Prayer for Good Friday
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
Precious Jesus, I meditate on the day of Your death.
Your hands were bound behind Your back
Your mouth was silent before Pilate
Your ears heard the words “Crucify!”
Your head was crowned with thorns
Your back was bloodied with the whip
Your back bore the cross to Calvary
Your hands and feet were nailed to the cross
Your tongue spoke words of forgiveness
Your side was pierced
Your heart was broken
Your work was finished.
Darkness covered the land and blood covered my sin,
the day the Lamb of God was sacrificed.
I cannot take away Your pain
I cannot pay You for my gain
I cannot be sacrificed in Your place
I can only receive Your gift of grace.
Prayer for wisdom in suffering
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
Precious Lord Jesus, I want to know the power of Your resurrection, and the fellowship of Your suffering (Philippians 3:10). When I am weak, help me draw strength from You. When people insult me, remind me that that they hurled insults at You. Give me grace not to slander, but give me courage to speak the truth. If I suffer for doing right, give me peace. If I suffer for my own sin, give me the courage to repent. In all things, give me the wisdom to know the difference.
The hardest prayer to pray
(Few of us want to pray a prayer of confession. And when we do confess, we may say, “Lord, if I have sinned” (God knows we have!) or we soft-sell it with some safe sin, like, “Lord, I know I ran a red light” (He knows a lot worse things than that!) Our confession is rarely raw, vulnerable or gut-wrenching. But Biblical confesssion is brutally honest. So is this prayer, based on Psalm 38. Confession is the hardest prayer to pray, but in the end, it is the most rewarding. Copyright by Bob Rogers).
Lord, my sin is too much for me to bear! I feel the weight of my sin all the more as Your punishment presses down on me. My sin stinks like a festering wound, and my stomach turns at the smell of my foolishness. It hurts that my wrongdoing caused my loved ones and friends to stand back from me, and my enemies have used it to attack me, but it hurts even more, that I feel the pain of separation from You. I know that nothing is hidden from You. Knowing that You see my wicked heart and deceitful mind causes my skin to crawl and my heart to ache. So I confess my sin; I make no excuses; it troubles me; I am disgusted by what I have done. I trust in You, Lord, to forgive me and save me. Lord, do not leave me; hurry to help me, for You are my Savior and my only hope for forgiveness.
Prayer when you don’t “feel” forgiven
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 John 1:9
- Isaiah 1:18
- Psalm 103:12
- 1 John 3:20
- James 4:10
Two prayers for Thanksgiving
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!
Prayer for spiritual healing
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
Lord, be gracious to us, and heal us of our sin1. We have been unfaithful to You; heal us of our unfaithfulness2. We have wandered away from You, heal us as we return3. We have hidden our sins from You; heal us as we confess our sins4. You have wounded us and broken us; now bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts. By Your wounds, Jesus, our sins are healed5. Lord, hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and heal our land6.
- Psalm 41:4
- Jeremiah 3:22
- Hosea 6:1
- James 5:16
- Isaiah 53:5
- 2 Chronicles 7:14
Prayer of forgiveness for oneself
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
Oh, Lord Jesus, You died upon the cross to redeem me from sin, but I struggle to forgive myself. The tax collector prayed, “Have mercy on me, a sinner!” (Luke 18:13). Yet I tend to say, “Woe is me, a sinner!” Since I have repented of my sin and renounced it with all my heart, help me now to have mercy on myself. You said that “if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than all our hearts, and knows all things” (1 John 3:20). So Lord, since You know that I am forgiven, help me to know it, too—not only in my mind, but in my heart.
Top 10 signs you’re in a bad church
Copyright by Bob Rogers.
I’ll admit it, some people have bad experiences with a church. Here are the top ten signs you’re in a bad church:
10. The church bus has gun racks.
9. Church staff: senior pastor, associate pator, socio-pastor.
8. The town gossip is the prayer coordinator.
7. Church sign says, “Do you know what Hell is? Come hear our preacher.”
6. Choir wears leather robes.
5. During greeting time, people take turns staring at you.
4. Karaoke worship time.
3. Ushers ask, “Smoking or non-smoking?”
2. Only song the organist knows: “We Shall Not Be Moved.”
- The pastor doesn’t want to come, but his wife makes him attend.
If your church is that bad, you might want to look for another church. But the fact is, that there is no perfect church, because the church is made up of imperfect people. The phrase the Bible uses to describe us is “sinners saved by grace.” So before you give up completely on the church, remember this: “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25, ESV). If Jesus considered the church worth dying for, then we ought to consider the church worth living for.
An unknown poet put it well:
“If you should find the perfect church, without fault or smear
For goodness sake, don’t join that church, you’d spoil the atmosphere.
But since no perfect church exists, made of perfect men,
Let’s cease on looking for that church, and love the one we’re in.”
(This article will be part of my upcoming book about taking a humorous yet serious look at the Christian life, called, Standing by the Wrong Graveside.)
David was the “comeback kid”
Article copyright by Bob Rogers.
