Are my prayers of help or am I not really praying

The Psalms come into play again today in the arena of prayer and in particular, Psalm 135.

The Lord will defend his people;
    he will take pity on his servants. – Psalm 135:14  GNT

I think my prayer life is important when it comes to the Lord defending me or even having mercy on me.

They have mouths, but cannot speak,
    and eyes, but cannot see.
They have ears, but cannot hear;
    they are not even able to breathe. – Psalm 135:16-17  GNT

What if I decide not to use my mouth to offer prayer, praise or confession?

They can neither speak in answer to your prayers and inquiries, nor see what you do or what you want, nor hear your petitions, nor smell your incenses and sacrifices, nor use their hands either to take anything from you, or to give anything to you; nor so much as mutter, nor give the least sign of apprehending your condition or concerns. –Matthew Pool.

What if I have no spiritual life, no symbols of an abundant life and I cannot even offer a breath prayer or praise?

May all who made them and who trust in them
    become[b] like the idols they have made! – Psalm 135:18  GNT

Have I then become a person whose mouth is moving but I am not praying? Have my eyes not seen the truth, or have my ears not heard the voice of the Lord or has the life of God no longer reside in me? Have I lost my God and have become spiritually dead? If I chose the form of religion I have utterly abandoned the invitation of the Holy Spirit to live.

“God’s perfections are matchless and without comparison. Those perfections include his eternal and unchanging character; his presence everywhere; his perfect knowledge of all things; his perfect, unsearchable wisdom; his absolute, irresistible power and sovereignty over all that happens; his unspotted moral purity, beauty, and holiness; and his justice— his inexorable judgment that will ultimately put all things right.” – Timothy Keller



Regular and answered prayer

regular and answered prayer

In my spiritual walk with God, I should be seeing signs of spiritual maturity – growing in how I look like my Father. I am finding this growth in my heart in regular praise and prayer. Praying the Psalms helps me because they strengthen my soul.

“But whoever has begun to pray the Psalter seriously and regularly will soon give a vacation to other little devotional prayers and say: ‘Ah, there is not the juice, the strength, the passion, the fire which I find in the Psalter. It tastes too cold and too hard’ (Luther)” (Bonhoeffer, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible, 25).

I could use a little more “juice” in my worship and more strength in my prayer life.

In the ancient church it was not unusual to memorize “the entire David.” In one of the eastern churches this was a prerequisite for the pastoral office. The church father St. Jerome says that one heard the Psalms being sung in the field and gardens in his time. The Psalter impregnated the life of early Christianity. Yet more important than all of this is the fact that Jesus died on the cross with the Psalter on his lips. Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure vanishes from the Christian church. With its recovery will come unsuspected power.- Bonhoeffer

Let’s look at just one verse —

In my distress I called to the Lord,
    and he answered me. – Psalm 120:1  GNT

There is a declaration of assurance here and I read it like this. First, there is a history of answered prayer that fuels my confidence to continue to pray. Secondly, that history has now become my testimony and is setting me up to anticipate God answering my prayer.

Consider, for example, Paul’s remarkable prayer for the Christians at Philippi in the opening section of his letter to them: “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God” (Phil. 1:9–11). Notice the sequence of Paul’s prayer here. If you read it too quickly, you might come away with the impression that Paul is primarily concerned about knowledge. Indeed, at a glance, given our habits of mind, you might think Paul is praying that the Christians in Philippi would deepen their knowledge so that they will know what to love. But look again. In fact, Paul’s prayer is the inverse: he prays that their love might abound more and more because, in some sense, love is the condition for knowledge. It’s not that I know in order to love, but rather: I love in order to know. And if we are going to discern “what is best”—what is “excellent,” what really matters, what is of ultimate importance—Paul tells us that the place to start is by attending to our loves.

There is a very dfferent model of the human person at work here. Instead of the rationalist, intellectualist model that implies, “You are what you think,” Paul’s prayer hints at a very different conviction: “You are what you love.” – James Smith