Blog Archives

Prayer when you don’t “feel” forgiven

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Heavenly Father, You said that if I confess my sins, that You are faithful and righteous to forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.1.  Yet I still feel dirty. You said that even if my sins were red like scarlet, You would wash them white as snow.2 Yet I still see the blood-guilt on my hands. You said that You will remove my sins as far as the east is from the west.3 Yet other people still bring them up. So teach my heart to listen to You. Remind me, God, that if my heart condemns me, that Your truth is greater than my feelings.4 Reach down to my lowest depths with Your covenant love, and lift me up.5 If You say that I am forgiven, then I am forgiven. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Scriptural references and allusions:

  1. 1 John 1:9
  2. Isaiah 1:18
  3. Psalm 103:12
  4. 1 John 3:20
  5. James 4:10

Prayer when feeling spiritually dry

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, I am in a spiritual desert. My soul is dry. I thirst for You. How I need Jesus, the spring of living water. Fill me with Your Holy Spirit. Pour Your living word into me.  I desire to stand under Your loving presence, as a man stands under a waterfall, mouth open, drinking it in, letting it soak my heart and spirit. Then may I splash Your Spirit all around, that I may refresh those whom I meet this day. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Life lessons from hospital patients

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

In my hospital ministry, I often ask patients what lessons they have learned. Here are a few of the wise words that I have heard, with limited details about the patients to protect their identity:

Elderly man with COVID-19. “They almost lost me, but the Lord still has a plan for me.” He was discharged a few days later.

Middle-aged woman who survived a car wreck, hit by a drunk driver: “Don’t take life for granted. It could all change in a moment.”

Elderly man with terminal cancer diagnosis: “Be ready to meet God.”

Elderly woman, retired educator, with congestive heart failure: “Do the right thing, treat people right; let be and let God.”

Elderly woman with kidney failure: “Live one day at a time.”

Elderly man in therapy, unable to move legs: “I don’t need money; I just need friends, and people to pray for me.”

Elderly female with multiple medical problems: “Accept what you get.”

Recently retired female pt who may need heart by-pass. “When I was little and there was a storm, mama put us children in a room together and said, ‘When God is doing His work, we be quiet.’” The patient explained that this became a motto for coping with trials: “When God is doing His work, we be quiet.”

Middle-aged female pt who nearly died in the ICU, slowly recovered and went to a room. “Just because life is hard, don’t give up.”

Younger middle-aged female pt who had a seizure and wrecked her car, and went through months of surgeries for broken bones. “I choose joy.”

Recently retired female pt who was told two months ago that she has breast cancer. “Don’t feel sorry for me. God’s got this. I’m not taking God down off His pedestal. What God can’t do, there ain’t no doing.”

Teenage male pt who had surgery for torn ligaments from football practice. “Everything happens for a reason.”

Middle-aged female pt who had a blood clot in the brain. “You can get glad or mad in the same pair of breeches.”

Middle-aged female pt who was in the hospital for a long time, recovering from COVID-19. “Learn to lean on God.”

Younger middle-aged female pt who spent over a month in rehab after spine surgery. “Don’t sweat the petty stuff. Prayer gets you through.”

Senior adult female who had a stroke. “The same God who did miracles for people in the Bible is getting me through this.”

Elderly man with leukemia, going home on hospice. “Money doesn’t mean anything when you leave this earth, and I have some money. The only thing that matters is that you know Jesus.”

Two prayers for Thanksgiving

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Reflection on how to give thanks

Lord, how can I thank You enough for all You have done for me? Should I offer a thanksgiving offering like the ancient Israelites in their temple? Should I offer a song of thanks, or tell others of your wonderful works? Yes, Lord, I will do all of these things. Because of all that You have done for me, I will bring an offering of my time and money to You in church. I will offer You praise with my voice in song. I will give a testimony of Your goodness to me.

Prayer testifying to God’s goodness

O, give thanks to the Lord! He has saved me from sin and sickness. He has heard my prayers and answered me. He has given me peace in trials, and hope to overcome despair. He has filled my heart with joy through a loving family, and an encouraging church. I have seen Him change lives; I have seen Him rescue people who seemed beyond hope. He has opened my eyes to His truth through the Bible, His word. Let everybody join me in thanksgiving; let us give thanks to the Lord!

A prayer of thanksgiving

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

O Giver of good gifts, I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving for Your abundant blessings. I thank You that You opened my eyes this morning, You filled my lungs with air, and kept my heart beating. I thank You that You have given me sufficient food to eat, clothes to wear and a roof over my head. I thank You that You loved me so much that you sent Your only Son to die for my sins. I thank You that You filled my life with Your Holy Spirit. I thank You that You breathed upon Your word, the Bible, and gave it to me as a lamp to guide my way this day. I thank You for giving me a family who love me, and brothers and sisters in Christ in the church who encourage me. I thank You most of all, that because You opened my spiritual eyes to faith in Jesus Christ Your Son, I know that there is a morning coming, when I will open my eyes in heaven, and I will see You face to face. Until that day, may I live a life of gratitude, by serving others in the name of Jesus Christ my Lord.

