Monday, October 20, 2008

Thoughts on Psalm 1

Last year, Don Whitney spoke at Lake Placid Baptist Church on a Sunday morning, and the Lord used him in great ways to encourage us in our walk with Christ. One of the things he encouraged us to do was to pray through the Psalms.

With all apologies to Don for "Derek-phrasing" his method, here's what I heard him say: Read the Psalm, and pause every time a word or phrase causes you to notice a reason to pray. I'll demonstrate below, and tell you how this approach to prayer (I believe) is going to radically transform our prayer time at Lake Placid Baptist Church on Sunday nights, as well as transform the personal prayer time of those who will follow this approach.

This approach is not intended to be legalistic, boring or rote. It is intended to bring new life to your prayer time. See, too many times we get stuck in a rut with our prayer time, with a few phrases that we pray to get us going, a few requests here and a few "thank you's" there, and then we say "amen" and stop thinking about God the rest of the day. (Unless we get in trouble, and really need him, like if we're losing our retirement as the stock market crumbles or if we yell at our kids or need a big favor from God.) Paul tells us to "pray continually" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). This approach to prayer helps you to meditate on God and His Word long after your prayer time has ended.

You may just begin living a life of prayer to God

So, how would this work with Psalm 1?

Psalm 1
1 How happy is the man
who does not follow the advice of the wicked,
or take the path of sinners,
or join a group of mockers!
2 Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.
4 The wicked are not like this;
instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not survive the judgment,
and sinners will not be in the community of the righteous.
6 For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to ruin. Psalm 1:1-6 (HCSB)
Your prayer time might begin something like this:

"Lord, You are the only one who can make someone truly happy, the only one who brings true blessings. That's the kind of man I want to be -- one that is blessed by You. I see that all around me is wickedness, mockers, sinners. I don't want to be influenced by wicked, mocking, sinfulness. Help me to not walk in that way, help me to not to be influenced by evil. Lord, help me to remember that the people who are caught up in wickedess, mocking and sinfulness are held captive by Satan and they need to be freed by Christ.

"Lord, to be happy I must be a man who delights in Your instruction. Oh, let me meditate on Your Word day and night. Let me think about Your promises. Let me see how wonderful Your words are. The world thinks that Your Word is restricting, but Lord I know that Your Word is for my good, and for Your glory.

"Lord, plant me by the river of your living water. Don't let me be like a tree trying to grow in the desert, but rather nourish me by Your Word so that I will be strong, and will produce much fruit. Lord, help the fruit of the Spirit to be evident in my life: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Only You can produce spiritual fruit -- produce it in me! Lord, help me to see that You will prosper me in Your ways, in eternal ways.

"Lord, the wicked are like the chaff that blows away in the wind. They will not survive the judgment. Even if they had temporal success or fun in this world, they will not survive the judgment. Oh God, I don't want anyone I know to be included in this list of the wicked. I don't want my friends and family to go to hell. Lord, help them to see that You can make them righteous. Jesus died to forgive us of our sins. I pray for my friends who don't yet know You to turn from their sins and trust in You as Savior and Lord. Then they will be part of the community of the righteous. Lord, you watch over the way of those who have been made righteous by Christ, but You know that the way of the wicked will lead to ruin.

"Lord, thank you for Psalm 1. Thank you for all that it teaches me about You, and about my relationship with You. I love You, Lord. AMEN."

So, that's an example of how to pray a Psalm. I look forward to the next three years, as I journey with God in prayer, one Psalm per week, for the next 150 weeks. I'll blog some of the entries, hopefully to encourage you in your walk with Christ.

We are praying for a Great Awakening for North America. Lord, let it begin in Lake Placid.

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