Sunday, 25 October 2020
Title: The Psalms is a source to help us to pray
By Abraham Verghese  亚伯拉罕·韦尔盖塞

While the following may not seem to be written as a devotion, I hope the points I picked in the course of my reading will be helpful for us to appreciate that the Psalms is a source to help us to pray. Read and ponder or mediate as needed on the scriptures referred to below.

The Psalms show us the faithful in the Old Testament relating openly and honestly to God. The book of Psalms served as both hymnal and prayer book for ancient Israel. It was the record of how Israel once worshiped and prayed to their God. Prayer is one of the most important things we learn to do. It is important, because it is an opportunity to talk to God. It is sometimes difficult because it can seem to be an awkward and one-sided conversation.

It was the same in New Testament times. The disciples of Jesus noticed that He seemed to be able to pray at any time and place and hence asked Jesus “Teach us to pray,” (Luke 11: 1). The disciples wanted to be able to talk to God as Jesus did. We do as well. But perhaps when we try, we don’t know what to say. Our attention wanders. On various occasions we may get up feeling our prayers have gone no higher than the ceiling.

The Psalms gives us a more intimate look at Israel’s relationship with God, not just a historical record like other books of the Bible do. We begin to appreciate not only what happened, but also the emotions of those involved. This is what makes Psalms helpful as we build our relationship with God.

Here are some important principles from the Psalms to help us pray more effectively:

1) Dont be afraid to say whats in our minds. 

Weshould always approach God respectfully, and it is always appropriate to praise Him. There are times when we are filled with hope and enthusiasm. We feel close to God, and we appreciate what he has done for us. This is how David felt when he wrote Psalm 65. (Note also Psalms 66 and 67.)

But he didn’t always pray like this. For example, look at Psalms 54, 56, 57 and 59. On these occasions, David was in trouble, and he wasted no time in asking for help. On other occasions, David even asked God to hurry up and help him (Psalms 70: 1; 38: 22). Once, David actually asked God if he had forgotten him (Psalm 13: 1-2).

Similarly, I should not be afraid to tell God precisely what’s on my mind. After all, does He not already know what is in my mind even before I can verbalise it? So why not say it and urge God to intervene?

2) Dont hide our mistakes.

Some people feel awkward about praying, especially after they have made a big mistake. Or perhaps they have not prayed for a long time, and they think they aren’t worthy of God’s love and acceptance.

At times such as these, it is reassuring to read Psalm 51, written when David had sinned terribly – adultery with Bathsheba followed by the murder of her husband Uriah (see 2 Samuel 11). David had failed miserably as he should have been the moral leader of the nation.

But when David recognised his sin, he went to God in humility and genuine repentance, asking for forgiveness. David knew he was a sinner, and asked God to help keep him from continuing to sin.

In the same way, when we confess our sins, God “is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1: 9).

How could I hide my mistakes anyway from God? After all, would I not feel better as well after I confess instead of thinking I can hide anything from Him?

3) Wait for Gods answer.

Prayer is a spiritual act of worship in which we share our most intimate thoughts with God the Father (Luke 11: 2), through Jesus Christ his Son. It is not a magic formula or shopping list for getting everything we want exactly when we want it (see James 4: 3). We should make our requests known to God (Philippians 4: 6), but we should not expect God to answer our prayers immediately or our way every time.

David’s prayers were not always answered right away. God was working with him across a lifetime.

The Psalms gives some fascinating glimpses into the minds of people as they endured trials of their faith.

In Psalm 73, the author, Asaph, expresses anger and impatience at what seems like God’s indifference. Have you not felt this way at times? I have. He even wonders if living God’s way is worth it (verse 13). God allows this, because as Asaph sorts out his churning emotions, he calms down and his faith and patience is restored (verses 21-26). You’ll find another example of a prayer changing a negative mood in Psalm 10.

God knows that we have emotions. We do not always have to appear before Him cool, calm and collected. A relationship with God is a learning process. Sometimes we need to be guided through life’s trials and tribulations, not just “airlifted out” of every situation. This is a vital part of our spiritual growth. During such times of stress, God will help us sort out our negative thoughts and emotions, and give us peace of mind that “transcends all understanding” (Philippians 4: 7).

God’s answer may be NO! For example, Paul told the church at Corinth: “To keep me from becoming conceited…there was given me a thorn in my flesh…to torment me” 2 Corinthians 12: 7. Paul explained: “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’” (verses 8-9).

