Psalm 9

Is there a way to grow through prayer?

“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.

I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” – Psalm 9:1,2

Our world has cameras stationed on every corner it seems, to record every move, every conversation – good or bad.

When I do see one, I try to imagine if they came into our world and recorded us what would they see? 

What is there about my life, and yours that might lead those who were watching to not only know we are followers of Jesus but might attract them to Jesus?

One of the most critical elements of the Christian experience is prayer.  It, with our Bible reading and the disciplines which we apply to our lives, are the major markers of our faith.

But would you, like me, be guilty of placing more time into prayer when things don’t go just how I would like them, or when I have a deep concern for someone or something?

What if the reality show took time to video my prayer life – your prayer life?

What would be the highlights?

  • Only prayer before a meal…a well rehearsed “Bless the food”
  • Maybe a tired quick prayer before bed…”sorry Lord but I am so tired…”
  • Perhaps a prayer as we leap into the car and onto the road for the day…”Bless this day O Lord”
  • Talking about prayer, but not really praying…
  • Asking God for a grocery cart full of things as soon as I enter my prayer time.

Prayer requires discipline

I think one of the things that keep our prayer lives shallow is that we don’t believe that prayer requires discipline – it becomes a side dish for the main course (usually music) some times reading.

Of course, prayer can be spontaneous –

  • if you are sitting with me in my office
  • or we are talking on the phone
  • or we are asking a question
  • praying for God is grant us the right words and the right spirit to respond to whatever is before us

“Lord, I am not sure what you want me to say here….I need you to fill my heart and mind with your words and tone.”

But praying on the fly is not enough – can you imagine marriages built on that kind of communication? 

Wendy reminds me that she needs to know what I am thinking as much as what I am saying – we need time to talk about life other than grocery lists and Christmas presents.  We need unadulterated time (time not given to another) so we can really communicate.

Prayer requires determination

Psalm 9:1,2

“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;

I will tell of all your wonders.

I will be glad and rejoice in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

The Psalmist likely had days when he didn’t feel like praising or thanking…but he describes his commitment….

You see prayer does take some discipline – turning off the screen,….the distractions of life. 

Prayer requires some distance

I don’t mean to say I have to physically withdraw to pray (though Jesus did often) but I do need to withdraw so that I am not engaged by other things…time to listen.  Being too close to those things which engage my mind can make it more difficult to engage God.

Exodus 3 – Moses is doing his job, he’s involved in the family business – he’s tending sheep for his father-in-law.  When suddenly something catches his attention – it’s a fire, but not a fire like any other fire because it burns but doesn’t consume.

(This moment might be recalled in the mind of Moses years later when a pillar of fire leads them through the wilderness)…but for now it requires his going to see what it is about.

I wouldn’t push the image too far, that is I wouldn’t want to be guilty of reading between the lines more than I should, but it is only after Moses has left for a moment the concerns of the family business that he hears the voice of God.

I think it is interesting that God told him to remove his sandals…for the ground upon which he is standing is holy.  Why remove his sandals…well they’ve been all over the place, they’ve been the thing that kept the hot sands from burning his feet.  But I wonder – did God ask him to remove his sandals so he couldn’t just scurry away…was it a strategy to keep him focused on this conversation?  Was this God’s way to keep Moses engaged so that He could have time to speak into his world?

So I need to ask myself: “do I need to disengage from my interests, my dreams, my hurts, my concerns so that I can hear the voice of God?”

Look at the prayer that Jesus used when the disciples came to him and asked him to teach them how to pray:

“Our Father, who is in heaven

Holy is your name

Your kingdom come,

Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven…”

As it opens, it is centered on God – the Holy One…

Why this pattern?

1. it helps me underline who I am in conversation with, and keeps me centered on why I pray – this isn’t logging onto facebook this is approaching a holy and eternal God.

2. it keeps me from drifting towards self (selfish people have a hard time praying)

3. it slows me down from the world of distractions

4. it lifts my soul above my own wants needs to a higher level

Praise is praying back to God His attributes “You are holy, eternal, loving, gracious, righteous, all-powerful, slow to anger, abounding in mercy…in the world about me I see your creative power, your amazing imagination, your unique design…”

Thanksgiving is the challenge to be grateful for more than just generic blessings like the parking place near the front of the mall, or the rain for our gardens.  Three blessings in the past 24 hours.

Confession is asking God to speak into my life…two things which you ask him to bring to mind…if God brings something to mind don’t go into denial which seems to be our first defense!  Accept what God is saying.  You are worried about your finances…don’t you trust me?  You are trying to manipulate your friend, let go and rest in me!  You didn’t listen to the man who needed to talk to you – I sent him to you.

Psalm 9

“I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonders.

I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.”

Photo by Tara Winstead on Pexels.com

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