The Daybreak Prayer

A broken air conditioner and the scorching heat of the New Mexican summer sun left us no choice but to roll down the windows of our old truck, letting the wind whip through. From the center bench, poised like a king on the throne of his blue car seat, my four-year-old son sang the words of our favorite country song at the top of his lungs.

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.

Even in the whipping wind, I was impressed with my hunting partner’s vocals. I won’t ever forget the joy. Our mission (so I thought) was to chase Javelina in the wilderness of southern New Mexico, me with bow and arrow and he as my lookout in the kid-carrying backpack. But looking back, what the Father was bringing on that trip was much more than meat for the freezer. Years later, I’m just beginning to see how sacred those hours of car time were for connection with my son and his soul’s formation.

A decade later, I can see the transforming possibility of seizing the daily car time Cherie and I still have now with 13-year-old Joshua and 10-year-old Abigail. Over the past few years, I’ve learned a bit more of what makes car time particularly rich. The field of neuroscience demonstrates that humans are wired with neurons that mirror the mental and emotional processes of other humans. These mirror neurons “read” the emotional experiences of others expressed through body language and emotional cues. Then the neurons in the observer sync with the other’s emotional state to create a shared mental process across an invisible space. Simply put, when one human attunes to another, he is able to feel, know, and experience some of what the other is experiencing as if it were his own experience. (1)

I see now that our hours and hours of car time are an opportunity to take advantage of the function of mirror neurons. As my kids and I attune to each other, we are forming each other’s emotional experiences. Deeper than words, this proximity allows us to place pins of orientation on the map of our kids’ interior worlds, heart-pins that could prove to be one of our greatest contributions to their direct experience of God and his Kingdom.

Over the years, the substance of our car time has changed: the VeggieTales songs and our own rendition of “People Are Crazy” have given way to sometimes playful, sometimes deep conversation. Our car time has also birthed an emerging daily prayer, a prayer co-created over time with the Spirit to be accessible and formational for each of our hearts.

Perhaps this prayer is best named as a sort of centering liturgy. What began as the Carpool Prayer has formed into The Daybreak Prayer. The first year, our 1.0 version was simply leading the kids out loud through putting on the armor of God. After almost a decade of formation, we’re on the 7.0 version. This prayer continues to work in us and we through it. With every emerging version, we feel invited deeper and deeper into God’s Kingdom.

As I listen to my children pray each morning, I am trusting that these realities are being threaded into them. I hope this prayer produces fertile soil and provides seed that will, in time, establish deep roots in both of them, roots that can weather seasons of plenty and also seasons of lack because they have been grounded in the Goodness of God and the reliability of God’s Kingdom.

We approach our Daily Prayer with four clear portions. Parts one and two, I (or Cherie) pray out loud, leading the family.

Part 1: Consecration

We begin our time with consecrating our kingdom—all that God has entrusted to our care. Each day we flow with this uniquely as we’re led; here is an example of what this portion looks like:

Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit, we center our gaze upon your great Heart and Love. We declare your goodness and generosity. We consecrate our kingdom to your Kingdom. We consent to you and your leadership and give you say over everything you have entrusted to our care. We give you our body, soul, heart, mind, will, and imagination. We give you our family, our home, our vehicles, our finances, and all of our relationships. We give you our schools and our work. We give you all our friendships and life and walk and calling. Everything we have and everything we are, we consecrate to you.

Part 2: Enforcing Kingdom Authority

The Kingdom of God operates on authority. In maturing as warriors, we learn to walk in the authority of Jesus, resisting evil and exercising God’s power to enforce the Kingdom of Love and Life in the particulars of the domain entrusted to our care. Again, this prayer is unique each day, but here is an example of what this portion looks like:

Father, thank you that through the death of Jesus, you have disarmed the power, authority, and rule of evil. Through his resurrection and ascension, you have established your authority over all creation. Jesus, our brother and King, thank you for granting to us all the authority granted to you by our Father. (2) We choose to take our place in your authority. We enforce your Kingdom in our kingdom. We enforce your rule. Through Jesus crucified, resurrected, and ascended, we enforce God’s authority in our kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. Jesus, we agree with your intentions, and we give you full say over everything you’ve entrusted to us. We intentionally open the gates of our kingdom to your Kingdom. (3)