We don’t know what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was, but it hindered his ministry and he asked God to remove it. God did not do so. Paul acknowledged that this “thorn” kept him humble (verse 7). It reminded him of his daily need for contact with God. Likewise, we too, will need the same reminder from time to time.

So, while I should present my requests urgently and fervently to God, I must wait patiently as to God what and when He will answer me is His prerogative. After all He sees the end from the beginning – what can I see but a hazy present?

4) Have confidence in the outcome. 

When everything around us seems to be falling apart, it’s hard to walk by faith.  But that’s exactly what we are called to do (2 Corinthians 5: 7). God will never forsake those who trust him (Psalm 9: 10). Even so, there will be times when we will feel rejection and humiliation.

I have at times wondered why God allowed me to fall into an extended period of doubt and even disbelief but I am ever thankful that despite the rebellion He protected me which I may not have looked at as such then but is clear to me now on hindsight.

The Psalms can help us understand this, as we share the intimate thoughts of servants of God who have gone before us. They help us talk to God as a friend. They remind us of what we tend to forget when we are discouraged and temporarily disoriented. They are spiritual levees that control the flood of negative emotions and worry.

As we build our relationship and friendship with the same God who listened to the prayers of David and other authors of the Psalms, we shall also grow in courage and faith. We shall feel confident in asking, “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight

(Psalm 19: 14).

Prayer:

Heavenly Father, thank You that we can at anyime approach You without fear of saying what is in our minds or having to hide our sins as You know what is in our minds even before we say anything. You see the end from the beginning. Let us patiently wait with confidence as whenever and whatever is Your answer it is the best in accordance with Your will. Let us learn from Your servants of old from what You allowed them to record in the Psalms for our benefit.

May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing in Your sight O God!

In Jesus’ name. Amen.

每日灵粮
星期日,2020年10月25日
题目:诗篇是教导我们祷告的源泉
作者:亚伯拉罕·韦尔盖塞
翻译:杨仕涵弟兄

以下内容可能不像是写为灵修用的,但我希望我在阅读过程中选择的这几个要点将帮助我们认识到,诗篇的确是帮助我们祷告的源泉。阅读并思考或默想以下所提到的经文。

诗篇让我们看见旧约中,忠心的仆人们如何直接地和诚实、真诚地与上帝相交。诗篇既是古代以色列的赞美诗,又是祈祷书。这是以色列曾经如何向他们的神敬拜和祈祷的记录。祷告是我们学习的最重要事情之一。祷告如此重要,因为祷告是与上帝交谈的机会。祷告有时困难,因为似乎像一种尴尬而单方面的谈话。

在新约时代也是一样。耶稣的门徒注意到他似乎随时随地都可以祷告,所以对耶稣说“求主教导我们祷告”(路加福音11:1)。门徒希望能够像耶稣一样与神交谈。我们也一样。但是当我们尝试祷告时,也许也不知道该说些什么。我们失去注意力。在多种情况下,甚至可能感到我们的祷告几乎没有穿透天花板。

诗篇让我们对以色列与上帝的关系有了一个更加密切的理解,而不仅仅是像其他圣经的书卷那样的历史记录。我们不仅意识到事情的经过,却开始能以体会其中人的情绪。这就是使诗篇在我们与上帝建立关系时有所帮助的原因。

以下是诗篇中的一些重要原则,可以帮助我们更有效地祷告:

1)不要害怕说出脑里所想的事情
我们的确应该以尊重的心对待上帝,赞美上帝也总是合适的。我们有时候充满盼望和热诚。我们感觉到上帝与我们同在,我们感谢祂在我们生命中的作为。这就如大卫写诗篇65时的感受。(也可见诗篇66和67)。

但他并不总是这样祷告。例如,请看诗篇54、56、57和59。在这些境况,大卫遇到了患难,他及时地寻求帮助。在其他情况下,大卫甚至要求上帝快快地帮助他(诗篇70:1; 38:22)。有一次,大卫还问上帝是否忘记了他(诗篇13:1-2)。

同样,我不应该害怕诚实地告诉上帝我的想法。毕竟,上帝在我未把话说出口之前,不都已经知道我在想什么了吗?所以,那我为何不说出来并求上帝介入呢?

