On Prayer and Fasting and Depending on God

There are times when we must purposely fast, when we know we need to bring our bodies to submission to the spiritual things. But there are other seasons when fasting is the only natural way to come before God. Our bodies refuse to eat, and we have a greater need to pray, to fast, to come to the Word.

Being hungry for Him, and not hungry for food is a gift; a reminder that we are not of this world, that our flesh and all its desires will one day pass away. The heaviness of the soul is a reminder of how much we need His grace. All sufficient grace. Grace that satisfies our deepest needs, our longings. Grace that points our sin and grants us a repentant heart. Grace that lights up our way, that helps us think clearly.

In those days in which our bodies don’t crave for physical food, in which they refuse a morsel of sweetness, those days are days for fasting; for entering the prayer closet and open our hearts before God.

Let us welcome the days in which our only desire is to be with Him, and cry. Let us welcome the nights in which we cannot sleep and can only pray. Let us welcome the seasons in which we are reminded by the Spirit of God on how much we need Him. On how desperately we need His all sufficient grace.

Seasons of prayer and fasting are here to remind us on how much we must depend on Him, and not on the physical world that promises to satisfy our soul but always leaves us with a greater and deeper longing.

This year I have prayerfully purposed to live each day with a watchful heart; and how can I watch with all diligence if I don’t pray and fast? I welcome this season. I long for more of Him.

Under His grace, always clinging to Him…

Becky

My prayer today, I Lift Up My Hands

Praying the Psalms -Psalm 96-

 

Psalm 96

1 Oh sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name;
tell of his salvation from day to day.
3 Declare his glory among the nations,
his marvelous works among all the peoples!
4 For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised;
he is to be feared above all gods.
5 For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols,
but the LORD made the heavens.
6 Splendor and majesty are before him;
strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.

7 Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples,
ascribe to the LORD glory and strength!
8 Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name;
bring an offering, and come into his courts!
9 Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness;
tremble before him, all the earth!

10 Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns!
Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved;
he will judge the peoples with equity.”

11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice;
let the sea roar, and all that fills it;

12 let the field exult, and everything in it!
Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
13 before the LORD, for he comes,
for he comes to judge the earth.
He will judge the world in righteousness,
and the peoples in his faithfulness.

Spurgeon names this Psalm, A Grand Missionary Hymn. A Psalm with no division “for the song is one and indivisible, a garment of praise without seam, woven from the top throughout.” (1)

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Oh Father, our God, that your people around the globe may sing Psalms to you today. Fill our mouths to sing to you a new song! God, we thank you because we do not worship your creation, but instead, we join our voices with that of the earth, the seas, the heavens, the fields.  We exult your name today, O God!

Lord I pray that our song may be transformed into actions: That we may effectually bless your name by telling of your salvation from day to day. That we may declare your glory among the nations. That we may spread the word of your marvelous works among our neighbors.

Transform our song, O Lord, into actions today!

Lord, “Blessed are the eyes which shall see the kingdom, and the ears which shall hear its songs.  Hasten your advent, good Lord!” (2)

God, our Lord, we bless your name, your fame, your Word revealed to us. We delight in singing your praises, we take great delight in proclaiming all you have done in us. How you have changed our hardened hearts, how the gospel has transformed our lives. How we love you, O Lord! How we love to sing your praises!

Father, that each day this week, we may seek opportunities to transform our singing into actions. That by our deeds, our written, and our spoken words, we may always announce the glorious message of free grace among all the people, to those close to us and even to those afar.

In your presence we sing Psalms, because you alone are greatly to be praised. It is Your name that we love and fear because you are clothed in splendor and majesty; it is only in your presence, Lord, that we find strength and beauty together, kissing each other. And as we stand in awe before you, we are encouraged by your Spirit to sing your praises, to raise our voices and bless your name.

