Psalms 17, 20, 102
Pastor Lisa’s Journal
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness. – Psalm 17:15
What is prayer? Psalm 102:1-2 contains 5 different expressions for prayer in only two verses: hear my prayer, let my cry come to you, do not hide your face from me, incline your ear to me, and answer me speedily. Add to those the stronger expressions later in that same psalm: he looked down from his holy height and hear the groans of the prisoners. (Psalm 102:19-20) Add to those variations on the first expressions, such as: hear a just cause, attend my cry, and give ear to my prayer. (Psalm 17:1)
In all three of today’s Psalms, the Psalmist is expecting an answer and that answer means action, a quick change of circumstance. In Psalm 17, the Psalmist lays out a case that he is more faithful than his adversaries. He argues that he deserves God’s refuge and deliverance. “Rise up, O Lord, confront them, overthrow them! By your sword deliver my life from the wicked…” (vs. 13)
This makes prayer sound like a contract- I do this so you do that. If this is all that prayer is, than what does that mean when God does not respond in the way we direct? It might mean we are not faithful enough to deserve what we desire or God is not powerful enough to provide it or God is unreliable or capricious. Many have approached prayer in this way resulting in a crisis of faith. Prayer must be something else since all of these answers are outside the character of God.
So what is prayer? Some other verses of Psalm 17 give us important clues: show your steadfast love O Savior (vs. 7), guard me as the apple of your eye (vs. 8.), and I shall behold your face in righteousness, when I wake I shall be satisfied beholding your likeness (vs. 15). Love, intimacy, relationship. Yes, in prayer we are to come to God with our needs and desires, but first and foremost, prayer is developing a relationship with God.
Healing does not mean going back to the way things were before,
but rather allowing what is now to move us closer to God.
I have often heard it said that prayer is a dialogue, talking to God and listening to God. I have also heard it described as drawing near, seeking God’s presence more than God’s presents. With these definitions, prayer is more about relationship than answers. It is about walking with God and trusting God to provide for us in ways that are best. Sometimes those ways are ways we can see and sometimes those are ways only God can see.
There is not in the world a kind of life more sweet and delightful than that of a continual conversation with God. ~ Brother Lawrence
He is always conscious of us,
but we need to focus our attention and our consciousness upon him.
Then he can whisper to us the love-plans he has for us.
– Rosalind Rinker, missionary
Your desire itself is your prayer, and if your desire is continuous, so is your prayer. It was not without reason that the Apostle said: “Pray without ceasing.” We cannot be constantly genuflecting or prostrating ourselves or lifting our hands, can we? It is not with reference to such actions as these that we can speak of “praying without ceasing.”
There is however another prayer that is really ceaseless: it is interior and consists in desire…. If you do not wish to leave of praying, then do not leave off desiring.
-Augustine of Hippo
Compassionate and Mighty Father, I love you and want to be with you. I desire to behold your face, when all is well and when all is chaos and at all times in between. Satisfy me with you. Amen.
You are invited to join me on a summer adventure through one of the most beloved books in the Bible, Psalms. To download the Summer in the Psalms reading plan, click here Psalms Reading Plan
As you read, you are encouraged to use the SOAP Method for keeping a spiritual journal, as taught at New Hope Christian Fellowship in Hawaii. For more information on this simple and powerful way of engaging the Word of God, please click here http://www.lifejournal.cc/ or use the simple instructions provided in the reading plan itself.
I look forward to reading your comments and to all that Jesus will do in you and through you as you seek him this summer. – Lisa <><
PS- For more information on the scripture translation, art and the use of this devotional in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page. http://pastorblog.cumcdebary.org/?page_id=1529