Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Using the Psalms to pray

I have a friend in a very difficult situation. It's hard to know what to say or do and I feel utterly powerless listening to her story. I know God loves her and has a plan for her but I fail to comprehend why this is happening. I choose to trust God and keep the faith but I really don't understand.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've known about her situation for several months and have only recently committed to praying for her regularly. Oh sure I'd say the odd prayer and beseech God to intercede but not with any real fervor. I was busy, I was tired and it was too hard.

*whines* But God... Praying consistently is hard :(

Even now I often leave it until the last minute and sometimes forget. I'm trying to improve but once again I'm busy, I'm tired and it's too hard.

I've tackled that last problem by using passages from the Bible rather than searching for words and failing. If you find yourself in similar circumstances, with a horrible big, messy problem, and have no idea what to pray the psalms are a great place to start.

I've talked in the past about declaring God's Word for yourself but today I'm talking about declaring it on the behalf of others.

Due to the nature of my friend's circumstances very few people know about it, and those that do are not Christian. Who else will stand in the gap for her? Now don't misunderstand and think that you can take everyone's burdens on yourself and "fix" them. Get back in your box Miss Fix-It, this is the Lord's territory. I cannot fix her situation but I can pray to our Heavenly Father, I can intercede for her spiritually and command the enemy to leave her alone in the name of Jesus.

You may find it helpful to spend some time in God's Word, reading through the Psalms or whichever book you prefer. Perhaps God has a particular verse in mind and the Holy Spirit will guide you. But if you really don't know (like me!) I suggest starting with the Psalms. There are some powerful prayers and verses of encouragement from David and other writers.

For my friend I am currently using Psalm 57. There is no magic formula to this, this is not a magic spell to do away with all your problems. We have an enemy that seeks to kill and destroy so be prepared to dig in and persevere in prayer (this is advice to myself as much as it is to anyone else).

All authority we have comes from Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we pray and it is for his glory that we do this.

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6: 6)

One thing I've really appreciated in the Psalms is that no matter how awful the situation is, the author praises the Lord. The Lord is a constant source of goodness and holiness and He is worthy of our praise. So when you're stuck with a big, messy problem of epic proportions praise the Lord for He is good! Again, there is no formula but I have found that I am encouraged and uplifted by remembering Who it is I pray to. It encourages me to go forward with my requests knowing that my God is a good God, that He is a powerful God who loves us.

As an example I have put the prayer for my friend below. It is a framework, not a script, so let the Spirit guide you as you pray. Be prepared to sit and listen (something I find very difficult). The Lord hears us but He also speaks :)

Psalm 57: For her

Have mercy on her, my God, have mercy on her,
help her to take refuge in you.
Help her to take refuge in the shadow of your wings,
until the disaster has passed.

Prompt her to cry out to God Most High,
to God, who vindicates her.
He sends from heaven and saves her,
rebuking those who hotly pursue her -
God sends forth His love and His faithfulness.

She is in the midst of lions;
She is forced to dwell among ravenous beasts -
men whose teeth are spears and arrows,
whose tongues are sharp swords.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

They spread a net for her feet -
She was bowed down in distress.
They dug a pit in her path -
but they have fallen into it themselves.

Let her heart, O God, be steadfast,
let her heart be steadfast;
Let her sing and make music.
Awake, her soul!
Awake, harp and lyre!
May she awaken the dawn.

Teach her to praise you, Lord, among the nations;
to sing of you among the peoples.
For great is your love, reaching to the heavens;
your faithfulness reaches to the skies.

Be exalted, O God, above the heavens;
let your glory be over all the earth.

Photo credit:
(1) Public domain.
(2) Image by Tito and Eva Marie Balange via Flickr. Used under CC license.
(3) Image by Jhong Dizon (***TRIGGER WARNING***) via Eyes Rights. Used under CC license.