Mighty God, Merciful Father, you have saved your people to bring glory to your name, so that may  worship you and long for you. And today, as we sing your praises from every corner of the world, we also pray with one voice: Don’t haste your coming, O Lord! Come, Lord Jesus! We won’t be fully satisfied until we see your face, until “truth will dispel all evil in hypocrisy.”(3) Until our voices will mingle with that of the angels singing in Heaven.

Amen

Becky

[1], [2] Spurgeon, The Treasury of David
[3] Calvin, Commentary on the Psalms

Praying the Psalms.

Praying Through The Valley of Vision

My own Valley of Vision paperback edition made prettier

Because I firmly believe that there is no other way to grow in prayer than by praying, I just started Joe Thorn’s  “organized approach to working through The Valley of Vision prayer book in 13 weeks using 3 daily “appointments” scheduled at 9am, 12pm, and 3pm Monday through Friday.”

Walking Through the Valley of Vision a project by Joe Thorn

I want to do this, because I am prone to wander. Sometimes I just need reminders to help me break my routine and come before the Lord in prayer; and as with any other prayer companion this one should never substitute our time in communion with the Lord through praying, reading and meditating on His Word.

Tim Challies
said it well,

“I need to learn to pray and because I know there is much I can learn from this book. Though it is not an instruction manual, there is a sense in which is serves in just that way. Most of us (perhaps all of us) learn to pray by imitating others. And the people who prayed these prayers and recorded them for us are worthy of imitation. These are not prayers to be read as if just reading the words has any power or worth; they are prayers to be prayed as if they were your own words. As you speak them, offering them to God, they become just that”.

Joe Thorn says about this organized approach:

“Please keep in mind that this should not be the totality of your prayer life, but one part of it, fueling your meditation on Scripture, dependency on the gospel, exercise of faith in and love for Jesus.”

And because, I also firmly believe that we should encourage one another to persevere in good deeds, (and certainly prayer is one!), I want to invite you to join me. Yes, I know, Thanksgiving and Christmas and all that comes along with those Holidays will be there (this project lasts 13 weeks), but that is why I am convinced that I need extra help to keep myself focused in what really matters, at the feet of Jesus and not be caught up in the business of the seasons to come.

Would you join me? I already have my sister joining me; so that makes two of us, but it would be great if more friends would walk through the Valley of Vision along. If you are interested go to Joe Thorn’s page, read the basic instructions, print your schedule, paste it (or just tuck it) inside your book and start right there. Remember that this only goes from Monday through Friday, so you have two more days to catch up. (If you have a Twitter account and would like to tweet about this use the hashtag #walkingthruthevalleyofvision)

May we learn to live at the foot of the cross, where we learn by paradoxes.

Becky

Praying the Psalms -Psalm 13- How Long, O LORD?-

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Psalm 13

1  How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
2  How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3  Consider and answer me, O LORD my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
4  lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5  But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
6  I will sing to the LORD,
because he has dealt bountifully with me.

This weekend I have listened several times a sermon on Monergism by Dale Ralph Davis based on this Psalm. The sermon is entitled Faith: From Crying to Confidence. Friends, I cannot stress how much this sermon has blessed me; I encourage you to listen to it.

And based on this Psalm (and the sermon) I pray today…

O God, how much longer, how much longer?  Many friends of mine whom I love dearly, women who love you, who love your Word and are walking on your ways have recently lost their babies before they opened their eyes, even in their mother’s womb. LORD, we don’t understand, we just cry and at times try to hold our words back. At times we feel as if you had abandoned us. Father, O God, how long? What do you want to teach us, the body of Christ, when we see this and feel so helpless and alone?

O LORD, how much longer?   Don’t hide your face from us, don’t hide your face from my sisters’ faces who cry in the darkness. LORD, O LORD! Hear our cry! You alone can bring comfort to us. Please, Lord; please God, hear us and let your face shine upon us.

There are times when grief cannot find comfort in words, when we don’t know what to utter, what to say. There are times when the only question that springs forth from our troubled heart is, the same that David asked, “How long, O LORD?”

