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 Meditation Gives Direction to Our Prayers

Psalms 1:1-6

Jim Davis

The key to prayer is meditating upon God’s word for the purpose of finding practical application of it for my life. The key to asking and receiving is knowing God’s will well enough to know what you should ask for. The first Psalm reveals the essentials of prayer.

Psalms 1:1-6
Blessed is the man
who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked
or stand in the way of sinners
or sit in the seat of mockers.
2 But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish. NIV

The essential purpose of the word of God is to meditate upon God’s counsel so one can walk in his counsel. We may think the only purpose of knowing God’s word is so we can teach it to others. This is important but we must seek to apply it to our lives before we are qualified to teach others. Ezra set the example for the Israelites during their return to Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity.

Ezra 7:8-10
8 Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king. 9 He had begun his journey from Babylon on the first day of the first month, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day of the fifth month, for the gracious hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law of the LORD, and to teaching its decrees and laws in Israel. NIV

I am convinced that the only way you can come to a point where you delight in meditating upon God’s law is by learning how practical and powerful it is as you seek to live it. The gospel truly is the power of God unto salvation. When we seek to live God’s law the gospel of Christ becomes the medium through which God exerts his power in our lives. This is the power that salvages what is left of our lives on planet earth. When our meditation and prayers are directed to this end God’s power overcomes our circumstances as he makes the mountains low and valleys high leveling a way through our circumstances. When we are privileged to experience God’s activity in our lives God’s law becomes a delight and we are further motivated to meditate and pray.

There are some people who have studied the Bible all their lives who have never heard the voice of God for their personal life.

John 5:36-40
36 "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. 37 And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, 38 nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. 39 You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, 40 yet you refuse to come to me to have life. NIV

Most of my preaching and teaching are coming from my desire to understand and know God better as I struggle with growing spiritually right where I am. In my teaching I am simply trying to take you with me.

The Focus of Prayer and Mediation

If we could allow God to take control of our minds by focusing our thoughts on him through his word we would begin to pray powerful focused courageous prayers which would lead us to experience God’s success in living.

Joshua 1:1-9
1:1 After the death of Moses the servant of the LORD, the LORD said to Joshua son of Nun, Moses' aide: 2 "Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them-to the Israelites. 3 I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. 4 Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates-all the Hittite country-to the Great Sea on the west. 5 No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.

6 "Be strong and courageous, because you will lead these people to inherit the land I swore to their forefathers to give them. 7 Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Do not let this Book of the Law depart from your mouth; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." NIV

Listen to how God seeks to focus Joshua’s mind before sending him to conquer the Promised Land.

God first promises Joshua success. Nothing builds confidence better than knowing we are going to succeed. The Lord says to Joshua, "I will give you every place where you set your foot—no one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life—I will be with you—I will never leave you nor forsake you." In essence God is saying his power would enable Joshua to do what he is called upon to do. He didn’t say it would be easy. He did say he would succeed. He desired to replace his fear with faith.

Secondly, God doesn’t stop here but he tells him his meditation upon God’s law is for the purpose of discovering God’s ways for the purpose of doing it. He further says, "Be careful to obey all the law—that you may be successful wherever you go---meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it—then you will be prosperous and successful—be strong for the Lord you God will be with you." Clearly the purpose of meditation is so that we may be careful to do everything written, and then you will be prosperous and successful because God will be with you.

When we have great thoughts about God but there is no action it results in fruitlessness. The only way you can focus your life on God through prayer is through meditating upon his word while desiring to do his will. Jesus said, "My meat is to do the will of the Father who sent me."

Reorientation is the Goal of Meditation

The psalms deal with orientation, disorientation, and reorientation. We start out with a particular orientation in life. We may think it is valid. However trouble comes and we become disorientated as our beliefs are tested to the core of our being. It is then that we must seek reorientation. This is what is happening throughout the psalms as the writers seek to refocus on God’s ways.

The psalmist in Psalms 119 starts with the orientation that if he obeys God’s word everything will be alright. Initially he is consumed with God’s word.

Psalms 119:9-16
How can a young man keep his way pure?
By living according to your word.
10 I seek you with all my heart;
do not let me stray from your commands.
11 I have hidden your word in my heart
that I might not sin against you.
12 Praise be to you, O LORD;
teach me your decrees.
13 With my lips I recount
all the laws that come from your mouth.
14 I rejoice in following your statutes
as one rejoices in great riches.
15 I meditate on your precepts
and consider your ways.
16 I delight in your decrees;
I will not neglect your word. NIV

He then becomes disorientated. He is afraid his disorientation will blind him to the counsel of God. He pleads with God not to allow him to become so disoriented that he loses sight of God’s counsel.

Psalms 119:25-28
I am laid low in the dust;
preserve my life according to your word.
26 I recounted my ways and you answered me;
teach me your decrees.
27 Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;
then I will meditate on your wonders.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word. NIV

Psalms 119:49-56
Remember your word to your servant,
for you have given me hope.
50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
Your promise preserves my life.
51 The arrogant mock me without restraint,
but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember your ancient laws, O LORD,
and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
wherever I lodge.
55 In the night I remember your name, O LORD,
and I will keep your law.
56 This has been my practice:
I obey your precepts. NIV

Now he seeks reorientation as he determines to meditate on God’s decree, and as a result he rediscovers delight in the counsel of God’s word.

