I’ve shared with some of you two of the prayers I pray every Sunday but I’ve never told anyone the third one - until now.
Nearly 20 years ago I ran across the first one - printed it out and taped it inside the front of my preaching Bible - it is still there. “God, I love these people, and they love me. I love You and You love me and You love these people and many of these people love You. There is no fear in in love. Perfect love casts out all fear. This is not an audience to be feared; this is a family to be loved. So love these people through me.”
The second one I just discovered a few years ago. Every week on the drive to the church building I sing (out loud) “Jesus, Loves me” and then this is roughly the prayer I pray: “God I am a sinner, saved by Your grace, help me to remember this as I speak Your truths into the lives of other sinners this morning. Thank You for forgiving me and letting me be Your minister - may I speak Good News with Grace for You want to save others.”
Then there’s this one. I’ve never discussed it with anyone - I’m not even sure it is appropriate. Before I share it let me set the setting.
Were all of the judges in the book of Judges good men? It doesn’t appear they were. But that shouldn’t really concern us because God often uses flawed people to accomplish His purposes. In fact that is the only kind of people He uses. But Jephthah? Samson? Yes, Samson. Set apart, special, strong, revered but there’s rarely a hint of anything spiritual in his life and plenty of times that he blew past the vows, ignored the godly wisdom from his parents, and acted or reacted with anger and/or revenge. In fact you only see Samson praying two times. Once when he was thirsty (Judges 15:18. And it sounds more like a complaint than a prayer).
It’s the other time that has touched my preaching. As his life is coming to an end he appears to finally “come around” to the real source of his strength and he cries out the prayer that I feel like I’ve been praying for years now.
Yes, I praySamson’s prayer every week: “Then Samson called to the LORD and said, ‘O Lord GOD, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time…’” (Judges 16:28a). After all the study, prep, prayer, beefing up and paring down, thinking through words and thoughts, checking “words” from the Word, referencing, cross-referencing, seeking appropriate word pictures, making sure it is not unnecessarily hurtful to some seeking or sensitive soul, striving to find the right graphics, putting together a handout, going over it once, twice, three times and more - I find myself each week crying out “God, help me to do this now. Help me to touch some heart. Help me to find the right words. Help me to deliver those words I’ve prepared correctly. Help me because I cannot do this without You. Strengthen me just this time.”
I imagine I am not alone in this.