Do not think God has not heard when we have been able and alert in our prayer

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Psalm 69 has so much to teach me on prayer.

Save me, O God!
The water is up to my neck;
I am sinking in deep mud,
and there is no solid ground;
I am out in deep water,
and the waves are about to drown me.
I am worn out from calling for help,
and my throat is aching.
I have strained my eyes,
looking for your help.

Those who hate me for no reason
are more numerous than the hairs of my head.
My enemies tell lies against me;
they are strong and want to kill me.
They made me give back things I did not steal.
My sins, O God, are not hidden from you;
you know how foolish I have been. – Psalm 69:1-5 GNT

What an image of drowning – I am there with him. The imminence of death is there if I want it to be and I will only want it to be if I do not believe that God has heard my prayer. What is the cause of drowning – those who hate, the numbers of those who hate – and the lack of reason in doing so. Even so, while they may be out of line, I know my sins are real and they lay before God.

 

Don’t let me bring shame on those who trust in you,
    Sovereign Lord Almighty!
Don’t let me bring disgrace to those who worship you,
    O God of Israel!
It is for your sake that I have been insulted
    and that I am covered with shame.
I am like a stranger to my relatives,
    like a foreigner to my family.

My devotion to your Temple burns in me like a fire;
    the insults which are hurled at you fall on me.
I humble myself[b] by fasting,
    and people insult me;
I dress myself in clothes of mourning,
    and they laugh at me.
They talk about me in the streets,
    and drunkards make up songs about me. – Psalm 69:6-12 GNT

I too have prayed the prayer asking God not to bring shame on other followers of jesus because of what I am going through. My shame comes from being a follower of Jesus and even those who have watched me daily in my walk seem to have turned their back on me. Even so, I burn for my love for Jesus and I am constantly sincerely repentant for my sins. That just offers more fuel to the fire for the insults, for now are even more personal.

But as for me, I will pray to you, Lord;
    answer me, God, at a time you choose.
Answer me because of your great love,
    because you keep your promise to save.
Save me from sinking in the mud;
    keep me safe from my enemies,
    safe from the deep water.
Don’t let the flood come over me;
    don’t let me drown in the depths
    or sink into the grave.

Answer me, Lord, in the goodness of your constant love;
    in your great compassion turn to me!
Don’t hide yourself from your servant;
    I am in great trouble—answer me now!
Come to me and save me;
    rescue me from my enemies. – Psalm 69:13-18 GNT

I do the only thing left to do – I ask God to rescue me. I know the character of God is one where He keeps His promises and He has an amazing love for me. His compassion is turned towards me as He looks at me. It is a passionate prayer and if you noticed, the prayer is growing in confidence the longer it progresses – God will hear and answer because of who He is.

You know how I am insulted,
    how I am disgraced and dishonored;
    you see all my enemies.
Insults have broken my heart,
    and I am in despair.
I had hoped for sympathy, but there was none;
    for comfort, but I found none.
When I was hungry, they gave me poison;
    when I was thirsty, they offered me vinegar.

May their banquets cause their ruin;
    may their sacred feasts cause their downfall.
Strike them with blindness!
    Make their backs always weak!
Pour out your anger on them;
    let your indignation overtake them.
May their camps be left deserted;
    may no one be left alive in their tents.
They persecute those whom you have punished;
    they talk about the sufferings of those you have wounded.
Keep a record of all their sins;
    don’t let them have any part in your salvation.
May their names be erased from the book of the living;
    may they not be included in the list of your people. – Psalm 69:19-28 GNT

Notice how easy it is take it all back again – making it personal. I stop thinking about God and start to think about people again – and they offer me nothing, leaving me alone and friendless. Then comes the prayer of imprecation. They somehow creep into my life, if not verbally, definitely in my dreams. I pray that I may not be here long and come back to being the person God has called me to be for the time is short and the hour has come for me to rise up and continue to serve.

The end of all things is near. You must be self-controlled and alert, to be able to pray. – 1 Peter 4:7 GNT

If the end of all things is near – why am I hanging on to what will not last? I long for the day of His returning.

