Daily D – Psalm 66:16-20

by | Mar 7, 2022 | Daily D | 0 comments

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Psalm 66:16-20

      Come and hear, all you who fear God; 
         let me tell you what he has done for me. 
      I cried out to him with my mouth; 
         his praise was on my tongue. 
      If I had cherished sin in my heart, 
         the Lord would not have listened; 
      but God has surely listened 
         and has heard my prayer. 
      Praise be to God, 
         who has not rejected my prayer 
         or withheld his love from me!

The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ps 66:16–20.

               All believers, come here and listen,
                 let me tell you what God did for me.
                 I called out to him with my mouth,
                 my tongue shaped the sounds of music.
                 If I had been cozy with evil,
                 the Lord would never have listened.
                 But he most surely did listen,
                 he came on the double when he heard my prayer.
                 Blessed be God: he didn’t turn a deaf ear,
                 he stayed with me, loyal in his love.

Eugene H. Peterson, The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2005), Ps 66:16–20.

Prayer confuses people. Some use it as a last resort. They have tried everything in their power to change their circumstances without success. “Maybe God can do something,” they reason. When he does not do their will their way, they are disappointed and lay another brick in the wall to shut out God. 

Some people use prayer like a magic incantation. If the right words are said in the right way with the right amount of passion, God will hear and answer. They post sayings like, “I believe in the power of prayer,” on social media. They hang these sayings on the walls of their homes and offices. The truth is, prayer is not powerful. God is powerful and he powerfully answers our prayers not because we say the right things the right way with the right amount of passion, but when our hearts and minds, our will and our ways are aligned and attuned with his.

Prayer is neither a Wish List or a To-Do List. We do not beckon God to our side of a matter. We do not summon him and his power to accomplish our purposes. 

Prayer is relationship. It is like breathing out and breathing in. It is constant communion with our Creator who loves us with an everlasting love. It is dependence on the One who is forever dependable. It is knowing and experiencing our Father in heaven who seeks our highest and best in all things at all times. It is trusting his No, his Not Yet, and his Never is forever better than any Oh, Okay we could manipulate him into for any reason. 

God is so good that his every No is embedded in a Greater Yes. 

Prayer is God’s gift to draw us into a deeper, more vital relationship with himself. The songwriter says here, “I cried out to him with my mouth.” How often are your prayers literal cries? How often are they loud laments? The psalmist takes us along with him in the depths of his emotions, his gut reaction to what was happening in his life. He knew precisely where to turn and he did.

He began with praise. Praise is acknowledging God for who he is. It refocuses life. Instead of problems so big we are driven to our knees, we see how big God is and know his height and breadth and depth are the ultimate reality and the final word. How could we not praise him? How could we not remind ourselves of how good and loving and powerful he is?

Our writer inventoried his heart before he sought God’s. “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” The Message paraphrase says, “If I had been cozy with evil, the Lord would never have listened.” Those for whom prayer is sweet communion moment by moment and not merely an emergency method have fewer problems with the barriers of sin. It is highly unlikely we praise God and sin at the same time. The deeper our relationship with God, the shallower the allure of sin. 

Our songwriter declares, “but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer.” God listens. He answers. We respond with praise and thanksgiving. 

Praise be to God, 
         who has not rejected my prayer 
         or withheld his love from me!

This would be a good day to do what the apostles did when they said to Jesus, “Teach us to pray,” (Luke 11:1). When we learn to pray, we too will be able to say, “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me.”

I will learn to pray.

Our Father, teach me to pray. Teach me to align my heart and mind, will and ways with yours. I want to know and experience you in close relationship in all things at all times. I want prayer to become as natural as breathing out and breathing in. I want to turn away from self-centered requests to sharing your desires in all things at all times. Amen. 

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