Great Prayers of the Bible

by: Ronald L. Dart


Now, all of us know that the two most basic exercises of religion is prayer and Bible study, right? This is entry-level stuff: This is where it all begins. If you're going to have religion (that is, the religion of the Bible) you start with the Bible. And if you start with the Bible and get very deep into the Bible, you very soon will come into contact with the idea of prayer. And prayer is when a man stops his everyday life, and goes to God, and talks to God about the things that are on his mind.

There are people who can teach us about prayer. And, of course, some of those people in fact, the ones that are most important to us, are the ones that are in the Bible. We can study some of the great prayers of the Bible, and perhaps lay some groundwork for our own prayer life-something that would make a difference in our relationship with God; something that would draw us nearer to Him; something that would help us to understand Him, and what it is He is doing, and what it is He expects from us.

Turning Point In History

Now, there's a pivotal chapter in Second Samuel that I think is really fascinating. This chapter presents two things: It has in it one of the great prayers of the Bible, and it is also a turning point in history. It's Second Samuel, the seventh chapter. Here, in the middle of nowhere as it were, in the history of your Bible, you'll find something I just said is a turning point in history (and it really is).

Chapter 7 of Second Samuel, verse 1, "And it came to pass, when the king sat in his house, and the LORD had given him rest round about from all his enemies; {2} that the king said to Nathan the prophet, "See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the Ark of God dwells within curtains.""

What did he mean by that? Well, up until this time, David had had a pretty rocky road in many ways. He'd had a lot of enemies. The nation had had a lot of enemies. The kingdom had been divided after the death of Saul. And he had gone through a very, very difficult time of reconciling enemies to one another; of exiling people that needed to be gotten rid of; of conquering nations around about them. And they had come to the place to where they really were at peace. David had come to a place in his life where he was standing there and there was nothing left to do. And he and Nathan were sitting there, having a glass of wine together, talking about it. And David opens up to Nathan on something that has been bothering him: "I'm living in a palace, and the Ark of God is over there sitting behind curtains. There's no cedar around the Ark, just curtains. And it's inside a tent of skins we call the Tabernacle. And this just doesn't seem right to me."

2 Samuel 7:3 "And Nathan said to the king, Go, do all that is in your heart; for the LORD is with you."

As far as Nathan could see, whatever David put his hand to was okay with God, and that God would back him up in just about anything he decided to do. Now, the response of God to this is fascinating, because Nathan had not even gotten back and settled down that night until: {4} The word of the LORD came to Nathan."

God Walked With The Israelites In The Wilderness

Verse 4 of 2 Samuel 7, "The word of the LORD came to Nathan, saying,{5} Go and tell my servant David, Thus said the LORD, "Shall you build me a house for me to dwell in? {6} Whereas I have not dwelled in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle.""

Now, I stopped right there, and I thought about that for a minute. There are so many ways in which I think we need adjustments in our attitude and our ideas about God. For we tend to think about God as sitting on His throne, high and lifted up. and the image you get is: Here are these poor Israelites, marching across the sands of the desert toward Mount Sinai, and then through the forty years wilderness wandering out there, living in the dirt, pitching their tents every night, and cooking on open fires, and struggling day to day to get by, and eating manna. But God is off in heaven. And He's on his throne up there, and there are angels coming and going with messages and taking care of things that are going on.

But what's interesting is, when He speaks to Nathan about this, God says, "I walked with them." And when I think about that, all of a sudden there's a whole new image that comes to my mind. For we do know that God, from time to time, manifested himself in human form. We know that he sat down and ate a meal with Abraham [Genesis 18], and so I'm not particularly inclined to take lightly His statement that He walked with them those years in the wilderness-that He knew what it was like, that He visited their camp every day, that He was a part of the whole process-even though many times many of these people may not have realized who He was, or may not have realized that He was there.

