Thursday, November 20, 2008

Psalm 69 and Prayer

Lately I've been reading through Ephesians for my quiet times, but last night I had no desire to read it. So, I did something different. Sometime yesterday I read a blog on Psalm 69 - so I thought I might read that - and I did - and got so much stuff that tied in with JD's sermon on Sunday and community group last night.
I continued reading and outlining what God was teaching me this morning - so here you go:
Psalm 69 is written by David, the man after God's own heart. He was in some sort of affliction. We often as for intercessory prayer from others or our prayer lives pick up substantially when we are in affliction or experiencing hard times.
These are 5 things I learned about prayer from this psalm:
1. David prayed persistently. Verse 3: "I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God." He uses words like weary, parches, dim, waiting" - these are great words to describe his affliction - not ones of peace, harmony, and joy. These words are specifically used to relay the message of tiresome, long suffering, pain, uncomfortableness. These things aren't pleasant - Yet - he continues in his crying out - he keeps crying out - and he keeps crying out.
2. David acknowledges his sin. This is also something we don't like to do. First, we may recognize sin, but we don't like to confess it - especially to God (funny, because He already knows our sin whether we confess it or not - Ps 139). But, David sees that need. In verse 5, 19, 20 he says "O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you. You know my reproach, and my shame and my dishonor; my foes are all known to you. Reproaches have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was none, and for comforters, but I found none." He not only acknowledges his sin, but he also is brokenhearted over his sin (Psalm 51). This is also something else I have found. Christians get good at confessing our sin (Catholics in confessionals, Protestants in counseling sessions or small groups), but how often are we broken over our sin - or how often do we HATE SIN?
3. David trusts in the nature of God. Three things are seen in verses 13, 16: "But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good; according to your abundant mercy, turn to me." Here we see three glimpses into the character of God: good, steadfast love (His covenant, unchangingness), saving faithfulness (how His faithfulness is salvation to us - think about that for a second), and abundant mercy (not just what we need, or just enough - but abundant, overflowing compassion).
4. David gives worship to His God in his time of need. Verses 30-32, 34 are evidence of David's worshipping heart: "I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox or a bull with horns and hoofs. When the humble see it they will be glad; you who seek God, let your hearts revive. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them." David praises and worships his God through son, thanksgiving (think about that as we celebrate Thanksgiving next week - Dustin is preaching on it this Sunday, can't wait!), in pleasing sacrifices, humility (obedient piety as Dr. Vogel preached on this morning), he even challenges all creation to worship their God (I think of the Summit Song - "Let the Sea and Everything in it" - that Will sings on the CD.) Oh, how God desires our worship in prayer - and prayer itself is an act of worship.
5. David recognizes God's faithfulness and His willingness to answer. How often would our prayers change if we actually believed God would answer them? How often do we pray with so little faith and so much disbelief - thinking we'll pray - but not counting on God to answer? Verse 33 says this: "For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners." He hears the needy (do you recognize yourself as needy - is that how we come to God or do we come to Him self-sufficient?). He doesn't despise us - He counts us as worthy, not as unworthy. I learned what it means to hold someone in contempt and despise them a few years ago - and then realized what that means in my relationship with Jesus. Oh, thank you Holy Spirit. He also knows our bondage and our need. Oh, how He has freed us from that bondage to sin and death. And He knows exactly what we need and when we need it!
So - my prayer life should change based on this teaching. What I loved about JD's sermon on Sunday - is prayer is not a matter of knowing how God will work or what He has pre-ordained. God tells us to pray - so we need to pray. And then in small group - how we pray for each other, care about each, follow-up with prayer requests. Amazing stuff.
So - pray, consistently pray, pray with worship, hate sin, and pray focused on the goodness and faithfulness of God! That's what this whole blog boils down to.

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