When we pray, then we realise what is truly on our hearts. We often fail in prayer because we do not have any sense of urgency or need and are callous to the troubles of this world. But often we fail in prayer, not for lack of burdens on our heart or troubles in this world, but for lack of words expressing our troubled hearts. Sometimes it seems like our hearts are do overcome by worry and anxiety and fear that we don’t even know where to begin in pouring out our hearts to God.
The author of Psalm 119 has seen much trouble in his life and he gave us in one of those stanzas a prayer to guide our hearts in prayer.
Psalm 119:17-24 is a prayer for a good life in spite of what the world is like.
The first heart’s desire in this prayer is a desire to be a testimony of obedience in this life.
Deal bountifully with your servant,Psalm 119:17
that I may live and keep your word.
The second heart’s desire in this prayer is a desire to have true insight into the Scriptures. Not a creative use of Scripture finding random connections to your life and circumstances, but a desire to see what God decided to tell us and what God requires of us.
Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.Psalm 119:18-19
I am a sojourner on the earth;
hide not your commandments from me!
The third heart’s desire in this prayer is a desire for a practical love of the Bible. This is a desire, not only to know the Bible very well, but to live according to it too. The reason for this is because we know those who obey will have the best life possible in a sin-cursed world, and those who disobey will experience the judgment of the Lord.
My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.Psalm 119:20-21
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
who wander from your commandments.
The fourth heart’s desire in this prayer is a desire to end life with no regrets. When all is over, would you not like still to be standing firm in the Lord because His Word had filled your mind more than this world had?
Take away from me scorn and contempt,Psalm 119:22-23
for I have kept your testimonies.
Even though princes sit plotting against me,
your servant will meditate on your statutes.
The fifth heart’s desire in this prayer is a desire to walk in the wisdom, and counsel, and insight of the Scriptures. This is in reality also the answer to the previous requests.
Your testimonies are my delight;Psalm 119:24
they are my counselors.
This world is not what is was originally created to be. This world groans because of the effects of sin over the past thousands of years. We as Christians, though redeemed by the blood of the Lord Jesus, also groan with the worries of this life. We therefore sense the overwhelming need to plead with the Lord for insight, direction, and comfort. We pray therefore, and we guide our prayers with things of primary importance: obedience, insight into the Scriptures, practical adherence to God’s Word, no spiritual regrets, and enjoyment of the guidance we receive from the Scriptures. Then we conclude with an “Amen”, and get up with renewed confidence of living in God’s World by God’s Word.
Later, when again overwhelmed by it all, we again pray for obedience, insight into the Scriptures, a love for walking according to God’s Word, no regrets, and Biblical counsel. We keep doing so until the Lord returns!
*This stanza of Psalm 119 has been preached at our church. The sermon audio and bulletin notes are available here: God has a wonderful prayer for your life