Prayer from the Psalms.
Tuesday September 20, 2022
Prayer is both a communication and an encounter with God concerning many things. The Psalms help us to see the great variety of types of prayer. Today we’re only going to look at two types in the Psalms. I just want you to start exploring your own prayers based on the Psalms.
Prayer is a calm contemplation of God, a wonderful understanding and thankfulness for God’s glory and love, intercession for the needs of others and for our own, petition for common things, assurance of God’s providence and love, and at times an ecstatic experience. There are even more categories than these.
Prayer is searching. God seems illusive at times, but He’s omnipresent and always working for our good.
Our communication with God, both directions, is based on the truth contained in His word, and nothing outside of that.
Prayer is intelligent, based on God’s revealed Word.
When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He didn’t tell them that it was some feeling, He gave them actual words. He told them to first know God as Father, the reality of which could only be through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. He then told us to honor the Father as holy which includes the desire for His holiness in our own lives and in the lives of our neighbors. He then told us to desire the coming of His kingdom, living as members of it, and then to desire to execute the Father’s will, which constitutes the law of the kingdom and its way.
When they asked Him how to pray, He also didn’t tell them that it was a search for certain emotions or waiting to hear something from God. Prayer is us talking to the Father, first praising Him and secondly asking for ourselves. Of course, we can experience wonderful times in silence with God, but we find that eventually we will speak with Him, even if it is only thanksgiving.
These exact words referred to certain truths. We are going to see them in detail soon. You will find that anything you ask of the Father, which is according to His will, fits perfectly into the framework of the Lord’s prayer.
Essentials of prayer: 1) theological, 2) experiential, 3) methodological.
Our theology has to be right. The Catholic view is that the Spirit speaks through the church rather than the Word. The Anabaptist view (later Quaker) is that the Spirit gives individuals new revelations beyond the Scripture. Both ruin the idea of prayer as part of a dialogue with God through the Word.
Prayer is a dialogue with God through His Word.
Having our theology correct will lead us to pray for correct things. Theology is the categorization of God’s word, which naturally gives itself to these categories. The doctrines of God, divine decree, angels, men, sin, redemption, etc. all have important places and must be correct according to the Scriptures. Within these doctrines is the will of God and also our proper prayers.
Still, we often don’t know exactly what to pray for, and we get help, not only from the Holy Spirit but from the Lord’s prayer (a later topic) and the Lord’s prayer book. We have the Lord’s prayer as a framework. On top of that, the Psalms is the Bible’s prayer book and we will find every kind of legitimate prayer in it. We will look into this specifically.
Should we pray for the kingdom of God on earth? What we mean by this is that we pray for the law of God to be adhered to in Washington, in our state and local governments, in our communities, schools, our families and our own lives. Yes.
We also pray as a means of personal communication with God in which we’re not specifically after any particular petition.
Communion and Kingdom in the Psalms.
Psa 27, 63, 84, 131, 146-150 depict adoring communion with God.
One thing I have asked from the Lord, that I shall seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
To behold the beauty of the Lord,
And to meditate in His temple.
Notice what David is seeking in this prayer – “to gaze on the beauty of the Lord.” He prays for other things of course, but he means in these prayers to see God and be satisfied by God.
So, how do we do this? This is what you should explore. There is no hard and fast rule. You could read it word for word with God, contemplating and sharing its meaning. You could grasp the meaning and then speak with God about yourself or others in light of it. Grasp the truth and then start talking to God about it and see where the conversation goes.
In these lines, David asks and seeks to always dwell with the Lord. He probably means the times he would worship in the Tabernacle (no solid temple yet), but he likely also means being in God’s presence, in his heart, always. The reason is so that he would gaze on the beauty of the Lord. Now that you have that in mind you can pray and explore with God your own walk with Him. How can you see His beauty, or see more of it? Do you seek it? Do you desire to walk with Him? What does walking with the Lord look like? On and on our conversation with God will lead us down many paths, like walking with Him in a large, cultivated, and intricate garden, even while exploring the same thought. The Psalms will open up for us thoughts that we hadn’t thought of. They will get us out of the rut of generally praying for what we feel like, or praying the same words or manner all the time which will make our conversational relationship with God stale.
A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.
O God, Thou art my God;
I shall seek Thee earnestly;
My soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary,
To see Thy power and Thy glory.
3 Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise Thee.
4 So I will bless Thee as long as I live;
I will lift up my hands in Thy name.
5 My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.
6 When I remember Thee on my bed,
I meditate on Thee in the night watches,
7 For Thou hast been my help,
And in the shadow of Thy wings I sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to Thee;
Thy right hand upholds me.
Would you not think of times when you felt alone, in the wilderness so to speak, and that God seemed to have forgotten? Couldn’t God the Holy Spirit lead you to this psalm at the time of need? But even if it wasn’t a time of loneliness, wouldn’t it make you think about the times to come that will be hard and how God at that time is going to seem distant, but hopefully you will remember that He is not? Wouldn’t talking to God about it now be wonderful and enlightening and strengthening?
“My soul thirsts for You … Your covenant love (lovingkindness) is better than life.” Would we think that David had not yet seen and experienced the Lord in his heart? The dry and weary land represents David’s disconnect from the Lord that we all experience because of sin and occupation with unholy things. An unholy thing doesn’t necessarily have to be sinful. When our lives move worldly things (work, entertainment, pleasure, money, etc.) to the top of our priority list, we lose the sight and feel (my flesh yearns for You) of the Lord’s presence. Money is not holy in itself. Worldly things are not holy. They are neutral. They can be used for holy purposes or sinful.
How about, “Your lovingkindness is better than life”? Lovingkindness means steadfast love or covenant love – God’s promise to you based on His love for you. Is it better than life? Is it better than life to you?
In portions from two psalms you have prayed for and about many things that you might not have at all contemplated.
These two and the next are about adoring communion with God which will always put your mind and heart in the right place, as in “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith.”
How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts!
2 My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord;
My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.
3 The bird also has found a house,
And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young,
Even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts,
My King and my God.
4 How blessed are those who dwell in Thy house!
They are ever praising Thee.
We can see why the Lord Jesus emptied the temple courts of the buyers and sellers.
Still, we would not conclude that the psalmist only has the Tabernacle in mind, and even if he did, the application for us in the age of the church, in which each one of us is the temple of God, would be lovely communion with God at all times and in every place.
For zeal for Thy house has consumed me,
Psalms of praise. Should we only praise the Lord when we feel like it? What is praise? It is not lip-service.
In my opinion it is unnatural for people to say praise the Lord after every menial thing. I also see it as a spontaneous outburst of adoration and intense love. But at the same time, if we wait for those feelings, then we would hardly ever praise Him.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
2 I will praise the Lord while I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
If you are not feeling especially impelled to praise God, but then read one of these, you would praise God. Should we praise God when we don’t feel like it? Absolutely, but at the same time also knowing that God is not to be praised with lip service. Praising the Lord has real thanksgiving behind it as well as fear and awe. Perhaps part of your prayer would be exploration with God as to why you are not thankful and thoroughly impressed with God today.