Daily D – Psalm 27:8
My heart says this about you: “Seek his face.” LORD, I will seek your face.”
PSALM 27:8 (CSB)
And my heart responds, “LORD, I am coming.”
I was born in 1961. I reached my teen years in the 1970s. Those two decades are remembered today as times when respect for authority diminished significantly. Formal matters became more casual. There is much more that could be, and has been, said about these matters that we will not pursue further now.
One of the trends in youth and young adult ministry in those days was to take a more casual posture in prayer. We were taught to talk to Jesus the way we talked to our buddies. Jesus was our friend, the Bible said. Why not treat him like one of our peers?
We snickered at the stilted prayers of the Old Guys at church. Every Sunday, one of those men would be called on to lead in prayer before the offering. Every Sunday, the designated pray-er would begin, “Our Most Kind and Gracious Heavenly Father.” For years, I thought that was the only right way to pray.
Then one night I heard a Methodist preacher at a community service begin his prayer, “O God, . . . .” I immediately thought, “He’s doing it wrong!”
Attending church and church meetings as much as I do, I hear a lot of prayers. I pray a lot of public prayers. I hear the men and women who overuse the word “just.” “Dear Jesus, just hear my prayer. Just listen to me now. Just do your work in my life.”
I hear the lip smackers and the holy exhalers and a dozen other personal prayer styles. My intent is not to poke fun at how people pray. The intent is to redirect our praying.
The Bible teaches us to pray and how to pray. Psalms is a book of collected prayers. These are the prayers of men directed to God which have become God’s words directed to us. They are evidence God hears and answers prayer. When you do not know how to pray or what to say, take one of these perfectly preserved prayers and use it as your own or use it to provide a model.
Ponder the meaning of the words and expressions. Learn how to properly declare wonder, awe, grief, and anger. When songs come to mind based on these ancient songs and prayers, sing them.
A psalm a day will teach you to pray.
Which psalm should you read today? What day of the month is it? If the day ends in a 5 like it does as I write these words, try on Psalm 5. If that doesn’t quite fit, check out Psalm 15, 25, 35, and so on.
Commit some of these prayers to memory. Psalms 1 and 23 are good places to start. Psalm 100 will do your soul good. What other psalms speak to your heart?
Beyond Psalms, take a look at the prayers of Jesus. He gives us a model in Matthew 6:9-13. We have a deep-dive prayer of Jesus from those final hours before he chose to suffer and die for us. We find it in John 17. Peter, Paul, and John teach us to pray in their writings.
The one thing all of these prayer teachers and trainers display that I missed in my youth group prayer lessons is deep reverence. It is true. We do have a friend in Jesus. We even have a hymn about that. Let us never forget, however, that our friend spoke this world into existence, created beauty, provided wise guidance for life in community, and redeemed us in the ultimate expression of limitless love. Awe, wonder, and holy fear are much more appropriate than casual conversation.
Prayer can be as simple as, “I need you.” It can be as meaningful as, “I want you.” It can be as profound as, “Help me.” We should forever, however, remember his scars. His love is not casual, it is meaningful. His love is sacrificial, not merely convictional. His love is beautiful, so should be the words of our prayers and the meditations of our hearts.
I will enroll in the next lessons of prayer.
Our Father, teach me to pray. May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you. Amen.
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Daily D – Psalm 143:8-10
Psalm 143:8-10 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. Rescue me from my enemies, Lord; I run to you to hide me. Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.
Daily D – Psalm 142:5
Psalm 142:5 Then I pray to you, O Lord. I say, “You are my place of refuge. You are all I really want in life.”
Daily D – Ezra 3:11-13
Ezra 3:11-13 With praise and thanks, they sang this song to the Lord: “He is so good! His faithful love for Israel endures forever!” Then all the people gave a great shout, praising the Lord because the foundation of the Lord’s Temple had been laid. But many of the older priests, Levites, and other leaders who had seen the first Temple wept aloud when they saw the new Temple’s foundation. The others, however, were shouting for joy. The joyful shouting and weeping mingled together in a loud noise that could be heard far in the distance.
Daily D – 2 Chronicles 35:22-25
2 Chronicles 35:22-25 After Josiah had finished restoring the Temple, King Neco of Egypt led his army up from Egypt to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River, and Josiah and his army marched out to fight him. But King Neco sent messengers to Josiah with this message: “What do you want with me, king of Judah? I have no quarrel with you today! I am on my way to fight another nation, and God has told me to hurry! Do not interfere with God, who is with me, or he will destroy you.” But Josiah refused to listen to Neco, to whom God had indeed spoken, and he would not turn back. Instead, he disguised himself and led his army into battle on the plain of Megiddo. But the enemy archers hit King Josiah with their arrows and wounded him. He cried out to his men, “Take me from the battle, for I am badly wounded!”
Daily D – 2 Chronicles 32:31
2 Chronicles 32:31 However, when ambassadors arrived from Babylon to ask about the remarkable events that had taken place in the land, God withdrew from Hezekiah in order to test him and to see what was really in his heart.