Slumber?

So I got to thinking overnight about all that was happening in the world and how many people were living in the hold of terror and fear. There are so many attacks, wars and hurting on Earth that it’s a bit of a daunting task to even pray for them all never mind wonder what they are going through. It’s also very easy to forget about it all when we can turn off the news or turn the page of the newspaper. They can disappear, blurred by the next celebrity scandal or weather report. We live cushioned lives mostly in the western world in this regard. We do have attacks as we saw in the UK over the last month. We can see some horrible stuff within the western world for sure, but how quick do we move on?

It can feel like God is not watching or has closed His ears to the desperate cries from His people. There are prayers around the world going on even as I write this for those who are hurting or who have lost everything. Is God looking and listening to something else? Has He even noticed?

The bible says that God never slumbers or sleeps. He is ever watching us and He hears every prayer. The book of Revelation tells us that every prayer or cry to God rises up like incense and God breathes it in. No prayer goes unheard. No prayer actually goes unanswered. It might not be the answer we were hoping or desiring to hear, but there will be an answer there if we are open to receive it. 

There is no real answer as to why God hasn’t stepped in and stopped things from happening. All I think about is the last time God stepped in to change the way the world was going, meant we had the flood in Genesis which destroyed everything.  So is that the only way He can stop events? Take away free will? Stop sins consequences? 

I really don’t know. These are just my thoughts and ramblings. I just know I have to trust God and know He is in full control of my future and the events which impact me and those I love and pray for. That’s all I take my rest in and knowing I can slumber and be confident in the knowledge that God never does.

Prayer works?

What a chaotic and scary week our little Island has had over the last couple of weeks. We have seen terror strike and try to rob my beloved UK of her peace and love.

I love my country and very proud of my nation. I’m proud of my city and the street where I live. It is full of people who are filled with love and warmth. We are all created in the same image, and noone is better than anyone else. The UK needs lots of prayer, not just for today or even tomorrow, but for the next months and years. This country needs to be filled with prayer and covered with the wings of God.

But in our daily life, does prayer work, or are the smaller things of life too insignificant for us to bother God with? Our bills, lack of food, clothing? What about our banged up car going in for its MOT? Is that too small for God to see? A parking spot in the hospital car park when our child is unwell? What about funds to go to a conference that we know would help us to grow spiritually but is really expensive?

These can seem silly things to maybe pray about, and how many times do we leave prayer as a last resort? A tool to use only when we have exhausted every other avenue of help. I know I have done and still can do this at times. I wonder why?

In 1 Kings vs 2-6, we read of Elijah who has fled from the city into the wilderness when he received a death threat from Queen Jezabel. He had nothing with him, no clothing, no Prada suitcase with his belongings. No rucksack full of trail mix and Red Bull for energy for the journey. Nothing. Not a thing. Not even his favourite pillow.

God needed Elijah for further work for the Kingdom. He provided Elijah with ravens who brought him meat to eat and a stream nearby for fresh beautiful clear water to drink. Yes, it wasnt the most amazingly thought up meal, but it was exactly what he needed right at that moment to keep going, and it helped him not to be so down about his circumstances.

Its very easy to get down about the next huge bill to come through the post, the broken washing machine and all the things that can build up and cause us to lose sleep with stress or worry.

We see the power of prayer all over the world. Big things, like people being raised from the dead, healing from life threatening diseases, safety in the most horrible of places. We can see God working in the persecuted church and the blessings they are living in.

But what about me and my daily life? God still wants to work in the small things within us just as much as he wants to raise from the dead the other side of the world. Everything in our life and in us is important to God, and I want you to know how loved and worth everything you are. If it bothers you, it bothers God. If it hurts you, it hurts God. If it makes you happy in Him, it makes God happy. No prayer goes unheard. No prayer is more important than another. There is no hierarchy system in the Throne room. All prayer is described as lifting up to the Throne room as insence which God breathes in. Its a beautiful picture of how God listens to all prayers in the Book of Revelation.