Part 3: Our Liturgy

After we follow God’s lead in consecrating our kingdom and enforcing God’s Kingdom authority in our kingdom, we thoughtfully pray this prayer, together and out loud:

Father, thank you that our story begins with you and ends in the restoration of all things. (4)  

We choose to trust that you love us with the same love you have for Jesus. (5) Therefore we will not to give way to fear. (6)

We agree with who you are. We agree with what you are doing. We agree with how you are doing it. (7)

We ask for a revelation of your affection today. (8)

We ask that you would make the impossible possible. (9)

We put on the armor of God: (10)

The shoes of the Gospel

The belt of truth

The breastplate of righteousness

The helmet of salvation

The sword of the Spirit

The shield of faith.

We choose to wield these weapons at all times in the Spirit.

We accept your acceptance of us. (11)

We choose to live in the present moment. (12)

We ask for a wise and discerning heart. (13)

We unite our heart with your heart. (14)

We choose to listen to your voice. (15)

We ask you to father us and mother us today. (16)

We ask that in all things in us and through us, your Kingdom would come and your will would be done on earth as it is in Heaven. (17)

We declare the truth that whatever I have and wherever I am, I can make it through the One who makes me who I am. (18)

Part 4: Listening

Now that we have consciously united our souls with God’s presence, life, and love, we conclude each time of prayer with listening.

God, how else would You have us pray today? What do You want to speak to us today? (19)

This choice of investing in a daily family prayer has become one of the foundations of our faith. Its evolution over time is a testament to the always-fresh experience of venturing ever deeper into God’s Kingdom. The repetitive portion roots us beyond the day’s drama and deeper than the day’s circumstances. The fluid portion keeps us rooted in a moment-by-moment life in the Spirit, who is always leading us personally and uniquely. This combination seats our souls in the life of God, transcending the present moment and cultivating a posture of both curiosity and confidence deep within our souls.

My prayer is that, in the days and decades ahead, these pins on the heart-maps of our children will be there for them when they most need God and his Kingdom. My hope is that while this time of prayer authentically models life in God’s Kingdom, it will also open for our kids their own direct access to and connection with the life and power of God.

The season of driving our kids to school will be over before we know it. In a few short years, our son will be driving himself and his sister to school. Yet we are praying that the seeds of the with-God life are being planted in them and in us both for this age and for the age to come.

I invite you give the Daybreak Prayer a go for a season.

Part One – Consecrating

Part Two – Enforcing

Part Three – The Daybreak Prayer

Part Four – Listening

I’ve recorded Part Three above as a stand-alone prayer. You may find it helpful to press play and pray along with this audio until it is written on your hearts and becomes your own. Hopefully it will be helpful to you as we stand together, with our families, daily contending as one for the Gospel of life.

For the Kingdom,

Footnote: Download a PDF of The Daybreak Prayer if you’d like to have it in hand to pray it and enjoy being unplugged from digital devices.


(1) My initial exposure to this concept of mirror neurons was through The Social Animal by David Brooks. This soul-filled, creative narrative is an amazing access point to neurobiology and how it shapes our days and our decades. Pages 39 and 40 present the heartbeat of his case.
(2) Matt. 28:18
(3) Ps. 24:7
(4) 2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:5
(5) John 17:23
(6) Ps. 27:14
(7) Ex. 3:13
(8) Eph. 3:19
(9) Matt. 19:26
(10) Eph. 6:13-18
(11) Eph. 1:6
(12) Matt. 6:34
(13) 1 Kings 3:9
(14) John 17:21
(15) John 10:3
(16) Rom. 8:15-17, Isa. 66:12-13
(17) Matt. 6:10
(18) Phil. 4:13
(19) John 8:47

Note: Other powerful prayers can be found through the Ransomed Heart app. John, thank you for modeling the power and possibility of a Daily Prayer over the last two decades. This daily liturgy has served as an anchor for my soul through both calm and stormy seas.

