I recently read a couple of good books on prayer, and wanted to be able to share with you some of the insights I gained...but as I started writing them down, I realized I would have to write a book just get them all down! So, I decided to start with some gleanings from the Psalms. This book of poetry has always been one of great comfort and encourgement to me and I'd like to share some of that with you.
Our bodies, minds, and emotions were created by the same One who created our world with all it's cycles and rhythms, and it makes sense that we would be blessed in many ways by becoming part of that rhythm in our worship and prayer times. For that reason, I'd like to share with you a morning and an evening prayer.
I pray you will be blessed by them as I have been. The text of each Psalm is here, followed by the devotion text.
For the director of music. For flutes. A psalm of David.
you surround them with your favor as with a shield.
This Psalm prays a re-entry into the daylight. Each new morning is another wonder for us. We are raised alive like Lazarus to face another new day.
While we have been asleep, God has been working. He has made changes in all of nature while we slept. As we open our eyes, we see what He has brought to us out of the darkness: light and life.
We pray to God and listen to His answers and there is expectation that He will listen. True prayer is sure of a hearing. We may doubt the sincerity, value, and power of our own asking, but not God's hearing. We pray because we are heard.... not because we are so skilled in our asking.
Morning prayer prepares for action. Just as we are passive in sleep and we let God work His will in us, then in activity we obey the will worked in us and in the world. Both are essential. They must accompany each other. We must not abandon what we experience as we sleep when we wake up to action.
There is a narrow bridge between the passivity of grace and the activity of obedience. Psalms 5 shows that to us.
It is perilous in the daylight world of action. Psalm 5 is good training for us to discern and discriminate.
It contrasts the possibilities of evil action (vs. 4-6) and obedient action (vs.7-8)...
and then repeats the contrast:
liars (vs.9-10) and singers and lovers (vs.11-12)
Evil activities are referred to as
" the boastful,"
"those who speak lies,"
" deceitful men,"
"no truth in their mouth."
"throat is an open grave,"
"flatter with their tongue,"
and "our counsels."
Notice that these all refer to verbal aspects. We live by the Words God speaks to us and by the words we pray to Him. At the center of our humanness are words. At the same time that God is speaking and we are praying, seductive, flattering and lying words infiltrate the language, inciting unbelieving actions. We must be alert and not believe everything we hear.
So we enter our day aware of evil, of our own illusion of innocence, and also of sacred time and place and holiness.
Vs. 3 is the center of this psalm... the image of bringing a sacrifice connects us with the evening prayer (Psalm 4:6).
God's work begins while we sleep - without our help! He continues His work through our day in our worship and obedience. Assembling our life before God so He can work with it is the sacrifice. This not something we do for God, but simply setting out the stuff of our life for Him to do something with it. And on that altar, he changes it into what is pleasing and acceptable to Him. We give up ownership and control - and watch what only God can do! We put into words the difficulties and delights we foresee ahead of us with deep awareness that God who speaks life into us also listens when we speak. We place all our hopes and fears and apprehensions and anticipations on the altar as a sacrifice, "I prepare a sacrifice and watch."
Father, as we face each new day, let us be aware of the work you have done for us as we slept. We praise You that You not only never sleep, but that Your loving care is with us when are least aware of it; that you renew us and our world, preparing your plans for us. We pray we will actively seek Your will and Your plans for our lives. We lay our hopes, fears, and apprehensions on the altar for you and watch for Your miraculous Touch!
In Jesus' name we pray,