The journey of prayer

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Bring whatever is in your heart to God in prayer now. What was first in your heart? A request? A prayer of thanks? A song of praise?


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Bible passage: Psalm 54


Psalm 54

For the director of music. With stringed instruments. Amaskil of David. When the Ziphites had gone to Saul and said, "Is not David hiding among us?"
 1 Save me, O God, by your name;
       vindicate me by your might.

 2 Hear my prayer, O God;
       listen to the words of my mouth.

 3 Strangers are attacking me;
       ruthless men seek my life—
       men without regard for God.
       Selah

 4 Surely God is my help;
       the Lord is the one who sustains me.

 5 Let evil recoil on those who slander me;
       in your faithfulness destroy them.

 6 I will sacrifice a freewill offering to you;
       I will praise your name, O LORD,
       for it is good.

 7 For he has delivered me from all my troubles,
       and my eyes have looked in triumph on my foes.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Explore


My own agenda
Like Psalm 54, I approach prayer with my agenda but invariably the Lord leads me in a different direction. It is like setting out on a journey only to discover someone else is navigating!

Desperation
Like the psalmist, we pray when desperation consumes us (v 3). We pray because we believe God cares enough to hear and has the power to make a difference (vs 1,2).

Being honest
Verse 5 seems out of kilter with Jesus’ command to love our enemies and do good to those who persecute us, but it is the first step in the right direction. Being honest with God about the problem, the people causing the problem and our attitude to them (vs 3,5) is better than rehearsing the injustice with others or letting the sense of unfairness fester within.

Despair to hope
When our every thought and emotion is circling round and round a problem, verse 4 cuts through. God can help us deal with our situation because he is in it with us. He helps us change our attitude. He gives us strength to endure and turns our thoughts to what he has already done. Remembering who God is and what he has done changes the direction of our prayer from despair to hope (v 7).

Penny Boshoff

Respond


Set time aside today, or in the week ahead, to spend time on your own prayer journey with the Lord.


Deeper Bible study


Names often carry associations for us of certain character traits, depending on the people we know with those names – think of the names we would want to give our children, or those we would avoid! Likewise, in Hebrew thinking, a person’s name expresses character, so when the psalmist appeals to God’s name in distress (v 1) he reflects on the reasons for asking God’s help, based on who he is.

First, God’s character is associated with power (v 1). He is called on for help because he is able to do so. Moreover, the descriptions of helper and sustainer (v 4) reflect his care and therefore his willingness to help.

The psalmist also assumes that God will defend the faithful who suffer unfairly the actions of the wicked (v 3), implying that he is just. Nevertheless, the request for God to destroy them sounds vengeful, even gloating (vs 5,7), to our ears. However, we should note that such sentiments reflect a healthy desire for justice and fairness. Who hasn’t felt as the psalmist does when treated unjustly? Nevertheless, we do not take justice into our own hands. The Old Testament is adamant that vengeance (ie retribution or justice) belongs to God and Israelites are exhorted to love their neighbour as themselves (Lev 19:18). In fact, many godly people in the Old Testament demonstrate Christ-like forgiveness and love (eg Gen 45:4–7; Num 12:1–3,9–13; 1 Sam 24). Rather, this psalm and others like it give us permission to voice our feelings to God. Since our sense of justice may not always be right, we bring those thoughts and feelings to God and leave them with him. The Old Testament is honest about how we feel and shows us that the way to forgiveness often starts with an affirmation of justice, the need to recognise evil for what it is.

‘Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.’ (Eph 4:26,27, NASB)

Csilla Saysell

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Audio


Lord reign in me
Brenton Brown
Copyright© 1998 Vineyard Records (UK/Eire)
Buy this and other great worship songs at www.vineyardrecords.co.uk



‘Search me oh God’
Peformed by : Vicky Beeching
Written by: Vicky Beeching
Copyright: © 1997 Thankyou MusicYou can buy this and other great worship songs at www.integritymusic.com


Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Saturday, 25 May 2019

    The better we know God - His character revealed in His Word, and in His personal dealings with us - the better equipped we are to trust Him and give thanks for deliverance from trouble even before it has happened. Praying for myself and all WL friends Eph 3:16-20 Amp, especially v19 That You May really come to know practically, through experience for yourselves, the love of Christ which far surpasses mere knowledge without experience, and be filled through all your being with all the fullness of God.

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