Pray to be shaped...
The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evildoers assail me
to eat up my flesh,
my adversaries and foes,
it is they who stumble and fall.
Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
Have you ever been in church, and you’re standing there singing one of the songs…but your heart just doesn’t feel in it? The song is about how much faith you have and how you’re not afraid. It’s a song about how you’ve dedicated your heart to the Lord…but you’re just not there today? Sometimes reading the psalms is like that, too, isn’t it? How are we to pray these passionate prayers of faith and confidence in the Lord when we aren’t feeling it?
Did you know that part of the purpose of the psalms is to shape your heart? These holy words are not just expressions of the psalmist that tell us about God or about what faith should look like. In fact, they are precisely what we ought to be reading and praying when we don’t feel like it. And when you attend to them, when you allow each word and phrase to hold your attention, God uses them to change you. It doesn’t happen in an instant, no. But the more time you spend allowing God to use his scriptures to tune your heart to his desires, the more you will fill your lungs to cry out in one accord with the psalmist’s plea. And your voice will join the choir of every true prayer offered to God as a pleasing aroma.
So renew your strength through praying God’s Word back to him. And trust in him to renew your spirit.
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud;
be gracious to me and answer me!
You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
Hide not your face from me.
Turn not your servant away in anger,
O you who have been my help.
Cast me not off; forsake me not,
O God of my salvation!