality to my kids by encouraging them to constantly fill their wells with the truths of God’s Word. Someday, I tell them, they will be blessed with droughts, doubts, and sufferings that God will use to take them deep. If the well is full, growth will take place.
This morning, I ran across a wonderful prayer rooted in this heritage that was written by Scotty Smith, pastor of Christ Community PCA Church in Nashville. I simply want to pass on this wonderful prayer that ministered deeply to me in the hope that it might minister to you as well. You also might want to regularly check out Scotty’s very thoughtful blog, “Heavenward”.
A Prayer About the Pure Joy of Trials
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-3
Dear Jesus, apart from the gospel of your grace, this admonition would appear to be the work of a madman. What sane person would ever associate pure joy with many trials? In fact, many of us have been schooled to believe that faith is the very means by which we can escape trials and hardships. And yet Jesus, it was because of the joy set before you that you persevered and endured the greatest trial of all for us… the cross (Hebrews 12:1-3).
Grant us your joy, Jesus… grant us your perspective… grant us your love for the glory of God above comfort… and grant us a greater love for your cross.
It’s only because of your cross, Jesus, that we can be certain that trials don’t come to us as punishment for our sins, but for the purification of our faith. We praise you for exhausting God’s judgment against our sins. We praise you that your cross was our Judgment Day. The perfect love of the cross drives away all fear of judgment and punishment (1 John 4:18). What peace this give us… what hope… what freedom!
Jesus, what dross would you burn from our faith through trials? What needs to be purified? Since faith is both the content of what we believe and the act of believing… please free us from all false gospels and from a lack of trust. Burn away everything we believe about you that contradicts the truth of the gospel, Jesus. What bad teachings have robbed us from the riches of the gospel? What bad teachings have made it easy for us to distort and misapply the gospel? Burn up these impurities, Jesus. We want the pure gold of the gospel to shine forth.
And burn away our double-mindedness and our lack of love for you, Jesus. We’re predestined to be like you. None of us likes to see our immaturity, and yet since maturity is Christlikeness, Jesus, reveal our immaturity… our incompleteness… our lack. In what ways do our attitudes and actions contradict your beauty? You’ll never condemn us, because you took the condemnation we deserve. But you will convict us. Grant us pure joy and godly sorrow which lead to repentance, salvation and no regrets (2 Corinthians 7:10). So very Amen, we pray, in your most loving and patient name.