“How long? Ah!  how long do days appear when our soul is cast down within us!…Time flies with full-fledged wing in our summer days, but in our winters he flutters painfully.”(1)

How long? God, how long will we have sorrow in our heart all the day as we mourn the death of these babies who were to be born in Christian homes, in the Covenant? We need you to come Father, and look at us in our distress. We are in desperate need of you. We have cried many tears in the night, on our pillow, and swallowed hard… we have waited and waited, and waited and still do not understand your ways. We go to your Word and at times You seem far from us. How much longer until my friends, my sisters will find comfort in their sorrow?

How long will our enemies will see us having miscarriages while they go and put their babies to death? How long LORD? Remember that we are poor and needy, Oh LORD, take thought for us. You are our help and our deliverer; do not delay, O my God!

Do not delay, O God!

Teach us to pray when our heart feels devastated; consider and answer us O LORD our God, light up our eyes, lest we sleep the sleep of death, lest our enemy say, “I have prevailed over them,” lest our foes rejoice because we are shaken. Don’t delay, O God, my LORD!

Father, where can we go for answers? To whom shall we cry? We have nowhere else to go but to You. Remind us that “the mercy-seat is the life of hope and the death of despair.” (2) O God, I come boldly before you today, because I have trusted in your steadfast love. My sisters and I will keep coming to you, day and night we will keep on knocking and knocking at the doors of Heaven. LORD only in You, in your steadfast love, in whom You are is where we will find rest and our heart will rejoice only in your salvation.

This day we thank you because You are our Father, a Father who has promised not to forsake us but to have compassion on us. You have promised not to leave us in the pit of desperation. We have trusted in Your covenant, in your perfect love, O God, and run to hide under your wings. You have given us hope and your Word to sustain us. Thank you, O LORD!

In the night dark of the soul, I thank you because even though we don’t always see clearly, we are not blind. You have made your light shine on us and You have given us your Word and the Holy Spirit to comfort us and help us in our weaknesses. Thank you, LORD because we are not placing our faith on vain things but on who You are; and You are God, a merciful and faithful God who remembers His own, who is Sovereign and Omniscient. You are our Father and your promises are Yes and Amen. Father just as a shipwrecked mariner clings to the mast (3), so we do now, we cling to our faith, we cling to You in whom our soul has believed.

God, my Lord, put a song in our mouth, clear our throats from this crying so that we may be able to sing your praises. O Father, our Father thank you because you have dealt bountifully with us.

Our Hope is in You and we look forward for the coming of our Lord Jesus, for the day in which all our tears will be wiped away.

AMEN!

Becky

(1), (2), (3) The Treasury of David by C.H. Spurgeon

Praying the Psalms 

Praying the Psalms -Psalm 5-

 Shiloh Photography

 

Psalm 5

1 Give ear to my words, O LORD;
consider my groaning.
2 Give attention to the sound of my cry,
my King and my God,
for to you do I pray.
3 O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice;
in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.

 

My King and my God,
when my heart cries and groans,
when it is not easy to see You in the valley;
when the devil comes to tempt me,
let me rest safely,
knowing that You are King.
You reign over all.
You are Sovereign;
You alone rule over every circumstance in my life.
My God and King,
I pray to you this morning,
I come to you and seek your face,
early in the morning,
hear my prayer, O King.

4 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
evil may not dwell with you.
5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes;
you hate all evildoers.
6 You destroy those who speak lies;
the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

 

My King and my God,
You resist the sinner, the prideful;
evil can not dwell with you,
you hate sin, and those who speak lies.
My Lord, hear my prayer,
hear me asking You for forgiveness.
Grant me a repentant heart,
and do not take your Holy Spirit away from me.
My King, I confess my sins before your face,
and ask you to forgive me according to your many mercies.
Help me overcome my flesh,
and live openly before your face.

7 But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you.
8  Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness
because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.

