Prizing Prayer’s Privilege

Before Bambi shares how Scripture memory impacted her prayer life, I want to tell you about a new resource—the Seeking Him Scripture memory cards. These beautifully designed cards have verses from God’s Word to focus your heart on seeking God and the True Hope that only He can provide. Use them as a memory tool or as prayer prompts for your devotional time. You can get a set this month for your gift of any amount to support this blog and Revive Our Hearts. (Or you can pick up additional sets anytime in our store.) —Hayley Mullins, True Woman Blog Content Manager

I recently finished an unhurried, two-year exploration of Psalm 119. It was not my intention to hang out in those pages for so long. I initially came to it looking for a good Scripture memory assignment for our family. I knew Psalm 119 contained verses about Scripture memory and Bible reading, and I thought it would be great for us to learn those verses together, in context.

Other than that, my thoughts on Psalm 119 were this: It’s long. It’s repetitive. It speaks in generalities and seems to say the same things over and over.

But the Word of God is active and alive. Once our family memorized the first sixteen verses by singing them together (one of my favorite memorization tools!), I realized that Psalm 119 was so much more than repetitious and the means to an end of Bible-reading discipline. This was a private conversation I was overhearing. The Psalmist (most scholars feel that the writer was David) was engaged with God in secret prayer, and I was listening in. I wanted to milk each word for the beauty it held.

Simple Prayer

Have you ever been in earshot of someone whose public praying drew you into communion with God, too? The way they approach Him, speaking statements of faith that are shaped by the Scriptures, and even the things they thank Him for and ask Him for demonstrate that this person is on speaking terms with God. I have. It’s just one more beautiful way that God uses the Body to build up the faith of His people. I leave church reflecting on the prayer of a fellow saint as much as I do the sermon.

This experience is similar to what I discovered in Psalm 119. I see a man who knows how to be forthright about who he is without being self-righteous. He speaks of his great weakness, frailty, and life troubles without indulging in self-pity. He tells, without fear of disapproval, of his joys and sufferings. He lays every card on the table in complete honesty before God. He persistently asks for mercy for what should be the fear of every one of us—not to be left to himself. This man was keenly aware of the deceptive ways of his own heart.

I came to understand Psalm 119 as relentless, not repetitive. It is enduring and passionate in affirmations, resolutions, and simple requests to be delivered from the evil without and the evil within. The Psalmist wastes no words:

  • “I am yours; save me” (v. 94).
  • “Let your hand me ready to help me, for I have chosen your precepts” (v. 173).
  • “Plead my cause and redeem me; give me life according to your promise!” (v. 154).
  • “Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law” (v. 153).
  • “When will you comfort me?” (v. 82).
  • “How long must your servant endure” (v. 84).

This is prayer that nourishes faith and hope and strengthens the soul. This is prayer that changes how we process life. The Psalmist has a vivid sense of how God’s good purposes work out, and he experiences hope and comfort alongside the painful realities of his life. Dozens of times he rejoices, delights, gives thanks, and sings praises. His pain drives him outward, hoping in God, rather than inward to despondency toward his circumstances.

When We Don’t Want to Pray

At times, our minds are empty, our hearts are cold, and we do not want to pray. Our Bibles become routine, and we see nothing new there. The Psalmist also spoke about this in verse 18: “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” He knew the temptation to become duty-driven only in prayer, as well as hooked on worldly distractions (v. 37). He recognizes that he is susceptible to focusing on the wrong things.

As believers, we should feel our insufficiency and our total dependence on God, especially in how we pray. As long as we feel that reliance on God, then we will pray without ceasing as we have been commanded. It is when we start to behave as if God were not necessary to our lives that the passionate longing for Him and yearning for His help will be missing. Let’s long for and yearn for true and passionate prayer.

We must come to Him, even and especially when the fire is lacking. In grieving, honest confession of our sin, let’s admit our reluctance and emotionless attitude and express that we’re not content with it. To approach God with our lips while our hearts are far from Him is hypocrisy. Sadly, all of us fall under this indictment at times. Sin will follow us into the very presence of God, leading us to take shortcuts in every spiritual discipline. And when we submit to this subtle temptation enough, it eventually becomes the pattern of our lives without us realizing it.

A living faith such as I saw in Psalm 119 will see our own deep need, right alongside God’s sufficiency. It is because the Psalmist peers into his own dull heart that he continuously begs God to help him out of these common-to-all-of-us snares. At least eight times, he asks to be revived (vv. 25, 40, 88, 107, 149, 154, 156, 159).

An Astounding Privilege

It is a gift of grace that we may come to the throne of God anytime we like and have a conversation with the Lord of all the earth. He, who created the earth and all that is in it, wants to hear from us. To know we have His ear should astound us.

Yet it is not a conversation that we initiate. God Himself initiated the conversation when He spoke by His Word. He spoke, revealed Himself, and then made His Son known to us. He created the world and people and then, by His mighty power, recreates those that are His (2 Cor. 4:14).

Thus, let every prayer we utter be in response to what He has said about who He is, what He has done, and what He will do. We may ask and plead and make many requests, but these ought to flow first from His initiating. It is because of His fullness rather than our emptiness that we pray. We do not first pray to get from God but to get God. This is the heart of real prayer.

The fact that the God who speaks also listens with an ear ready to hear our cries should take our breath away.

Lord, we are not content with vague and general prayers. May we never approach You with our mouths when our hearts are far from You. But only You can make it so. We can read the Word; we can quote it. We want to live it. In simple but firm faith, we want to meet disappointments, sufferings, unmet desires, failing bodies, straying children, church disunity, marriage conflicts, sleepless nights, and our sins of lust, bitterness, pride, and jealousies head on. We believe that You are who You say You are and You’ll do what You promise. Help our unbelief. Make us believe it, for we stray like sheep. Seek Your servants, Lord.

 

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About the Author

Bambi Moore

Bambi Moore

Bambi is an ordinary woman who is dead to sin and alive to God in Christ. She is a pastor’s wife and mom of ten. She makes a home for her family in Texas and enjoys reading, hospitality, and nature walks with her children. Bambi blogs at www.bambimoore.wordpress.com.

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