12/2/2018 2:04:06 PM
Flying Lessons in Prayer
In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.
I trust in you; do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.
No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame, but shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.
Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths.
Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.
Good and upright is the LORD; therefore, he instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. (Psalm 25:1-10, NIV)
In verse 1 of this Psalm, we find David, “a man after God’s own heart”, praying “In you, LORD my God, I put my trust.” Charles Haddon Spurgeon wrote concerning this verse; “True prayer may be described as the soul rising from earth to have fellowship with heaven; it is taking a journey upon Jacob's ladder, leaving our cares and fears at the foot, and meeting with a covenant God at the top.” Thus, David begins his flight and journey. This also is how we begin a 22-week journey through select Psalms to learn how to fly to heaven in prayer.
Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, in an article titled “Psalms as the Ultimate Self-Help Tool”, (www.myjewishlearning.com/article/psalms-as-prayer/), wrote; “Illness, suffering, and loss mute us — they leave us without words. Overwhelmed, confused, distraught, despairing — and/or profoundly grateful, reflective, renewed, attuned — whatever our state, we are often left speechless, feeling that words fall flat, or do not convey what we want, need, or intend.” He continued, speaking specifically about using Psalms in prayer; “As with other forms of Jewish prayer, psalms may provide various opportunities: for giving words to hopes, fears, wishes, etc.; to both experience the pain and transcend it; to “name” one’s distress or gratitude; and/or to reconnect to tradition and community, or to a basic inner sense of wholeness.”
Echoing Second Timothy 3:16, Matthew Henry commented; “All scripture, being given by inspiration of God, is profitable to convey divine light into our understandings; but this book is of singular use with that to convey divine life and power, and a holy warmth, into our affections. There is no one book of scripture that is more helpful to the devotions of the saints than this, and it has been so in all ages of the church, ever since it was written and the several parts of it were delivered to the chief musician for the service of the church.”
And another commentator stated, in his “Introduction to the Psalms”; “The distinguishing feature of the Psalms is their devotional character. Whether their matter be didactic, historical, prophetical, or practical, it is made the ground or subject of prayer, or praise, or both.” (A.R. Faussett)-
We will be doing two things over the course of this 22-week study; 1. We will experience an introductory reading each week from Psalm 119. 2. And we will look at individual Psalms each week, following the selections in the Revised Common Lectionary for Advent and beyond. By the end of this experiential and expositional exercise my hope is that all of us will gain our “flight wings in prayer” and that more of us will become comfortable and well versed in voicing our prayers, privately as well as corporately.
First, let’s pray through Psalm 119:1-8.
Blessed are those whose ways are blameless, who walk according to the law of the LORD.
Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart— they do no wrong but follow his ways.
You have laid down precepts that are to be fully obeyed.
Oh, that my ways were steadfast in obeying your decrees!
Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commands.
I will praise you with an upright heart as I learn your righteous laws.
I will obey your decrees; do not utterly forsake me.
Psalm 119 is an acrostic prayer, divided into 22 sections of eight verses. Each section begins with the corresponding character which comprises the Hebrew alphabet. Verses 1-3 are beatitudes for those who practice this prayer. Everything that follows, verse 4 through 176 is addressed to God as prayer. As a personal note, I pray through this prayer, one section a day, throughout the first 22 days of each month; and I highly recommend it to everyone.
Now let’s look at Psalm 25, which is also an acrostic Psalm, 22 verses long.
Verse 1 tells us it was attributed to David and forms the beginning of the first section of prayer found in verses 1-7. Following this opening section of prayer, we find, in verses 8-10 a declaration of faith, praise and hope which is capped off with a prayer for mercy and forgiveness in verse 11. Verses 12-15 form a second declaration and testimonial section, followed by a closing prayer in verses 16-22.
Although we do not know exactly the setting and context of this Psalm, David was clearly under stress from without and within. He states things like; “do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.” [Vs. 2]; “shame will come on those who are treacherous without cause.” [Vs. 3]; “Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways” [Vs. 7].
What we do know is how David handled those stressors; he prayed.
- He prayed, entrusting his life to God. “In you, LORD my God, I put my trust. I trust in you;”
- He prayed in hope; “No one who hopes in you will ever be put to shame,”
- He prayed with confidence; “Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Remember, LORD, your great mercy and love, for they are from of old. Do not remember the sins of my youth and my rebellious ways; according to your love remember me, for you, LORD, are good.”
- Confidence in God’s desire to teach His ways to those who seek Him.
- Confidence in God’s saving grace, not his own works.
- Confidence in God’s faithful mercy, love and forgiveness.
David testifies to the goodness of God; “Good and upright is the LORD; therefore, he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant.”
When we think about the death of Jesus each month at Communion, we remember the goodness of God, our savior. When we celebrate Advent each year, we look forward to living beyond the stresses we now know, when our Savior comes again. May our hope always find its home in the God of David. May our prayers find their way to the Lord David prayed to, with hope and confidence.
All the ways of the LORD are loving and faithful toward those who keep the demands of his covenant. Those demands, summarized by Jesus, are love to God and love to our neighbors, based upon faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. In the stresses of life, may we learn to fly to God in prayer, using Psalm 25 as our flight instructor.
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