#036: Jonathan David Helser – Episode 3 of 3 [podcast]

Spontaneity is the fruit of preparation.

-Jonathan David Helser

Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window | Download

“Did you bring me out here in the storm to kill me?”

This pained and brutally honest prayer poured from Jonathan David Helser’s heart in the midst of a moment of exposure and hand-to-hand battle with the living God.

Jonathan explains,

Over the years, the Father has engineered circumstances to expose some of the core beliefs and lies that have tried to silence my heart. He has led me on a journey of initiation to excavate and transform these deep-seated beliefs in order that I might come into the fullness of life as it was meant to be.

Praying my most honest prayer gets me to my core beliefs.

And in response to “Did you bring me out here in the storm to kill me?” the Father spoke back this truth:

“I did not bring the disciples into the storm to kill them.

I brought them into the storm to kill their fear.

Son, I have brought you into the storm to kill the fear that lives in you.”

Join me in this final installment of a three-part journey of receiving more of the wild love of our Father alongside songwriter, musician, father, husband, and son, Jonathan David Helser.  

If you haven’t listened to part one or part two, you’ll want to start there.

Explore more of the treasures in this three-part series here:


For the Kingdom,





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#035: Jonathan David Helser – Episode 2 of 3 [podcast]

If we have a crisis in this country, it’s more than a fatherless crisis, though. It’s a crisis of manhood, of masculinity. It’s affecting our families, our schools, it’s filling our prisons, and it’s killing the hearts of our women.

Donald Miller

Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window | Download

Check out the news on any given day and you’ll find stories that illuminate a crisis of masculinity. It’s a crisis rooted in the loss of effective masculine initiation, for a boy does not become a good man on his own, but by the soul-food of loving mothers and the soul-forging of loving fathers.

Yet we are not without hope. God is ever faithful to supply provision for every problem. In pockets of redemptive communities around the world, God continues to turn the hearts of Kingdom-oriented fathers and mothers back toward those under their care and influence.

Jonathan and Melissa Helser are part of God’s provision to manifest the love of God on earth as it is in the Kingdom. Together, they offer servant leadership for a redemptive community in North Carolina and kingly care for an apprenticeship school for the next generation of Kingdom leaders, songwriters, and musicians.

Join me for part two of a three-part conversation with my friend and hero Jonathan David Helser.

If you haven’t listened to part one, you’ll want to start there.

Here are two options for digging deeper:

For the Kingdom,

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#034: Jonathan David Helser – Episode 1 of 3 [podcast]

When we worship, we silence the fear and declare who our father really is.

 -Jonathan Helser

Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window | Download

Messy could describe the first moment that God has with man. He gathers dirt in His hands to form Adam. There is dirt under God’s fingernails and then on God’s lips as He draws Adam close to breathe in His Spirit. What is it like for Adam when he opens his eyes and sees and feels God’s face pressed against his? Surely God is both willing and ready to get messy with us as He brings us close and breathes us to life…”

Friends, I am thrilled to invite you into an experiential journey in this three-part Become Good Soil podcast with songwriter, musician, father, husband and son, Jonathan David Helser. Through question, story, and worship, we will practice together venturing along the narrow road and the holy and sacred path of initiation as men.

To explore more of the treasures in this three-part podcast series, check out these other pages:

For the Kingdom,


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Anything, Anywhere – The Four Primary Questions for Masculine Initiation

His joy was infectious.  And every circumstance and every outcome of this moment was not conducive to joy.  Paul was a beaten, broken man.  He had suffered physical abuse, spiritual abuse, emotional abuse. He was lonely, cold and imprisoned.

And nothing could stop his joy.  After years of practice, years of training and years of consenting to something we can only name as initiation, he had become the kind of man whose joy and confidence and gratitude was no longer dependent upon either circumstances or outcomes.