And what's amusing about this, is that here is David and Nathan sitting around having a glass of wine together, talking this over, and coming up with big ideas about things to do for God-not even realizing that there's a third party in the room, who isn't saying anything. And the third party in the room was God.

God told Nathan, "I want you go tell David this."

2 Samuel7:6 [...] "I have not dwelled in any house since the time that I brought up the children of Israel out of Egypt, even to this day, but have walked in a tent and in a tabernacle."

Of course, they had to move the Ark every time they moved, and so it needed to be in a tent. But even after they were in the land, had conquered the land, had lived there for generations already, God still dwelt in a tent and had never said that He wanted anything else.

2 Samuel 7:7 "In all the places wherein I have walked with all the children of Israel I never spoke a word with any of the tribes of Israel, saying, "Why donít you build me a house of cedar?""

God Was Touched

Now there's a plaintive quality almost, in this. And as I read through it, it kind of occurs to me: I honestly think God was touched by what David had come up with. I know we read scriptures that say "known unto God are all his works from the beginning" [Acts 15:18], and God is all-knowing and all powerful, and there are those who believe that the path of all history is laid out in advance and God knows what all of it is. But, candidly, as you read through the Bible, you come across too many places like this, where some human being makes a decision that changes the course of history. And there is every indication in this passage that if David had not come up with the idea of building a Temple, a Temple would never have been built. It was David's idea, not God's. And God is at great pains to establish the fact that it was David's idea, and not God's. God said, "I never said this. I never asked for that."

2 Samuel 7:8 "Now therefore so shall you say to my servant David, Thus said the LORD of hosts, "I took you from the sheep, from following the sheep, to be ruler over my people, over Israel: {9} And I was with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies out of your sight, and have made you a great name, like to the name of the great men that are in the earth. {10} Moreover I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more, as before, {11} And since the time that I commanded judges to be over my people Israel, and have caused you to rest from all your enemies. Also the LORD tells you that He will make you a house."

God Will Build David A Dynasty

Now, that's fascinating. Because David is sitting here and he says to Nathan, "I want to build a house for God. I want to build a Temple. I want a place where the Ark of God can be permanent." And God says, "We've come to the place to where I have brought the children of Israel into this land, and I have made them a place where they are at home-where they don't have to move around any more, they don't have to pull up their tent pegs and move every night. And you said you're going to build me a house. I'll tell you what I'm going to do, David. I'm going to build you a house." And He wasn't talking about the palace of cedar that David was living in at that time, or anything even remotely like it.

When God used the word "house" in this context, David would have understood (as would everybody, at this time). When He said, "I'll build you a house", He means a dynasty. He means a family-a long, continuing rulership over Israel and of his descendants.

2 Samuel 7:12, "And when your days be fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, which shall proceed out of your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. {13} He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. {14} I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: {15} But my mercy shall not depart away from him [...]"

Boy, that's something to say. "Your son will come along, and I am going to be his father and he's going to be my son. Now, he's going to make mistakes, but when he makes mistakes I'm not going to reject him like I did Saul. I'm not going to drop him. I'm not going to let him go. I will chastise him; I will do whatever it takes to bring him back and make him what he should be."

2 Samuel 7:15, "But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before you."

This is an incredible promise. And when you read the history of Israel as it follows on after this, you will find kings that are not people you'd like to live under. Let's put it that way. You would not like to have them as your ruler. They are men that sinned and sinned mightily. And God fulfilled his promise to David. He chastised them. They went through hell. But He did not take his mercy away from them. They went into captivity, but eventually He brought them back. "My mercy will not depart from them."

2 Samuel 7:16 "And your house and your kingdom shall be established for ever before you: your throne shall be established for ever. {17} According to all these words, and according to all this vision, so did Nathan speak to David."

So the next morning (or maybe later that night), while it was still dark, Nathan came to David and he told him what God had said to him. And David, as I think anyone would be, was overwhelmed. At this stage of his development, David was a very confident man. But he was also a man very much aware of his weaknesses and of his failings. He was a humble man in spite of all the confidence. Because David, from the time he fought Goliath on (in fact, from the time he fought the lion and the bear on) David understood that it was God and God's strength, and that he was a servant of God, and that he depended on God, and that it was faith in God that made all the difference.

