Posts tagged ‘psalms’

May 22, 2015

A Song of Praise

by Bethany

May22

*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

We are tired this morning. Help us. Open our eyes so that we may see wonders in your Word. 

O God. How mighty is your great name! Maker of heaven and earth and the universe. That you should hear our whispers when we are half awake. That you should spend time with us while millions pray. That you should call our feeble flesh the temple of the Holy Spirit. That you should speak to us personally through the Word and Spirit. O God, what condescension! What unutterable mercy to attend to us! Help us believe and feel this truth: that we are your people and that you are our God.

Today, we come together — 4,000 of us who read this devotional daily — and we raise our voices as one, saying with Psalm 75, “We praise you, God, we praise you, for your Name is near; people tell of your wonderful deeds.” Yes, we pray that you would give us grace, blessings and favor. For we are a people who need you. Define us as your people and be our God.

We do not ask for your grace, blessings and favor only for our sake; we ask these things for the sake of your great name. When you tied your name to us, your people, you tied your glory and reputation to us. When the nations see how you bless us, they will see how great you are. Therefore, we pray that you give us grace, blessings and favor. That your way may be known on earth. That your saving power may be proclaimed among the nations. Fill us with joy in you. Give us delight in our salvation.

As we consider our nation, Lord, we wonder, “Who are we? Where are we? How did we get here? Where are we going?” We are in a state of confusion. Instead of being a city on a hill, we are a full of infighting and pettiness. 

Sadly, Lord, this is true even for the church. We have accepted relativism and tolerance over truth and virtue. Yet your Word teaches us that only the truth will set us free. Forgive us. Let us cling to truth so that we may receive your grace, blessings and favor. For the sake of your great name.

Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 31 (Listen – 5:52)
Psalms 75-76 (Listen – 2:33)

Arguing with God
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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This Weekend’s Readings

Saturday: Numbers 32 (Listen – 5:22); Psalm 77 (Listen – 2:12)
Sunday: Numbers 33 (Listen – 4:53); Psalm 78.1-37 (Listen – 3:46)

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May 19, 2015

God’s Mercy in our Rejection

by Bethany

May19

*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

We confess that we stand in a long line of your people who have rejected your leadership. When the Israelites demanded, “Give us a king to lead us”, you lamented because you wanted to be their king. You even warned them that a king would take their land and resources without solving their problems. 

But they did not listen. Instead, they said, “We want a king! Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” They did not meditate and muse on your promises: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” 

In your great mercy, however, you gave them many good kings who sought your face. Solomon, for example, asked for things that would bless others. He prayed in Psalm 72, “Give the king your justice, O God … May he judge your people with righteousness.” He also prayed for things that would benefit himself: “Long may [the king] live; may gold of Sheba be given to him! … May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun!” 

But he tethered his requests to the great reality of knowing you as the ultimate king: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things. Blessed be his glorious name forever, may the whole earth be filled with his glory! Amen and Amen!” When he asked for blessings, he asked them for the sake of your glory. That by his rule, all people would know that you are king.

Today, we ask you to bless our leaders for the sake of your glory. Give them your justice that they may rule us with righteousness. Give them courage to defend the poor against the oppressor. Give them wisdom to make difficult decisions with limited information. May they be like rain that falls on mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In their days, may the righteous flourish and peace abound. 

Over all of this, however, we pray that they might know you. May they fear you while the sun endures. May they fall down before you. May your name endure forever.

Amen and Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 28 (Listen – 3:51)
Psalm 72 (Listen – 2:21)

Arguing with God
Part 2 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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May 18, 2015

Enemies of God

by Bethany

May18

*Editor’s Note: Last week we explored how to fill our prayers with arguments before the Lord. This week, we model prayers that do that.

Lord,

When Jesus went to Gethsemane, it was not just human adversaries he was facing – soldiers, guards, even one of his friends turned traitor. “It was the concentration of all those unseen forces that opposed the kingdom of God because they knew it to be the powerful opponents of their own kingdom-dreams,” N.T. Wright observes in The Way of the Lord: Christian Pilgrimage Today.

It was, “the forces of oppression and violence, the unseen pull that makes people fight rather than be reconciled, that makes them choose brutality rather than humanity, tribe rather than world, self rather than God. These forces had opposed Jesus throughout his public career, sometimes shrieking at him from the lips of some poor deranged spirit, sometimes carping at him in the sneers of the religious, sometimes issuing threats against him from the royal palace.”

Today, your enemies are the same. The evil one and his minions mock your great name and blind people from seeing your glory. You are spoken against and demeaned throughout the world. Our culture is full of blasphemy. The evil one taunts your church, saying, “Do not let Christians deceive you, saying the Lord will deliver you. Surely the cross is foolishness.” His ability to spread discord and enmity is great and his manipulation and subtlety is clever.

Therefore, Lord, we pray as the Psalmist prayed in Psalm 71, “May my accusers perish in shame; may those who want to harm me be covered with scorn and disgrace.” When those who seek injustice are victorious, your justice is trampled upon. When those who seek to wield the weapons of anger and mischief succeed, your peace and prosperity are mocked. Therefore, come into the battle and fight for your people and your name. Shame those who speak against you – even as you call them to know you. Come and show what your bare arm can do!