Psalms 119:57-64
You are my portion, O LORD;
I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
be gracious to me according to your promise.
59 I have considered my ways
and have turned my steps to your statutes.
60 I will hasten and not delay
to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
to all who follow your precepts.
64 The earth is filled with your love, O LORD;
teach me your decrees. NIV

You can begin to delight in God’s word only when you begin to experience the relief his counsel brings. If your faith is strong you can delight in it before you experience relief. If your faith is weak you must force yourself to take counsel in God’s Word so you can muster the courage to stand.

The Benefits of Focused Prayers

The word of God is designed to focus us on God’s unfailing love.

Psalms 48:9
9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.

This is crucial as the word brings us to focus on the sin in our lives. Knowing God’s unfailing love can never disown us makes it possible to come to him in times of our faithless failures.

2 Timothy 2:11-13
1 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure,
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself. NIV

Focusing on God’s word through prayer gives us strength in times of weakness.

Psalms 119:27-32
27 Let me understand the teaching of your precepts;
then I will meditate on your wonders.
28 My soul is weary with sorrow;
strengthen me according to your word.
29 Keep me from deceitful ways;
be gracious to me through your law.
30 I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set my heart on your laws.
31 I hold fast to your statutes, O LORD;
do not let me be put to shame.
32 I run in the path of your commands,
for you have set my heart free. NIV

Focusing on God’s word when we are attacked by our enemies will make us wiser than our enemies.

Psalms 119:97-101
Oh, how I love your law!
I meditate on it all day long.
98 Your commands make me wiser than my enemies,
for they are ever with me.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your statutes.
100 I have more understanding than the elders,
for I obey your precepts.
101 I have kept my feet from every evil path
so that I might obey your word. NIV

Psalms 119:78-80
78 May the arrogant be put to shame for wronging me without cause;
but I will meditate on your precepts.
79 May those who fear you turn to me,
those who understand your statutes.
80 May my heart be blameless toward your decrees,
that I may not be put to shame. NIV

How to Begin to Focus Your Life

You must seek reorientation by focusing on what God has done for others; remembering what God has done for others he can do for you. If you are just beginning to meditate upon God’s word and you have no personal experiences of his deliverance in troublesome times you may have difficulty believing he can deliver you. After you experience a few personal victories you will begin to realize God’s sustaining power. If you don’t have those personal experiences focus on what God has done in the past. What he did is the clue to what he can do for you.

Psalms 143:5-6
5 I remember the days of long ago;
I meditate on all your works
and consider what your hands have done.
6 I spread out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. NIV

Psalms 145:5-6
5 They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
6 They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds. NIV

It is not enough to know what you need to do, but you must seek God’s power to make it happen. Esther was a young teenager facing a dilemma that could very well cost her her life. She knew what she had to do, but she refused to do it until all the Jews fasted and prayed to God for deliverance.

Esther 4:6-5:3
6 So Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king's gate. 7 Mordecai told him everything that had happened to him, including the exact amount of money Haman had promised to pay into the royal treasury for the destruction of the Jews. 8 He also gave him a copy of the text of the edict for their annihilation, which had been published in Susa, to show to Esther and explain it to her, and he told him to urge her to go into the king's presence to beg for mercy and plead with him for her people.

9 Hathach went back and reported to Esther what Mordecai had said. 10 Then she instructed him to say to Mordecai, 11 "All the king's officials and the people of the royal provinces know that for any man or woman who approaches the king in the inner court without being summoned the king has but one law: that he be put to death. The only exception to this is for the king to extend the gold scepter to him and spare his life. But thirty days have passed since I was called to go to the king."

12 When Esther's words were reported to Mordecai, 13 he sent back this answer: "Do not think that because you are in the king's house you alone of all the Jews will escape. 14 For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?"

15 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: 16 "Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my maids will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish."

17 So Mordecai went away and carried out all of Esther's instructions.

Esther 5
5:1 On the third day Esther put on her royal robes and stood in the inner court of the palace, in front of the king's hall. The king was sitting on his royal throne in the hall, facing the entrance. 2 When he saw Queen Esther standing in the court, he was pleased with her and held out to her the gold scepter that was in his hand. So Esther approached and touched the tip of the scepter.

3 Then the king asked, "What is it, Queen Esther? What is your request? Even up to half the kingdom, it will be given you." NIV

God’s name is not mentioned in this incident, but he directs the kings heart as they fasted and prayed. We are seeking to do much of the church’s work my human wisdom and human might. It will never work without the power of God.

Conclusion:

2 Timothy 2:11-16
11 Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with him,
we will also live with him;
12 if we endure
we will also reign with him.
If we disown him,
he will also disown us;
13 if we are faithless,
he will remain faithful,
for he cannot disown himself.

14 Keep reminding them of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. NIV

 

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