Two Words that Guide Our Prayers

September 21, 2020

Sometimes my prayer times are smooth streams. Words flow easily from my burdened mind to God’s throne, and I feel a real sense of the Holy Spirit. 

Other times, my thoughts are as scattered as a class of preschoolers dismissed to recess. They’re everywhere, in no particular order, running in every direction, and jammed with distraction. 

Worst of all is when my soul is sluggish and empty toward the Lord of Glory.  

One way I focus my mind is by praying through the Psalms. Last week my Bible reading plan assigned me Psalm 146. When I got to verse 5, I found myself reading back over it again and again. Something about it made me linger.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,

Whose hope is in the Lord his God 

Help and hope. The words formed a repeating loop in my mind. As I prayed through these verses, I found that my whole prayer list fit into them.  

God knows we need a lot of help. He invites us to ask him for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11) and promises to be an ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1). We can come to him for divine assistance with leaky pipes, nagging coughs, relational bumps, and wisdom for life. Our daily needs matter to him, and he loves to move on behalf of his children.

But as we lay our requests before him, we do so knowing that he alone is our eternal hope (Colossians 1:27). God–not the remedied situation–is our resting place. God–not the reconciled relationship–is our solid rock. This verse promises us that blessing comes when we see him this way. The God of Jacob is our God, and he is everything to us. This shapes the way we pray. 

This verse protects us from error. Some of us would naturally focus on God as helper, bringing him into the details of life but losing focus on his eternal glories. Others would treasure God’s sovereignty and power as their ultimate hope, but forget that he loves to put his arm around his children and provide for their earthly needs. Because of the gift of Scripture, we know better: God is our help and hope in every situation.

Are you carrying a burden today?

Ask God for help. “Lord, please come to my rescue in this. Change this circumstance for my good and your glory. Bring relief! Give me what I need! But only you, Lord, are my hope. I don’t put my confidence in the answered prayer, but in you and all that you are.”

It works for everything: We ask for God’s help in our friend’s financial difficulty but also that she hides in the Lord, her fortress.  We pray that our son would pass his test at school but also that he would know that God defines him, not a letter grade at the top of a paper.  

God is our daily help and ultimate hope, and incredibly, delights to be both.

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