Dont ever settle for mediocrity. You are not mediocre, so why accept it. We are all children of the King, and He is with us always and walks with us in our life. He sees what we do, and how we do it. He never gives up on any of us, and provides in ways we cant even imagine.

Rain or Shine

Oh the weather in our beautiful Britain is of constant talk and constant change! We Brits are known for talking about the weather all the time and there is a very good reason for it, Its always changing so a subject of immense “talkability” and nosiness! One day we could see wind and rain, the next a hot, cloudless day where we get sunburn! We can have snow and sun in the same week as thunder and rain! Its never the same and can’t really be relied upon seasonal months besides.

So, imagine a beautiful sunny day, no clouds, just a hint of breeze to stop it becoming too humid or too hot to enjoy the picnic we have planned with the family. We wake up and the sun shines through the windows and the family are up and ready to enjoy the day. Its a great one. We are happy, and feel great. At home we scroll through the photos on our phone and feel a sense of joy and pride as we see the laughing faces of our kids splashing  in the water or burying their Dad in the sand when he fell asleep. The amazing ice creams we shared still around their mouths as they kiss you and thank you for a special day. They drift into sleep dreaming of the fun they have. We feel blessed and can almost tangibly feel Gods touch on us and the blessing He gave us of family and the day we had.

Another day, we wake and its dark, cloudy and we can hear the rain pounding on the windows and the wind seems to want to break the door down. The kids are bored as they can’t play outside and arguments soon erupt all over the house. You want to scream by lunchtime and hope the rain at least stops so they can go visit their friends down the road. The day drags so slowly and you don’t feel like you get anything done with separating the kids all day and cleaning around them as they move from room to room. The rain doesn’t stop, and by evening you have yelled more times than you can remember. You all go to bed that night cranky, and you feel guilty about yelling so much. Maybe something could have been different? Maybe we could have changed something? The last thing we feel is blessed and that we had a productive day. We don’t have good memories of the day and no pictures to remind us of spending the day with the children God gave us. Maybe it will be different tomorrow?

How many of us live our lives in these loops? How many of us live our spiritual lives like this also? We base blessing on good times, and lack of it on the bad. God shows favour In the good and not in the bad? Is that how God works? Yes, we see spiritually high times, and all seems to be going well, we don’t have problems praying or bible study. But, what about the times when we seem to pray to the ceiling and like walking in mud? Is God any further away at those times? If He is, is it because we have moved, not because He has? I think at times of struggle and darkness, God wants to be closer to us to get us through what could be a spiral of loneliness and separation. He never wants to be away from us. So, if God is still with us and by our side, even more through the bad times, who is it who moves? Every time we sin, we move a little away from God, and the sin starts to separate us from Him. Repentance closes the gap again, and brings us back close to Him.

In the rainy seasons, check yourself, talk to God, make sure there is nothing that can place a wedge between you and Him, especially in what could be a very dark windy part of your life. You need God more than ever then,

In the sunny times, keep in His presence and thank Him for the blessings we can see with open eyes. The blessings are there both rain or shine. We just need to see them for what they are. Gifts.

All equal?

I’m sure we would all gasp in horror at the thought that our churches may not be as equal as we would like or hope them to be. We all know our vision statements and think our places of worship and fellowship are welcoming to all who cross our doorsteps. But are we? Is everyone who comes made to feel wantd and accepted for who they are right at that moment in their life?

Maybe, maybe not.

I’m a mother of 2 ASD boys, so I know first hand that there is an inequality surrounding churches and who is accepted and who isnt. Unwelcome comments, snide remarks on dress, lack of understanding to conditions we have no control over are present every week across the country. I myself am disabled, but dont have a single person in my church family who understands or I feel I can talk to. How bad is this and how prevelant is it?

I think the biggest word surrounding equality, is Understanding.

