God Almighty — not some trivial unknown mystical superficial god of our own making but the Divine we find cover to cover throughout the scriptures, the One who has created the heavens and earth, hung the stars and eventually will make his enemies a footstool when he finally welcomes with no regret or hesitation his very own into his eternal Kingdom;
This coming year somehow develop in us a hunger we’ve yet to experience in seeking you rather than your gifts, a thirst for the righteousness which can only be quenched in your Son Jesus, and a deeper understanding of and fresh appreciation for your scandalous grace upon our lives—infused by the gift of faith you’ve so absolutely undeservedly and generously given us.
Take far-far away from us Father our heart’s default position as stingy-miserable accountants turning a blind eye and holding out an empty hand when it comes to our stubborn propensity to decide for you who you’d prefer to bless and who you’d like to curse. As for your elaborate love (not the “I love my football team” kind of love—but real love—boundary-less, no-strings-attached, doesn’t-matter-who-gives-their-approval kind of love), set our hearts on fire anew empowering us as reckless-hilarious sharers instead, keenly aware of the fact that we’ve already been given “in Christ” all the love we could ever fathom, desire or contain.
Give us a grace we can at least do something in return for, but spare us the embarrassment of offering us something we can’t pay a red cent for. We complain to you about “other” Christians who don’t take their faith nearly seriously enough (like we do) and we’re incredibly irritated by the “cheap grace” they have the nerve to assume they possess. But truth be told, what we find even more troubling is your economy of grace, you don’t operate like a businessman. Notice our righteous indignation and how terribly bothered we get (especially those of us who consider ourselves the “intellectuals”) at the thought of you lavishing free grace on those of us who’ve made a mess of our lives (yes, even when it means ourselves).
To add insult to injury then you go and bless these sorry excuses for Christians with something us model Christians have been patiently waiting on you for since we decided to give up the high life and get our act together, for you of course—you surely must understand why we demand “balance’ when it comes to talk of grace.
If we’re honest, we’d rather appear righteous than embrace forgiveness. Whatever means you deem necessary, help us begin to grasp the radical forgiveness which is ours. Give us eyes to see that our past, present and future sins—be they identified and confessed, or not, have been drowned in the vast sea you’ve named Forgotten. Speaking of our unspoken sins, it’s pardon we need just as much or more so for these transgressions.
It’s not popular in some circles to talk about you Jesus, crucified and blood spilling, assuming the place that was rightly ours, “Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned he stood; sealed my pardon with his blood… Guilty, vile, and helpless we; spotless lamb of God was he; full atonement can it be?” By taking our punishment upon yourself you’ve removed the condemnation we had coming and all prospects of judgment we’d ever face.
In other words, there’s not a single thing we can “do”—or an earthly priest can “do” for that matter—to erase the mountain of our guilt. You’ve done all there is to do. And it was enough (it was you who announced on that tree, “It is finished!”). Teach us to walk in the freedom of that realization. “The death he died, he died to sin once for all” and “we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
Create in us a genuine concern for others in desperate need of your holy gospel while removing from us those silly and hideous masks we wear disguising our despicable need to appear acceptable to others. After all, you haven’t called us to be unholy show ponies. Break of us our addiction to shamelessly and pitifully parading our good works around as if we have something, anything, to show for ourselves—may we be content to hang our hats made of straw on you, and everything you have accomplished on behalf of us all who believe in you (John 6:28-29), and you alone.
Grant us a humility that disowns what we’d consider our highlight reel worthy good works as any kind of ticket to gaining your unmerited favor. Enable us to readily own the sad state of our bankrupt spiritual account—we’d be wearing nothing but shame were we not clothed in the promise of your mercy.
Wreck our foolish plans and every last numbskulled idea we think up this coming year that isn’t soaked with sights set on your glory, not our own.
And rid us of the countless idols and imitations we settle for in your stead.
Make it so Lord. Without you we are without hope, this coming year, and every year.