The Psalms Prayer Series
Many of the Psalms reference imagery that gives us an ability to express our hearts and to know comfort. Such as: The Lord is my rock and fortress who reaches down and draws me out of deep waters. Or: he makes my feet like the feet of a deer and enables me to stand on the heights.
One of most comforting imagery in the Psalms is related to sight. Time and again, the Psalms remind us that we’re not hidden from God’s sight. He sees and he cares for us, but at times it feels as though God plays hide and seek, and we’re left blind folded as we stumble for our next step.
Do you ever feel as though you can’t see? It’s as though confusion and darkness swirl around you and each time you think your vision is about to clear, another gust of wind blows through your life. It’s wearying and demoralizing. So we cry out to him and he answers, but do we hear him?
It’s like a little one who hit her head, and whose loud cries drown her mother’s voice. Her pain consumes her reality and she cannot receive comfort because she cannot hear it. We can be like that little one too. We can be so immersed in our pain that we cannot hear God’s whisper so we determine that he’s not there at all. But today’s Psalm reminds us of the truth that he does hear and he is with us.
“You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order than man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more.” Psalm 10:17-18
In this Psalm, we see that we will be afflicted, we will need defending, we will feel alone and oppressed. These are the realities of a broken life. Sometimes we’ll be bombarded by all four of them, and other times we’ll experience a reprieve. Life consists of deep valleys, dry desserts, lush meadows, and high mountaintops.
We have this life race to consider and this abundant life that Jesus promises happens in the middle of the journey. Abundance doesn’t equate to physical prosperity, but an abundance of heart and joy and love and peace and fruit of the spirit. That’s our abundance. And we can have it now.
But. When life feels sparse and cheap, it’s easy to forget that God is still with us. And this Psalm reminds us that he hears our cries, and he encourages us by listening to us and defending us, which means that we might need to hush and be still, resting in him.
A Prayer for Your Heart
Holy Lord, we bless you for your unwavering commitment to us despite our fears, losses, and disappointments. Life is hard. And good. Give us grace to navigate it with peace and acknowledgement of you through it all. Sometimes it seems as though you are hiding and we cannot find you no matter how hard we seek you. Lord, forgive us for doubting your presence and power and lead is into your nearness. Let the truth that you hear our cry settle deep within our heart and may we look to you for encouragement when all we feel is discouraged. You hear our cry and not just hear us, but you listen to us. You are our listening ear and our constancy in our rather inconsistent life. Let us grow in you, rest in you, and depend on you more and more. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
The Psalms have long comforted me and continue to do so because they have taught me how to express honest emotion. The sludge that hides deep in my heart is given a voice. And they show me that even when I screw up, there’s hope.
Further, the Psalms give us an overview of God’s faithfulness towards the Israelites and reminds us that he is faithful to us. Here in this book, we can learn about God, his heart for mankind, and insight into how our heart behaves. God’s heart is for us, and his righteousness and kindness calls us up and onward.
So The Psalms Prayer Series will contain a portion of Psalms, a little explanation, and a prayer for your heart. Prayer unites us so that our souls know we’re not alone. (Do you ever feel alone? I do.) Prayer creates community and God shows up when we pray. Let’s meet him there.
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name. I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever. For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” Psalms 86:11-13 NIV
Does your heart ever feel divided? Mine does. It wrestles back and forth like a tug o’war and eventually I fall “splat” in the mud. It races through the cycle of trust and worry, worry and trust. My heart gives problems to God and snatches them right back. It wrestles with control and surrender. It wants what it wants more than it wants what God wants.
An undivided heart is tied to fear. And this is what I know: there’s fear that lies and convinces us that we are beyond redemption and that’s the kind that leads to death. But then there’s the fear that brings us life and that is an awareness of the power of God and that there’s no one like him. It’s here that what was once divided is made whole.
His love rescues, redeems, and restores and we glorify him through praise and obedience. As he teaches us his way, we walk in his truth.
