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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Isaiah 30:18 Therefore the LORD is waiting to show you mercy, and is rising up to show you compassion, for the LORD is a just God. All who wait patiently for him are happy. (CSB)
Matthew 14:29 “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter answered him, “command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” And climbing out of the boat, Peter started walking on the water and came toward Jesus. (CSB)
Matthew 14:19, 20 Then he commanded the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves and the two fish, looking up to heaven, he blessed them. He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. Everyone ate and was satisfied. They picked up twelve baskets full of leftover pieces. (CSB)