2)不要遮掩我们的错误
有些人尤其是在犯了一个大错误之后,觉得祷告是一件尴尬的事。也许他们已经很久没有祷告,所以认为自己不配得到上帝的爱和接纳。

在这些时刻,阅读诗篇51能给我们带来安慰,这是大卫犯了大错之后所写的诗篇,大卫与拔示巴犯了奸淫,又杀了拔示巴的丈夫乌利亚(见撒母耳记下11)。大卫失败了,因为他本来应该成为国家道德上的领袖。

但是,当大卫认识到自己的罪之后,他便带着谦卑和真诚悔改来到上帝面前,寻求饶恕。大卫知道他是一个罪人,并祈求上帝帮助他不要继续犯罪。

同样,我们若向上帝认我们自己的罪,上帝“是信实的,是公义的,必要赦免我们的罪,洗净我们一切的不义”(约翰一书1:9)。

无论如何,我在上帝面前怎能隐藏自己的错误?毕竟,我承认我的错之后,一定比较好受,而不是设想可以隐瞒上帝我的错过。

3)等待上帝的答案
祷告是一种敬拜的属灵行为,我们通过上帝的儿子耶稣基督与天父分享我们最亲密的思想(路加福音11:2)。祷告不是一个神奇的配方或购物清单,让我们随时获得自己想要的一切(见雅各书4:3)。我们应该告诉上帝我们所要的事情(腓立比书4:6),但我们不应该期望上帝会立即或按我们的意思回应我们的祷告。

大卫的祷告并没有每次都得到及时的答复。上帝使用大卫的一生塑造他。

诗篇让我们看见人们信心在经过试炼之时的思想。

在诗篇73中,诗人亚萨(Asaph)对上帝看似的漠不关心表达了自己的愤怒和不耐烦。你有时候是否也有这种感觉吗?我有。他甚至怀疑自己按上帝的心意生活是否值得(13节)。上帝允许这些事发生,当亚萨理清他的情绪时,他平静下来,恢复了信心和耐心(21-26节)。你也会在诗篇10中找到祷告改变负面情绪的一个例子。

上帝知道我们有情感。我们并不总是必须在他面前显得冷静、镇定和有自制力。与上帝的关系是一个学习的过程。有时,我们需要经历人生的试炼和磨难,而不仅仅是在每种情况下被“提出来”。这是我们灵命成长的重要部分。在这种艰难时期,上帝会帮助我们理清消极的思想和情绪,并赐给我们“出人意外的平安”(腓立比书4:7)。

上帝的答案也有可能是“不”!例如,保罗对哥林多教会说:“又恐怕我。。。过于自高,以有一根刺加在我肉体上,。。。攻击我”(哥林多前书12:7)。保罗解释说:“为这事,我三次求过主,叫这刺离开我。祂对我说:“我的恩典够你用的,因为我的能力是在人的软弱上显得完全。”(8-9节)。

我们不知道保罗身上的刺是什么,但是这阻碍了他的事奉,他要求上帝除去它。上帝并没有这样做。保罗承认这一根“刺”使他保持谦卑(7节)。这根刺提醒他每天都需要与上帝亲近。同样,我们往往也需要相同的提醒。

因此,尽管我应该及时和热心地向上帝祷告,但我必须耐心地等待,因为上帝何时如何答复是祂的主权。毕竟,上帝从起初指明末后的事,我却只能看见模糊的现今。

4)对结果要有信心
当我们周围的一切似乎都崩溃时,很难继续凭信心行走。但这正是我被蒙招所要行的(见哥林多前书2:5)。上帝永远不会离弃那些依靠祂的人(见诗篇9:10)。即使这样,有时我们也会感到被拒绝和屈辱。

我有时想知道为什么上帝让我陷入一个很长的怀疑时期,但我一直很感恩,尽管我不顺服祂,祂仍保护了我。那时我可能没有这样看是,但如今已经清楚了。

我们可以透过诗篇中上帝的仆人的思想和经历帮助我们,能以朋友的身份与上帝交谈。他们在我们灰心丧气和暂时迷失方向时提醒我们应该如何应对。他们是控制大批负面情绪和忧虑的属灵大堤。

当我们与上帝建立关系和友谊的时候,我们应该以勇气和信心成长,因为这位上帝也是听大卫和其他诗人祷告的上帝。我们应该充满信心地求:“愿我口中的言语、心里的意念在你面前蒙悦纳。”(诗篇19:14)

祷告
天父,感谢祢,因为我们可以以任何方式到祢面前,而不必担心说出我们的内心深处,也不必隐瞒自己的罪过,因为祢知道我们的心思意念。祢从起初看见末后的事。让我们耐心地等待,因为无论何时何地,祢的回答都是按照祢最美好旨意。让我们向祢仆人在诗篇中所记载的学习。

愿我口中的言语、心里的意念在你面前蒙悦纳!

奉主耶稣基督的名祷告。阿门。

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