Respect and understanding are all pretty much everyone would ask for and I feel it is an expected part of church life whether it is available or not.

 

Sorry…….. got distracted at the door by 2 lovely gentlemen from the local JW felllowship. Lovely talk with them.

 

Right.

So if I talk about some of the most noticable disabilities. If some one is in a wheelchair, can the even enter your church? Is there wheelchair access? Is there disabled toilet access for them?

Do you have bibles in braille?

Do you have trained sign language people available?

Do you have translaters available for those who dont speak much English?

Are there trained teachers within the Kids Church to be able to allow those children with both learning/behavioural difficulties and those with more severe disabilities be a part of the work that is done with the youth?

What about those with tourettes? ASD or ADHD disorders? Those who cant speak? Mental health problems?

Are we there for all or just the ones we “feel” we can cope with?

Its a big question, but a very real one. Churches are there for all, the Gospel is for all, and we need to be ready for absolutely anyone who crosses our doors. For some, its took a big amount of bravery to even be there, so we need to make sure they are accepted, loved and welcomed for who they are. A lot of those struggling with disabilities are very isolated and some are housebound. I myself am mostly isolated and can be housebound some weeks, and noone even know or understand at all. My husband is amazing as is my youngest boy who is such an amazing child and is becoming a strong man of God. They both see the bad times, the worst of it all, and like me, there are millions out there in our own country who feel the same as me more and more, day after long depressing day.

So where are we? Are we filling pews and not caring? Are we out there involved with social action? Are we part of urban mission reaching the most lost of society?

We are not called to speak and act like a church, but to be the church. The church in the time of Acts right up to maybe 100 years ago was the benefits system looking after the homeless, the impoverished, the orphans, the unloved and unwanted. There are many out there working for them still, and they do it tirelessly and whether they feel like it or not. That army of love cant slow down or stop, it need to grow and grow so that we can reach all with the love of Christ and the hope they so desperately need.

So, what are we going to do about it?

Lift my soul to sing

How many of us know that sometimes we just dont feel like worshipping, going to study, church, prayer meeting, or even just our own bible reading and personal prayer time? It really feels like we are struggling to take part or feel that we are a part of the very service we are sat in. That is when it really feels sacrificial.

But God doesnt want a resentful heart or someone who doesnt even want to give the time. Joy and worship are a choice, and choices are difficult at times. I dont know what you are going through in your life, family losses, seperations, illness, stress, depression or maybe feeling a bit lost in our world full of church people who seem to have it all together and from the outside look like they are so much better than us in their walks. I only know what is going on in my own life, illness and all that surrounds it daily. I have to make a choice every day to get up and give, even if I cant walk, I can walk with Him, if I cant move, I can know joy and peace through His strength.

These choices are truly sacrificial and will be blessed. We are putting self and us behind God and His will for our life, and I know that in those times I can get the answer I have been waiting for, a relief from pain, a renewing in wanting to read my Bible, a refiring in wanting to see the lost found, wanting to go to services and be around fellow believers in prayer and fellowship. For me, making the decision to walk with the Lord closer, often makes the things that crowd and pull me down dissapear into the background more and so I can focus on Him more.

Wanting to see and feel my soul sing to the Lord is a choice, a fairly easy one once my pride and self is put to one side. I know when my soul sings, I can feel it but quite often dont know when it started. Theres no real start point that I know of, its somewhere after my choice of following begins and I open to His word more. Then, it seems so easy to do what the day before seemed like walking in treacle! I kick myself again and ask why I have to fight Him so hard!

Time for reflection

I know I have been pretty abscent on my blog now for months, and a lot was my own doing, and a little not mine. The one thing it has given me, is time to think about where we are going as a family with home schooling, being part of a worship team and husband worship leader of our small fellowship, my beautiful 5 cats, my illness and both our boys who have ASD and are gorgeous.

