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

 

 

Soul prayers for answers and guidance

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I look at prayer as part of my journey in being holy. I want to be holy because God has asked me to be holy.

Keep yourselves holy, because I am the Lord your God. – Leviticus 20:7 GNT

John Wesley and his brother Charles were at Oxford University in England when they became part of a group dedicated to prayer, Bible study, self-examination, and works of charity. The group was called the “”Holy Club,”” and it included the great preacher George Whitefield. But even though John Wesley practiced rigid spiritual discipline, he grew increasingly frustrated. After three years in America, he wrote in his journal: “”I went to America to convert the Indians; but oh, who shall convert me?”” It wasn’t until after Wesley returned to England in 1737 that he realized he had been trying to practice holiness without a saving relationship with Christ. He was converted in 1738. John Wesley’s attempts to please God by religious activity and self-discipline put him in a long line of sincere, well-meaning people who have tried to manufacture holiness.

This is why I hear from those who pray everyday, read their Bibles daily, and go out and serve in the community and their lives are not transformed – they are so frustrated because they do not know why. I experienced this in a much smaller scale as a child – went to Sunday School every Sunday, memorized all the verses, tried my best to be a good student and yet something was missing.

As important as holiness is – being dedicated to and set apart for God – it is not meant to be achieved by human effort – God is the one who makes us holy.

 Obey my laws, because I am the Lord and I make you holy. – Leviticus 20:8 GNT

Now I can engage in what I call “soul” prayers. Let’s see if I can share what they look like with the help of Psalm 25.

“Prayer is the ascent of the soul to God; God must be eyed and the soul employed” – Matthew Henry

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. Very often the soul cannot rise, she has lost her wings, and is heavy and earth bound; more like a burrowing mole than a soaring eagle. At such dull seasons we must not give over prayer, but must, by God’s assistance, exert all our powers to lift up our hearts. Let faith be the lever and grace be the arm, and the dead lump will yet be stirred. – Charles Spurgeon

I trust God to keep me from shame.

 In you, my God, I trust.
Save me from the shame of defeat;
    don’t let my enemies gloat over me!
Defeat does not come to those who trust in you,
    but to those who are quick to rebel against you. – Psalm 25:2-3 GNT

I am open to being being taught and guided by God.

Teach me your ways, O Lord;
    make them known to me.
Teach me to live according to your truth,
    for you are my God, who saves me.
    I always trust in you. – Psalm 25:4-5 GNT

I ask God to forgive and forget my sins as I confess them. I appeal to the character of God.

Remember, O Lord, your kindness and constant love
    which you have shown from long ago.
Forgive the sins and errors of my youth.
In your constant love and goodness,
    remember me, Lord!

Keep your promise, Lord, and forgive my sins,
    for they are many. – Psalm 25:6-7, 11  GNT

“You or I may take a hold at any time upon the justice, the mercy, the faithfulness, the wisdom, the long suffering, the tenderness of God; and we will find every attribute of the Most High to be, as it were, a great battering ram with which we may open the gates of heaven.”   – Charles Spurgeon           

I focus on how God works and how He moves.

Because the Lord is righteous and good,
    he teaches sinners the path they should follow.
He leads the humble in the right way
    and teaches them his will.
 With faithfulness and love he leads
    all who keep his covenant and obey his commands. – Psalm 25:8-10 GNT

I experience intimacy with God.

Those who have reverence for the Lord
    will learn from him the path they should follow.
 They will always be prosperous,
    and their children will possess the land.
 The Lord is the friend of those who obey him
    and he affirms his covenant with them. – Psalm 25:12-14 GNT

I love getting closer to God when I pray. It is one of my most cherished thoughts that I could be a friend of God and through that friendship He shares things with me that are dear to His heart. Maybe even to the type of friendship that Abraham had with God.

I ask, I pour out my heart to the Lord to rescue me from danger, from loneliness, from my worries and distress and from the consequences of my sin. My eyes are on Him.

I look to the Lord for help at all times,
    and he rescues me from danger.
Turn to me, Lord, and be merciful to me,
    because I am lonely and weak.
Relieve me of my worries
    and save me from all my troubles.
Consider my distress and suffering
    and forgive all my sins. – Psalm 25:15-18 GNT

In order to continually lift my soul to the Lord, I need Him to guard it for without His help everything else can get out of order and turn into chaos. In Him I find refuge.

Protect me and save me;
    keep me from defeat.
    I come to you for safety.
May my goodness and honesty preserve me,
    because I trust in you. – Psalm 25:20-21 GNT

The evil that can present itself can be thwarted by the power of the Holy Spirit moving on my soul. As I wait on the Lord and seek Him continually, He will preserve me with integrity and honour and I will be in right standing with Him.

“Waiting in prayer is a disciplined refusal to act before God acts.” – Eugene Peterson

“What they mean is that Christians should pray long enough and honestly enough, at a single session, to get past the feeling of formalism and unreality that attends not a little praying…If we “pray until we pray,” eventually we come to delight in God’s presence, to rest in his love, to cherish his will. Even in dark or agonized praying, we somehow know we are doing business with God. In short, we discover a little of what Jude means when he exhorts his readers to pray “in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20)—which presumably means it is treacherously possible to pray not in the Spirit.” – D.A. Carson

I ask on behalf of others.

From all their troubles, O God,
    save your people Israel! – Psalm 25:22 GNT

I remember the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus taught us “our Father”, “give us”, “forgive us” and “do not bring us”… This is the kind of prayer that connects us to the entire faith community.

When I pray at home, which is the place where I am safe, to search for meaning and identity, I deepen my interactions with family and from there find strength to face the increasing demands of life. We learn to pray and pray together and that enables us to be hope to other families who are in need for what we have found in Christ.

 But if any do not take care of their relatives, especially the members of their own family, they have denied the faith and are worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8 GNT

Our faith community is a place from where God can speak to us. As we pray for answers and guidance they can become instruments of divine counsel. There is wisdom there and experience.

To pray “give us – all the people of our land –
daily bread” is to pray against “wanton
exploitation” in business, trade, and labor, which
“crushes the poor and deprives them of their
daily bread.” – Luther