When we consider Paul’s story, we see that he’d been immersed in the Reality of God and His Kingdom through both personal Divine encounter on the road to Damascus and an ongoing process which included fourteen years of which we know nothing of his life. Put simply, over time, he had been completely transformed. It is from this place he penned a letter to the followers of the Way, articulating this inextinguishable connection to God.

No man has made a more provocative declaration. Paul invites us into his soul. 

I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. (Phil 4:12-13)

Here’s Peterson’s paraphrase of this passage in The Message:

I’ve learned by now to be quite content whatever my circumstances. I’m just as happy with little as with much, with much as with little. I’ve found the recipe for being happy whether full or hungry, hands full or hands empty. Whatever I have, wherever I am, I can make it through anything in the One who makes me who I am.

When I pause to consider the essence of masculine initiation and the reality of how Paul practiced, trained, and learned this way of being with God—wholehearted—in the world, I am drawn to this application (or paraphrase, if you like) of Paul’s text originally penned by Richard Rohr. Here’s how it captures a vision of the initiated masculine soul:

Now that I have gone through my initiation,

I am ready.

For anything.


You see, over a decade of training after his well-known “conversion,” Paul had become the kind of person who was deeply convinced of the reliability of God and His Kingdom.

In particular, he’d grown in confidence that an experiential process of initiation is available, one that can be trusted to effectively connect the human spirit with the active life of God. It was clear from Paul’s life that the fruit of consenting to the process of initiation is a robust well-being that transcends both the best and worst of circumstances.  

In other words…

Now that I have been so immersed in the true nature of God and His Kingdom,

Now that I have thoroughly put to death the self-sufficiency and self-preservation of the false self,

Now that I have been resurrected and restored into my true self,

Now that I have become, in my essence, what God meant when He meant man,

Now that I have become uniquely who God meant when He meant me,

Now that I have trained and become practiced in living a life in experiential union with God Himself,

Now that it is no longer the separate-I who lives, but the very breath, strength, and life of God-with-me who lives in me,

I am ready.

Ready for anything, anywhere.

I have passed through the death of my small life.

Rather than resisting death, I have endured the sting of death and discovered the truth that death cannot annihilate what is most true about my masculine soul, about who I truly am.

And now I live.

I really live.

I’ve been initiated by my Father to live in union with Him in a storied Reality that includes and transcends every other story in my life.

I have been initiated, in part, through completing a quest. A Vision Quest for the masculine soul.

Here’s why this is absolutely central to the masculine soul.

Almost every culture predating the modern world had a process of initiating boys into men. In some cultures, male initiation was intentional, deeply ritualized, and publicly celebrated. In other cultures, male initiation precipitated indirectly but with equal effectiveness because the survival of the culture depended upon it.   

  • Sparta 800 B.C.—At age seven, boys left their families to participate in boarding schools where both their strength and their resolve was tested.²
  •  In Iron John, Robert Bly reminds us, “… The traditional ways of raising sons, which lasted for thousands and thousands of years, amounted to fathers and sons living in close—murderously close—proximity, while the father taught the son a trade; perhaps farming or carpentry or blacksmithing or tailoring…”
  • The first boy’s initiation among the Maasai tribe in the Republic of Kenya is known as Enkipaata (pre-circumcision ceremony). “[Initiation] is organized by fathers…when the senior warriors are settled. A delegation of boys, aged 14 to 16 years of age, would travel across their section of land for about four months…The boys are accompanied by a group of elders spearheading the formation of a new age-set…The boys across the region will be united and initiated…The day before the ceremony, boys must sleep outside in the forest…Once the boys become warriors they resume responsibility of security for their territory.³

It has been said that necessity is the mother of invention. So it is with male initiation. In historical eras when most of a community’s effort was focused on securing food, clothing, shelter, and safety, the survival of a community depended on the hearts of its members being able to live beyond their own self-interest; the survival and flourishing of an individual apart from his people was as inconceivable as it was impossible. A mantra of “each man for himself” was untenable. Each man had to be for the whole, not only for the self. The heart of the warrior willing to spend himself on behalf of the good of the whole was essential.

We live in different times. Every age faces unique challenges and assaults against the flourishing of the human soul. And every age offers a unique possibility for salvation as whole people, both individually and communally.

