The Word for today:
mark this: Psalms 77:7-9
Will the Lord cast off forever? And will He be favorable no more? Has His mercy ceased forever? Has His promise failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has He in anger shut up His tender mercies?
"Lord, teach us to pray." (Luke 11:1)
What did the disciple mean when he asked Jesus to "Teach us to pray." I mean, who has to learn how to pray? Isn't that something that comes naturally, like breathing or blinking? What's to learn?
I'm not exactly sure what the disciple was asking. But if ever anyone were to ask me to teach him about prayer, I would refer him to the book of Psalms. And so to the Psalms I refer you.
***Look at the Psalms like a textbook on prayer. Then ask yourself, "Do I pray like this?"
Do you? I'm afraid that I don't.
I don't often talk to God aloud (77:1).
I don't often stretch forth my hands toward him (77:2).
I don't relive the times he saved me in the past (77:5, 12-20).
I wouldn't begin to ask God the questions in these verses (77:7-9).
Why don't we pray like that? I don't know, but I'll take a guess. My guess is that we've learned prayer from people who don't pray like that, so we in turn don't pray like that. Pity our children, who are learning from us not to pray like that!
But we can learn to pray like Jesus if we erase some of our customs and assumptions and start anew.
Begin by opening to the middle of your Bible--to Psalm 77, for example. Now start by reading this psalm as a prayer to God. You will have to slightly adjust the tenses to make it your prayer, but you can do it.
For example, turn this:
I cried out to God with my voice, to God with my voice; and He gave ear to me (77:1)
I am crying out loud, I mean out loud to you, because I know you listen.
When I was in distress, I sought the Lord;
at night I stretched out untiring hands
and my soul refused to be comforted (77:2)
I'm in trouble, deep. I've been looking for you,
literally reaching out to you all night,
but even that didn't work.
Now remember that you are crying out loud, so don't just think these lines, say 'em! And get a hand in the air. Don't forget to review the times he helped and saved you. And start asking him questions you wouldn't dare ask before.
OK, we're beginning to pray like Jesus. We're beginning to unlearn some of our old prayer patterns and habits.
God would not have put a prayer book right smack in the middle of the Bible if he didn't want us to pray just like the Psalms, just like Jesus.