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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Psalm 141: Helps in Prayer in Difficult Times

Psalm 141
1 I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you.
2 May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice.
3 Set a guard over my mouth, Lord; keep watch over the door of my lips.
4 Do not let my heart be drawn to what is evil so that I take part in wicked deeds along with those who are evildoers; do not let me eat their delicacies.
5 Let a righteous man strike me—that is a kindness; let him rebuke me—that is oil on my head. My head will not refuse it, for my prayer will still be against the deeds of evildoers.
6 Their rulers will be thrown down from the cliffs, and the wicked will learn that my words were well spoken.
7 They will say, “As one plows and breaks up the earth, so our bones have been scattered at the mouth of the grave.”
8 But my eyes are fixed on you, Sovereign Lord; in you I take refuge—do not give me over to death.
9 Keep me safe from the traps set by evildoers, from the snares they have laid for me.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by in safety.

V. 1-2 The psalmist seems to be in trouble and wants God’s help now. Yet, he wants his prayer to be like incense, which as you can imagine slowly drifts upward. The incense and evening sacrifice were things done in obedience, they were commands.  Why would the psalmist want his prayer to be like them? He wants his prayer to be in line with what God desires and he wants his prayers to be acceptable to God.

V. 3-7 Remember the context of verses 1-2, the psalmist’s desire that his prayer be acceptable. A “guard over my mouth” would be for what purpose? Again, he does not want to say anything that would hinder his prayer.   The psalmist knows that there are many temptations to do and speak evil, so the guard at his mouth would be someone who is righteous, that knows God’s law and stops him from saying or doing anything wrong. So, rather than join in the deeds and speech of those who are evil, he prays for their judgement. The wicked even come to the point where they recognize that they have been defeated.

V. 8-10 Rather than rejoicing in the defeat of those who do evil, the psalmist keeps his focus on God, calling Him the  “Sovereign Lord” or the One who is absolutely over all. He then returns to his plea for help from the wicked, that they would be trapped by their own evil, but that he would be safe.

There are several important things we need to remember when we pray while we are in difficult situations that we can learn from Psalm 141:

1. We call on God first.  God is not the resource that we go to when all else have failed. He is who we go to first.

2. We must be careful how we pray and careful about what we say. Words thrown out without thought can hurt other people, and can show a lack of faith and trust in God. [Remember the father to Jesus, “If you can help my son...”]

3. We need to welcome and seek the counsel of those wise in the faith. We need to be accountable to grow properly. Think about a grapevine, it is most useful when it grows following the strands of wire, rather than just run anywhere along the ground. Be accountable to someone and following spiritual disciples of prayer, Bible study, and learning to be obedient to God’s commands help keep us along the designs of God’s will for our lives.

4. It is easy to get side-tracked by those who focus on evil or that do not follow God’s laws.

5. We need to keep our focus on God, realizing that He is God, He is in control, He loves us, He has a plan, and that we can trust Him.

6. As we call on God, seek wise counsel, focus on the fact the God is in control and that we can trust Him, we can be assured that God will hear and answer our prayers for our good and His glory.

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