Consider how often you pray. Do you pray only when you are in church? Do you pray before meals? Do you pray only when you need something? Maybe you pray every morning or every evening. Consider your prayer life.
The Psalmist speaks of prayer life as just that – his life. For some, this may sound like a strange concept. Though the Bible tells us to pray continually (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17), we typically see prayer as another resort or a good habit rather than a lifestyle or life itself. This is a problem for us as long as we see prayer as words to recite or a legalistic act to fulfill.
This verse speaks of God’s love for us, a love that God has promised us. His love for us is unfailing and overwhelming and unchanging. His love for us is not impacted by anything that we do or say. When we look at prayer, we need always to remember this love—His love for us—and what a relationship with God means. As a child approaches a father, so it is with us and God. Stop focusing on the words you say in your prayers. Talk to your Father. Engage. Try to keep talking with Him all day as something comes to mind—about the small things and the big things. Be ever mindful of His presence, His love, and His desire to bless you with His goodness. As you continue to recognize your dependence on God and your desire for Him, you draw near to Him and He will draw near to you (see James 4:8). Perhaps one day, you will be able to say that your prayer to God has become your life.
“Yet all day long God’s promises of love pour over me. Through the night I sing his songs, for my prayer to God has become my life.” – Psalm 42:8 [TPT]
In Psalm 42, the Psalmist is crying out for revival. We read of a soul thirsting for God—the desire to drink deeply—and a memory of past gatherings for worship. When we look around the world, it always appears to be in need for a revival. Today, as we are experiencing life behind closed doors in isolation to heed warnings to social distance so as to help contain a pandemic, Christians are not gathering together for worship. Church buildings have closed their doors. Families are home on Sundays.
Though many churches have begun online worship, this pandemic surely can open our eyes to what spiritually is a struggle for many—even those who profess to be Christian and previously attended church weekly before this pandemic. The struggle is living before God. The Psalmist writes of singing God’s praises, and of “living before His face” which is described as his “saving grace.” Though God is ever present, we often times are not living in His presence. There is a difference. To be living before God is to acknowledge His presence, to live as He is present, to recognize Him throughout your day.
The Psalmist wants a great revival—he wants for people to draw back to God and praise Him for He alone is due praise. The Psalmist recollects a time when people gathered together to sing to God. He clings to the hope He has in God and understands that even when there is darkness all around, even when the world is so in need of a revival, that He could live in the presence of God. He could still sing praises. Why? Because God is his saving grace. Despite his flaws, despite his shortcomings, that God lifted him up through grace to save him, to allow him in His presence, to give him a taste of His goodness. The Psalmist never deserved it; you never deserve it. Yet He offers us this saving grace freely. Today may seem dark and gloomy. Today you may be sinking into despair. Keep hoping and waiting on God. Sing His praises. I pray you are living before His face. I pray He is your saving grace.
“So then, my soul, why would you be depressed? Why would you sink into despair? Just keep hoping and waiting on God, your Savior. For no matter what, I will still sing with praise, for living before his face is my saving grace!” – Psalm 42:5 [TPT]
Today’s verses discuss the importance of hearing. Note that in Mark 5:27, we read that the reason the woman sought out and touched the clothing of Jesus is because she first heard. Romans 10:14 reminds us that if we do not hear, how can we believe? The woman heard of Jesus first, and this knowing of Him and this hope she had prompted her to seek Him for healing.
Consider today who has heard this week from you about Jesus. Consider who has observed you this week as you were living life and saw Jesus. Consider who heard about the happenings in your life this week in “real life” or on social media and heard of Jesus—meaning when something happened, you glorified God. Who heard?
I am not writing to shame you on the lack of testimony happening in your life, nor to point out that we all fall short in life. Instead, I hope this encourages you to consider the “having heard” moments in life—the opportunities for you to share the goodness of God. One of the best ways to share His goodness is to embrace His goodness and let it overflow in love and grace in your life. It’s not about a program or a rigid list of things to say. Love. Have they heard?
“Having heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothing.” – Mark 5:27 [CSB]
“How, then, can they call on him they have not believed in? And how can they believe without hearing about him? And how can they hear without a preacher?” – Romans 10:14 [CSB]
Today’s passage is a great reminder of the thoughts we have as we look at others who seem to have things going their way. We all get jealous. We have longing for things that other people own, or relationships other people are involved with, positions people hold, etc. It is so easy to look at people and declare the people “have it made.” Look at them. They have “no pain, no problems.” Look at them, they have been “indulging in whatever they wanted.”
We turn green with envy. We covet what we do not have. We start to take for granted our own blessings. We complain. We miss the truth. We succumb to our jealousy of others and miss out on the enjoyment from the great plan God has for our lives.
The verses today speak of someone who is focused on what he or she wants, who is without care, living “as though life would never end.” Why do we want to be living focused on wants, when we were made to glorify God… when the wants are temporary and will rust and rot? Why do we want to live a life that is not mindful of the brevity of life and the importance of our Savior and a life with Him? Sometimes our focus is skewed—remember, they only seemed to have it made. Do not be deceived by the only seems of this world. God has so much more for you!
“Indulging in whatever they wanted, going where they wanted, doing what they wanted, and with no care in the world.No pain, no problems, they seemed to have it made. They lived as though life would never end.” – Psalm 73:4-5 [TPT]
I love a good shortcut. Almost every day as I drive to work, I take a shortcut. Yet there are times in life when shortcuts are not best—when the easy way isn’t the best way.
When we dream about something we desire for the future, we want a shortcut to reach the dream. We want the money, but we do not want to do all the work. We want the title, but we don’t want to start from the bottom. We want the stuff, when we do not yet have the money to pay for it. We want the relationship, yet we do not want to make the investment.
In today’s passage, we read of the Israelites leaving Egypt, and of how God did not lead the people to take the shorter route. It’s true—sometimes shortcuts are great. Yet in life, we oftentimes have something to learn on the journey that we can only learn by travelling for a longer length of time. Suffering less is desirable, yet in suffering we often grow in our dependence on God, and our faith flourishes. Next time you have the opportunity to choose a path to take, instead of immediately jumping at the quick results, ask God what will bring you closer to Him.
“When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them on the road through the Philistine country, though that was shorter. For God said, ‘If they face war, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.’” – Exodus 13:17 [NIV]