Summary: While the Book of Psalms may be the most popular book in the Bible, and is most often associated with worship or songs of praise, the Psalms actually give us a very practical picture of prayer.
Praying for a New Perspective
We returned this past week from the best vacation we ever had as a family. We drove out east, visiting Washington, D.C. and Williamsburg, Virginia. Colonial Williamsburg is set in 1774, complete with restored homes and fascinating exhibits by silversmiths, wig makers, and drum and fife players. One of the highlights for me was to listen to historical figures that were dressed just like people dressed over 225 years ago. We heard from Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Patrick Henry.
Because of Patrick Henry’s significant contribution to the Revolution, he was scheduled to speak in an air-conditioned theater in the middle of the afternoon. I pulled the parental prerogative and declared that we all needed to go and listen to this key player in American history. I pumped up the girls by saying he was going to be an exciting and passionate speaker. As we settled into the theater, Patrick Henry walked onto the stage, complete with his white wig and brass-buckled black shoes. I listened intently and kept looking at the girls to make sure they were fully appreciating this slice of living history.
After a couple minutes I started yawning. I shifted in my seat as the coolness of the darkened theater started pulling my eyes shut. When I finally came to, I had drool running down my chin, and Emily and Lydia were staring at me with big grins on their faces! As we left the theater, I commented that I was disappointed that Patrick Henry never said his famous line, “I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give my liberty or give me death!” The girls assured me that he did but I missed it because I was asleep. They’re still teasing me about this today! I should mention that Beth was sound asleep, too! If any of you struggle with sleepiness this morning, I won’t be offended. If I slept through Patrick Henry’s rousing speech, you should be able to snooze during my sermon!
It’s great that we’re able to go back and read what our founding fathers have written and said. This helps us get a feel for what they were thinking and feeling. Fortunately for us, we have the privilege of going back to what our “faith fathers” have written in the pages of Scripture. This morning we’re beginning a brand new series called, “Praying Through the Psalms.”
While the Book of Psalms may be the most popular book in the Bible, and is most often associated with worship or songs of praise, the Psalms actually give us a very practical picture of prayer. They take us from the heights of joy to the depths of despair, using words that can serve as a pattern for our own prayers.
Ambrose, a church leader from the 4th Century, referred to the Psalms as the “gymnasium of the soul.” In order to catapult us into deeper prayer, both individually and as a church, we’re going to spend the next nine weeks exercising our faith as we pray through the Psalms. I encourage you to read through the entire Book of Psalms, using them as a model for prayer (if you read three a day you will finish the entire book by the end of summer).
Two years ago, we went through a series called, “Worship in the Psalms.” This helped lay the groundwork for the launch of our two-service worship format. It’s my hope that the series we’re beginning today will help contribute to a flood of fervent prayers and raise the prayer temperature around here. Jesus said in Matthew 21:13: “My house will be called a house of prayer.” I encourage you to join with us this Tuesday night as we gather together to pray. Let’s make PBC a house of prayer, and let’s commit to make our homes lighthouses of prayer. In order for that to happen we must first have hearts of prayer.
I’ve often wondered what is most important prayer or preaching? Should we be spending more time reading the Bible or praying? I love A.W. Tozer’s answer to this question: “Which is more important to a bird: the right wing or the left?” That’s why we have our IMPACT statement, taken from Acts 2. We’re called to six purposes as a church, and we must constantly strive to keep them in balance and perspective Instruction, Ministry, Prayer, Adoration, Caring, and Telling others the gospel. Teaching is not more important than caring for one another. Prayer is not better than evangelism. Worship does not trump ministry. They’re all essential and important.
My goal this summer is to allow the Word of God to catapult us into the praise of God. As we workout in the Psalms, we will find ourselves responding in protracted prayer. I will know that this series has succeeded when each of us experience a revolution in our prayer life. I don’t want to just give information about the Psalms; I sincerely want to allow this section of God’s Word to affect life transformation.