"The unfolding of your words gives light ..." (Psalm 119:130a)

Category: Prayer (Page 1 of 7)

The Promise-led Life

“And now, O LORD, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.” (1 Chron. 17:26)

We happen upon David as he prays (vv.16-27) in response to God’s gracious initiative to him (vv.1-15). The Lord had promised to build David a “house” (i.e., a dynasty). In so doing, God promised to put one of David’s sons on his throne and that son would be the one to build Him a “house” (i.e., a temple). We can see, thus, the keyword throughout this chapter is “house.” In response to this divine grace and promise David responded in humble, overwhelmed faith.

Though this is a unique moment in God’s saving plan, David’s response to the Lord illustrates what should be our response to God in His gracious dealings with us through Jesus. He has told us that in Jesus “all the promises of God find their Yes” (2 Cor. 1:20). We too, then, like David, should sit before the Lord (1 Chron. 17:16) amazed by His grace, an open Bible before us, our finger on the promise of God, praying, “O LORD, you are God, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.”

In this way, by faith, through Christ we claim the gracious promises of God made to us.

Consider more closely David’s response that we might be the more careful to make it our own.

We begin by approaching the “LORD.” The English translation uses all capitals to signal that the original Hebrew text has here God’s personal name, Yahweh. This name was revealed to Moses at the burning bush as he wondered at God’s promise to use him to bring His people out of slavery (Exodus 3:14). It is related to the Hebrew verb “be.” He is the great “I AM.” Wherever we are and whatever we face, God is “I AM.” Not “I was.” Not just “I will be.” “I AM” in this moment with you everything I have ever been or will be. It signals that God is eternal, yes. He is without beginning or end. But it further sets God before us as self-existing, without dependence upon anything beyond Himself. Before anything else was, God was, undiminished and utterly complete. If all else were suddenly vaporized, God would still exist without compromise or need, for His being and existence arise from within Himself and are dependent upon nothing. He comes to us and out of nothing in us but everything within Him, He makes and keeps a covenant of grace with us through His Son. One expression of that grace is the promise upon which you have placed your finger today.

But He is also here designed “God.” The Hebrew here is Elohim. It emphasizes His sovereignty and power. Nothing can oppose what He wills. Nothing can block Him in fulfilling His promises. What God in His grace wills cannot but come to pass!

So with Bible open, your heart bowed before this magnificent God and LORD, your finger on one of His gracious promises in the Bible, you pray: “you have promised this good thing to your servant.” This kind of faith is not presumptuous. It merely follows God’s lead. It is not brash. It honors the God who spoke the promise with every intention of fulfilling it in His children’s lives.

But note the way you designated yourself: “your servant.” Take a moment and reestablish that fact before the Lord in prayer. Take that place at the foot of His throne. Humble yourself.  Wait until you can do so authentically, then tell Him: “I am bowed at your feet, poised to do your will. Whatever, wherever, with whomever, for however long is required. I am ready to do your will, O Lord, but as I am, I have my finger on this, your promise, to me. I hold it up before you. As I rise and go to do your will only to return to bow again at your feet, I do so with the bold expectation that you will uphold your promise, make it my experience, and thus prove your faithfulness.”

These are not magic words. But this is the path to laying hold of and living in the fulfillment of God’s promises to us in the Bible.

Lord, make this promise-led, promise-fed, promise-tread path be our perpetual experience with you in this world. Amen.

