Tag: prayer (page 1 of 7)

Calling on the Name of the Lord

Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
    make known among the nations what he has done. – Psalm 105:1 (NIV)

What does it mean to proclaim the name of the Lord?

At best, it sounds like the formal and churchy terminology found in many worship songs. At worst, it creates an awkward picture of someone standing on a street corner shouting the Lord’s name at random people passing by.

Either way, it doesn’t strike me as very personal.

When I look at the Hebrew for proclaim, the word is qara’, which means to call out. But that is not all.

It also means to “encounter.”

When I think about the name of the Lord, I look at Exodus 3:14, when God proclaims the identity Yahweh, “I AM.”

Psalm 105

What does it mean to encounter I AM?

Suddenly, what once felt formal and distant, feels intimate and powerful. And I’m reminded how so much in what prayer and praise feels like returns to how we view God.

Are we on the ground, shouting to the sky, hoping God might hear us if we perform up to the standards of a great Diety?

Or are we going about our lives while encountering the a loving God whose presence is both beyond us and with us in all things?

Jesus talked a lot about having ears to hear and eyes to see. Maybe He was calling us to the same thing as this Psalm: an intimate encounter with the great I AM.

And with that, the second half of the verse also feels completely different. Perhaps we are not telling others about what God has done in order to appease the Lord’s need to be recognized, but instead experiencing and overflow of gratefulness for the ways we have felt and seen and experienced Yahweh’s nearness to us.

Encounter I AM.

Maybe that means pushing away the noise and finding space in which you can hear Yahweh speak to your heart. Or maybe it means leaving yourself open to find Yahweh in the places you’d least expect God to be.

That was my reflection on Psalm 105. Link up with your own thoughts below. And stop back next week when Psalms Journey heads to Psalm 106.

What do we do with vengeance Psalms? Here are 4 ideas.

Psalm 94 is one of those sections of Scripture that you run across and wonder what to do with it.

I mean, it starts with the address, “O LORD, the God of vengeance.”

That’s not usually how I begin my prayers. God of love? Sure. God of grace? Definitely. God of vengeance? Not so much.

Just a wild guess, but I’m thinking I’m not alone in that one.

So if you are like me, what do you do with Psalms like these? Psalms that feel prickly, archaic, and detached from the faith we practice day in and day out?

What do we do with vengeance Psalms? Here are a few things that come to mind as I read Psalm 94.

1. Pray their words.

Yup, I know it sounds crazy, but maybe we need to pray some words like these more often. In my middle class, comfortable, suburban American life, it’s easy for me to lose touch with the groaning of this tired and broken world.

But this world does groan, doesn’t it?

“all creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. And we believers also groan, even though we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, for we long for our bodies to be released from sin and suffering.” –Romans 8:22-23

And if we are in touch with this reality, shouldn’t we groan, too? Shouldn’t we cry out to our Lord along with the Psalmist,

“How long, O LORD?
How long will the wicked be allowed to gloat?
How long will they speak with arrogance?
How long will these evil people boast?” –Psalm 94:3-4

In crying out, we lean into our faith that God will one day make things right. And oh, how beautiful that day will be.

2. Wrestle with their words.

There are phrases in psalms like these that make my hair stand on end.

“He punishes the nations—won’t he also punish you?
He knows everything—doesn’t he also know what you are doing?
The LORD knows people’s thoughts;
he knows they are worthless!” –Psalm 94:10-11

But instead of running away from that yucky feeling, what if we move towards it? What if we research what was going on at the time and place in which they were written? What if we looked for threads that could still be true today?

Maybe looking for answers would do more to strengthen our faith than to weaken it.

Psalm 943. Find comfort in their words.

Most Psalms are not filled with only one emotion. In the midst of frustrated cries for justice and vengeance, the Psalmist still manages to cry out with words of hope.

“I cried out, “I am slipping!”
but your unfailing love, O LORD, supported me.
When doubts filled my mind,
your comfort gave me renewed hope and cheer.” – Psalm 94:18-19

I love that picture of God supporting us while we slip. (In fact, it reminds me of what I wrote about last week!)

4. Find God in their words.

There’s an important characteristic of God shown throughout all the Psalms, perhaps vengeance Psalms more than any other:

God’s unconditional love for us can be trusted.

It is safe to bring our whole selves, our honest selves, and our hidden selves, before God.

This Psalm, and others like it, doesn’t clarify the theological accuracy or morality of its requests. But it does clarify the character of God hearing the requests.

God does not shy away from our human emotions, weakness, selfishness, frustration, or anger.

When we cry out, no matter how ugly the words, God leans in. He keeps listening. And He holds our hands. Maybe even tighter than before.

That was my reflection on Psalm 94. Link up with your own reflection below. Or stop back next week with your thoughts on Psalm 95.

Bringing our Whole Selves to Prayer

Psalm 86

Hear me, LORD, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy. – Psalm 86:1

I am poor and needy. I don’t know if I’ve ever spoken that phrase, to God or to others.