 

O God, your mercy reaches me,
and the abundance of your steadfast love
opens a way for me to come before you this morning.
Knowing that you forgive me,
makes me love you even more,
and fear You more.
Lord, my King, make Your way straight before me;
and lead me in your righteousness.
My King, that I may love your precepts,
your ways, your Word.

9 For there is no truth in their mouth;
their inmost self is destruction;
their throat is an open grave;
they flatter with their tongue.
10 Make them bear their guilt, O God;
let them fall by their own counsels;
because of the abundance of their transgressions cast them out,
for they have rebelled against you.

 

My God, in these days
in which many deceivers walk among the sheep,
I pray, keep me, keep my family, my children,
keep your people from their lies.
Help us to abide in Your Word.
Help us not to fix our eyes on men,
but on Jesus.
Let your light shine on us,
that we may see clearly.

11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy,
and spread your protection over them,
that those who love your name may exult in you.
12 For you bless the righteous, O LORD;
you cover him with favor as with a shield.

 

O God, my King,
I take refuge in  You,
I find in You perfect joy,
even in the darkest hour,
I know that your right arm protects me,
that you are for me.
I pray for my sisters and brothers in Christ,
for those who are suffering,
who are crying,
and mourning;
I pray Lord that they will find strength in your joy.
Spread Your protection over them.
Father, that we may raise our voice today
to worship you.
O King, bless your people today,
remember us,
hear our cry,
cover us with your favor as with a shield.
In Jesus’ name, the author of our faith,
Becky

To see more posts in this series go to the Praying the Psalms page.

A Borrowed Prayer -A Prayer for the God-exalting Blessing of Unity by Scotty Smith

After yesterday’s post, I thought this prayer is what should come next.

Would you join me in prayer?

 

Katie Lloyd Photography © Used with permission

 

A Prayer for the God-exalting Blessing of Unity

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! It is like the precious oil on the head, running down on the beard, on the beard of Aaron, running down on the collar of his robes! It is like the dew of Hermon, which falls on the mountains of Zion! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore. Psalm133

Dear Lord Jesus, “good and pleasant” feels like an understatement—a woefully inadequate description of what happens when you show up and begin to thaw the tensions, deconstruct the divisions, and enable your people to move forward together in unity. I’d add words like, miraculous and beautiful; profound and magnetic; all-too-rare and so-very-needed.

It’s clearly obvious that where believers dwell in unity you bestow your presence and blessing. For unity is a revelation of life within the Godhead—the eternal life into we have been called, birthed and secured. It’s equally obvious that where there’s disunity, Satan bestows his darkness and evil; suspicion and distrust; cynicism and gossip; disintegration and separation. God have mercy on all of us…

Boldly and shamelessly, we ask you for a fresh outpouring of your Spirit on our churches—a downpour of humility, repentance and healing; a deluge of the sane-making power of your presence. Jesus, drench us with the humbling and unifying dew of the gospel. We want to be sopping wet, not merely damp. Saturate and satiate us with the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

We don’t look to Aaron and his beard, but to you and your enthronement at the right hand of the Father. Jesus, you are our great High Priest who has received the Spirit without measure, so you can pour forth the Spirit without reservation. Do so without delay, we ask, for the glory of God and the fame of your Name.

As we think of our church families, we also pray for new church plants in their infancy and older church families needing renewal; for missionary teams under fire and in duress; for para-church ministries—even whole denominations. Jesus, bring the grace and truth of the gospel to bear in observable, unmistakable and transforming ways.

No one has done more to secure our unity than you, Lord Jesus (Eph. 2:14-22). No one is praying more for our unity than you (John 17:20-21). No one is more glorified by our unity than you (John 17:22-26). Continue to heal us, reconcile us, and deploy us into your ripened harvest and broken creation together. So very Amen we pray, in your glorious and gracious name.

A Prayer by Scotty Smith

Becky

Find Scotty Smith book, Everyday Prayers: 365 Days to a Gospel-Centered Faith, here.