We always have a lot going on in our lives, and so much can be loud and very distracting. We know we are not the only ones by any stretch that can be busy, but we also can see how it pulls us from where we need to be and from the path made for us. It kind of saddens me that no matter how poorly I am, the business never seems to slow down and a lot of days I can struggle with the pace and keeping up with my boys.

I suppose that this time I have had of reflection has let me see quite a lot of things. I know who my Rock is, and He has given me another rock for the more tangible things of life, my strong husband. God knew I would need him even before I was born, and made sure we were in the right place at the right time to meet and be best friends before we married, which means that I am still married to my best friend 15 years down the line with illness, redundancies, kids, depression and church in between.

I know I am a child of God, and that all things work out for His plans if we are open to His guiding and leadership. I dont know whats the future for me, but I know God knows and is already putting everything in place to make it happen. Im looking to see what my next stage of life has in store for me and the next calling that He gives me as I seem to be inbetween them at the moment. I dont see it as a bad thing though, but a time for rest and more meditation on Him and His Word. He knows more than I do what is best for me and the best use of the time He has given.

Taking a bit of time out to evaluate my spirtual, physical and emotional strength and wellness is hard in a fast paced world, but I was more than happy to take it. Its given me a lot more perspective on who I am, who I have around me, who influences me and why and what takes up time in either my thoughts or actions. Maybe I need to take more of these times in the future, but not take so long processing them!

Thank you for your patience with me, and continuing on the journey with me.

Know that you are loved and precious.

PRAYING THE PSALMS

Praying the word – The Psalms

What a fabulous subject to talk about! We are going to have a look at praying The Psalms – God’s hymn book, and how to use their endlessly rich treasures to enliven, invigorate, stimulate and – dare I say – transform our prayer life.

In order to understand how fundamental this source material is to our whole Spiritual walk, our church life and our praise and worship we need to have a look at what the Psalms are. We will also touch on the type and structure of the book (books), the different type of Psalms and how we can use them to pray.

If we understand the role of the Psalms in our prayer life – truly understand it – we will stand tall as the beautiful bride of Christ, fully confident in the hope we profess. Just as a taster for what is to follow, here are what I think are some helpful quotes from past Godly saints, saints who came to an understanding by the Holy Spirit why the Psalms are so important and useful:

The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It has been said by church historians that in those periods of Christian history where renewal, revival, and awakening took place and the church was at its strongest, that coincidental with those periods in church history, there was a strong focus on the psalms in the life of God’s people–particularly in the worship of God’s people.”
― R.C. Sproul

The psalms, like no other literature, lift us to a position where we can commune with God, capturing a sense of the greatness of his kingdom and a sense of what living with him for eternity will be like.”
― Gordon Fee

In the psalms, we have a collection of 150 prayers that were inspired originally by the Holy Ghost. If you want to know how God is pleased and honoured in prayer, why not immerse yourself in the prayers that he himself has inspired?”
―R.C. Sproul

What are the Psalms?

Historical context

We clearly see from the structure of the book of Psalms that it is a collection of poetry and/or songs which have been compiled from various writers and sources (the actual compilation was likely to have been post exile (1st temple period), but the writings would have certainly existed both orally and in written form prior to this). It is important to note that the Psalms cover at least 900 years of the history of the Jewish people as evidenced by the historical references and recollections of actual events. Pretty much all of these can be cross-referenced elsewhere in scripture; and that is without mentioning the fulfilled Prophetic events which have been documented in the New Testament.

It is thought that this collection of ‘writings’ was put into the form we know now in the third Century BC. As such it served as the prayer book for the Second Temple and for use in the synagogues, and they have been used in Jewish worship ever since. The Psalms are the cornerstone of Judeo-Christian worship.

Structure

Let’s have a look at the meaning of the word ‘Psalms’ as it gives us a clue as to their purpose and their importance:

HEBREW: Tehillim, “praises”

GREEK WORD: psalmoi, meaning “instrumental music” and, by extension, “the words accompanying the music.”

