Western Seminary’s 2015 Portland graduation is Saturday, April 25. Below is the commencement prayer that I prayed for the 2014 graduates.
Our sovereign Lord and Father, we bow before you now as our great God and king. To you alone belong honor and power and glory, for you alone are God. You alone are creator, you alone are savior. And to you alone belong the keys of judgment, and in you is life.
Though you created all people, though you richly blessed us in every way imaginable, your image bearers have rebelled against you and deserve the full weight of your judgment. Yet you were not content that we should stand under that judgment apart from hope. It was your good plan to send your Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to reveal you, to teach us about you, to minister to us, to take His rightful place as the King of the Kingdom of God. It was even your plan that He should suffer and die at the hands of sinful men, taking upon Himself a death that we deserved to die but He did not.
Yet you raised Him from the dead, a demonstration of power and authority, decreeing that any who repent and believe in Him, the Lord Jesus Christ, should be saved. And more than that, you have adopted into your family as co-heirs with your glorious Son.
This is the gospel that has saved us. This is the gospel through which you have called each man and woman here, for it was your good pleasure to not only save those who repent and believe, but to invite them, to empower them, to be ambassadors of your great work of reconciliation. That is why we are here today. That is why we have gathered.
Father, we have conferred degrees, but it is our prayer for them that these would not be emblems of their own intellect, of their own ability to make their way, but that Father, these would be emblems and reminders of your faithfulness. You were the One who persevered, you were the One who enabled them, you were the One who gifted them. Father, when they see these diplomas, would they remember your kindness, your provision, and your grace.
So Father, we ask for them that they would always remember the gospel, for it is the gospel that actually dedicates, it is the gospel that consecrates them to service, it is the gospel that has called them, it is the gospel that has saved them, it is the gospel that continues to empower them. Father, may they never, ever forget that.
We ask that you would give them wisdom — wisdom to follow you, discerning hearts to understand the difference between those thoughts that go contrary to the Word of God, and those that have been taken captive in obedience to your Son. We pray, Father, that you would give each of them an attentiveness to your Spirit, that they would depend upon His enablement, His empowerment every day and in every way.
We pray, Father, that they would rely upon that gospel, that they would never outgrow it, that they would never get past it, but that they would see Christ, Him crucified, Him risen from the dead, as their only hope. Not just on the day of judgment, but each day. Father, we pray that you would give each of them a hunger for your Word, that they would go to the Bible over and over and over again, desiring to hear from you, because they know that in your Word is hope, and in your Word is life. Lord, it is your Word that tells the story, the wonderful story, of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And we pray, Father, that they would be quick to pray, always going to you, and that their prayers would be a demonstration of their utter and complete dependence upon you. And Father, hear them, we pray. Hear them when they pray to you. Show yourself to be faithful, as you always have been.
Protect them, Father, from sin. Protect them from pride, protect them all the things that the world, the flesh, and the devil would seek to use to undo them. Father, enable them to persevere, enable them to be faithful. But we pray that even as they war against the world, the flesh, and the devil, that they would love the people of the world, that they would not see the people of the world as enemies, but they would see them as you do, as people who need Jesus Christ.
Father, protect them from discouragement, we pray. Call them to see and to trust in your sovereignty. You have a plan. You will fulfill it. You will see it through. Even though things may not go the way that they would like them to, enable them to see Jesus, and to have hope.
And Father, we would pray that they would always have a zeal for the gospel, that the gospel would always be on their lips. Whether they are preaching, whether they are teaching, whether they are counseling, whether they are leading youth retreats, or whatever you have called them to do, may the gospel, the Good News of the Lord Jesus Christ, be on their lips. We pray, Father, that they would preach the gospel at all times, always using words, to point people to the love and goodness and kindness of the Lord Jesus Christ. And may their deeds be commensurate with those words.
And now, Father, to you who is able to do immeasurably more than all that we ask or imagine, be with them, and use them. To you be honor and glory forever and ever. This is our prayer, in Jesus’ name, amen.
About Todd Miles
Dr. Todd Miles is the Director of the Master of Theology Program and Associate Professor of Theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Oregon. Before his doctoral studies Todd was a Research Engineer at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory for ten years. Now Todd teaches Systematic Theology, Hermeneutics, and Ethics at Western Seminary. Todd serves as an elder at Hinson Memorial Baptist Church in Portland and is the author of "A God of Many Understandings? The Gospel and Theology of Religions" (Nashville: B&H, 2010).