"You talk. I'll listen."

Now, what follows on the heels of this is a prayer. And it's interesting that. ..I think this is the first chapter in the Bible (in the King James Version, at least) that, if you do a concordance search on it, this is the first place you find the word "prayer". It's not the first prayer in the Bible; there are people who talked to God before this. But, you know, when you talk to God face to face as did Moses, and as when you talk to God face to face as did Abraham, this is not really quite a prayer. I think the difference with prayer is this: There's a line in the movie ĎOh, God!í that I thought was kind of interesting-when the character played by John Denver said, "Well, can we talk from time to time?", when God was leaving him and going away. And the answer was, "You talk. I'll listen."

And prayer is just that: You talk. God listens. But it requires something on your part to believe that God is listening. I can just see the expression on John Denver's character's face in the movie, and he's not entirely satisfied with this, "You talk and I'll listen." Because we want to see the person we're talking to. We want them to talk back. We want to have this interchange going on between us. And the distinction between prayer and any other type of communication is: You talk, God listens, and you have to have the faith that God is listening. And if you don't have the faith that God is listening, you're going to have a great deal of difficulty in prayer, aren't you? You're going to talk and wonder where it went. Will it get past the ceiling? Will God hear what 1 say? Will He respond to what I say? And to have that awareness-I'm talking; God's listening-is a great gift.

King David Went In And Sat

Nathan, the prophet, told David what God told him to tell David.

David, when he heard the whole thing, he: 2 Samuel 7 verse 18, [...] went in and sat before the LORD and said, [...]"

We don't know where David went in to. There's an assumption that he went into the tabernacle; and certainly all through Israel's history the tabernacle and the Temple are a place of prayer. If you don't actually go to them to pray, you turn toward them to pray. In Solomon's great dedication prayer [1 Kings 8), he said that, "If your people no matter where they are scattered all over the face of the earth if they will turn toward this place and pray,[ they would be heard.]" So there is this idea of a focal point for a person's prayer.

2 Samuel 7:18 "Then king David went in, and sat before the LORD, and he said, Who am I, O LORD GOD? [...]"

Right off the bat, David expressed humility. There are so many examples of prayer in the Bible. In Jesus' prayer, the Lord's Prayer, which He gave to his disciples to teach them how to pray-is an example of how you start off your prayer. But there are times in prayer when what is in your heart is so great that the first words out of your mouth are the most important.

In Davidís case, it was, "Who am I? I am no one." And this was basically the way David looked upon himself. When Saul was chasing him around the wilderness (1 Samuel 24), he said, "What are you after? A dead dog? Are you chasing a flea? 1 don't amount to anything." Saul was king; David was nothing (at least in David's eyes). Of course, Saul, I believe, knew better.

2 Samuel 7:18 "[...] Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that you have brought me to?"

Mind you: When he uses the word "house", he speaks of the house of David or the dynasty of David, the family of David-his ruling house.

2 Samuel 7:18 "[...] Who am I, O Lord GOD? and what is my house, that you have brought me to? {19} And this was yet a small thing in your sight, O LORD GOD; but you have spoken also of your servant's house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, O LORD GOD?"

First of all, David says: "It's a staggering thing to me to understand where you have brought me. Who am I that I should have come this far? That I should be sitting on the throne of Israel? That I should be leading your people in this way? You have done incredible things for me. And as if that were a small thing, now you have said to me things about my house and about my dynasty and my children and my family for generations to come." And the promise is that God would have a man to sit on the throne of David forever. There would always be someone. And, of course, we come to realize as time passes, the fulfillment of this is in Jesus Christ-something that we might not have really understood if it weren't for the New Testament. Because there were times when I honestly believe the Israelites despaired at the continuation of that kingdom and of that throne.

