pc-usa 2004-01-18 - Prayers in the Bible

Part 2

Psalm 56 (NASB)

1 Be gracious to me, O God, for man has trampled upon me;
Fighting all day long he oppresses me.

2 My foes have trampled upon me all day long,
For they are many who fight proudly against me.

3 When I am afraid,
I will put my trust in You.

4 In God, whose word I praise,
In God I have put my trust;
I shall not be afraid.
What can mere man do to me?

5 All day long they distort my words;
All their thoughts are against me for evil.

6 They attack, they lurk,
They watch my steps,
As they have waited to take my life.

7 Because of wickedness, cast them forth,
In anger put down the peoples, O God!

8 You have taken account of my wanderings;
Put my tears in Your bottle.
Are they not in Your book?

9 Then my enemies will turn back in the day when I call;
This I know, that God is for me.

10 In God, whose word I praise,
In the LORD, whose word I praise,

11 In God I have put my trust, I shall not be afraid.
What can man do to me?

12 Your vows are binding upon me, O God;
I will render thank offerings to You.

13 For You have delivered my soul from death,
Indeed my feet from stumbling,
So that I may walk before God
In the light of the living.

Note that the Psalmist lays out his problem before God at the beginning of the Psalm. He had just been captured by the enemy Philistines. He was a Prisoner of War. He laments that he has been trampled, but after only two verses, he begins to express his trust in God. Even in the midst of losing his freedom and having reason to fear for his safety, he says he shows his trust.

Then the Psalmist moves back to talking frankly with his Heavenly Father about the situation. Even though God knows what is happening already, the Psalmist tells him in his own words, about the slander and other offenses against him - not mincing words in the process. He is totally honest about his feelings of anger, asking to give him vengeance.

But then in verse 8, we find a moving reminder of God's tender love for us. According to David, God loves him so much that he takes account of every tear he has ever shed.

He winds up the prayer by praising God for His word and His care. So what do we learn? Again we are reminded that God desires an authentic relationship with us, and honest prayers-not flowery, formal phrases.

Think about your closest friendships. You probably don't hold back, speaking formally with "Thees" and "thous." There is no virtue in talking like a king from the 1600s (King James). The psalmists used their own vernacular. If we wanted to use Jesus' language, we'd have to learn Aramaic; just like the Psalmists, He didn't speak the language of 1600s England. He spoke and prayed in the everyday language of his day.

And God doesn't intend us to live in denial. I have heard people say things like"oh praise God, my son is dead - he's in glory, praise praise praise." Often those people later end up depressed, with drug problems etc. - and I know of a couple instances of suicide, when the people suppressed their grief and didn't allow themselves to be honest. That's not from God. He does allow us to be honest. If we don't learn anything else from the Psalms, may we learn that He wants us to betotally authentic with God, not to pretend. He understands our mixed feelings.

We also see that even in one of the worst imaginable circumstances, being held prisoner by an enemy who wanted him dead, he still praised God. We should praise God no matter what the circumstances, constantly reminding ourselves of God's care, and that He is right there with us -whether it's in a prison, a terminal illness, a difficulty at work, a distant marriage or whatever.

I encourage you (and myself) to talk honestly with God this week about our lives-and also to praise Him no matter what is happening around us.

Jan

[email jan] cfdevpray@juno.com
http://www.cfdevotionals.org