A Pastor’s Lament

A Pastor’s Lament

There are times in my life as a Christian and pastor when I sit, observe, think and take in the state of our world. Frankly, it is disturbing. It saddens me to see so many people (in the church and out of the church) gripped by the perishing values of this world. It grieves me to see men made in the image of God behaving as though he is not there watching everything they are doing. It saddens me to witness the rebellion, wickedness, and the exercise of their depravity. The name of God is being trampled underfoot by wicked men, and it seems that nothing is happening to stop it. 

It further saddens me to see how little I progress in the Christian life. The effects of sin are not a stranger to this pastor. I feel the weight of my own failures even as I lament the church’s failures in general. 

I am reminded of the words of Habakkuk: 

Lord, how long shall I cry for help,
    and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!”
    and you will not save?
Why do you make me see iniquity,
    and why do you idly look at wrong?
Destruction and violence are before me;
    strife and contention arise.
So the law is paralyzed,
    and justice never goes forth.
For the wicked surround the righteous;
    so justice goes forth perverted.

“Look among the nations, and see;
wonder and be astounded.
For I am doing a work in your days
that you would not believe if told. (Hab. 1:2-5, emphasis added)

Theologically we know that God is working, and he is accomplishing his purposes. We also know that those purposes are designed for the good of his people, the church. We also know that Christians are not disembodied spirits. Sometimes we feel like the prophet. Sometimes we wonder what is going on and when God will break through and end this misery that sin has accomplished in people’s lives (WSC 17). We look around and see rioting, tyranny, wicked and rebellious leaders, the plague of abortion, and homosexuality. We look around and take notice of depraved men seemingly exercising it without restraint. We look around and cry out, “how long, O Lord?” (Ps. 13).  As Christians, we don’t live in an ethereal place with little or no connection emotionally to these things. They grieve us because we are not merely intellectual creatures, but we are emotional ones as well. Frankly, it hurts the soul to watch. 

When we read through the Psalms, we take notice of the laments of God’s people. Perhaps that is something the church needs to do. Perhaps they need to lament their own sin and then lament with deep-seated agony the sin of our culture. Perhaps the church needs to stop building its own kingdom and resolve to seek first the kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). God’s Word is clear, and it tells us that this life is passing away (1 John 2:15-17). A brief survey of the church results in the following grievous things: a low view of the Lord’s Day resulting in one worship service. A low view of prayer resulting in the loss of corporate prayer meetings. A low view of holiness resulting in a church that is not much different from the culture they bemoan. A low view of God’s Word and its preaching resulting in weak-minded Christians who are unchanged Sunday to Sunday because they do not take advantage of this primary means of grace. The result of these disastrous actions leads to the mess of our world. The church is salt and light (and that is not optional — the Lord states it as a fact “Ὑμεῖς ἐστε τὸ ἅλας τῆς γῆς· Matt. 5:13 BGT). Yet, the church appears to be very weak because it has not labored to seek God’s kingdom before its own. The church needs to conduct a deep, internal survey and heal itself. The church needs to cry out to the Lord for the grace it needs to accomplish its mission in this world. What’s the mission: To glorify God, proclaiming the hope of the gospel to a dying and perishing world. 

Prayer: Our God in heaven, the one true God who is alone sovereign and true, we bend our knee before your majesty and cry out to you, lamenting the sins of your people. Just as the people of old perished in the wilderness because they would not heed your voice, pursue your righteousness, follow your will, uniting with people who hate you, we also will face your rod of discipline if we do the same. We mourn our own failures and sin. We look at ourselves, and we confess that though we have received an abundance from your hand, we use it for our own selfish gain. We confess that we fail to spend our time and efforts to exalt you and your Son. We confess that we do not pray nearly enough. Instead, we spend our days arguing on social media instead of seeking your face. We confess that we are often hearers only and not doers of your Word. We confess that we do not pursue your kingdom and righteousness, and we are ashamed because you have given us all we need to do so. Forgive your church, Lord. We know that you are the King and head of the church, and we know that you are leading her and guiding her. We also know that we have wandered from what you have commanded us. Therefore we pray that you would cleanse your church, removing the chaff from the wheat, perfecting her from the evils of this world and the tendency of our own hearts to wander from your Word. 

