“Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer has become impossible and your heart has turned to stone. If you have never had any distractions you don’t know how to pray. For the secret of prayer is a hunger for God and for the vision of God, a hunger that lies far deeper than the level of language or affection.” Thomas Merton
Tom Petty has a knack for timeless lyrics with universal appeal.
Some thirty years after its release in 1981, his song “The Waiting” tugs at listeners more powerfully than ever. Whether it’s waiting in line, waiting in traffic, waiting for food service, or waiting for marriage, biding our time is more counter-cultural than ever. And proclaiming it “the hardest part” resonates deeply. We have been conditioned to have it our way, right away. First it was fast food and instant coffee; then it was everything else as well.
But our disdain for waiting isn’t just the product of social trends and generational shifts; it is an expression of something profoundly human.
Our twin four-year-old boys can relate already. They heard Petty’s chorus, and it struck a nerve — and stayed with them more than anything else from his greatest-hits album. Now they sing it to pacify themselves when they feel the burn of waiting.
And the pains of waiting seem even more pronounced in mom and dad. From gestation, parenting has challenged our patience, and exposed its lack, with embarrassing frequency and depth.
Christianity Is Waiting
Our perspective on waiting is perhaps one of the stronger ways our society is out of stride with the biblical worldview. Not that waiting was easy for our forefathers, but they were more at peace with it, and more ready to see its goodness and potential.
“Our perspective on waiting is one of the stronger ways our society is out of stride with the biblical worldview.”
In the Old Testament, the psalmist celebrates waiting patiently for the Lord (Psalm 40:1), and Isaiah promises that those “who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Waiting on God is a regular refrain in the life of faith. It is an expression of the healthy heart’s desire: “O Lord, we wait for you; your name and remembrance are the desire of our soul” (Isaiah 26:8). And it is an echo of the unparalleled power and grace of God, “who acts for those who wait for him” (Isaiah 64:4).
With all those centuries of waiting for the Messiah, you might think the waiting would be done once Jesus had come. But now in the church age, we wait as much as ever, called to live in the shadow of his return. We “wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:7); we are a people “waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). The church is that community which has “turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven” (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10), knowing that when he appears, he comes “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Hebrews 9:28).
The church has endured two millennia of extended waiting. We “groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23), and we aim to live in “holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God . . . waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:11–13). And as we bide our time on this side, we “keep [ourselves] in the love of God” by “waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life” (Jude 21).
Patience Is the Virtue
The illusive virtue, then, which corresponds to this dreaded condition is patience. It is the first thing Paul celebrates about love in 1 Corinthians 13 — “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4) — and one of the most repeated exhortations to church leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Timothy 2:24; 4:2). Eternal life is the possession of “those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality” (Romans 2:7). And patience is a virtue so rare, and of such divine doing, that Paul twice draws on its exercise as a defense of his apostleship (2 Corinthians 6:4–6; 12:12).
Patience is the companion of humility and the enemy of pride. “The patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit” (Ecclesiastes 7:8). It is the appropriate posture of the creature illumined enough to say, “God is sovereign, and I am not.” And it is not our own production, but “the fruit of the Spirit” (Galatians 5:22; 5:5).
Three Pathways for Cultivating Patience
In the practice of patience is one of the times we most feel the burn of sanctification and the inward groans of the Spirit (Romans 8:23). At times it can seem we’re being conformed to Jesus almost effortlessly; the winds of the Spirit in our sails, as we feed the nourishment of self-forgetfulness.
But part of waiting is the conscious hardship. We taste the bitter pill of patience and feel it slither ever so slowly down our throat. It’s not patience when we’re gloriously unaware of the waiting. And so when we feel the burn, we need divine promises in store and a plan of attack. Here are three biblical pathways for cultivating patience in the waiting.
1) Renew Faith and Hope
When you feel the first resistance, let it be a reminder to go Godward. Recalibrate the focus of your faith. Move the weight of your trust off self, where it keeps gravitating back, and consciously reorient on God. Whether it’s simply spare moments or seemingly endless days, waiting is no waste in God’s economy. It is in the delays and the pauses, and in becoming aware of our lack of patience, that he works to save us from self-reliance and revitalize our faith and hope in him.