You Don't Know What To Say

David said, 2 Samuel 7:20 "And what can I say more to you? for you, LORD GOD, know your servant."

You know, I honestly believe that in that little short verse comes one of the great barriers that we have in prayer. Because we go to God, and we know that God knows us. He knows everything about us. He know what we are thinking. He knows what we want. He knows what we have done. (God forbid.) He knows the mistakes that we have made. He knows the good things that we have done. All these things God knows. And so, when you go to God in prayer, sometimes you are stumped because you don't know what to say. And yet we tell people who are our friends the same stories over and over again, don't we? Now, I know you probably don't do that; but I'll guarantee you have someone who does-who's close to you, who's a friend-who will tell you the same thing, who will tell you things you already know, who will go through all this rigmarole. You do it all the time. So why is there, when we come to God, a barrier to talk about the same things that we've already talked about? Why is it a barrier to talk about things that God already knows? Why is it a barrier to explore with him? David didn't stop with this; he just acknowledged the barrier when he said, "What am I going to say more to you? Am I going to tell God something he doesn't already know? Am I going to persuade God to do something He doesn't want to do?" It's a problem. And yet, the scriptures tell us that it is possible to persuade God. And that's amazing to even consider.

David went on to say this:

2 Samuel 7:20 "And what can I say more unto you? for you, LORD GOD, know your servant. {21} For your word's sake, and according to your own heart, have you done all these great things, to make your servant know them. {22} Therefore you are great, O LORD God: for there is none like you, neither is there any God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears."

Now, I think this is interesting. Because, in the Lord's Prayer, this is where we start. "Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name." The whole idea is the greatness of God, and the way to start out in prayer, and putting what God is and what God does first in the model prayer. But David, in this case, started with what was in his heart. And I think we need to understand that formula.

Written prayers, or model prayers are only there to help us; not to control us. It's not to put our hands in a straight jacket. Because, when you come to God with a full heart (whatever that heart is full of) that's what you need to bring to Him. That's what you need to talk to Him about. And, in David's case, it came out. The thing that was the issue of the moment was the first thing out.

But then, David says in verse 22 of: 2 Samuel 7, "Therefore you are great, O LORD God [...]"

And everything that David has said up until this point, in a way, leads up to that point. It is an illustration of the greatness of God-of what He has done and what He is willing to do.

David says: 2 Samuel 7 verse 23, "And what one nation on the earth is like your people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great and awesome deeds for your land, before your people, which you redeemed to you from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?" {24} "For you have confirmed to yourself your people Israel to be a people to you for ever: and you, LORD, are become their God."

"God went and got them", is basically what he said. "They were in Egypt. They were slaves. You went down there and You bought them back, with a high hand and a stretched-out arm."

2 Samuel 7:24 "[...] and you, LORD, are become their God. {25} And now, O LORD God, the word that you have spoken concerning your servant, and concerning His house, establish it for ever, and do as you have said. {26} And let your name be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of your servant David be established before you."

It's an acceptance of the gift that God had just given him. He said, "Let it be done. Let it be as you have said."

2 Samuel 7:27 "For you, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed to your servant, saying, I will build you a house: therefore has your servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto you. {28} And now, O Lord GOD, you are that God, and your words are true, and you have promised this goodness unto your servant: {29} Therefore now let it please you to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever before you: for you, O Lord GOD, have spoken it: and with your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed forever."

David Knew How To Pray

Now, does this guy know how to pray? He sure did. David knew how to pray. The prayer is not all that long, is it? But it is remarkably detailed. And it is very apropos; it is very focused. David isn't off all over the landscape. He is responding to this enormous gift of God.

A lot of us have trouble remembering to say "Thank you" when somebody does something for us. We may or may not send a "Thank You" card. We may or may not call them up and thank them for it. And sometimes you do something for people right on the spot and they neglect to thank you for what you have done.