For thousands of years, Aboriginal boys living near Kojunnup, “the place of the stone ax” in Australia, were led out at the conclusion of their initiation rite to create a stone axe. Returning to the community with axe in hand, they embodied a new reality that they were also soulfully equipped to wield “power on behalf of the good of the community.”⁴

Backed by the prooftext of history, I offer a bold proposition:

The lack of consistent and intentional male initiation is one of the most destructive omissions of our age.

It is why, when we look around in our stories and upon the earth, we can see the devastating impact of uninitiated men accumulating power that is not wielded for the good of the community.

“What we have now is a world of uninitiated men. Partial men. Boys, mostly walking around in men’s bodies, with men’s jobs and families, finances, and responsibilities. The passing on of masculinity was never completed, if it was begun at all. The boy was never taken through the process of masculine initiation.” John Eldredge, Fathered by God

But this is not the final word.

I am banking much of my life on this idea as well:

The Father’s ongoing initiation of the masculine soul has the final word. And inviting us and guiding us through this process of masculine initiation is mostly what God is up to in the life of every man.

In every great story, there is both a rescue and a way back to life.

And as Dallas reminds us, God is perfectly capable of saving the world He created. He is at work, here, today.

I want to suggest that one of the primary ways God is saving the hearts of men, the earth, and all of humankind is through reconstituting patterns of male initiation and specifically, particularly, around the centerpiece of the Vision Quest.

Without a vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18).

To be precise, without a revelation, without an intimate heart-knowing of Reality, the human heart will suffer deeply.

The Vision Quest was intended to be the heartbeat of the journey a boy took through his early years, his teenage years, and into manhood.

And it is a journey that empowers the masculine soul to grow and mature into full manhood, empowering a man to live from a Source beyond himself for the good of the whole community.

It is a journey that cannot be fast-tracked or industrialized.

Yet it is a journey available to every man in every season—if he is willing to respond to God’s invitation.

The Vision Quest is the path to becoming the kind of man who can say with confidence,

I am ready.

For anything, anywhere.

In its essence, the Vision Quest is a God-led, God-bathed, God-initiated process that requires both our response and our interactive participation.

It is a story that both transcends and includes every other story of our life.

And it is a quest that can sufficiently speak to—among other things—four deep questions of the masculine soul:

What is God like?

Walter Bruggemann came to the conclusion that “God is wild, dangerous, unfettered and free.” Tozer took it even deeper, suggesting that “God is a person, and in the deep of His mighty nature He thinks, wills, enjoys, feels, loves, desires and suffers as any other person may.” What is God really like? What is His nature, personality, quality, and Way?

What is the story in which I find myself?

G. K. Chesterton said, “We live in narrative, we live in story. Existence has a story shape to it. We have a beginning and and end, we have plot and characters…” What is that Story, the nature of Reality?

Who am I?

Chesterton also said that “we are all under the same mental calamity; we have all forgotten our names. We have forgotten what we truly are.” What does it mean to be made in the image of God, as a man? How do I uniquely bear the image of God? It is only by wrestling with this deeply soulful question that we will become who we were born to be.

What is my frontier?

Howard Macey offers the idea that “the spiritual life cannot be made suburban, it is always frontier. Those who choose to live in it must not only accept it, but even rejoice that it remain untamed.” If we are being made ready to be entrusted with God’s Kingdom to rule for all of eternity, what preparation and training has He appointed for this season and this story? What is this personal soul-forging edge of my journey toward integration and union with God?

Central to the heart of the Father is to beckon the boy forward through exploring these four questions and, through active exploration, to become as Jesus was: a man who grows in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man.

It is through engaging in a Vision Quest and completing our initiation that we become whole-hearted men.

The boy will become like Paul and Nehemiah and Joseph and Jesus Himself. In spite of unprecedented challenges, he will become like a few others who, in each age of human history, have become initiated men.

The boy will become the kind of man who can say,

How will you  respond to the Father’s leading and invite the boys in your home and redemptive community deeper into this Vision Quest?