Final Prayer

I stand condemned by all I’ve done

My every sin demands its due

And I am guilty, it is true

But my final prayer is “Jesus”


Jesus, only Jesus

His sweet name

Undoes the blame

Jesus, only Jesus

No other name can do the same


My accusers have risen up

All their tales they have told

Yet not one has gained a hold

For my final prayer is “Jesus”


Jesus, only Jesus

His sweet name

Undoes my shame

Jesus, only Jesus

No other name can do the same


All my enemies gather ‘round

They surround my sorry soul

They demand I pay their toll

But my final prayer is “Jesus”


Jesus, only Jesus

His sweet name

Breaks their claim

Jesus, only Jesus

No other name can do the same


Earthly life now quickly fades

My final breaths flee away

I must let go, come what may

My final prayer is “Jesus”


Jesus, only Jesus

His sweet name

I whisper low

Jesus, only Jesus

My last plea as on I go


Jesus, only Jesus

His sweet name

None is the same

Jesus, only Jesus

All other names are said in vain


Jesus, only Jesus …


The Tension of Faith

“I waited patiently for the LORD; he inclined to me and heard my cry . . . You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (Psalm 40:1, 17)

David used an inclusion to wrap this psalm. The first and last verses are devoted to the same theme, though they observe it from opposite sides. Verse one is a testimony; verse 17 is a plea. Both regard the timing of waiting on God to act and to deliver. Verse 1 — David was patient and God listened to his prayer, answered him, and delivered him. Verse 17 — David is in trouble again, trying to be patient as he waits on God to act and deliver him.

This is descriptive of our journey with God in this world, is it not?

We live between personal testimony and potential tragedy; between answered prayer and anxious prayer; between great deliverance and growing danger; between “God, you did it!” and “God, come do it!”

“God has acted. He has saved. He has delivered. I will never be the same.”

“God, I need you! I’m in trouble! Please hurry!”

Our faith relationship to God in this world will always exist within this tension. Why am I constantly surprised that my faith continues to be stretched and exercised?

(image: careerbuilder.com)

Good AT and Good FOR

We all want to figure out what God wants from us. What is His will for your life? What does He require of you? What ought you to be and do?

It struck me not long ago that in pursuit of answers to these kinds of questions we each must consider not only what God has made me good at, but also what has God made me good for.

The answer to the former is found in discerning what God has done in imparting to you spiritual gifts, natural talents, and shaping experiences. Figuring out what you are good at is a matter of competency and skill. You might be good at car repair, football, sewing, computers, baking, nuclear physics, etc.

The answer to the latter is found in discovering and discerning what God has done in shaping your heart. Discovering what you are good for is a matter of calling and character. It is harder to quantify this isn’t it? In fact it might be easier to describe what you are no good for – things for which you just don’t have the heart and for which you just can’t sustain the passion.

What you are good at, we might say, is a matter of the hands. What you are good for is a matter of the heart.

Both are vital. But it seems to me that a person might be good at certain things, but also only good for doing that in a certain arena or for a certain cause or purpose. You can use gifts, talents and the like for many things. After all a great writer could compose cheap and bawdy literature that debases the human soul or she could write with style and substance that imparts life and hope to her readers.

Does it make sense to say that what you are good for has to define and direct what you are good at?

A person who has discovered what God has made them good at is a person who has direction and a future to pursue. But a person who has also discovered what he is good for finds the field of possibilities drastically narrowed—not because he doesn’t possess the skill for some matters, but because God has spoiled his heart for anything other than what He has made him for.

So are you asking more questions about what you are good at or what you are good for? Some people would settle to know what they are good at. They would love to be the best in the world (or even in their school or family or on their block) at something. But that can be an ego-driven matter. We need to know what God has made us good at, but we can’t stop there.  We must know what God has made us good for. For then we can not only do our best, we can do it for the glory of God and with all the passion and purpose for which He gave us the abilities in the first place. When we discover what we are good for we begin to move from just doing, to doing as doxology.

The longer I live I find myself asking more of the second level questions than the first level. I’m wondering if that’s the case for you too.

Prayer and the Great Commission

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

“Continue steadfastly in prayer … pray … for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ …” (Colossians 4:2-3)

What is the role of prayer in the advance of the gospel? How does God intent His people to “pray forward” the gospel to those who have yet to hear?

Our congregation recently considered these questions and would like you to join us by listening here: Prayer and the Great Commission

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