David Was A Man After God's Own Heart

So what this is from David is a direct response to a direct blessing and gift from God. And I honestly believe that this is one of the reasons why David was "a man after God's own heart". You really wonder, sometimes-when you read about this man, and about the kind of life he lived, and the kind of person he was-how did he ever get to be a man after God's own heart? And you have to read the whole story of the man's life-all the way from the time that he was just a boy, and his going up to the camp of Israel, and his slaying of Goliath [1 Samuel 17]. And his brothers (who thought that he was just being vain and naughty) were just not able to deal with the simple, clean, strong faith that David had. A lot of people would have thought (I'm sure did think) that David was naive-that he was foolish, that he was stupid-but I will have to say: I suspect that the cleanest and purest faith in Jesus Christ and in the Father will look stupid to most people.

But David just simply believed everything he had ever read about God in the Bible (or heard from the scriptures read in the synagogues on the Sabbath day). He believed everything that was in the Scriptures about God. He said, "God said He would do it. God will do it. And this is Israel, and we're God's people, and who does this uncircumcised Philistine think he is?" Just straightforward, simple, ABC faith in God. And so it would never have occurred to David, when he went in to pray ...which, I am sure, that prayer was of a regular and consistent part of this man's life, whether he was up or whether he was down. And I think, as time goes by, we can probably look at and see the evidence of that in the psalms and the prayers that he wrote. Because a lot of them are up and a lot of them are down, in the way in which David responded to God. Prayer was an ongoing, regular part of his life-even when (maybe especially when) he was a sinner, especially when his sin had come down upon him and he knew where he was and what he was and how he stood before God.

David was a man after God's own heart. I think he was because he was conscious of God, he believed God, he trusted God. God was in his life. God was in every sunrise, God was in every sunset. God was around him, God was in him, God was a part of all that went on. And he gave God credit for every good thing that happened. And he accepted the responsibility for every stupid thing, every sinful thing that he did.

I really think David probably understood repentance as well as any man who's ever lived (Psalms 51). And one of the key elements in it, if you read through his prayers and his repentance, is the acceptance of responsibility-without any attempt to shift blame. No finger-pointing, no excuses, no explaining away. "I have sinned." And then some of the prayers that followed on the heels of that will bring tears to your eyes when you understand what he did, and how he did it, and the trouble and the pain that he caused in other people's lives.

A Turning Point In History

Now, this passage of Scripture-this seventh chapter of Second Samuel-is critical. I mean, it's a turning point in history. It's a turning point because up until this time there was no plan for a Temple to be built. And out of this one little incident came the great Temple of God that Solomon built, the subsequent Temple that was built by Herod, and so forth. And there will be a Temple in the millennium, in the future, yet again. So the Temple becomes an important part of history, and it happened right here on this occasion.

And something else very important happened: the promise to David that he would never lack a man to sit on his throne-that his throne was permanent, for now, forever. His dynasty would forever rule over Israel. And in this is the promise of the Messiah-the fact that Christ would come of the seed of David, that the Anointed One would sit on that throne, and all the things that follow on the heels of that; all of them in this chapter.

You really ought to make a note for yourself somewhere in your Bible (maybe in the front of it or the back of it) so you never forget where it is in the Bible that you turn to find this particular turning point in history-the origins of the ideas of the Temple; and the origins of the promises made to David regarding his dynasty; and, of course, to one of the really great prayers of the Bible, where a man speaks to God out of the fullness of his heart.

The Psalms Are Rich With The Prayers of David

Now, this man David ...as I said: He could really pray. And I want you to turn over with me to Psalms, because the Psalms are rich with the prayers of David. I know that sometimes we look down our nose a little bit at written prayers. And when a man stands before us at some kind of a public event and reads a prepared prayer, it doesn't sound like it's very heartfelt. But at the same time, in the Bible, how many written prayers do we have? Somebody, somehow, some way sat down and wrote out a prayer, I would not be surprised if many of the prayers that we read of David in the Psalms actually came into existence from pen to paper as opposed from voice to the air and the ears of other people. And why not? Why should I not be able to sit down with a pencil and a piece of paper and write my prayer to God instead of speaking my prayer to God? No reason at all, right?

