Any of us can find ourselves struggling with keeping our priorities consistent with God's. God gives us help though. In Psalm 19 David helps us keep our thinking clear about the world around us. In this wisdom psalm about creation and God's Word, we can discern several prayer requests to help us keep our priorities in the right direction.
- Pray a prayer of gratitude for creation and God's Word. This psalm teaches us in verses 1-6 about how everyday creation declares the glory of God. David then reminds us of benefit after benefit of God's Word to His followers: they rescue or preserve one's life (v. 7), they make wise the simple (v. 7), they make the heart happy (v. 8), they give insight (v. 8), they are ethically clean and help keep us clean (v. 9), they are true, trustworthy and absolutely just (v. 9). We can begin by praying a prayer of gratitude for the constant reminder of God's glory and all the benefits of His Word for us.
- Pray for awareness of God's glory. Think about it: every morning as soon as we wake up, creation is already declaring God's glory. David says that the sun charges out of the East every morning with a fresh, vibrant, strong message of God's glory. All day long the heat of the sun emphasizes its message. Then as the evening gets cooler and the night begins to settle in around us, the stars and moon pick up with the same message of God's glory. We can pray that God would help us be aware of His glory as we move throughout our day.
- Ask God to help you rejoice in knowing, obeying and appreciating God's Word. The Bible provides us so many benefits! We are the beneficiaries of some incredible stuff! Insight. Happiness. Wisdom. Direction. Protection. On and on we could go with the list of benefits that are provided to the Christian through reading and meditating on the Bible. So our prayer is that God would help me enjoy doing what the Bible says to do. The goal of this prayer is that I would see the benefits of obeying God as a follower of God in Christ.
- Ask God to help you receive the wisdom the Bible gives for what it is. David exclaims, "Moreover by them Your servant is warned, and in keeping them there is great reward" (19:11). When we follow the truth of the Word, we receive wisdom as we heed the warnings and reap the rewards of obedience. David realizes the Bible is given from God for his benefit. That's true for all of us! We want to pray that we would receive the wisdom given to us through the Bible so that we will enjoy the rewards and prevent the consequences it describes.
- Ask God to help you desire forgiveness. After David considered God's glory as it is declared by creation and the unimaginable benefits of the Scriptures, he desires forgiveness. He writes, "Who can understand his errors? Cleanse me from secret faults. Keep back Your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and I shall be innocent of great transgression" (19:12-13). After meditating on the glory and grace of God, he wants to be forgiven. This is the perfect response. When we take time to consider who God is and what God does, in appreciation we go to God wanting the closest relationship possible – which only happens through forgiveness. David and we together can enjoy God's glory and the Bible more once we have sought forgiveness of our sins.
- Ask God to help you desire to be a God-honoring person. David continues to pray, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer" (19:14). The key word is that his life would be acceptable. Here, the prayer is not that he will earn God's favor; instead, it is that he will live a life that is honorable to God. So we pray that God would give us a desire to honor Him whatever it is that we do. What motivates this for the follower of Christ? The fact that we are accepted by God in Christ motivates us to live a life that honors Him regardless of what we do (2 Corinthians 5:9).
- Ask God to help you to desire change. He asks, "May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable..." (19:14). He is considering two different categories in relationship to life-lived: his inner man and his outer man. What does he mean by "the mediation of his heart?" He is interested in the thoughts, considerations, desires, wants, attitudes and affections of the heart or inner man. He recognizes what we now know to be true from the New Testament, "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks" (Luke 6:45). So, we pray and ask God to help us treasure / want / love what is best; that is, God's will and pleasure.
- Ask God to help you practice change. What does David mean when he asks that the words of his mouth may be acceptable? He is talking out his words and by extension his actions. In other words, he desires for God to not only be honored in his heart or what he thinks / loves / desires, but also in his behavior. David was not satisfied with just a change in his character (inner man) but also desired a change in his conduct (outer man). Limiting our desire to change to the inner man hinders progress as we seek to be more like Jesus. We do not want to settle for an informed mind; instead, we strive for a transformed life.
- Ask God to help you prioritize God more than the world around us. David responds to his consideration of the glory of God and gift of His Word, "More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb" (19:10). Essentially David says, "God's Word is better than the best gold and is sweeter than the best honey." Back when David wrote this, these were incredible illustrations of value. You know the value of gold. You may not know the value of honey. In David's day, he did not enjoy all the sugar, candy, drinks, and everything else we enjoy in terms of sweets. So, in an effort to describe how satisfying the Word of God is for the person who follows it, he couldn't think of anything better than good honeycomb. The Bible is valuable and we should prioritize it over all the other possessions we have. It gives life. It makes life sweet. It produces happiness. It is beneficial in every way! Therefore, we pray that God would help us prioritize God and obedience to God's Word more than the world around us.
Let's pray that God would show us His grace as we seek His help in our Spiritual Priorities.
(This is the second blog in a series "How Do I Pray." The first blog is "How do I pray for Gospel Conversations?")