In the Hebrew scriptures, Abraham may have been the father of faith, and Moses the giver of the law, but David was the “comeback kid.” Look at all the times David made a comeback:
David overcame his size (1 Samuel 16). He was the youngest son of Jesse, yet the prophet Samuel chose to anoint him as the next king.
David overcame his giant (1 Samuel 17). He faced down the giant Goliath when others fled, and won!
David overcame his defeat (1 Samuel 30). When the Amalekites raided his camp and kidnapped his wives, David’s men were ready to kill him. But David found strength in the Lord, and led his men to victory, recovering his family and all that had been taken from them.
David overcame his sin (1 Samuel 11-12). He abused his power to exploit the beautiful Bathsheba, then ordered her husband put on the front lines to die. Yet when confronted by the prophet Nathan for his adultery and murder, David confessed his sin, repented, and experienced the grace of God’s forgiveness.
David overcame his sorrow (1 Samuel 12). Despite his repentance, David suffered the consequences of his sin in the death of his infant child. Yet when he realized the child had died, David rose from his grief and worshiped his God.
David overcame a rebellion (1 Samuel 15-17). His own son Absalom led a revolt against the king, but David was able to win the battle and retake his throne.
David overcame his pride (1 Samuel 24). Proud of his mighty army, he took a census of his troops. This brought on the judgment of God, but again David humbled himself and was forgiven.
Are you despairing, distressed, defiled and defeated? Like David, find your strength in God. His grace can give you a comeback, too!
Tearing down statues– where does it end?
Protesters in San Francisco have pulled down a bust of Ulysses Grant, the former U.S. president and Union general who defeated the Confederates, because Grant married into a slave-owning family. They also pulled down other statues, including that of Francis Scott Key (pictured above), who wrote the U.S. national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner,” since Key owned slaves.
I readily agree that slavery was and is reprehensible, and the Confederates were traitors to the Union. I also agree that statues of many such historical people need to be removed to museums, not glorified front and center in our parks and courthouses. But where does this sort of thing end? What person, past or present, is without character flaws?
I wonder if these same protesters would be willing to tear down a statue of Charles Darwin, since he was a racist who said Africans were less evolved than white people? I wonder if these same protesters would be willing to deface a statue of John F. Kennedy, since he was reportedly an adulterer?
Interestingly, some of those people of the past, if they were here today, would likely be shocked by the immoral practices of some of these modern protesters, some who may cohabitate outside of marriage or may have killed babies through abortion– but at least they didn’t own slaves, so they judge themselves righteous. How blind these self-righteous anarchists are, seeing the sins of the past but ignoring the sins of the present.
These modern moralists do not see how similar their vandalism is to ISIS fighters who tore down ancient statues in the Middle East because they were “pagan.” These revolutionaries do not see how their onrush to destroy any and every injustice in the name of the people is similar to another revolution– the French revolution, a time when the revolutionaries were soon devouring each other for not being radical enough. Today’s radicals could read about it in their history books, but it seems they have torn out most of the pages.
Good Friday, Day of Sacrifice
Article copyright by Bob Rogers.
On Friday of Holy Week, Jesus was crucified for our sins. The crowd cried “Crucify Him!” and so Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, did exactly that. They flogged Him, mocked Him, beat Him, and crucified Him.
The crucifixion of Jesus Christ is so important to our faith, that all four gospels describe it in great detail.
Mark records six times that Jesus was mocked: once by the Sanhedrin (14:65), twice by the Roman soldiers (15:18, 20), by those who passed by (15:29), by the religious leaders (15:31), and by the criminals crucified with Him (15:32). Six is the number of evil in the Bible. But Jesus overcame evil by his sacrifice on the cross.
Luke records that Jesus asked the Father to forgive them, and one of the criminals was apparently so moved by Christ’s forgiveness that he became repentant (Luke 23:39-43).
John records that as He died, Jesus said, “It is finished!” (John 19:30) Jesus paid the price for sin and won the victory over evil.
Matthew records that when the Roman centurion saw how Jesus died, the soldier declared, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:54).
We call it “Good Friday,” because it was good for us, not good for Jesus. By sacrificing Himself for our sin, Jesus did what none of us can do for ourselves, and no religion can do for us. We can’t pay for our sins; we must trust in the payment already made by Jesus upon the cross.
British preacher Dick Lucas recounted an imaginary conversation between an early Christian and her neighbor in Rome.
“Ah,” the neighbor says. “I hear you are religious! Great! Religion is a good thing. Where is your temple?”
“We don’t have a temple,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our temple.”
“No temple? But where do your priests work and do their rituals?”
“We don’t have priests to mediate the presence of God,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our priest.”
“No priests? But where do you offer your sacrifices to acquire the favor of your God?”
“We don’t need a sacrifice,” replies the Christian. “Jesus is our sacrifice.”
“What kind of religion is this?” sputters the pagan neighbor.
And the answer is, it’s no kind of religion at all. (Timothy Keller, King’s Cross, p. 45-46)
Because of Good Friday, it’s no longer about religion; it’s about a relationship based on faith in Jesus Christ’s sacrifice for our sin.
Good Friday, the day of sacrifice, teaches us to believe in the Christ who died on the cross, to find forgiveness and eternal life.
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.