We also lament the state of our world. We look around, not as blind people, but as people who have been given eyes to see through the blessed work of your Spirit. What we observe shocks us, and it grieves us. We see wicked men trampling underfoot your holy name. We witness media that is abominable and wicked. We see a nation that murders the unborn in the place you made to be safe. We see men promoting and parading the evil of homosexuality (and we see it making inroads in our churches). We see rioting and lawlessness in our streets. All of these things drive us to distraction emotionally. You made us that way. Like the prophet, we sometimes wonder what you are doing. We know you are working for your people and your glory. We plead with you, Father, to penetrate the dark hearts of wicked people with the glorious truth of the gospel. We beg you to vindicate your name if men will not repent of their wicked behavior. We desire revival, but you must be just and punish evil if you are not pleased to grant it. Please, Lord, open the eyes of our leaders. Cause them to see that they will have to give an account for their actions. Please bring them to a place where they understand that they will bow the knee to the true King. We pray for the unrest in our cities that you would bring calm and protect those you have placed in authority over evil people. We ask that you would restrain evil and promote good as offered in your Word. 

Most importantly, we pray that you would be glorified and that your name would be exalted. We know that you are our refuge and strength, and we ask that you would watch over your people with a ready sword to defend them from the evil one. We pray these things in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. 

[Featured image by Janez Podnar from Pexels]

Daily Prayer for February 13, 2021

Daily Prayer for February 13, 2021

Prayer: Our glorious God and majestic king, you have made us to worship you. From the very beginning, when you created our first parents and throughout all ages, you have called your people to adore and commune with you. After the fall, you condescended with man, drawing men to your presence as a holy obligation to worship you. As we prepare for the lord’s Day and the day of worship, we ask that you would be gracious to us by impressing on our hearts and minds the importance and vitality of corporate worship. We ask that you would cause us to see the great importance of gathering with your people, singing your praises, praying, and hearing from you through the reading, but especially the preaching of your Word. We confess that we often see this critical time as another thing we do each week. Forgive us for not seeing the beauty of corporate worship. Today, please prepare us for what we will do as your people on the day you have established as a small picture of that great day when we will worship you in holy perfection. We pray these things in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture Mediation: Gen. 2:1-3; Ex. 19-20; Ps. 100

Daily Prayer for February 7, 2021

Daily Prayer for February 7, 2021

Prayer: Almighty God, you who are holy, we bow before you today to worship and adore you. You have displayed your glory in what we see each day. From the sunrise to the sunset, you are proclaiming your majesty and beauty. In Christ, we behold your radiance and the exact imprint of your nature. in your Word, we read and hear your mind and your will as it is communicated to your creatures. Yet, men rebel against you. They profess to be wise but are fools. They exchange your glory with things that will never satisfy. On the day that you have commanded to be kept as holy — set apart for your worship — men exchange the glory of your presence for fleeting things of this earth. Worse, those people who profess to know you and love you and adore you profane this day by exchanging it for things that have no eternal value. They do not call the Sabbath a delight. They do not cease from doing their own pleasure on your holy day. Instead, they go their own way, doing their own pleasure and trample underfoot your command. Like these people, we, too, sometimes do the same things. Forgive us, Father, for not honoring your law and for failing to see that you gave us the Lord’s Day for our good. Please grant your church a renewed love for this “queen of days” and bring her to repentance for how she has so dishonored you. We pray these things in the name of Christ. Amen.

Scripture Mediation: Ps. 19; Heb. 1:1-3; Ex. 20:8-11; Isa. 58:13-14

Daily Prayer for February 7, 2021

Daily Prayer for November 29, 2020

Prayer: Our glorious God in heaven, we come to praise you for giving us this most needful day of worship and rest. We are thankful to you for making the Sabbath for man and for calling us to come apart from our worldly recreations and employments to join with your people in the singing of your praise and hearing from your Word. We know that we are made to worship you, and we know that this day tells us something of our eternal rest that we long for and await. We confess and are ashamed at how little our affections are lifted heavenward as we consider the Christian Sabbath. We confess that we are often consumed with fleeting things, failing to keep this day holy to you. Forgive us, Lord, and help us today to hear from you, worship you, and enjoy you. We pray this in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture Meditation: Gen. 2:1-3; Psa. 73:25, 26; Isa. 58:13, 14.

Daily Prayer for September 27, 2020

Daily Prayer for September 27, 2020

Prayer: Our God, it is good for us to gather as your people on the Lord’s Day to give thanks to you for what you do for your people. We come to proclaim your steadfast love for us. We are thankful that your love is firm and constant and is infinite. We praise you for your faithfulness — it never changes and is new every morning. Your works are great, and they show forth your majesty and beauty to your creatures every day. We give thanks to you for your great work of salvation and the privilege of the Lord’s Day when we joyfully worship you in spirit and truth because of the work of your beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Forgive us for taking for granted all that you do for us each day. Forgive us for not behaving as living sacrifices and for being so easily conformed to the things of this world. Remind us, today, what the Lord’s Day says to us and how it comforts us and fleshes out of us the remaining worldliness that remains in us. Grant us what you command us, Lord. Please help us and strengthen us by your Spirit. We pray these things in the name of the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Scripture Meditation: Ps. 92; Lam. 3:23; John 4; Rom. 12:1-2