Sunday, November 1, 2009

How to keep praying amidst life's troubles (church bulletin cover)

I've found that prayer can become a struggle if certain heartfelt prayers go unanswered for too long. In fact, I can feel tempted to quit praying for such things when they don't resolve. That's when I need to re-read Psalm 34.

The guy who wrote it was no stranger to troubles or to fear. He expressed that he needed deliverance from his fears and to be saved from his troubles (vv. 4, 6) and wrote that "many are the afflictions of the righteous" (v.19). So how then was he able to say, "I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth" (v.1)? How does he do that amidst so many troubles and fears? I'd like to know because I'd like to be that way myself! Well, there seem to be two things that the psalmist mentioned repeatedly for emphasis -- the fear of the Lord (vv.6, 9 11) and the act of seeking or calling out to the Lord (vv.4, 5, 10, 15, 17).

The way I see it, fearing God means seeing God as bigger than my troubles. I certainly don't want to make the troubles I face into idols that I cower before, fearing those troubles more than I revere God. When we truly practice the fear of God, we see Him as greater than anything else we may face, and nothing else should cause us to quake. So when I'm upset about a crisis that arises, I need to do as the psalmist did, and look to Him. Only then can I know the peace this psalm describes: "They looked to Him and were radiant" (v.4).

And if we fear the Lord in this way, it means we're dependent on God, which is exactly what's expressed when, like the psalmist, we seek or call out to God. And calling out to a mighty God who is worthy of such reverence can only result in one thing...
  • "I sought the Lord, and He answered me, and delivered me" (v.4)
  • "This poor man cried, and the Lord heard Him and saved him" (v.6)
  • "They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing" (v.10)
  • "The righteous cry, and the Lord hears and delivers them" (v.17)
This is because this God whom we fear "is good" (v.8) and "is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit" (v.18). What a comfort. And what an encouragement to pray even when troubles persist.

© 2009 by Ken Peters

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