“Waiting is no waste in God’s economy.”
Patience comes with faith (2 Timothy 3:10; Hebrews 6:12) — faith for the moment, and hope toward the future. Faith feeds hope, and when “we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:25).
2) Pray and Give Thanks
Second, let the waiting prompt you to pray. The summons to “be patient in tribulation” is followed with the reminder to “be constant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). A healthy life of prayer doesn’t necessitate hours each day in the closet, but eyes to see the opportunities in, and a heart to seize upon, the unexpected moments and seasons of waiting.
And there is a remarkable role for thanksgiving in cultivating “patience with joy.” Paul prays for Christians that they may be “strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:11–12).
How do we “put on . . . patience” (Colossians 3:12)? The apostle points us to thanksgiving not once or twice, but three times:
Be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15–17)
Few things will pass the time as effectively and richly as counting your blessings and naming them to God.
3) Remember the Patience of God
Finally, the pain of waiting can point our hearts to the life-saving patience of God. We owe our everything to his kindness and patience with us. “Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
“The pain of waiting can point our hearts to the life-saving patience of God.”
He was patient when the first man and woman sinned. His “patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:20). He was patient with Abraham and patient with Israel. He showed his patience through his prophets (James 5:10). And if he is patient even with “vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,” how much more has he shown his patience to us in making known “the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Romans 9:22–23)?
Jesus himself is the climactic display of God’s perfect patience toward sinners (1 Timothy 1:16). He is “patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). We “count the patience of our Lord as salvation” (2 Peter 3:15) and bank on his promise, in all our waiting, to “sustain you to the end” (1 Corinthians 1:8).
Perhaps Tom Petty is onto something better than he knows when he sings about waiting, “You take it on faith, you take it to the heart.” The unwelcome intrusions of waiting into our lives, whether weighty or seemingly trite, are powerful opportunities to welcome God into every moment and keep our hearts renewed in him.
12 Christmas Prayers – Experience Joy!
- Compiled & Edited by Crosswalk Editorial Staff
- November 10, 2016
As we approach the holiday season, we are faced with yet another opportunity to pause in the midst of all the excitement, decorations, and commercialization, to consider again the origin of Christmas–the One whose birth we celebrate. Let’s not forget the true meaning of why we celebrate during this time of year. Celebrate the baby Jesus and trust Him as Savior today.
Reflect on the joy and hope of the holiday season with these Christmas prayers:
- A Prayer to Keep Christmas Simple
- A Prayer to Remember What Christmas is All About
- A Prayer for Peace During Holiday Season
- Christmas Eve Benediction
- A Short Prayer of Thanks
- A Prayer to Keep God at the Center During the Holidays
- A Prayer for the Merry and Not-So-Merry
- A Prayer to Re-focus During the Holiday Season
- A Prayer for the Days After Christmas
- A Christmas Tree Blessing
- Lord, Remind Me Prayer
- Happy Birthday Jesus Prayer
1. A Prayer to Keep Christmas Simple
Dear Lord, don’t let us miss You this Christmas season. Help us to simplify our activities and traditions so we can focus our celebration on Your birth. Thank You for being the Prince of Peace, and I ask You for that supernatural peace to reign in our hearts. Thank You for the simple but life-changing message of Your love for us. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
~ Melanie Chitwood
2. A Prayer to Remember What Christmas is All About
Lord, I thank You for coming to earth so You could redeem me. When I think of the extent to which You were willing to go in order to save me, it makes me want to shout, to celebrate, and to cry with thankfulness. You love me so much, and I am so grateful for that love. Without You, I would still be lost and in sin. But because of everything You have done for me, today I am free; my life is blessed; Jesus is my Lord; Heaven is my home; and Satan has no right to control me. I will be eternally thankful to You for everything You did to save me! I pray this in Jesus’ name!
~ Rick Renner
3. A Prayer for Peace During Holiday Season
Lord, in a season when every heart should be happy and light, many of us are struggling with the heaviness of life—burdens that steal the joy right out of our Christmas stockings. Crazy weather disasters strike at unsuspecting areas, ravaging peaceful homes and interrupting the lives of unsuspecting residents. Tragedy arrives as innocent victims suffer, and an inner voice whispers, “Be afraid!” We need your peace, Jesus.
