Drawing Near. What character traits of God are prominent in the psalm? By what names or titles is God called or addressed? How is that name or title or action especially meaningful in the context of the psalm? It is true that psalms often do not have an identifiable context, some like Psalm 51 being the exception. Yet, that lack of context helps to make them songs for all seasons in what we face in life.
Into those contexts, God speaks pastorally and relevantly. So as you hear God called, “Sovereign Lord,” ask yourself how that title finds special significance in what the psalmist (and you) is dealing with. Knowing that the Bible is redemptive revelation, how is Christ present in the psalms as its singer or its subject? Read the psalm with an ear to its divine Author and an eye to the predicament of its human author, with an intention of response.
Reaching Out. How does the psalm inform your prayer as you seek to reach those around you for the sake of Christ? What dimensions of the human predicament are amplified? What issues of the heart are laid bare? What substitutes for God are sought to bring satisfaction, salvation and strength that could be fodder for your prayer on behalf of those you are trying to reach with the gospel? What truths does the psalm contribute to the redemptive landscape in holding up God’s grace and hope?
Part of the equipping of CHOP involves learning the logic of the gospel amidst the illogic of grace does not treat sinners as they deserve. The gospel presentation in Appendix C of the Manual lays out the gospel in terms of Creation, Alienation, Initiation, Reconciliation, and Obligation. How is each of these in evidence in the psalm that can fuel your prayer for others?
Enemy Profile. We contend for the gospel against a spiritual enemy protective of his kingdom and jealous for his subjects. The kingdom of God grows at the expense of the kingdom of Satan. The assurance of our Lord attends us that gates of hell cannot withstand the spiritual building project of his church.
In the classic passage on spiritual warfare in Ephesians 6, the Apostle Paul calls us to pray for our message, our hearers, and for ourselves. Prayer as a weapon of spiritual warfare for the sake of the kingdom of God is prayer aware of Satan’s tactics and prayer against his efforts.
The primary tactics of the devil are accusation, deception and temptation. How does the psalm before you speak to those tactics that can direct your prayer? How is each one answered by abiding in Christ, the stand of the spiritual warrior?
Mutual Support. How does the psalm lead you to pray for others engaged in witness for Christ, whether they are those you have partnered with as part of CHOP or the church worldwide? What struggles do they face as believers? In what needs can you uphold them in prayer? How are they targets of Satan’s efforts to disqualify them and to discredit their message?
We need to take seriously the power of prayer in the providence of God, as Paul suggests in his letters:
You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many. 2 Cor. 1:11
Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. Col. 4:12
May your time with God and wielding the weapon of prayer bless the God whose Word it is, bless others with the life-changing power of prayer, and bless you as a child of God, citizen of heaven and champion of the gospel.
Scripture quotations marked NKJV are from The Holy Bible, New King James Version, copyright ©1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Those marked ESV are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.