Well, for anyone who is interested in learning to pray, we find in the Book of Psalms an incredible array of examples of prayer from which we can learn.

The Third Psalm

In the third Psalm (this is the first of the psalms of David in the Old Testament [that is a prayer]. The two preceding this are not exactly prayers.

Psalm 3:1 David said, "Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me."

Now, you remember I said earlier that God was present in David's life. Religion with David was not a sometimes thing. It wasn't on today and off again. You will find in the psalms that, when things are going good, David is writing prayers; and when things are going bad, David is writing prayers. And so this was not a sometimes thing-that God, his faith, his religion was everything in his life.

Now, by the way, before I go on with this, I do want to lay a little bit of the background of this particular psalm. This is a psalm of David when he fled before Absalom his son. Now, I know a lot of us have troubles with our family, and we have children that we wish would have gone better than they did, and we know the hurt and the pain and the suffering that sometimes comes in our life. And David was no exception. The troubles that his children had are staggering.

If you've never really read through that section of his life, go back to the beginnings of. . . well, all the way from Samuel. Start with First Samuel 1:1 and read your way forward. It's an incredible story. It's important to know. And, I think, it's important for your children to know. Because without a good knowledge of the history of Israel of old, so many of the psalms don't make sense (or they don't make as much sense). And even much of the New Testament doesn't register, because it all grows out of history.

I hear some of the most incredibly foolish ideas being advanced these days about prophecy that people seem to think they can look out at the world, and look at the Bible, and say, "Oh, that looks like it matches." But they have no sense of history. They don't know where this came from. They don't know where it's rooted in the Bible. And the fact of the matter is that history is a continuum-it's a time line. And these things don't hang in midair; they grow out of past events. And it's important to understand and to know that history. And it's not hard to read. It's some of the most interesting reading in the Bible. It doesn't require a lot of explanation. It just requires reading it, and thinking about it as you read it.

The problem with David and Absalom, his son, was that Absalom was not content to wait until his dad grew old and died to inherit the throne. (In fact, he probably would not have, in any case.) But he actually mounted a rebellion and a revolt against his own father. Now, as strange as that may sound to us, it is common in royal families. Fratricide, patricide, matricide-people killing their own relatives, their mothers, their fathers, their children because of the royal lineage and the way these things go-is just rife through history. And the pain ...and what is really kind of shocking about this is that, of all the people in David's family, Absalom was his favorite. He doted over the boy. He was drop-dead handsome, apparently, and he had a charisma and a personality that just has no end to it. He could persuade people that black was white and white was black. And he was on a merry old campaign to wrest the kingdom away from his father. When people would come up to Jerusalem, and they would try to get a case heard in the courts, and they couldn't get it heard, he'd talk to them and say, "Boy, I tell you, if I were in charge here you'd sure get that case heard." And the scriptures tell us he "stole the hearts" of the people of Israel [2 Samuel 15:6].

Absolom

And finally, Absolum, Davidís son, actually made a move; he attempted a coup. And David fled. He had to run for his life from his own son. And he went across the Brook Kidron and on out toward the east with an entourage of people around him; and with people laughing at him, and yelling at him, and throwing stones, and throwing dust in the air. One of his men said, "Do you want me to go take that dog's head off?", because he was throwing curses at David. And David said, "No, don't do it. Maybe God will hear that and feel sorry for me." And so they went on their way and left the man there [2 Samuel 16]. But he fled from his son. And when the battle was fought against his son ...well, that's another story for later. But first of all, back to this prayer. This is the psalm when he had to run from his own son in a palace coup.

