Thursday, August 09, 2007

Psalm 42

As I continue in my struggle with the “what, the wherefore, and the how-to” of prayer, my “thoughts” brought me this morning to Psalm 40 and 42.

As I read Psalm 40, I thought, “Wow! What a prayer!” But then, when I read 42, I cried out, “Oh God, You have heard the cry of my heart…”

Psalm 42:1-11 NLT
Psalm 42:1 As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God.

I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him?

Day and night I have only tears for food, while my enemies continually taunt me, saying, "Where is this God of yours?"

My heart is breaking as I remember how it used to be: I walked among the crowds of worshipers, leading a great procession to the house of God, singing for joy and giving thanks amid the sound of a great celebration!

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again -- my Savior and my God!

Now I am deeply discouraged, but I will remember you -- even from distant Mount Hermon, the source of the Jordan, from the land of Mount Mizar.

I hear the tumult of the raging seas as your waves and surging tides sweep over me. But each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me, and through each night I sing his songs, praying to God who gives me life.

“O God my rock,” I cry, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I wander around in grief, oppressed by my enemies?” Their taunts break my bones. They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”

Why am I discouraged? Why is my heart so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise him again -- my Savior and my God!

Charles Haddon Spurgeon says, “Although David is not mentioned as the author, this Psalm must be the offspring of his pen; it is so Davidic, it smells of the son of Jesse, it bears the marks of his style and experience in every letter. We could sooner doubt the author-ship of the second part of Pilgrim's Progress than question David's title to be the composer of this Psalm.

Subject - It is the cry of a man far removed from the outward ordinances and worship of God, sighing for the long-loved house of his God; and at the same time it is the voice of a spiritual believer, under depressions, longing for the renewal of the divine presence, struggling with doubts and fears, but yet holding his ground by faith in the living God.
Most of the Lord's family have sailed on the sea which is here so graphically described.
It is probable that David's flight from Absolom may have been the occasion for composing this Maschil.” (emphasis added.)

If you’ve ever longed for “the way it used to be.” If you’ve ever said, “My heart is breaking…” or “Now I am deeply discouraged…” then this Psalm is for you. For David said, “Why am I discouraged? Why so sad? I will put my hope in God! I will praise Him again - my Saviour and my God!”

David repeats this phrase in verse 5, and then again in verse 11. I think, the first time, on his knees in desperation, and the second time with fists uplifted in triumph and victory!

Did the circumstances change? Did the “situation” suddenly correct itself? No, but David changed.

The old saying is, “Prayer changes things…” but most often, prayer changes us!

Father, hear the cry of Your children - hear our cry when we are in despair, and hear our cry when we cling to the very hope of Your promise and Your salvation.

Change our circumstances when that is what brings You glory, or change us instead, when Your glory must come from another avenue.

And always, oh always may our hearts “long for You as the deer pants for streams of water…”

In the Name of the One who “arose while it was still early” to commune with You - in Jesus’ name - Amen.


Monday, August 06, 2007

Prayers for Teachers and School Staff 2007

I attended a luncheon recently at our local high school. Invitations were sent from the school staff to churches within the community. Anyone (pastors, staff, and laity) in the church, who wanted to come, was welcome.

Prayer cards were given out with 6-8 names of staff members on each. The people attending were encouraged to take the cards back to their church and to pray for them.

Everyone took a card… I wonder how many prayed for them. I stopped by the office and got a list of ALL the names…

How do you pray for your “prayer list”? Do you have a prayer list? How do you pray?

Oh Father… when Jesus taught us to pray, He started us out with “Our Father…” So, no matter “how” we come to the throne room - whether we come dragging ourselves as someone “dying of thirst” might drag themselves across the desert; or whether we come “peeping around the corner to see if the coast is clear”; or whether we come leaping and laughing and dancing - happy just to be in Your presence - we come as Your children - and that in itself is comforting…

But immediately after that He added “Who art in heaven…” and “hallowed be Thy Name…” so we can’t forget the majesty of who You are. You, and You alone, are GOD!

And so we struggle with the conflicting emotions of familiarity verses magnificence. We want to bow at Your feet, and yet at the same time, we want to climb up on Your lap, snuggle in, and rest ourselves in Your loving embrace…

And with You God, we can do all these things…

We bring You our praise, and our concerns. We bring You every tear and every giggle and everything else in between.

We bring You, sometimes, as now, just a list of names. For some we do, but for many we don’t know their needs, their concerns, or their joys - but You do. And so, we just bring the names.

This time it’s people who touch our children’s lives - who teach them and reach them in ways that we can’t. We pray for the “all”, in the “each” of them.

We pray for the “them” that sits down to pay the bills each month, and wonders how to make it “stretch.”

We pray for the “them” that goes to doctors’ appointments after school or on days’ off.

We pray for the “them” that worries or fears or bears a burden.

We pray for the “them” that cares for home, or children, or parents, or more likely, all at the same time, and we pray for the “them” that they bring to school - the part of them that they partition off and try not to let the other “thems” overwhelm.

I know, Lord. I’ve worn many hats, and been many things to many people. Sometimes (as You well remember) there were so many “hats” that I even lost “me” for a while…So, I pray for them, Lord - for all of each of them, that they keep a private part of themselves continually in Your presence, so that all that they are, can serve You.

“Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do - do all unto the Lord…”

We lift up teachers, administrative staff, support staff, office staff, guidance staff, athletic staff, lunchroom staff, and maintenance staff - every single person who has the opportunity to smile at a child - we pray for the heart and the home life behind that smile…

In Jesus’ Name - Amen.