We cannot offer what we have not become. Therefore, perhaps the more central question we must be asking is this:

How will you respond to the Father’s invitation to the boy within your own soul to be led by Him through the initiation process of your masculine soul?

Let an honest, interactive consideration of these four questions, over time, be a possible next step.

The choice is yours.

The world depends on it.

It’s always been so.

There is a way that is available. It’s an ancient path being rediscovered afresh in every generation.

God is perfectly capable of guiding you into initiation if this is what you want.

He is the initiator. And we are the ones invited, beckoned to respond to this wild love.

He is kind to wait for the question and desire for initiation to arise in the heart. He’s too kind to push. Instead, He waits, as Tozer says, to be wanted. Simultaneously, we can trust the particular pressures of both pleasure and pain in our stories to draw forth desire, for Love is determined to to see us all into full maturity (Ephesians 4:1-13).

Father, I want to be initiated.  

I want to become the kind of man who, like Paul, is able to proclaim in defiance of his enemies:

“I have learned to be content in whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret for being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want…”

“Now that I have gone through my initiation, I am ready for anything, anywhere.”

I invite You to lead me into what’s next in my initiation. And through my initiation, to become the kind of man who can shepherd the initiation of others.

I want to suggest that these four questions are the some of the most fundamental operation beliefs shaping our lives. The Good News is that they’re dynamic, and over time, our journey into them can align with Reality and mature into good soil and deep roots.

Here is a place to start. Pause here. Write down these four questions:

Who is God?

Who am I?

What is the story?

What is my frontier?

Let your life speak. Observe your internal world and your external actions over the last hour, the last day, and the last year. How would you begin to put words to these four questions, based on your observation? Notice the distinction between what you say you believe contrasted with the practical reality of what your life reveals about what you believe. Ask God what He wants to say to you in this place.

For those of you with sons, ask the Father how to lead you in allowing these questions serve as a central orientation for their process of initiation.

(1) James Finley offers this question in his teaching on centering prayer.

(2)  Times Magazine, “The Many Ways Society Makes a Man,” September 26, 2017


(4) Adam’s Return, by Richard Rohr


#033: The Slow and Steady with Dallas Willard and Michael Cusick [podcast]

The whole point is presence, the with-God life. That’s the real substance of our relationship with God.

–Dallas Willard, 1935-2013

Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window | Download

Amidst the clamor of contemporary life, there is the narrow path of slowing down and setting our souls before the insight of the elders. We can take heart: there are wise ones who have gone before us, men and women who have recovered the lost treasure of the Gospel and can effectively communicate it. Wise ones who now make known to us the path of Life.

Join me in this deep and rich interview with Dallas Willard and Michael Cusick and spend some time in the company of true elders. Michael is an ally of our Ransomed Heart team. As both president of Restoring the Soul and lead counselor of a team of like-hearted warriors, he is devoted to the restoration of the hearts of men. You can find out much more about Restoring the Soul and the retreats, intensive counseling opportunities, and marriage ministry they offer at

Here is just a sample of the realities Dallas and Michael touch on in this conversation:

  • How do God and His Kingdom usually work? What is God’s preference in the “how” of uniting heaven and earth in the kingdom of God? Rather than focusing on the ways God can work, what if we focused our energy on participating in the ways God prefers to manifest His kingdom on the earth?
  • Pascal said “all the troubles of the world come from the fact that people cannot go into a room, sit down, and be quiet.” Why is stillness important, and how can we participate in the art of sitting down and being quiet?
  • Solitude is a radical discipline that breaks the hold the world’s system has over us. Solitude suspends the activities that pull at us, distract us, and energize our unaware-of-God identities and habits. Dallas  and Michael explore how solitude is a reliable activity—within our power to do—that enables us to experience the with-God life through interactive knowing and being known.
  • Wholeness is the functioning of all aspects of the self in harmonious union. It’s what enables a person to be truly good, doing good under God.

If you’re interested in deeper restoration, I encourage you to connect with Michael Cusick and his team at Restoring the Soul.

Strength and Honor,

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