Nearly half of the 150 Psalms are attributed to King David. We know from scripture David was a musician, (1 Samuel 16 has him soothing the troubled King Saul with the melody of his harp) and a prolific songwriter. In addition to the many Psalms, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls attributes 3600 tehilim (songs of praise) plus other compositions to him.

Other Psalms are attributed to Asaph (12), Sons of Korah (11), Solomon (2), Moses (1). Many more have no author attributed to them.

The book is subdivided into five ‘books’ and each book finished with a doxology

(a hymn or form of words containing an ascription of praise to God).

  • Book 1 (Psalms 1–41)
  • Book 2 (Psalms 42–72)
  • Book 3 (Psalms 73–89)
  • Book 4 (Psalms 90–106)
  • Book 5 (Psalms 107–150

Many psalms are clearly written as songs with music as over a third have superscriptions (secondary titles) that provide musical direction. For example:

Psalm 80: To the chief Musician upon Shoshann-im-Eduth, A Psalm of Asaph

Psalm 49: To the chief Musician. A Psalm for the Sons of Korah

Psalm 19: To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David

Types of Psalms

We can categorise the Psalms to some extent, and some clearly have a distinct purpose for their existence. So we are going to have a look at some of the major categories with some examples. This will give us some insight on how to use the Psalms in our praying. However, what has stuck me as I have prepared this talk tonight that is there are elements of multiple categories in most of the Psalms.

Now these categories are not exhaustive, and I would need a series of talks to cover this subject properly, but I have somewhat crudely divided the Psalms into these categories:

Praise & declaration

Worship

Petition

Prophetic / Messianic

Special occasions

And then two very interesting categories as far as prayer is concerned:

Repentance

Lament

Now, as I said – many Psalms could fall into more than one category, but we’ll go ahead and have a look at some examples…….

Praise & declaration

This is the fundamental purpose of the Psalms of course and with the exception of a very few examples (which we will come on to look at), praise and the declaration of who God is impregnates the entirety of the wirtings – even those that have a note of despair and petition. Here are SO many praise & declaration Psalms, but some of the purest are Psalms 47, 98 and 150.

Lets look at Psalm 47:

Psalm 47

To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.

1 Oh, clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with the voice of triumph!
2 For the Lord Most High is awesome;
He is a great King over all the earth.
3 He will subdue the peoples under us,
And the nations under our feet.
4 He will choose our inheritance for us,
The excellence of Jacob whom He loves. Selah

5 God has gone up with a shout,
The Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
6 Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
7 For God is the King of all the earth;
Sing praises with understanding.

8 God reigns over the nations;
God sits on His holy throne.
9 The princes of the people have gathered together,
The people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God;
He is greatly exalted.

Psalm 47: (NKJV)

Worship

The Psalms have set the pattern for worship in the Christian church over the centuries, and as we have already learned are a central part of Synagogue life for the Jewish people. Some traditional Puritan / Protestant congregations (to this day) ONLY sing the metrical Psalms. I saw a service on BBC ALBA a few months ago in a Gaelic speaking Scottish Islands church. The worship to our ears would be a dirge like drone through the Psalms! – BUT – this was a Spirit filled Church as evidenced by their heartfelt worship and an amazing sermon. I mention this because…..

Many of our modern worship songs (the best ones in my opinion) are grounded in the Psalms. For the older among us – remember ‘Scripture in song’? Just the words of Psalms and scripture set to music just like the ultra-traditional Scottish church I mentioned. The Psalms unify very different worship streams into one unified body!!

Lets looks at Psalm 95 as a pattern for worship:

1 O come, let us sing unto the Lord: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.

2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.

3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also.

5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land.

6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker.

7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice,

8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.

10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:

11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.