Psalm 3 verse 1, "Lord, how are they increased that trouble me! Many are they that rise up against me. {2} Many there be which say of my soul, There is no help for him in God. Selah. 3 But you, O LORD, are a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of my head. {4} "I cried to the LORD with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy hill. Selah. {5} I laid me down and slept; I awaked; for the LORD sustained me."

Now, if you haven't been there in your life already, you will be-to the place where you're almost afraid to go to sleep at night, because you're not sure you're going to ever wake up again.

And here is a man where everybody was against him except for just a handful of people, really-a very small, relatively small palace guard that was with him. I will have to say of those men: They were pretty special guys. But, nevertheless, he was outnumbered badly by Absalom and his forces. But in all that that he did, he never ever lost hope."

So that through it all David accepted responsibility. But he also knew (and I think this is so important) that when you have been wrong, and when you have done things that are wrong, and when all these wrong things are starting to come home to roost (which, in the process of time, they're bound to do) you can still trust so much in the mercy of God to know that He will feel sorry for you. And you can lie down, and sleep, and you will wake because God will sustain you.

The Fourth Psalm

Psalm 4:1 "Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: you have delivered me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer. [..] {4} Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still. Selah. {5} Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. {6} There be many that say, Who will show us any good? LORD, lift you up the light of your countenance on us. {7} You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the time that their corn and their wine increased. {8} I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you, LORD, only make me dwell in safety.

Two times, now-two different psalms-we come to the theme, again: "I will lay me down in peace, and sleep. For you, LORD, alone make me to dwell safely."

You know, I think what this is about is something that's common to all of us-that it is in the night that we feel so troubled. It's in the night when our spirits are low. It's in the night when we become depressed. It's in the night when we become discouraged. And one of the things that David is looking for in his prayer is that God will allow him to lie down in peace and sleep.

David Prayed In Bed

There's another interesting thing. David says: Psalm 4:4 "[...] commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still. [...]"

David, many times in the psalms, will talk about praying from his bed; and praying in the night watches, talking to God. Like I said before: There's a place for prayer and a posture for prayer. And one of those places of prayer is in bed, when you're troubled and you're laying awake. And it's very easy to see that this man spent a lot of sleepless nights. And he called to God in the midwatch, he called to him in the morning watch, he called to him whenever he could not sleep and whenever he needed to talk.

We Need Quiet Time

David also said, "Commune with your own heart on your bed, and be still." One of the things that I think we need (and the need is becoming greater in this modern world with so much pressure on us) we really do need quiet time in our life. We need a time when we come into the presence of God and we are just quiet. You don't have to talk all the time. You don't have to speak to God every moment that you are in prayer. For a lot of what goes on, when you're on your knees before God, is meditation. A lot of it is being quiet and listening. For indeed, if it's a two-way conversation, somewhere along the line God needs to speak to you. He will speak to you through your heart: you will probably not hear him on your eardrums, but God will speak to you.

And, sometimes, that quiet time that we have will become very important-as a time when we come to think through certain things. And with our meditation being before God; and bringing our thoughts before God; and allowing God to guide us in our thoughts. I think we can sometimes come to much sounder, much more sensible decisions then we otherwise might. And I would say that, if you're having trouble with prayer, if you're having trouble knowing what to say, if you're having trouble with the discipline of prayer (and there is a discipline of prayer of going back to it again and again and again) maybe what you need is quiet time-time when the computer is off, time when the television is off, time when you're alone. Because, you know, there are times when friends can be together without talking. There is a companionship of just riding down the road together. There's a time of companionship of just walking over the hill together. There's a time of just being together when you don't say anything, and you're still there, and your friends, and the companionship speaks for itself. Well, wouldn't there be something to be said for being in the presence of God and shutting up? Being quiet and finding that time?

I will tell you this: In my own life, there have been times when everything kind of got on top of me; when everything was going by so fast, and the world was moving so much around-so much travel, so much doing, so much working-that prayer became difficult, prayer became hard; that it was easier to go do something else than it was to pray. And I began to realize, as a result of this, that the mistake that I had made was I had allowed the quiet times to get pushed out of my life. And it is in those quiet times that God can speak, He will speak. It is in those quiet times that the solutions to your problems that you're wrestling with will come to you. It's in those quiet times that the new idea that will take you forward will come to you, when the awareness of yourself will come to you, when the awareness of what you need to do next will come to you. If you're never quiet, it will never come.