May all who seek you – even your enemies whose hearts we pray would return to you – rejoice and be glad! Arise and wake up to bless your people so that your name will not be shamed among your revilers. May those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!” For, in you, we take refuge; let us never be put to shame. For your righteousness reaches the heavens. You have done great things. O God, there is none but thee.

Amen.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 27 (Listen – 3:08)
Psalms 70-71 (Listen – 3:29)

Arguing with God
Part 1 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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May 15, 2015

Unanswered Prayers

by Steven Dilla

May15

Psalm 66.19
But truly God has listened; he has attended to the voice of my prayer.

Disobedience can fracture our relationship with God in such a way that he will not answer our prayers. David acknowledges this just prior to talking about answered prayer, “If I had harbored sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”

Yet our obedience doesn’t earn answered prayer. If this were the case Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane would have been vastly different. 

Jesus obeyed every letter of God’s law with exacting precision and still faced unanswered prayer. “Remove this cup from me” he begged with such intensity the blood vessels under his skin ruptured mixing blood, sweat, and tears. Yet the Father had other plans. 

Christ would have known this — for, as Hebrews says, “We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” He faced greater battles than we face, yet he was perfect where we fail.

Christ not only prayed to have the cup of the crucifixion and God’s rejection taken from him, he also prayed, “Your will be done.” This is the prayer of a fully surrendered man — a man fully and sacrificially committed to the Father.

Unanswered prayer reveals whether our heart truly trusts God. In this way prayer is different from thinking about God. “To the thinker, God is an object. To one who prays, God is the subject,” observes Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book Moral Grandeur.

What we receive in prayer is greater than any request we can make. In this way no prayer goes unanswered because all prayer deepens our relationship with God — something worth far more than anything we could imagine.

As for the particulars of our prayers, which are God’s joy to fulfill, “God will only give you what you would have asked for if you knew everything he knows,” says Timothy Keller. 

Our intimacy with God is deepened through prayer — which is what we need most. Trust becomes the foundation we stand on — in longing expectation — when our prayers are unanswered. Our satisfaction in God makes him the object of our rejoicing when our prayers are answered.

Prayer
Father, help us to know you more deeply through prayer. Help us to develop a discipline of intellectually honest, emotionally vulnerable, and dedicated times of prayer. Answer our requests. Direct our desires. Guide our hearts.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 24 (Listen – 3:37)
Psalms 66-67 (Listen – 2:42)

Inner Vision
Part 5 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

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This Weekend’s Readings
Saturday: Numbers 25 (Listen – 2:20); Psalm 68 (Listen – 4:26)
Sunday: Numbers 26 (Listen – 7:47); Psalm 69 (Listen – 4:04)
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May 14, 2015

TBT: To Dream In League With God

by Steven Dilla

May14

Psalm 65.2
O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. 

TBT: To Dream In League With God | by Abraham Joshua Heschel

Religion is a critique of all satisfaction. Its end is joy, but its beginning is discontent, detesting boasts, smashing idols.

The predicament of prayer is twofold: Not only do we not know how to pray; we do not know what to pray for. We have lost the ability to be shocked. Should we not pray for the ability to be shocked at atrocities committed by humanity, for the capacity to be dismayed at our inability to be dismayed?

The purpose of prayer is not the same as the purpose of speech. The purpose of speech is to inform; the purpose of prayer is to partake. In speech, the act and the content are not always contemporaneous. What we wish to communicate to others is usually present in our minds prior to the moment of communication. In contrast, the actual content of prayer comes into being in the moment of praying. For the true content of prayer, the true sacrifice we offer, is not the prescribed word which we repeat, but the response to it, the self-examination of the heart, the realization of what is at stake in living as a child of God.

The quality of a speech is not judged by the good intention of the speaker but by the degree to which it succeeds to simplify an idea and to make it relevant to others. Ultimately the goal of prayer is not to translate a word but to translate the self.

Prayer is meaningless unless it is subversive, unless it seeks to overthrow and to ruin the pyramids of callousness, hatred, opportunism, falsehoods. The liturgical movement must become a revolutionary movement, seeking to overthrow the forces that continue to destroy the promise, the hope, the vision.

Prayer, too, is frequently an inner vision, an intense dreaming for God – the reflection of the Divine intentions in the soul of humankind. We dream of a time “when the world will be perfected under the Sovereignty of God, and all the children of flesh will call upon Your name, when You will turn unto Yourself all the wicked of the earth.” We anticipate the fulfillment of the hope shared by both God and humankind. To pray is to dream in league with God, to envision God’s holy visions.

Today’s Readings
Numbers 23 (Listen – 4:01)
Psalms 64-65 (Listen – 2:39)

Inner Vision
Part 4 of 5, read more on TheParkForum.org

*Editor’s Note: The above excerpts are from Rabbi Heschel’s books Moral Grandeur and Man’s Quest for God. While we usually dig farther back in history for Throwback Thursdays, and nearly always stay with Christian writers, we found Heschel’s remarks on prayer to be stirring and challenging as we grow in the understanding and practice of prayer.

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