Lord, we still carol the wonderful message, huddled beneath winter caps on snow-covered porches, or from churches, led by enthusiastic musicians or choir members. Yet we confess that our hearts are too often filled with wonder of a different kind: wondering when the bills will be paid, when the terror will stop, when rest will come. Will it ever? Is the message still true?
In a world where worry, not peace, prevails, stir up that good news again. This Christmas, make it real in our hearts. Never have we needed Your joy and peace more than now. Thank You for the gift of Jesus, our Immanuel, the Word made flesh. Forgive us for forgetting—that Your love never changes, never fades, and that You never abandon the purpose for which You came: to save us from our sinful condition, and to give us life eternal, the joy of relationship with a holy God. Your birth—and Your death—sealed Your promise to us forever.
For those whose hearts are battered by sorrow or broken relationships, for those whose lives know only conflict and confusion, for those whose bodies are tired and tested beyond their ability to endure this year—precious Savior, draw them close to You. Let them know You are still the same Jesus who was born of a virgin, not in a hospital but an animal barn, laid in a manger of hay. You are still the One sent by a heavenly Father who offered not condemnation for our sins, but love and forgiveness—and daily, divine fellowship.
We not only need Your peace and joy; Lord, we crave it. You’ve promised rest for the weary, victory for the battle-scarred, peace for the anxious, and acceptance for the broken hearted—not just at Christmas, but every day of every year.
Release the joy in us that’s been crushed by pride, wrong priorities, or world events. Tear down the strongholds that have held us captive far too long. Extinguish the flames of apprehension that rob us of a calm, quiet spirit. Show us again the beauty of that holy night so many centuries ago.
Your name is still called “Wonderful,” “Counselor,” “The Mighty God,” “The Everlasting Father,” and “The Prince of Peace.” As Your children, we cry out for a fresh filling, and a new awareness of Who You are. We choose by faith to make the “good news of great joy” a reality in our own lives, so others can see us as lighted trees of life, pointing to You this Christmas. We know one day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that You are Lord. And we also know that peace on earth can only come when hearts find peace with You.
You are still our Joy. You are still our Peace. You are no longer a babe in the manger. You are Lord of lords and King of kings. And we still celebrate You as Lord—this Christmas and always.
~ Rebecca Barlow Jordan
4. Christmas Eve Benediction/Prayer
May you be filled with the wonder of Mary, the obedience of Joseph, the joy of the angels, the eagerness of the shepherds, the determination of the magi, and the peace of the Christ child. Almighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit bless you now and forever.
Thank you God for sending Your Son on one glorious night to be born a virgin, to live a perfect life and to die on the cross for my sins. Thank you that he rose from the dead three days later and that this Christmas and every Christmas we can celebrate the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Amen.
6. A Prayer to Keep God at the Center During the Holidays
Lord, We worship You during this Christmas season. You are our wonderful Counselor, mighty God, everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). We choose to put You at the center of our family life as we celebrate Your birth. Keep us from distractions and help us to invite You into all our family activities. Teach us to pray and help us to glorify and worship You in our family during this busy time of year. Give us a spirit of wisdom and revelation that we might know You better (Ephesians 1:17). Thank you for being Immanuel, “God with us.” Open our eyes to realize this each day as we interact with others. Help us to be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as You forgave us (Ephesians 4:32). Show us creative ways to love and care for those outside our home. Fill us to overflowing with Your love for the lost. Teach us to do acts of kindness to those who are in need at this time of year. May our family be a refreshment and light to others. We ask You to touch with salvation those in our family who do not know You [Name those individuals]. Open their hearts to Your great love for them. Help us to share Your Truth and be Your light. You are the Savior of the world.
We love Your Word and choose to make it central in our family life. Your Word is alive and active—It’s sharper than any double-edged sword—It judges the thoughts and attitudes of our hearts (Hebrews 4:12). We long to align ourselves spiritually with You and Your Word every day. We want to pray your Word with Your authority, and with greater faith and obedience in our lives as we approach this New Year. We rejoice in following Your statutes as one rejoices in great riches. We meditate on Your precepts and consider Your ways. We delight in Your decrees. We will not neglect Your Word. Open our eyes that we may see wonderful things in Your law. We run in the path of Your commands, for You have set our hearts free (Psalm 119:14-16, 18, 32).
“Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord!” Join us this Christmas for an inspiring walk through Luke 2 as we remember the birth of Jesus.
Posted by Crosswalk.com on Monday, December 21, 2015
7. A Prayer for the Merry…and the Not-So-Merry
Father God, We thank You and praise You today for the miracle of Your Son’s birth. Thank You for bringing great JOY to the whole world! Thank You for giving us the assurance that because You came to us in the form of a human, we who believe in Jesus can know with absolute certainty that we’ll spend eternity with You.
We thank You, Lord, for the many reasons we have been given a merry Christmas. And we rejoice for each blessing. New life. New love. A home. A job. New opportunities. Second chances. And more.
We know, Lord, that You bring the sun and the moon and set the stars in motion. You tell the ocean where to stop and the snow when to start. And we thank You for the mighty gift of Your creation.
And although we have many reasons to rejoice today, Lord, we also know December 25th can be not-so-merry for a whole host of reasons. We pray for those who are experiencing loss this Christmas: relational, financial, spiritual and physical.
We pray for those who are coping with loving a prodigal and our friends and family members whose hearts are far from You. We pray for those dealing with unemployment and addictions and chronic sickness … and unending pain and frustrations of all kinds. Thank You, Lord, that You are The Wonderful Counselor and Prince of Peace, even in the midst of our not-so-merry circumstances.
Finally, Lord, we ask You to grant us peace. Peace in our homes, peace in our churches, and peace in our hearts, when the world all around us spins out-of-control. Help us to stay focused on You, this Christmastime and always. Thank You for loving the whole world enough to send the greatest gift, Your Son, so that we might truly have a very merry Christmas. In Jesus’ name, amen.
~ Steph Raquel
8. A Prayer to Re-focus During the Holiday Season
Dear God, sometimes I get too caught in the Christmas commercialism. OK, a lot of times. Today, I’m going to refocus my heart and remember why I’m celebrating this wonderful day in the first place. I’m celebrating Jesus today…and every day! In Jesus’ name, amen.
~ Sharon Jaynes
9. A Prayer for the Days After Christmas
Dear God,Help us to focus on you today, remembering that the gift of Christ, Immanuel, is our most treasured gift for the whole year through. Fill us with your joy and the peace of your Spirit. Direct our hearts and minds towards you. Thank you for your reminder that both in seasons of celebration and in seasons of brokenness, you’re still with us. You never leave us. Thank you for your daily Presence in our lives, that we can be assured your heart is towards us, your eyes are over us, and your ears are open to our prayers. Thank you that your surround us with favor as with a shield, we are safe in your care. We choose to press in close to you today… In Jesus’ name, amen.
~ Debbie McDaniel
Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth. Sing to the LORD, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples. For great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; he is to be feared above all gods. For all the gods of the nations are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and glory are in his sanctuary. Ascribe to the LORD, all you families of nations, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength. Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; bring an offering and come into his courts. Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth. Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns.” The world is firmly established, it cannot be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity. Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad; let the sea resound, and all that is in it. Let the fields be jubilant, and everything in them; let all the trees of the forest sing for joy. Let all creation rejoice before the LORD, for he comes, he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness and the peoples in his faithfulness. – Psalm 96 “‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. “ ‘I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.’” – Ezekial 17:22-24
When I hear the news and hear another war has begun
And I wonder if God’s on the side of either one
I hear bullet, nail, or handcuff he bore all of them And in the light my heart’s as dark as anyone’s
Lord, remind me
Lord, remind me
That the shepherds heard the angels break the silence in the field
That the wisemen found a baby and they could not help but kneel
That the one who heard our weeping, became a child in manger sleeping
Lord, remind me
‘Cause it’s Christmas and I want to remember
~ Jon Guerra
12. Happy Birthday Jesus Prayer
Father, today I celebrate the reality of Your presence in my life. I celebrate Your birth, Your life, Your death and Your resurrection. And as I celebrate, Lord, help me to be “God with skin on” to those in need around me. Open my eyes and let me see them as You see them! I love You. Happy birthday Jesus! In Jesus name, amen.
~ Mary Southerland, Girlfriends in God