Psalm 95: (KJV)

v1 Praise

v2 Come into His presence with thanksgiving

v3 Declaration of who God is

v4-5 Declaration of what God has done

v6 Worship

v7 We are His people

v8-9 Be reconciled

v8-10 Be obedient

The NKJV version of the Bible entitles this Psalm ‘a call to worship and obedience’. Sums it up pretty well. Isn’t that what we are called to as the body of Christ? I would be going off topic if I unpacked this any more but there is a lot in there we can learn!

Singing and praying the Psalms therefore ensures our patterns for praise, worship and prayer are grounded in the principles of scripture. Without this resource to keep us in line we could go off in all crazy directions….. unfortunately some churches and ministries have, but not here!!

Lets briefly look at another couple of important categories before we start looking at how to use the Psalm as a rich prayer resource:

History and Prophecy

The Psalms are constantly looking back to historical events, both good AND bad and use them as a teaching lesson and a reminder of the moving of God’s hand in the course of history. Let read Psalm 114:

1 When Israel went out of Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language;

2 Judah was his sanctuary, and Israel his dominion.

3 The sea saw it, and fled: Jordan was driven back.

4 The mountains skipped like rams, and the little hills like lambs.

5 What ailed thee, O thou sea, that thou fleddest? thou Jordan, that thou wast driven back?

6 Ye mountains, that ye skipped like rams; and ye little hills, like lambs?

7 Tremble, thou earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob;

8 Which turned the rock into a standing water, the flint into a fountain of waters.

Psalm 114: (KJV)

This is of course looking back at the monumental events of the Exodus from Egypt. It’s purpose? To remind us of the Awesome intervention of God. What a powerful device in prayer! To be reminded that the same God of yesterday is the God of today and of tomorrow!!

Talking of tomorrow, the Psalms contain Prophetic signs and signals. They clearly signal the coming of the messiah, the so- called Messianic Psalms; not just foretelling His existence, but also His death and His Kingdom reign:

Psalm 22 – I won’t read it now, but that is the clearest prophetic / Messianic Psalm and describes his crucifixion.

Psalm 110 – Describes the Kingdom reign of the Risen and Exalted Lord Jesus

and so it goes on…..

The final categories are very relevant as we think about how to pray the Psalms as these are Psalms that include at their core PRAYER.

Petition, repentance and Lament

The Psalm are full of prayers, personal heartfelt prayers, sometimes downright uncomfortable prayers and pleadings before Almighty God. There are agonising cries for help, for deliverance, for the Hand of our Lord to be moved. There are yearnings and longings for His presence His intervention….. and it goes on.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means but Psalms 4,10,13,17,25,42,70, 130, 143 are all prayers of petition for example. Look at the language used here in Psalm 4:

For the choir director; with stringed instruments; a psalm by David.

1 Answer me when I call, O God of my righteousness. You have freed me from my troubles.
Have pity on me, and hear my prayer!

2You important people, how long are you going to insult my honour?
How long are you going to love what is empty and seek what is a lie? Selah
3 Know that the Lord singles out godly people for himself. The Lord hears me when I call to him.
4 Tremble and do not sin. Think about this on your bed and remain quiet. Selah
5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness by trusting the Lord.

6 Many are saying, “Who can show us anything good?” Let the light of your presence shine on us, O Lord.
7 You put more joy in my heart than when their grain and new wine increase.
8 I fall asleep in peace the moment I lie down because you alone, O Lord, enable me to live securely.

Psalm 4: (God’s Word Translation)

Pretty passionate and heartfelt! The Psalmists are not timid before God – and this should give us confidence to pray in a similar way.

 

 

 

Repentance too is common thread in the Psalms. What is interesting is that personal repentance is expressed, but IT IS ALSO CORPORATE. There are pleas before Almighty God for sins of the nation of Israel. We too must be prepared (as Sue Sinclair so powerfully testified the weekend) to offer prayers of corporate repentance. By far the most obvious example of a penitential Psalm (in this instance personal repentance) is Psalm 51. Just a snippit:

Have mercy upon me, O God,
According to Your lovingkindness;
According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
Blot out my transgressions.
2Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
And cleanse me from my sin.