“Do not look so sad. We shall meet soon again.”
“Please, Aslan,” said Lucy, “what do you call soon?”
“I call all times soon,” said Aslan; and instantly he was vanished away.
—C. S. LEWIS, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

It brings me to a place of urgency and action. A place where I am sensible and self-controlled, level headed, not impulsive or easily swayed by emotion. I will not go off the deep end. I shall have clarity of mind and may my character and service make a difference. Most of all, I need to be able to pray. For some, at different places of their journey, prayer can be difficult. Yet when I am alert, and in the midst of suffering and hostility as Psalm 69 presented, a sound and alert prayer life is most important.

But after we have learned by faith to know that whatever is necessary for us or defective in us is supplied in God and in our Lord Jesus Christ, in whom it hath pleased the Father that all fulness should dwell, that we may thence draw as from an inexhaustible fountain, it remains for us to seek and in prayer implore of him what we have learned to be in him. – John Calvin

 

 

Talk with God, my prayers are heard

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There was a song that we sang in youth group on Friday nights that would come out of the core of my being. It is hardly sung these days, but when it is, it still rocks my soul.

As a deer longs for a stream of cool water,
    so I long for you, O God. – Psalm 42:1 GNT

Thirst is the second strongest bodily desire after the need for air. That is where I was at in my journey of discovering and expressing my love for Jesus. I discovered that I could worship Him anytime, anyplace because of the Holy Spirit who was within me.

It was part of David being honest that makes the prayer so real. He goes on…

Why am I so sad?
    Why am I so troubled?
I will put my hope in God,
    and once again I will praise him,
    my savior and my God.

Here in exile my heart is breaking,
    and so I turn my thoughts to him.
He has sent waves of sorrow over my soul;
    chaos roars at me like a flood,
    like waterfalls thundering down to the Jordan
    from Mount Hermon and Mount Mizar.
May the Lord show his constant love during the day,
    so that I may have a song at night,
    a prayer to the God of my life. – Psalm 42:5-8 GNT

In other words – “I know it is foolish to be down, but I am.” What about the expression he uses at the end – “a prayer to the God of my life.” God’s love never fails and His ear is ready to hear.

The intimacy that exist here is real.

While I slept, my heart was awake.

I dreamed my lover knocked at the door.

Let me come in, my darling,

    my sweetheart, my dove.
My head is wet with dew,
    and my hair is damp from the mist. – Song of Solomon 5:2 GNT

 

I have seen God delighting and joying over me. I am just as important to Him as a lover is to their loved one. He longs to hear my voice – why is it so easy to forget to pray? He reaches out to me but I am too busy. I am His dove that He wants to hold and speak gently to, but I struggle and keep trying to fly away.

Jesus time of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane was given a different perspective from the author of the Book of Hebrews.

In his life on earth Jesus made his prayers and requests with loud cries and tears to God, who could save him from death. Because he was humble and devoted, God heard him. But even though he was God’s Son, he learned through his sufferings to be obedient. When he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all those who obey him – Hebrews 5:7-9 GNT

Jesus came to pray that night as a high priest – He is interceding – standing between me and God and praying on my behalf. The following day, like the high priest practiced, He will offer a sacrifice for sin. Rather than an animal, He would offer Himself.

Jesus prayed and God heard Him – not because of His loud cries, or even because of the quantity of tears – He heard Him because He was humble and faithful. Rather than demanding, He prayed for the will of God to take place. He learned to be obedient, not that He was disobedient, but rather that I might have a model, an example, of what it looks like to learn obedience in suffering.

The reason became clear – He was made perfect three days later and the source of eternal salvation. So when I pray, I pray as a child of God who is talking to His Father in heaven. That is where I begin my prayer – with the confidence that God hears them for Jesus’ sake – Jesus intercedes for me. So I do not worry if they are passionate enough, or articulate, whether they come as cries or with tears, they are heard because of Jesus. I pray humbly and faithfully as Jesus did.

“Our prayer must be in full, grateful awareness that our access to God, as Father is a free gift won by the costly sacrifice of Jesus the True Son, and then enacted in us by the Holy Spirit who helps us know inwardly that we are his children. To pray in Jesus’ name is not meant to be a magic formula, as if the pronunciation of the words coerce God’s power or mechanically taps into supernatural forces. Jesus’ name is shorthand for his divine person and saving work. To come to the Father in Jesus’ name, not our own, is to come fully cognizant that we are being heard because of the costly grace in which we stand. This is the one principle of prayer that makes it possible to be heard by God even though no one can follow all the other guidelines and ‘rules’ as we should” – Timothy Keller