The Fifth Psalm - Meditation

Psalm 5:1 "Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation."

"Consider my meditation." Well, if you don't ever meditate, there's nothing to consider. And if you're never quiet, you're never going to meditate. If you're never alone, you're never going to meditate. You need to have a time when there's nothing to do but think.

I think that we sometimes are afraid of solitude, we're afraid of the quiet. I don't know if we're afraid of what we're going to think, afraid of what might bubble up out of the inside of us. But we do not like to have our minds unoccupied, as it were. Not realizing, sometimes, that meditation is the occupation for your mind.

"What do you mean by `meditation'?" Meditation's simple: It is directed thinking. Instead of sitting down and allowing your mind to freewheel and wander whichever way it wants to go; you sit down and you think down certain patterns, down certain problems, certain areas. You direct your thoughts in certain paths. It's as simple as that. And it's really not hard to do. The hard part is the discipline of pushing enough things out of the way to find the time to do it. And, again, maybe having the courage to push those things out of the way.

Love The Sinner and Hate The Sin

Psalm 5:2 "Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto you will I pray. {3} My voice shall you hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto you, and will look up. {4} For you are not a God that has pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with you. {5} The foolish shall not stand in your sight: you hate all workers of iniquity."

Now, everyone thinks you're supposed to "love the sinner and hate the sin". Okay, David's calling upon God to hate the sinner; and in particular "the bloody and the deceitful man."

Truth Is Fallen In The Street

Verse 6 of Psalms 5, "You shall destroy them that speak falsehood: the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man."

I will tell you, folks: One of the things that's in the process of destroying our county, as we sit here in it, is lying and deceit. I mean, I don't know where you're going to go these days to try to find truth. Truth is fallen in the street. It is the first casualty in this war. You can't get the truth out of the newspapers. (What you get is a lot of Fake News). You can't get truth out of politicians. Where are you going to go to find truth? We've even found a way of not calling it "lying" anymore; we call it "spin". Deceit and lying are the things that make life so tough. Truth, and telling the truth, is a sure road to freedom-the freedom of the heart, the freedom of spirit. It may be that, if you've done something that telling the truth about will take you to jail, maybe you need to go. But the truth of the matter is: Truth is where it's at.

Psalm 5:7 "But as for me, I will come into your house in the multitude of your mercy: and in your fear will I worship toward your holy Temple. {8} Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before my face. {9} For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is wickedness; their throat is an open sepulcher; they flatter with their tongue. {10} Destroy them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels [their own advice; And, in fact, they will.]; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against you."

Now, I want you to notice this. There's a lot of detail in this psalm. David doesn't just ask God to deal with his enemies. He asks God to do it this way. Right? This is an interesting illustration of prayer. I mean, so many times I think we don't get what we want because we don't ask for what we want. Maybe it's because we don't know what we want. Maybe it's because we're afraid to get down to the details of what we want.

Psalm 5:11 "But let all those that put their trust in you rejoice: let them shout for joy, because you defend them: let them also that love your name be joyful in you. {12} For you, LORD, will bless the righteous; with favor will you surround him as with a shield."

At the end of his prayer, David was absolutely confident that God would put a shield around him.

For many people religion is a sometime thing; and I really think that, for many of us, prayer is a sometimes thing.

In fact, there probably is absolutely nothing that we do in our lives that is more important than the quiet time for meditation before God, and our prayer to God, so that His Holy Spirit which He has placed in us, will finally at long last speak to us and show us the right way where we can walk in righteousness and not get lost.


This sermon was transcribed with editing from a message given by
Ronald L. Dart titled:
"Great Prayers #1" (9822)

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