Every Thursday morning for the past 35 weeks or so, a team from WordServe Church has been gathering early in the morning to pray. How do I know how long we’ve been at it?
Because every week we pray using one of the Psalms as our guide. We follow a basic formula:
- We settle, then we sing
- We read a Psalm (just going right in order)
- We reflect on the attributes of God in that Psalm and lift praises and thanks
- We reflect on our reaction & response to those Psalms
- And then… we finally lift up our requests to God on behalf of ourselves, our community, and the world.
It’s amazing at how this model changes our prayer requests and the way we approach God. Would you like to know how?
I noticed my prayer requests get bigger. I don’t mean my list of things for God to do for me grows, I mean I start praying about things that are way outside my ability to influence… things that are bigger than I can imagine. They are bold prayers that celebrate a big God. They are prayers that inspire me to be a part of something bigger than just an everyday existence.
They are prayers worthy of a God who is on the move!
I wish I could take credit for this model, but that belongs to author Daniel Henderson. His book (Transforming Prayer: How Everything Changes When You Seek God’s Face) has been instrumental in re-energizing my prayer life. That’s where I get the phrase, “To seek God’s face before we seek God’s hand.”
I know most folks in our church can’t make it to downtown Fulshear, TX on Thursday at 6am. And I certainly know that many folks reading this blog can’t either. But what if we all agreed to pray the Psalms together… seeking God’s face… on Thursdays?
And what if, on Thursdays, I could share a glimpse of something that came up in prayer (a reflection) and y’all could share the same through comments? I’ll bet we’d see just how big God is and how much God is at work in the wide world around us! Feel free to jump in!
Here is one section that jumped out at me this morning:
“Don’t let my treacherous enemies rejoice over my defeat. Don’t let those who hate me without cause gloat over my sorrow. They don’t talk of peace; they plot against innocent people who mind their own business. They shout, “Aha! Aha! With our own eyes we saw him do it!”” (Psalm 35:19–21 NLT)
How often have you been there? People hating you without cause… gloating over setbacks and sorrow in your life? It’s the same reference Jesus uses in John 15:25 as he warns us that people will hate us without cause… just as they hated Jesus.
But are we supposed to just sit there and take it?
Read on in Psalm 35 and you’ll see the Psalmist ask God to rise up in his defense and to shame his accusers. That’s what I would have said, even without the record of this Psalm.
But as I reflected this morning… in light of the whole of Scripture… two things stood out:
First… look at how those who hate without cause are brought down. Throughout the Psalm, they are defeated by the very traps and snares they laid for others (e.g., verse 8). I’m comforted by the idea that those who plot evil will eventually reap what they sow. But I’m alarmed at the idea that I might be the one sowing! I ask God to guide my steps… to prevent me from being the one to lay traps and dig pits.
Second… the idea of bringing praise to God at the end of the day as God has vindicated us stood out, especially in light of this New Testament verse (which the Psalmist would not have had access to):
“Be careful to live properly among your unbelieving neighbors. Then even if they accuse you of doing wrong, they will see your honorable behavior, and they will give honor to God when he judges the world.” (1 Pet 2:12 NLT).
And I’m thinking to myself, the only thing better than ME giving praise to God at the end of the day is for OTHERS to end up giving praise to God because they have seen the Spirit living in me.
For all who are hated without cause… persecuted… hassled… live with the integrity that God calls us to, by the power of the Spirit, and watch God be honored! God will rise up and rescue when we stay the course.
I pray you face this day filled with God’s grace and peace….
We’ll see you next week with Psalm 36!