Reading Time: 7 Minutes
I wonder if you are like me as you go through the drive-through lane of a restaurant. With COVID there is often a long line. I scroll through my phone while I wait to place my order. When I get to the speaker, I give my order. Then, I return my attention to my phone until it is my time to receive my order.
I am sad to say that prayer can be like this for me, too. Much of my day can be filled with meaningless activity. When it is “prayer time,” I give God my order and then return to what I was doing before I started praying. To be honest, sometimes I don’t even think to check if my previous prayers have been answered.
Psalm 111 gives us an opportunity to escape the “drive-through” nature of shallow prayer. It invites us to a time of gratitude, praise and contemplation of God’s work in our lives.
Praise with Our Whole Heart
“Drive-through” prayer is halfhearted at best. Today, let’s join the Psalm writer and praise God with our whole heart.
Praise the Lord!
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart,
in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord,
studied by all who delight in them. (Psalm 111.1-2)
As we study the Bible, we definitely get more familiar with “the works of the Lord.”
There is no substitute for a daily, prayerful reading of the Bible. Like putting together a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle, each day will add another priceless piece of information about God.
People who prayerfully study the Bible on a regular basis will find themselves marveling at God’s abundant goodness, just as did the writer of this Psalm.
God’s Work Described
When I go through the drive-through window, I occasionally have a list of what I want to order so I don’t forget anything.
Instead of making a list of what we want to “order” from God today, let’s make a list of his majestic works.
Full of honor and majesty is his work,
and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds;
the Lord is gracious and merciful. (Psalm 111.3-4)
People are truly known by what they do, and not by what they say. God is no different. We learn who God is by what God does.
— God is righteous. Jesus came to reveal what God is like. He demonstrated that God always does what is right. Jesus set people free from their demons and healed their sicknesses.
Another nuance of righteousness is fairness. Again, Jesus demonstrated God’s fairness in the way he cared for the vulnerable and oppressed.
God expects no less from himself than he does from the leaders whom he has appointed. “You must not pervert justice; you must not show partiality to the poor or favoritism to the rich; you are to judge your neighbor fairly” (Leviticus 19:15).
— God is gracious. Other words to fill out the concept of grace are: favor, mercy and kindness.
A Chinese Christian leader told Dr. Henry Blackaby, “It seems that the Chinese church has fared better under persecution than has the American church under prosperity.”
The same could be said for Israel. When they prospered, they tended to turn away from God. When God responded to their cry for mercy after they regularly turned from him, he showed himself to be gracious.
— God is merciful. Mercy is the goodness, kindness, and strength that a superior gives to an inferior.
Isaiah pictures God’s mercy with beautiful poetry.
For thus says the high and lofty one
who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
I dwell in the high and holy place,
and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
to revive the spirit of the humble,
and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isaiah 57.15)
Before rushing off from our prayer time, let’s think of at least one instance where God has been righteous, gracious or merciful in our lives. Let’s praise and thank him for who he is.
Faithful and Trustworthy
People who study the Bible with both their heart and head will see that God is entirely faithful.
The works of his hands are faithful and just;
all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever,
to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. (Psalm 111.7-8)
Focus on the words: faithful, trustworthy, and upright.
Paul stated clearly that God is the One “who never lies” (Titus 1.2).
Paul described the trustworthy nature of God that he learned from an intimate knowledge of Jesus. He wrote, “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we proclaimed among you . . . was not ‘Yes and No’; but in him it is always ‘Yes.’
“For in him every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God” (2 Corinthians 1.19-20).
The promises of God are not sometimes “yes” and at other times “no.” We are always able to depend on what God says to us, because he is trustworthy, faithful, and upright.
Let’s take time today to think of ways that God has been faithful to us and express our gratitude to him.
Our Response to God
After reflecting on the wonderful works of God, the Psalm writer encouraged everyone to live in the fear of the Lord.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom;
all those who practice it have a good understanding.
His praise endures forever. (Psalm 111.10)
Possibly, you are like me and have trouble with the concept of “the fear of the Lord.” I don’t know quite how to put it, but the fear of the Lord has seemed harsh or demanding. It didn’t square with my understanding of the God of love.
A few years ago, I began a fairly intensive study in the Book of Deuteronomy. The commentary I was using defined the “fear of the Lord” to be what was commanded in Deuteronomy 6.
It was the author’s view that the fear of the Lord is to obey these words: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6.5).
I really like that definition. Think about it. If we practice loving God with all of our heart, our soul and might, we will give ourselves a joyful gift.
First, we will enter into a personal and loving relationship with the Greatest Person of All.
Second, like the Psalm say, we will “have a good understanding.” We will understand why God made us and what is our purpose in the world.
Let’s give God praise and thanks today. Let’s give ourselves the gift of living in the love of the Lord.
May We Pray for You?
The prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church is honored to pray for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the prayer team to pray, too.