Sometimes I may have mentioned it as a past state: I was poor and needy, but then I found Christ and He filled me up. Or I may have talked about it as an abstract characteristic: I, like all people, am a sinner, so I have poor and needy tendencies.

But an outright and direct admission of my brokenness, my current state of sin and uncertainty and powerlessness? That raises all sorts of fears.

The fear of being rejected. The fear of unfulfilled dreams. The fear of being misunderstood. The fear of being passed over. The fear of being defined by my failures. The fear of not being good enough.

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you. – Psalm 86:2-4

Yet, David doesn’t seem to have fear when he admits his brokenness. In fact, his next words are surprisingly self-assured. He is poor and needy, but he is also faithful to God. David confidently requests mercy and joy, while boldly asserting his trust in his God.

We don’t often put prayers like these in the same camp.

Yet, somehow it is possible to declare our need at the same time as our desires. We can admit our poverty at the same time as acknowledging the good things we bring to the table.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, LORD;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me. – Psalm 86:5-7

All this is possible not because David is some sort of superhero of the faith, but because he deeply understands his God.

God is forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call on Him.

That can and should change everything about how we pray, giving us confidence to admit our weaknesses, declare our desires, and express gratitude for our gifts all in the same messy upheaval of communication.

I don’t get the impression David tries to admit his brokenness, or works to conjure up those words about his faithfulness. He just brings himself, his whole self, his true self, before a God he knows will love him.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God. –Psalm 86:8-10

Perhaps the deepest tributes spoken between lovers are the ones that occur in the middle of a conversation. The momentary breaks of unplanned utterances. When conversation pauses for compliments, “Wow, your eyes are so beautiful” or declarations of affection “I just love you so much.”

When David brings his true self before his true God, the love seems to compel him to break from his own agenda and declare the beauty of the One to whom he is speaking. He is wholly present, entirely engaged, and begins to authentically worship.

Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead. –Psalm 86:11-13

An undivided heart seems to be what David has in this moment, and he asks for it to continue.

I want that too. Oh how deeply I want an undivided heart. One sewn together by unconditional love. One not caught in trying or performing, but simply in being whole.

Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, LORD, have helped me and comforted me. – Psalm 86:14-17

Yet even if God does grant me that whole heart, that confidence to declare myself needy and faithful at the same time, that desire to worship spontaneously out of my understanding of love, even then my life will not be easy.

David still has enemies. They are what drove him to this prayer in the first place.

Yet he reaffirms his faith in God’s compassion, grace, love, and faithfulness. And he boldly asks for Him to show up, here and now.

For when people truly understand their security as a beloved, they know their lover will never look down upon them for bringing forth what their heart has to say.

Our belovedness is not confirmed in the answers to our prayers, but in the room it gives us to pray in the first place. As beloveds of God, we show up to prayer wholly ourselves, entirely seen, and never rejected.

This was my reflection on Psalm 86. Please link up with your own post below. Then, come back next week to digest Psalm 87 together.

What are you doing God?

psalm 83Oh, if only I could control God.


It is infuriating to follow Him sometimes.


I believe that God loves each of us beyond our comprehension, but then some really great people have really terrible things happen to them, and I wonder, what are you doing God?


O God, do not remain silent;
do not turn a deaf ear,
do not stand aloof, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (NIV)


I believe that God desires intimacy with us, and a relationship with Him creates a wholeness we can’t find anywhere else, but then there are seasons when I can’t seem to reach His presence, and I wonder, what are you doing God?


God, don’t shut me out;
don’t give me the silent treatment, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (The Message)


I believe that God answers prayer, and have seen Him do so in profound ways in my own life, but then I see so many words that seem to bounce back with no response, and I wonder, what are you doing God?


O God, do not be silent!
Do not be deaf.
Do not be quiet, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (NLT)


I believe that God is actively engaged in the world, but then some seemingly preventable thing devastates entire groups of people, and I wonder, what are you doing God?


O God, do not be silent!
Do not ignore us! Do not be inactive, O God!
-       Psalm 83:1 (NET)


Some silence I can handle. But when God seems intentionally inactive, it’s enough to make me want to throw in the towel.


What does faith look like in these times?


I think it looks the faith of Asaph, who allows that guttural cry of “Where are you God?” to be the first lines of his prayer.


What are prayer requests if not deep longings for God to act? We ache for the God who is supposedly the Lord to engage and do something already about this stuff that is broken in this world.


Honest prayer is the frustration of our souls put to words. Just because we believe in God and love God does not mean we don’t get irritated by Him. It’s not an easy relationship.


But over and over again, the Psalms show us it’s not supposed to be. Our faith in God is a dynamic connection with a powerful Being; a Being we can trust, but not control.


The words of Psalm 83 that follow verse 1 are surrounded by context that feels far and foreign from our own. But the cry of verse 1 is universal.


O True God, do not be quiet any longer.
Do not stay silent or be still, O God.
-       Psalm 83:1 (The Voice)

That was my reflection on Pslalm 83. Link up with your thoughts below. Or join in next week with a reflection on Psalm 84.

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