Daily D – Psalm 120:1
I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer. PSALM 120:1 (NLT)
I chose the Bible reading plan for this year due to the fact that it includes a reading from the Psalms six days each week and from Proverbs the other day. If I ever choose a reading plan without a daily psalm, I will add a process to read through Psalms each day.
Psalms teaches us how to talk to God. It is an emotionally intelligent book. The writers not only felt their feelings, but they expressed them. They processed them. They took their troubles to God and discovered how he listens and responds.
Problems and praise often go hand in hand, don’t they? When we take our problems to God we discover new perspectives, we experience God’s involvement, we find resolution and renewal. Many of the psalms that are filled with deep grief, heavy sorrow, or outright anger end in praise.
Charles Allen was the long-time pastor of First Methodist Church in Houston. He wrote a book entitled, _God’s Psychiatry_. He uses Psalm 23 as part of God’s therapy for troubled souls. There are so many individual psalms that are like medicine. They provide relief. They heal hurts. They comfort heavy hearts. They soothe weary souls.
This is a good verse to commit to memory. It reminds us what to do when we don’t know what to do. It reminds us to go to God in prayer.
Notice the words the writer uses to describe how he talked to God. He says, “I cried out to him.” That sounds like maximum expression of emotion. He held nothing back. He dumped the weight he was carrying down before God and asked for help. God said Yes. It sounds like what Jesus said in Matthew 11:28-30. Verse 28 says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
The evidence from Psalms and elsewhere in the Bible is that God is more interested in hearing our prayers than we are to pray them. He is more interested in relieving our distress than we are in laying down our burdens.
God is interested in hearing all about your troubles. He is interested in lifting your burdens. He is interested in answering your prayers. You don’t even have to use fancy words or church-speak. You can talk to him like you would talk to anyone else. He listens. He responds.
We respond to his response with praise and thanksgiving. Psalms is the longest book in the Bible. It is in the middle of the Bible. When you don’t know what or how to pray, let it be your guide. It is easy to find. There is a psalm for whatever you are feeling, whatever you need. Feel free to write your own prayers and songs of praise modeled after the psalms. Some people turn those into hymns and other songs for worship.
What’s troubling you? Take it to God. If you cannot find words of your own, borrow those of the Psalms. Cry out to God. He will listen and he will respond.
Let us pray.
I will turn my burdens into prayers.
Our Father, thank you for listening better than any counselor and for working for free. Thank you for examples and instructions on how to talk to you. Thank you that no earnest prayer is ever wasted breath. How could we not sing songs of praise and thanksgiving to you? May our lives serve as new songs of testimony of how you hear and respond. May we hear and respond to you as you speak to us through the Psalms and in our moments and days. Amen.
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Psalm 23:3, 4 He renews my life; he leads me along the right paths for his name’s sake. Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me. (CSB)
Daniel 5:11 “There is a man in your kingdom who has the spirit of the holy gods in him. In the days of your predecessor he was found to have insight, intelligence, and wisdom like that of the gods. Your predecessor, King Nebuchadnezzar, appointed him chief of the magicians, mediums, Chaldeans, and diviners. (CSB)
Daniel 1:20 In every matter of wisdom and understanding that the king consulted them about, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and mediums in his entire kingdom. (CSB)