The burden of prayer for the next generation

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There are so many prayers in the Psalms for what adults experience in their day to day lives. I feel that we might miss what is happening in our families as we pray these prayers. I believe children are watching. So when I read this prayer and saw, for the first time, a prayer for our children, I had to take note for what surrounded it as well.

Save me from my cruel enemies;
    rescue me from the power of foreigners,
    who never tell the truth
    and lie even under oath.
May our sons in their youth

be like plants that grow up strong.
May our daughters be like stately columns
which adorn the corners of a palace.
May our barns be filled
with crops of every kind.
May the sheep in our fields
bear young by the tens of thousands. – Psalm 144:11-13  GNT

If I looked at what surrounds the prayer for our children first I see the burden of this prayer – the need for God to step in and rescue us from those we always need rescuing from. If I am surrounded by serpents of all kinds and do not know how to deal with them, the only available method is to pray and ask God to rescue and deliver me.

And on the other side Robert Robinson speaks best into this.

This psalm is the language of a prince who wished his people’s prosperity: that their “garners might be full of all manner of stores;” that their “sheep might bring forth thousands and ten thousands in their streets;” that their “oxen” might be fat for slaughter, or “strong for labour;” that there might be neither robbery nor beggary in their streets: no oppressive magistrates, nor complaining people: and as if all these blessings were to be derived from the character of the people, and the character of the people from the education they had received, our text is a prayer for the youth of Judea. — Robert Robinson (1735-1790), in “The Nature and Necessity of Early Piety.”

The prayer for a rising generation comes with metaphors – sons are like plants and daughters are stately columns which adorn the corners of a palace.
Plants because they may live and not only live, but that their godliness might be fully expressed. Columns so that they might make an open and lovely profession of faith. It is about both of them having a walk of holiness and revealling that walk to others.

Jesus also prays for the next generaton.

Some people brought children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and to pray for them, but the disciples scolded the people. Jesus said, “Let the children come to me and do not stop them, because the Kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

He placed his hands on them and then went away. – Matthew 19:13-15  GNT

He insisted on the necessity of having my spiritual journey disturbed by little children. Otherwise I might lose the future thread of my life. It reminds me that what I am doing now has implications for those who come next. It would be safe to say that the disturbance of little children is holy disturbance.

‘Praises’ as a title is not statistically accurate but it is accurate all the same. It is accurate because it accurately describes the end, the finished product. All prayer, pursued far enough, becomes praise. Any prayer, no matter how desperate its origin, no matter how angry and fearful the experiences it traverses, ends up in praise. It does not always get there quickly or easily–the trip can take a lifetime–but the end is always praise. ‘Praises,’ in fact, is the only accurate title for our prayer book, for it is the goal that shapes the journey: ‘The end is where we start from.’ – Eugene Peterson

 

 

 

 

Raised from suffering by prayer

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I was reading Psalm 26 – what a great prayer model for times of suffering – times where I need God help – when I know that my suffering is not because of my sin.

This kind of prayer comes from knowing I have been totally forgiven by God.  In other words, I am brimming in confidence – not in my ability to do good – but in God’s ability to forgive.

Declare me innocent, O Lord,
    because I do what is right
    and trust you completely. – Psalm 26:1 GNT

David’s confidence came from God’s love and His faithfulness.

Your constant love is my guide;
    your faithfulness always leads me – Psalm 26:3 GNT

This is the kind of prayer that can be prayed by anyone at any time. No matter who prays, how they pray or where they pray it – the words are an active desire to act with integrity and enjoy a covenantal relationship with God.

This allows me to walk with others and pray for them too. When I walk with another and should anyone one of us fall, there will be one still available to lift the other up.

 If one of them falls down, the other can help him up. But if someone is alone and falls, it’s just too bad, because there is no one to help him. – Ecclesiastes 4:10 GNT

The Targum paraphrases it this way.

“If one of them falls upon the bed, and lies sick, the other will cause his friend to rise by his prayer.”

If I am the one who is well and can help – I am called to visit, sympathize, speak words of comfort and pray with him – so that restoration takes place. It is even more than that – distress, poverty, falling into error, sin – for we can all fall into those ways along our journey and if I walk it alone and fall, who will pray for me?

 “If anyone insists on his own goodness and despises others…let him look into himself when this petition confronts him. He will find he is no better than others and that in the presence of God everyone must duck his head and come into the joy of forgiveness only through the low door of humility.” – Luther