Prayer of hope in time of suffering

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Lord, we despair under the dark clouds of suffering. We cannot see You or feel Your presence. Yet, we believe there is a light behind those clouds, because we have seen it before. Give us faith to hold on and trust You in the dark, until the day that the clouds part and Your light shines through again. In the name of Jesus, the light of the world, I pray. Amen.

A prayer in the pandemic

Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Oh, Lord, how we need Your presence in this pandemic.

For those who are sick, we ask for Your mercy and healing.

For those who are caring for the sick, we ask for Your compassion and strength.

For those who are afraid of the sickness, we ask for Your peace and protection.

For those who make policies about the sickness, we ask for Your wisdom and courage to do the right thing.

Heavenly Father, unite all of us, as Your children, by the bonds of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Prayer for wisdom

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Father, how we need Your wisdom. One person says to do this, and another says to do that, and both seem to give good reasons. We don’t know what to do. You say in James 1:5-6 that if we ask for wisdom in faith, You will give it, so we ask with confidence that you will direct us. Show us what is good and right, according to Your Word.  Show us what will honor Your name and further Your kingdom. May we humbly make decisions that serve the interests of others more than our own interests, and please give us peace as we act on the wisdom that You give. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

A prayer for personal peace

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Oh Jesus, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), I ask You to calm my heart and still my soul. In the quietness of this moment,

I focus my thoughts upon You. You are the God of peace (Philippians 4:9), You are the living water (John 4:10, 14), so like a pond receiving water from a river, I look to You as my upstream source of restoration.

As I abide in You, and Your words abide in me, may Your presence overflow me and make me as calm as pond water.

Prayer of joyful celebration

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Hallelujah! Celebrate! Rejoice!

God, I am amazed at what You have done. I sit here stunned.

Just when I thought You had forgotten me, You arrive in time to rescue me.

All about me I see creation in celebration. The birds are singing and soaring, the flowers are bursting with red, yellow and white, the pine trees are standing up straight and pointing to the heavens.

I see smiles on every face and I am receiving hugs from every heart. With tears of joy, I trade in my weeping for rejoicing. Hallelujah!

Prayer to hear God’s voice

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Then the LORD came and stood, and called as at the other times: “Samuel! Samuel! And Samuel said, “Speak for Your servant is listening.” – 1 Samuel 3:10, NASB

Lord, Your servant is listeniing. Speak to me.

Speak to me through Your scriptures. Uplift me when I feel downcast, correct me when I wander from Your way.

Speak to me when I am quiet, alone in prayer and speak to me when I loudly sing Your praises with Your people.

Speak to me in the gentle voice of wind blowing the grass, the majestic voice of a tall pine tree, the thundering voice of a rainstorm.

Speak to me through the advice of a friend, complaint of a co-worker, and rebuke of an enemy.

Attune my ear to hear quickly and lull my lips to speak slowly, that I may be more like You.

Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.

Putting our troubles into perspective- my story

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Copyright by Bob Rogers.

Sometimes it helps to put our troubles into perspective. Let me share a memory from many years ago. As a young pastor just beginning a family, I served several churches as pastor on a small salary. My wife Mary and I had some financial struggles, but we were happy, getting by living in a mobile home nicely furnished at one church, and later a larger pastorium, although we sometimes didn’t have the money to refill the butane heater. Our first child, Melissa, was born. Money was tight, but God provided. Eventually, I decided God was calling me to return to New Orleans Baptist Seminary and work on a doctoral degree.

Those days in seminary working on my doctorate were especially difficult times financially. I gave up my church position as pastor to dedicate myself to study, and I took a job on campus working for the grounds crew three days a week, so I could be in class and study the other days. I also worked as a grader for the professor, but that paid very little. My income was even less than when I worked for a church, even with Mary working. We stretched the money every way that we could.

One December day during this time, I got a call from the church there in New Orleans where we were members. They wanted me to pick up a Christmas gift for a needy seminary student family. I was so excited, because I thought that must be for my family. I arrived at the church, and they gave me the name and address of a student family in my apartment building. My heart dropped, but I dutifully took the gifts of food, gift cards and other presents, and went to the door of the family and knocked. When they opened the door, I was shocked– the family had an apartment full of kids, and had almost no possessions inside. They were so much worse off than me and Mary and Melissa. It put things in perspective, and I rarely felt sorry for myself again. I was thankful for what I had.

We all have a choice, to look down at our problems, or look up at our God, the Lord who provides (Genesis 22:14). As the apostle Paul wrote, “Set your minds on things above, not earthly things” (Colossians 3:1). A poet put it this way: “Two men looked out prison bars/ One saw mud, one saw stars.” It all depends on your perpsective, so let’s look up and be thankful for what we have.

Saturday, Day of Waiting

Article copyright by Bob Rogers.

