Monday, December 6, 2010

How Do You Pray with Confidence?

RiverboatLong ago two boys on the bank of the Mississippi River watched a mighty paddle wheeler majestically move down the river. As it drew near, one boy laid down his fishing pole and began to wave frantically and yell. The other lad laughed at the effort of his friend to get the attention of the paddle wheeler, but suddenly the giant vessel began to slow down and then turned toward the bank.

In amazement, the second boy wondered aloud how his friend could possibly flag down a massive paddle wheeler. The excited boy simply told his bewildered friend: "My father is the pilot."

As children of God we, too, can have confidence that our Father will respond to our petitions. Psalm 119:73-80 is a prayer of confidence in a good God in whom we can trust. Verses 73-75 focus on the character and works of God. They form the basis for the psalmist’s confidence for making his petitions in verses 76-80. He prays trusting in God and in God’s word. So in this section of Psalm 119 we see three reasons for confidence in God and His Word and five requests based on that confidence in God and His Word.
Reasons for Confidence in God and His Word.
1. My Creator a Plan for My Life (73).
73 Your hands have made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments.
The word “hand” is the key word of this whole stanza.  In fact, each verse of the stanza begins with the Hebrew letter yod.  It corresponds to our letters “y” and “j”, but yad is also the Hebrew word for “hand.” 
Your hands have made me and fashioned me.”  Those are very personal words that are rich, not only with the creative power of God, but also in expressing God’s involvement in creating each one of us individually. 
We don’t usually think of mass-producing things with our hands.  That’s what machines are for.  Hands mould pottery.  Hands craft wood.  Hands knit and stitch and embroider.  Hands create things that involve our personal attention.  God doesn’t have literal hands—God is spirit—but God has lovingly crafted each of us the same way the potter’s hands mould a pot, the carpenter’s hands shape a block of wood, or the seamstress’ hands stitch together a lovely garment.  God is involved, He cares, He loves his handiwork.  He doesn’t just make it—any machine can do that.  No, he fashions it.  That’s an expression of intent and thoughtfulness. 
Personalize this psalm by praying, “Lord, I know you will never forget me since I am the work of your hands. I am the vessel you made—and made with purpose.  Fill me up and use me.  Teach me, give me understanding so that I may learn to obey your commandments.”
Listen, if we can be sure of God’s continued interest in us simply because of our physical creation, how much more can we be sure of his interest in us now that He has caused us to be born again by His Spirit through faith in His Son?  He sent His only Son—the ultimate price—to die that God might create us anew. 
Doesn’t that assure you that God cares about you?  If you are in Christ, you have been washed by the blood of Jesus and renewed by His indwelling Spirit.  Pray that He will continue to work in you each day, giving you understanding and giving you strength to follow God’s way.
In my next post I will tell two more reasons for confidence in prayer.
What gives you confidence to petition God in prayer?

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