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The Scriptorium

Conversing with God

Prayer and Scripture go together. Psalm 119.169

Psalm 119.169-176 (1)

Pray Psalm 119.169.

Let my cry come before You, O LORD;
Give me understanding according to Your word.

Sing Psalm 119.169, 170.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
Let my cry come up before You, holy, righteous, loving Lord;
give me understanding so to live according to Your Word.
Let my prayer rise up before You; by Your Word redeem me, Lord!

Read Psalm 119.169-176; meditate on verse 169.

1. For what did the psalmist cry to the Lord?

2. What standard or guide shaped that prayer?

Prayer and Scripture reading are often regarded as two separate disciplines. They are not. We can do neither well apart from the other. We need prayer for God to open His Word to us; and we need His Word to guide us in our prayers as in all of life.

We’ve seen this throughout Psalm 119, but the interdependent nature of these foundational disciplines comes to the fore in this, the ת (tau) and final stanza of our psalm. We see it right here in verse 169. The psalmist cries out to the Lord in prayer that he might have understanding according to the Word of God. What does he want to understand? Obviously, the teaching of the Word. But also, how that Word applies to all his ways (since he knows God is watching them, v. 168).

Our time in the Word should be like a conversation in which we listen to God speaking in His Word, respond to Him concerning what we’re reading, listen some more in silence as the Spirit stirs in resonance or conviction within us, and then ask questions, express our thoughts, make observations, and listen some more. We should end our time with praise and thanks to God Who deigns to commune with sinful, straying people such as we (v. 176).

When we’re reading the Bible, we’re not just trying to record thoughts in our mind, to gain more knowledge about what the Bible teaches. Our aim is for the Word of God to enter and transform us, shape and mold us, and make us more like Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 3.12-18). This is best accomplished not merely as we read what God has written, but as we commune with Him in conversation over His Word.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162.
We have a lovely coffee-table book entitled American Writers at Home which offers descriptions and pictures of where each featured writer goes to meet their muse. Paul Tournier wrote a wonderful book called A Place for You which speaks of each person’s need for a “place” of their own. I can sweetly envision in my mind’s eye where our daughters go in their own homes for their morning quiet times with the Lord, and I know where we go each morning for this precious time with the Triune God in our home. Just as writers go to a particular place to write, we all need a special place to meet with the Lord. Jesus offered a sweet suggestion when He said, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6.6). And please, when we are together, “Give me understanding according to Your word” (Ps. 119.169).

Meeting with the Lord in the fellowship and communion of prayer and Scripture is the best time of the day.
Every day. That incredibly special time of reading His Words, listening to Him speak to us there, learning from Him, being convicted of sin, experiencing forgiveness, talking about the upcoming day with Him, and being refreshed in our spirit by the Spirit of God for strength and encouragement before we go out into our Personal Mission Field to do the works prepared for us to do from the beginning (Eph. 2.10). “Give me the common sense You promised” as I do this. (Ps. 119.169 TLB).

“Oh, love the LORD, all you His saints!
For the LORD preserves the faithful, and fully repays the proud person.
Be of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart,
All you who hope in the LORD” (Ps. 31.23, 24).

Meet Him, fellowship with Him in your special place here and now, and anticipate with joy that new place He is preparing for you there and then (Jn. 14.1-4).

For reflection
1. Why does it make sense that prayer and Scripture reading should be practiced together?

2. We pray for understanding of God’s Word. How can you know when understanding has been granted?

3. Do you have a special place where you start your day with the Lord? Do you think this is a good idea? Explain.

By the word cry he denotes earnestness. I am anxious, as if he had said, above all things, and am chiefly inflamed with this desire, (even as it is just and reasonable,) that the light of understanding by which we excel the lower animals, and approach very near to God, may be preferred by me to all earthly advantages. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Psalm 119.169

Pray Psalm 119.174-176.
Call on the Lord to show you more of His salvation today, to keep you from straying from His path, and to give you mercy and grace to help for all your times of need.

Sing Psalm 119.174-176.
(Regent Square: Angels from the Realms of Glory)
For Your saving grace we plead, Lord, and Your Law is our delight.
We to live and praise You need, Lord, all Your help by day and night.
Straying sheep, we do not heed, Lord; come and seek us by Your might!

T. M. and Susie Moore

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Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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