Passion Week Prayer Guide - Monday: Heart Gripped By The Gospel
Introduction: Love for the Gospel
NEVER LOSE HEART IN THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL. DO NOT BELIEVE THAT THERE EXISTS ANY MAN, MUCH LESS ANY RACE OF MEN, FOR WHOM THE GOSPEL IS NOT FITTED.
We begin our prayer journey together where all must begin their relationships with God: at the gospel. The gospel is the starting point—it is also the finish line and every point in between for every person who lives before the face of God. God’s love of sinners (John 3:16; Romans 5:8) and his desire to live with them eternally (Revelation 21:3) are the bookends of hope for humanity. From the day we are born into this world, alone and afraid, until we are with the Lord and viewing Him as He is (1 Corinthians 13:12) we long for Him. But we are so “bent,” as C.S. Lewis has said, that we oftentimes don’t realize that it is the Lord we long for. Man is a “giddy” thing, flitting about from obsession to peccadillo with no time to reflect on the goodness of God.
And yet. Saint Augustine said, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you” (Augustine, Confessions, Book 1). Further still, it has been said that “a man knocking on the door of a brothel is knocking for God” (Bruce Marshall, The World, The Flesh, and Father Smith). God knows how we are made, and He knows precisely what we need. So, even as we itch for some vain preoccupation, or engage in the torrents of a secret sin, we are looking for God. More importantly, God is looking for us. Abraham Heschel entitled his magnum opus on Jewish theology God in Search of Man. He is seeking us—will we be found by Him? Indeed, any seeking that we do of God is only a contingent seeking. God first loved us (1 John 4:19) and any loving or seeking or desiring that we have for Him is only but a whispered imitation of His great cry of prodigal love for us (Matthew 27:46).
As you go through this week of prayer, may you be gripped, humbled, transformed, conformed, and moved by the gospel again—for it tells the story of the only name under heaven by which people can be saved (Acts 4:12 ) and it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes (Romans 1:16).
Father God, I confess that my zeal for the gospel waxes and wanes like the ocean’s tide. I love you; I forget you. I sing full-throated praises to you; I mumble milquetoast prayers before meal time. I am a finite creature with finite room for desire. You have made me and you know I am dust. Thank you that you understand me more than I understand myself—that when I am ready to heap guilt upon myself for not having a heart for the gospel, you comfort me with that very same gospel of peace and whisper, “There is no shame here” to me. I pray that you would whet my appetite this week—whet my appetite for you, for your word, for being with your people, for ministering to the Lost, for seeking after you, My Heart’s Reward. In Jesus’s saving name I pray, Amen.
Monday: Heart Gripped by the Gospel
TO HAVE FOUND GOD AND STILL TO PURSUE HIM IS THE SOUL’S PARADOX OF LOVE.
A.W. TOZER, THE PURSUIT OF GOD
a. Read Luke 24:13-35.
b. Imagine the scene in your mind’s eye. Place yourself in the position of the men traveling the road. Imagine what it would have felt like to hear of another failed Messiah, then to walk with this Strange Man as He told you why the Messiah had to die according to the Scriptures, and then to have Him revealed as Jesus as you broke bread together.
c. What would you have been feeling at each point in the story? What would you have thought? How would you have reacted to the revelation of Christ in the breaking of bread?
d. Has your heart ever burned within you for the Lord? When? Why?
e. Do you dare pray for a greater revelation of Christ and His gospel? The Scriptures testify to the events (1 Corinthians 15), but are they real to you? Is the gospel still the best news in your life or do you have other gospels that you live into and rely on?
"Every journey has its ordeal, according to storytelling, an ordeal by fire, by water, by sheer endurance, and a journey with God has its ordeal too, the ordeal of the human heart, the trial where the secrets of the heart are revealed. If I come upon that ordeal, I may find that my heart is divided, that it is not entirely with God. Still, I do not thereby fail the test. For I can bring my divided heart to God to be made whole. I can bring all my heart to God, although it is a heart in pieces, a broken heart." (John S. Dunne, Love’s Mind)
a. Reflect on the Surprise of the gospel: the overthrow of sin and death was not done through military might or strategic prowess, but through the death and resurrection of a Jew from an occupied land. Does that still surprise you?
b. Reflect on the Power of the gospel: what else can turn a man intent on killing followers of Jesus into a man willing to die for Jesus (Acts 9)? What else could turn a human trafficker like John Newton into the hymn-writer of Amazing Grace? What else could take you, a person far from God and without a thought for Him, and bring you close to Him (Romans 3:18)?
IV. Lord’s Prayer
V. Ending Prayers
a. Confess—those sins in your life that make gospel-rootedness impossible. Remember: If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all wickedness (1 John 1:9).
b. Pray—that God would rekindle the fire of the gospel in your heart. Pray that you would feel your heart strangely warmed like John Wesley felt when he heard Martin Luther’s Epistle to the Romans read aloud in Aldersgate Street. Pray that you would be a warming presence in your home with your wife and your children. Pray that you would be a consistent source of gospel-warmth to them.
c. Praise—God for His great salvation! Sing with Paul: Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! (Romans 11:33)
Father God, thank you for Jesus! Thank you for the great gospel that saves me, a wretched sinner without God and without hope in the world. Thank you that the promises made to the Old Testament Patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob—are now fulfilled in Christ and in the people of God that are known by Christ. Your perfect, timely, and beautiful plan makes my heart sing and my knees collapse to the ground in praise. May the meditations of my heart and the words of my mouth be pleasing in your sight, my God, as I reflect on the gripping power of your salvation. In Jesus’s saving name, Amen.