You are beyond magnificent. You are glorious and righteous in all your ways. You lead us into righteousness and truth. May we walk in you, with you, for you, and towards you. Oh God, teach us your ways for our ways are filled with confusion, doubt, and wrong turns.
Guide us to walk in your truth, every day, every moment, and let us reach for you before a word leaves our mouth. Oh Lord, our hearts are divided and may we have hearts that are singularly yours–wholly and completely–not wavering, but steadfast and that is only found in you. Let us turn to you for unity, for strength, and for love.
Lord, we praise you–with all our hearts, minds, souls, and strength. Let us glorify your name as we navigate the difficulties this life presents. Our hearts are yours, Lord, all of it, all of us, for your love is great towards us because you have delivered us. The grave cannot hold you, and it cannot prevent you from bringing new life to our heart. Great is your love and we proclaim it in the dark and in the day, in the sun and in the rain, in the depths of despair and the ecstasy of joy.
In Jesus’ name, Amen
Read Psalm 86 in its entirety.
The lyric’s significance rushed over me. The words reverberated in my head and grew wildly in my heart as I realized the power within them.
“If I have you, I have everything. But without you, I have nothing. If I have you, I have everything, but without you, I have nothing.”
And right there, face pressed into the shag of the bedside rug, I laid it all down. Jesus, my everything, even if I have nothing. The nothing represented by loss, sorrow, and void. Dreams that seemed like dust swept away. Hopes that bore no fruit.
But to still have Jesus is joy. As the power of those words rushed over me, I thought of our series on joy and saw how the lyrics supported the idea that joy isn’t a fluctuating emotion, but joy is completed in Jesus.
Jesus Completes Our Joy
Prior to knowing Christ, we’re captives to sin. But when we receive Christ, he ransoms us from captivity. “The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” Isaiah 51:11
Jesus paid our ransom and gave us new life so that we might return to God. Our heads are crowned with everlasting joy, and as we allow salvation’s gladness to overwhelm us, our sorrow and sighing abate.
But as we learn to live this new life, we discover that renewing our mind is a process, and we struggle against sinful behavior because of the battle between the flesh and the spirit that rages inside our heart.
And we, like David in Psalm 51, can cry out for a clean heart and we can pray, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit to sustain me.” Psalm 51:12
Jesus completes our joy when he rescues us from a life of eternal separation from the Lord. He took this captive–bound by her sin–and set her free. He can do the same for you.
The Old Testament Israelites show us that outward rules and regulations don’t change the heart. Jesus makes a way for hearts to unite with the Father’s. God is joyous. He delights in you and me. He looks upon us with joy, but he’s holy, righteous, and just too.
And so Jesus made a way that enabled God to write his heart on our hearts, to complete the joy he has about us in us through Jesus. We don’t have to live our lives separate from God, thinking that salvation comes through what we do.
Salvation is God’s free gift through belief in his son. He asks us to believe.
Will you believe?
“Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.” 1 Peter 1:8-9
Joy is like the fireworks painting the night on the fourth of July. You anticipate it, but you don’t know exactly when it will happen. You hear the explosion, the sky lights up, and sparkles with the designs of the creator.
Salvation’s joy is like that firework display that elicits ooo’s and aah’s and smiles that stretch a mile wide.
We’re saved from captivity, ransomed for freedom and joy overflows.
We believe and then we’re invited to abide. John 15:10-11 states, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandantst and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Abiding takes place as we surrender, submit, and obey the Lord.
Imagine a tank of water and standing beside it is someone holding a bolt in one hand and a piece of wood in the other and drops them both into the tank.
The bolt sinks. The wood floats.
But if the bolt is attached to the wood, the nature of the wood transfers to the bolt and the bolt floats.
If we attempt to live this Christian life in our own strength and understanding, we’re like the bolt and we sink. But if we abide in Christ and take on his nature, we float.
Jesus completes God’s joy because he ransomed and saved us.
Our joy is complete when we believe and abide in him.
Listen to: Always Enough by Kari Jobe