Psalm 51:1-2 (NKJV)

Finally, and we’ll get into applying this knowledge in just a moment I need to cover the category of Lament, because it is misunderstood and rarely is given a place in the Christian church. To lament is to “to express sorrow, regret, or unhappiness about something”

Is that ‘having a whine’ at God? No, not a whine, but it is BEING REAL BEFORE GOD ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL ABOUT SOMETHING. We don’t have time to read in detail but in your own time read Psalm 79 – entitled in the NKJV of the Bible as ‘A dirge and prayer for Israel, destroyed by enemies’.

 

Here the Psalmist laments Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of the temple in 586 B.C. He prays for the nations spiritual needs, curses their enemies (that sits uncomfortably with us today doesn’t it?) and prises God’s anticipated actions. This psalm helps the believer express his anguish in a situation where God does not seem present.” (MacArthur Student Bible – notes)

How to we use the Psalms to pray?

Use the exact words

Just reading our the words of the Psalms has power – after all it is God’s word!!

This is especially applicable when it comes to praise and worship. These Holy Spirit inspired writings have been brought before our dear Lord countless times over the generations and I can guarantee you he does not tire hearing them!

As we discovered when I spoke about the power of praise a few weeks ago, praise, worship and prayer are all about the heart attitude and using pre-written words are a good way to express ourselves; especially when we do it with God’s unadorned and unadulterated powerful word.

Use the exact words but contextualise and personalise them

Here’s another idea; use the framework of a Psalm for your own personal prayer by adapting it to your own circumstances: Here’s a great example using a famous Psalm, 23:

Lord you are my shepherd, I do not want for anything.

You make me lie down in green pastures, you lead me besides still waters.

You restore my soul, you lead me in the paths of righteousness for Your name’s sake……. Etc.

Use the themes

As we have seen Psalms fall into categories, and many Psalms cover multiple themes in one Psalm. So for example Ps:116,

I love the Lord, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy.
2 Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.

3 The cords of death entangled me, the anguish of the grave came over me; I was overcome by distress and sorrow.
4 Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

5 The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion.
6 The Lord protects the unwary; when I was brought low, he saved me.

7 Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.

Psalm 116:1-7 (NIV)

Sooo.. we go from thanksgiving, to faithfulness, to deliverance, to petition, to praise and then to petition all in seven verses!!! This is quite an extreme example, but what I mean about praying thematically is using the way a Psalm is constructed as a prayer guide (Praise to petition to praise for example).

Pick out key phrases and themes and expand them

What I mean here is we can use the LANGUAGE of the Psalms to energise our prayers. Actually this is what a lots of modern Christian songwriters do. So for example Psalm 95:1 says Oh come let us sing for joy to the Lord, let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our Salvation (NKJV). So your prayer might start:

Lord, I shout joyfully to you for you are the rock of my salvation, you are worthy to hear the joyful cries of my heart and you, my rock I stand…… etc.

This I think is where the terminology and language of the Psalms can be most helpful in our prayer life. If we immerse ourselves in the language of the Psalmists then we are unlocking the power of scripture in our praying

Charles Spurgeon, in his preface to The Treasury of David writes “The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure; common gratitude constrains me to communicate to others a portion of the benefit, with the prayer that it may induce them to search further for themselves.

Sing them as praise, petition and lament

Finally we are not so much talking about sung worship as prayer tonight, but given the Psalms are a book of songs, it would be remiss to mention the power that is found in singing the Psalms. We have already touched on in my earlier talk this and I do not feel the need to further expand on this here – but there is real power is singing the Psalms in all it’s forms.

And finally…….. I want to give you a guarantee; if you employ some of the teaching we have heard tonight and apply it to our prayer life it WILL be enriched, it WILL be empowered, it WILL be invigorated and it WILL transform our lives, the life of our church and the life of others.

Previous Older Entries