The women in Jesus’ family tree
The Gospel of Matthew opens with the family tree of Jesus, from Abraham through Joseph and Mary. In typical Hebrew fashion, it lists the men, not the women, who “begat” (KJV) or “fathered” each son. Yet of the 42 generations listed, Matthew inserts references to four women other than Mary, the mother of Jesus: Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Bathsheba (who is only called “Uriah’s wife”). Why are these women mentioned?
Matthew is writing to a very religious Jewish audience, and by inserting these names in the genealogy of the Messiah, he is showing us two encouraging truths.
All our welcome. All of the women were foreigners: Tamar was a Canaanite (Genesis 38:6), Rahab was from Jericho (Joshua 2:1-22), Ruth was from Moab (Ruth 1:4), and Bathsheba was a Hittite (2 Samuel 11:3). To a Jewish audience, he was reminding the Chosen People that God welcomes all people to follow Jesus as the Messiah and Savior of the world.
He came to save sinners. Three of the women were notorious for sexual sin. Tamar seduced her father-in-law Judah (Genesis 38), Rahab was a prostitute (Joshua 2:1), and Bathsheba committed adultery with King David (2 Samuel 11-12), which is why she is referred to by Matthew as “Uriah’s wife,” as a reminder of that adultery.
No wonder the angel said to Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “She will give birth to a son, and you are to name Him Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”
I’m so glad Jesus’ genealogy included those four women, because it reminds me that He includes me, a non-Jewish sinner in need of a Messiah and Savior.
Charles Spurgeon said in commenting on Matthew 1:21, “The first link between my soul and Christ is not my goodness but my badness, not my merit but my misery, not my standing but my falling, not my riches but my need. He comes to visit his people– not to admire their beauties but to remove their deformities, not to reward their virtues but to forgive their sins.”
Book review: “The Valley of Vision”
I rarely do this in a book review, but I give five stars to The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers & Devotions, by Arthur Bennett. A former pastor, Darryl Craft, introduced me to this amazing book of prayers when he quoted it in worship. I decided to buy a copy and spend this year slowly reading them in morning devotions.
To say this is a popular, influential book is an understatement. First published in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1975, it has been through numerous printings in the U.K. and USA. Collected and edited by British author Arthur Bennett, The Valley of Vision contains over 200 prayers of Puritans such as Richard Baxter, David Brainerd, John Bunyan, Isaac Watts, and Charles Spurgeon (whom Bennett calls “the last of the Puritans”). However, Arthur does not identify the authors of the individual prayers. The prayers are grouped by sections under ten subjects such as the Trinity, redemption, penitence, and service. The final section are a collection of morning and evening prayers for each day of the week. These prayers use poetic rhythm and repetition to deliver a powerful emotional punch. For example, the prayer “Spiritus Sanctus” (p. 27) begins, “O Holy Spirit, as the sun is full of light, the ocean full of water, Heaven full of glory, so may my heart be full of thee…” Others use poetic imagery, as the prayer “Humility in Service” (p. 178), which includes the line, “O bury my sins in the ocean of Jesus’ blood…”
Modern readers may find many of the prayers to be extremely self-deprecating and so full of humility that the reader appears too hard on himself. For example, “After Prayer” (p. 150), says, “Let me be as slow to forgive myself as thou art ready to forgive me.” I would question the spiritual healthiness of being slow to forgive oneself. Yet with that caution, modern culture has gone so far in the opposite direction, that most modern Christians could benefit from a healthy dose of feeling the heaviness of sin.
If you want to be inspired to pray with conviction, read this book, but read it slowly, to savor every morsel. Then read it again. That’s what I plan to do.
Movie review: “I Can Only Imagine”
My wife and I were deeply moved by the new film, I Can Only Imagine. I was so emotional that I had to compose myself before I could drive home– it was that powerful.
You may know the song, but do you know the story behind the song? “I Can Only Imagine” by Bart Millard of the Christian band Mercy Me is the best-selling, most-played Christian single of all time. The new film by the same title tells the moving true story of the songwriter and how he wrote the song.
The film tells how Bart Millard’s father abused him and his mother, and constantly told Bart he was not good enough. [Spoiler alert—skip the rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to know the basic plot.] Thanks to a football injury and a music teacher’s insistence, Bart discovered he had a gift to sing. When his father told him to forget his dreams, he left home, turned his back on the girlfriend who loved him, and tried to escape his troubles by singing with a traveling band.
I won’t give away the ending, because the circumstances of how he recorded the song have surprising twists and turns along the way, but suffice to say that Bart had to face his fears to reach his dreams. And yes, the film dramatically presents the full song near the end of the film.
Dennis Quaid is amazing as the actor playing Bart’s abusive father. People who have endured abuse will feel the pain Bart feels from his father, but many people with sins in their own past, like myself, will identify with the pain of the father himself.
This is a Christian film, but it is not “preachy.” The story is raw, real and unapologetically soaked with the hope of the gospel. Go see this film if you like music, if you like romance, if your dreams have been crushed, if you have been abused, if you have abused someone, if you have a broken home, if you are grieving the death of a loved one, if you need forgiveness, if you need to forgive, and if you need hope.