Reading Time: 7 Minutes
James Houston is one of the most highly regarded theologians and spiritual leaders in the world. Yet, here are his first words in a book he wrote on prayer: “For many years, prayer was probably the weakest dimension of my life as a Christian.”
Houston repented over his lack of prayer. Repentance means to “change your mind” and thus to change your behavior. The result of Houston’s repentance was a new commitment. He said, “I made up my mind that the desire to pray and to keep company with God would become my primary concern in life.”
If you resonate with Houston on any level, Psalm 25 is a great place to begin learning how to pray. Because of its rich nature, we will devote two days to this prayer.
My God, I Trust in You
To you, O Lord, I offer my prayer;
in you, my God, I trust.
Save me from the shame of defeat;
don’t let my enemies gloat over me!
Defeat does not come to those who trust in you,
but to those who are quick to rebel against you. (Psalm 25.1-3)
The benefit of praying a Psalm is that we see words that we may overlook while reading the Bible or a devotional blog on the subject.
The prayer is to “my God,” whom I trust. God is not simply a force somewhere in the universe. He is a personal Being with whom we can “keep company,” as James Houston says.
The Hebrew word for trust provides a powerful word picture. Imagine being in a safe and warm shelter during a snow storm. See a warm blanket and an inviting fire burning the fireplace. Outside your home is a fence to keep your children from wandering and from intruders entering. These are all images that the Hebrew word for trust evoke.
When we say, “in you, my God, I trust,” we are expressing our belief that God is warm, inviting, protecting, secure, and someone in whom we can be completely confident.
Our personal God takes a personal interest in us and is the perfect One in whom to place our trust.
Teaching is for Living
One of the central subject of Psalm 25 is learning.
Teach me your ways, O Lord;
make them known to me.
Teach me to live according to your truth,
for you are my God, who saves me.
I always trust in you. (Psalm 25.4-5)
This Psalm reveals an important aspect of learning. Learning is more than the accumulation of information and the application of reason. We haven’t learned until we have discovered what God thinks is important for living.
Prayer to “my God,” the One with whom we have a personal friendship relationship, involves asking God what is most important in life. We want to know from God what is true so we can fully trust in him.
I am currently re-reading James Houston’s book, “The Transforming Friendship,” because it is full of wisdom, life, joy, humility, and inspiration. It is not surprising that the introduction to the book was written by Dallas Willard, the author who has most influenced my life.
Both of these men were friends of God for many years. They learned truth from the very source, the One who is True and Faithful. As such, they have taught thousand of people like me how to seek God’s truth for themselves.
I encourage you to remember the first sentence from verse 5, “Teach me to live according to your truth.” Frequently pray these words today and expect that God will teach you so you can live better.
Kindness and Love for Sinners
The person who comes close to God in prayer becomes very aware of their shortcomings. Forgiveness and grace is always needed.
Remember, O Lord, your kindness and constant love
which you have shown from long ago.
Forgive the sins and errors of my youth.
In your constant love and goodness,
remember me, Lord! (Psalm 25.6-7)
What part of God’s character is most encouraging to us, when we come to him as sinners? It is his kindness, his constant love, or his goodness? The image of “constant love” is that of God continuing to love us after we have failed, rebelled, turned away from him, and more.
God continues his faithfulness to us, even after we have been unfaithful to him. These two verses begin and end with the word, “remember.” In love, God remembers how much we need his grace, forgiveness, and care.
School for Sinners
Because of God’s goodness, he is willing to teach sinners how to live.
Because the Lord is righteous and good,
he teaches sinners the path they should follow.
He leads the humble in the right way
and teaches them his will.
With faithfulness and love he leads
all who keep his covenant and obey his commands. (Psalm 25.8-10)
James writes, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4.6).
It is very difficult to lead the proud, because they know where they want to go. It is very hard to teach the proud, because they already know everything. Pearls of wisdom are not given to swine (Matthew 7.6), because pigs don’t like the taste.
For those who recognize their needs, God is righteous, good, faithful, loving. As they come to him, he is ready to show them the paths they should follow.
We don’t pray because we are good. We pray because God is good and will help us become better. He will help us know and do his will.
We won’t experience the true meaning of this Psalm by reading a blog or hearing a sermon about it. The only way to experience it is to experience it. Please approach Psalm 25 from three angles.
(1) Pray – Please open your Bible and pray out loud the verses of this Psalm. Put the verses in your own words and talk to God as your very best friend.
(2) Meditate – Find a verse or a phrase from the Psalm. Think about it and pray it frequently through the day.
You may want to join me and focus on verse 5: “Teach me to live according to your truth.”
(3) Absorb – Where do you need God at this time in your life? As you tell God what you need, use the words of this Psalm to help express you desires to God.
May We Pray for You
Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team that is honored to pray for you. Please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and will inform the prayer team of your requests.