Like Wednesday of Holy Week, nothing is recorded in the Gospels about what happened on Saturday. However, we know about the day because Mark 15:42 tells us that they buried Jesus before sundown on Friday, so they could rest on Saturday, the Sabbath. Nothing more is recorded until Mark 16:1 tells what happened on the first day of the week, which was Easter Sunday. (Matthew 27:62-66 does record that on Saturday, the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, agreed to post guards at the tomb of Christ.) Saturday was a day of waiting and wondering what would happen next. They had no idea anything good was going to happen the next day. They just had to wait on the Lord.

Isaiah 40:31 (KJV) says, “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength.” Psalm 27:14 says, “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Saturday, the day of waiting, teaches us to wait on the Lord. Waiting can be excruciatingly hard.

We have all agonized waiting. Maybe you waited to get a job or get a promotion or get a date or get an important phone call or get a test result. Right now, the whole world is waiting—waiting for the coronavirus pandemic to subside. Many of you are sheltered in place, worried about your health, worried about your job, wondering when this will all end. This kind of waiting is very, very hard. This was how the disciples felt that Saturday before Easter when they waited. They wondered what was next, and they did not expect it to be good. After all, their leader had been arrested and crucified.

The Hebrew word for “wait” in Isaiah and Psalms is a word for a chord, or rope. The idea of the word is that God has thrown us a rope, and asks us to hold on, because He has the other end. That’s why “wait” in Isaiah 40:31 is also translated “hope” or “trust.”

What’s more, you and I know the rest of the story. We know that on Easter Sunday, they got news more wonderful than they could ever imagine, because Christ arose!

That is why we who are followers of the Risen Christ can wait on this Saturday, because we are Easter Sunday people. We can wait on the Lord, for even when we don’t know what the future holds, we know Who holds the future—His name is Jesus, and He has already conquered sin and death and the grave and hell.  We can wait in the uncertainty of Saturday, because tomorrow is a certain Sunday!

An invitation to conversation with Almighty God

The LORD would speak with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend… – Exodus 33:11

Years ago, I got to shake hands with the president of the United States. I was serving as a pastor near Savannah, Georgia, and President George W. Bush was coming to Savannah to speak. As part of the event, I was asked to say a prayer before the president arrived, and then I was allowed to sit on the front row when the president spoke. After his speech, he walked through the crowd quickly, shaking hands with people on the front row. He was headed in my direction! I watched as Secret Service agents went before and behind him. Cameras were flashing. The news media were everywhere. He was stopping briefly to shake hands and speak to each person. As he made his way closer, I thought about what I would say. I didn’t want to say anything stupid. I could imagine putting my foot in my mouth and getting it broadcast on the evening news: “Local pastor makes a fool of himself with the President.” I knew there was no time for a long conversation, either. Finally, President Bush got to me. As if in slow motion, I took the hand of “W,” and said, “I pray for you every day.” He replied, “Thanks; it’s working!” Two seconds later, he was moving down the line.

Now here is a thought that blows my mind: Moses talked to the Creator of the Universe face to face like God was his best buddy! It wasn’t a quick phrase, like my conversation with the president. No, Moses spent time with Yahweh, the personal God of Israel, in a long, leisurely conversation. They hung out together.

Here’s another thought that blows my mind: Jesus, my Savior, wants to talk to me like that! Jesus told His disciples, “I have called you friends” (John 15:15), shortly after encouraging them to “abide” or “remain” with him (John 15:4). The president of the United States did not have time to remain with me and talk to me like a friend, yet Jesus, my Savior, calls me “friend” and invites me to remain and spend time with him.

What would I have done if the president had said, “Bob, can I come over for dinner and talk with you a while?” I would have called my wife and said, “You got a few minutes to get the house ready for the president!” But I have One far greater inviting me to start my day in conversation with Him. How can I do otherwise?

Three thorns and roses in Romans 8:28

Article copyright by Bob Rogers.

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28, CSB

Romans 8:28 is one of the most beloved promises in the Bible. Most people focus on the words, “for the good.” Perhaps we should reflect more on the phrase, “work together,” because the verse is teaching that God can mix bad things in the life of a believer, and bring about good results, like roses on the end of a thorny stem. Let me suggest three kinds of thorns God brings from our lives that work together to grow roses: troubles, temptations and trespasses.

1) The thorn of troubles. God will allow troubles in our lives, to teach us to trust Him. When we have troubles, we are faced with our weakness. Yet, they work together for the good lesson of teaching us to depend on God’s sufficiency. As 2 Corinthians 1:9 says, this teaches us to “not trust in ourselvs but in God who raises the dead.”

2) The thorn of temptations. God will allow temptation in our lives, to teach us obedience. An athlete develops muscles and endurance by the pressure, weight and strain of exercise. Likewise, God allows us to be tempted, so that it works together for the good spiritual muscles that we develop as we grow stronger in obedience. (1 Corinthians 10:13)

3) The thorn of trespasses. By trespasses, I mean sin. God does not want us to sin, but when we sin, we must humble ourselves, repent, and ask Jesus for forgiveness. Scripture tells us to forgive, even as the Lord has forgiven us (Colossians 3:13). Those who have truly experienced the grace of forgiveness tend to be better at forgiving others. So trespasses– whether they be our own or the sins of others– work together to grow beautiful flowers of forgiveness in our lives.