A Two Word Prayer For When We Can’t Find the Strength to Obey
I was visiting with a friend who was looking for a teaching theme. “I keep thinking about the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’”, she said.
We agreed we all want that. But as we chatted, it occurred to me that the phrase “thy will be done” precedes the hope for “heaven on earth.” Ever since, I haven’t stopped thinking about “thy will be done.”
Another theme has made its way into my thinking. The calling we each have to tend to our own backyard. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with the (mistaken) thought that I’m responsible for so much more than I really am.
The truth that “tending to our own gardens” is key, combined with the desire to see “on earth as it is in heaven” begs the question:
What does “thy will be done” look like in our own backyard?
Psalm 119 teems with wisdom that helps us unpack the sometimes prickly…often practical…always paramount need to obey.
It is the longest Psalm in the Bible and the longest chapter in the Bible. It refers to God’s written revelation often. In fact, there are references to Scripture and His Word in almost every single verse.
It shouldn’t surprise us that this chapter also includes reminders regarding how important it is to seek, follow and obey His Word.
The Psalm opens with this,
“You’re blessed when you stay on course, walking steadily on the road revealed by God.” Psalm 119:1 MSG
Life is a journey whose road has many twists and turns. Unfortunately, roads without signposts often lead us down directions we ultimately don’t want to head.
Verses 9-10 say this:
“How can a young person lead a clean life? By carefully reading the map of your Word. I’m single minded in pursuit of you; don’t let me miss the road signs you’ve posted.”
(Again, from the Message.).
Regardless of age, I’m pretty sure we could all benefit from signposts.
Verse 19 of Psalm 119 says,
“I’m a stranger in these parts; give me clear direction.”
We’ve all been “a stranger in these parts” at one time or another.
The relationship we found ourselves immersed in that we never dreamed would go afoul.
The illness that we or a loved one dealt with or are dealing with.
The financial mess we inherited that was not our fault.
Sometimes it seems as if we’re a stranger in the story of our own lives. The longer we live, the more we find ourselves in uncharted territory.
Verses 29-32 read:
“Barricade the road that goes Nowhere, grace me with your clear revelation. I choose the true road to Somewhere, I post your road signs at every curve and corner. I grasp and cling to whatever you tell me; God, don’t let me down! I’ll run the course you lay out for me if you’ll just show me how.”
None of us wants to head down a road that goes Nowhere. The great news is that we don’t have to, but we do need to take an essential step if we want to stay off the road to Nowhere.
We need to spend time in God’s Word.
Psalm 119 also teaches us about the freedom we experience when we spend time in His Word. Verse 45 says this:
“And I’ll stride freely through wide open spaces as I look for your truth and your wisdom.”
Isn’t it funny how the thing we’re tempted to believe will make us feel boxed in is the very thing that gives us freedom?
Timothy Keller says,
“There is freedom in constraints.”
Freedom is ours to experience in the “constraint” of spending time in His Word and obedience to what He tells us to do. No matter what difficult season we may be in, we can still experience “wide open spaces” that grant us:
Peace that passes understanding.
Confidence as we hear His voice behind us telling us whether to turn left or right.
Comfort in the promise that He will give us strength for the task at hand.
Guidance for when we deal with an enemy.
Encouragement for when we don’t know how to forgive.
When we follow His instructions for how to live, we can live in freedom right now.
Last week we talked about unceasing prayer. We were reminded that we can be in constant communication with God.
I wonder, can constant obedience, like unceasing prayer, become as natural and continuous as breathing?
If that sounds like a tall order it is! But the good news is that we are not the ones to fulfill it.
Psalm 119:88 says,
“In Your great love revive me so I can alertly obey your every word.”
Strong’s Concordance has amazing things to tell us about the word revive.
It means to be made alive.
You and I don’t create life. Only God can do that. God is the only One capable of creating in us what it takes to alertly obey His every Word.
It means to be quickened, refreshed, and restored.
This implies a shift from one state of being to another, such as transitioning from being discouraged to being encouraged; being weak to being strong and resolute; being ill to being healthy and vibrant.
It means to grow.
When God revives us, we can go from being dormant to being someone who is maturing, flourishing, and multiplying.
Living a life of constant obedience isn’t possible on our own. We cannot do it without His strength. But we can choose to offer up this simple prayer––
“Lord, revive us.”
Would you pray with me?