Truly God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart. But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled, my steps had nearly slipped. For I was envious of the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
There is a lot that believers can and should pray for daily, but there is one prayer that many (if not all) of us ought to pray the most frequently:
Father, keep me.
Keep me from stumbling, keep me in the faith, keep me from habitual sin that destroys both the flesh and the soul, keep me from discouragement, keep me loving others, keep me finding joy in your promises, keep me bound to you. Father, keep me.
For all the treasure and joy there is wrapped up in the Christian life, there is also the reality that life will be hard. These two truths are not polar opposites but rather are taken together. Jesus says to his disciples in John 16:33, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Tribulation in the world. Joy in Christ. Father, keep me.
1) Tribulation in the World
There is no shortage of things that threaten to drive us away from the faith. Pain and suffering is a present reality for many and a future guarantee for all. The health of our loved ones fail, we get let go from work and the job market dries up, our parents abandon us, our kids turn their backs on us. Relationships are fractured, doubt rises, and sometimes, we wake up feeling terrible with the worst part about it being we don’t even know why.
This is true for all, but Christians are prone to get an even heavier dose. Not only are we living in a fallen world, but we have an enemy who seeks to destroy our faith, dilute our passion, and lead us to abandon whatever scrap of belief we have left at our lowest moments.
All believers, even the strongest and most mature, even the pastors and ministry leaders, will face trials and tribulations and they threaten to push us near the edge and look over the cliff. What’s the point if we’re going to suffer anyway? Why persevere if we’re going to feel this terrible? How can I stay strong when there is this onslaught of intellectual arguments being thrown against the Bible?
2) Joy in Christ
The biggest danger that accompanies tribulation is the guilt and shame we can often feel as a result of feeling weary in it. We are prone to try and project this sense that nothing can shake us, because we are in Christ! And when that smokescreen gets exposed, we take it out on ourselves and assume that we’re just not cut out to be a Christian and look for the eject button.
But Jesus gave us a different response to the tribulation we are certain to face. “But take heart; I have overcome the world.” Satan wants your suffering to drive you away from Christ, to bury your head in shame and resentment and flee from faith, but Jesus wants your suffering to drive you deeper into Him. Our joy is not up for grabs – sure, our happiness can be stripped from all of us with a single phone call – but our joy is unshakably kept in the victory of Christ that he has already secured.
The world cannot break you, for He has overcome the world. Tribulation cannot destroy you, because you’ve already died to self and now live for Christ. His righteousness, his perfection, has already been credited to you the moment you placed your faith in Him, and that is an irreversible transaction.
Lift your eyes, weary pilgrim, for your strength comes from He who began a good work in you and will be faithful to see it through to completion at the Day of our Lord (Phil 1:6). Better is one day in his courts than a thousand elsewhere (Ps 84:10), for who do we have in heaven but Him? My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever (Ps 73:25-26).
3) Father, Keep Me
Nothing shall separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom 8:39), and so we shall never be snatched from his hand (John 10:28).
These are promises, and so these are prayers. We pray will the full confidence that God will be faithful to fulfill all of his promises. Prayer is not a means of unlocking his blessing, prayer is a means of grace in which he sovereignly uses to bring about his purposes. Prayer is an infusion of confidence into our souls that God is who he says he is, and God means what he says.
So, weary believer who is standing on the edge of giving up, pray this prayer and pray it daily. Father, keep me.
Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.