“I Peter 4:7b Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray.”
This book of I Peter and my absorption with current events have made it clear I really need to pray for our country and our government. There IS a constructive purpose to being “alert and of sober mind” than goes beyond consuming information…”so you may pray.” Sometimes praying is complicated and information doesn’t always make things clearer when it evokes so much emotion.
Recently our pastor has spoken about how he deals with the complexity of who, what and how to pray by using the familiar words of the Lord’s Prayer as his basic outline to filter the events and emotions of his own life. That’s certainly what I need.
OK, OK, OK…to I Peter, to the Pastor…and to practicing what Jesus preached in Matthew 6 when he said “This, then, is how you should pray…” I’ve got information, now I need basic application.
Thanks to Brad Boydston for these prayer ideas he’s made available so what Jesus taught can become a personal reality.
Psalm 119:169-176 ת Taw – Sign, Branded Mark, “T”
169 May my cry come before you, Lord; give me understanding according to your word.
170 May my supplication come before you; deliver me according to your promise.
171 May my lips overflow with praise, for you teach me your decrees.
172 May my tongue sing of your word, for all your commands are righteous.
173 May your hand be ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts.
174 I long for your salvation,Lord, and your law gives me delight.
175 Let me live that I may praise you, and may your laws sustain me.
176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.
Today is the last post on Psalm 119. The first was on July 18. Each of those 74 days I’ve assumed these titles for the 22 sections, written in this way, were to be a meditative hint. The Psalmist has definitely saved the best for last.
He’s weathered the storms of life by hanging onto this; God is the only sure thing. That’s the high note of this final section. His emotions might not always be able to keep up with that confidence but he knows he can count on God to find a way to bridge that gap. That’s the basis of everything he asks as he ends this chapter and chooses this very special last title.
The ancient image of Taw is a type of “mark,” probably of two sticks crossed to mark a place and meaning “sign” and “signature.” The Psalmist has chosen to end his song of faith and survival with this signature that is the inspired sign of our future…the cross.
Psalm 119:153-160 ר Resh – Head
153 Look on my suffering and deliver me,
for I have not forgotten your law.
154 Defend my cause and redeem me;
preserve my life according to your promise.
155 Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek out your decrees.
156 Your compassion, Lord, is great;
preserve my life according to your laws.
157 Many are the foes who persecute me,
but I have not turned from your statutes.
158 I look on the faithless with loathing,
for they do not obey your word.
159 See how I love your precepts;
preserve my life, Lord, in accordance with your love.
160 All your words are true;
all your righteous laws are eternal.
The Psalmist’s knows where to turn for help. That’s good, but stress and pain have created a disconnect between his heart and what he knows God can do that shows up in the see-saw emotions of these verses. That’s not good.
The same heart that knows God can save him out of his evil circumstances, judges “Salvation is far from the wicked, for they do not seek out your decrees.” The same heart that on one hand says “Your compassion, Lord, is great; preserve my life according to your laws” says …”I look on the faithless with loathing for they do not obey your word.” That’s heart trouble that’s hard to ignore…even for a Psalmist.
Maybe he’s chosen Resh – head, to title this section because in his heart he knows the promises, laws, statutes and decrees of God stored in his head are more trustworthy than his emotions. “All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.”
Matthew 21 [excerpts] 1As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me…8 A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted, “Hosanna [a Hebrew expression meaning “Save!” which became an exclamation of praise] to the Son of David!” “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”
For a moment as I read about Jesus entry into Jerusalem I thought how his heart must have swelled at this reception. Then I remembered he knew what was in the heart of man. He also knew the conflicting emotions of his future from “thy will be done” to “take this cup from me.” It’s much easier for me to imagine Jesus being welcomed into Jerusalem by a cheering crowd than to realize he knew he was facing a gut wrenching human choice as well. This day begins The Week of Reality as Jesus completes his identity with our humanity to give us the opportunity to complete our identity as sons and daughters of God. “Hosanna in the highest heaven!”