This past Sunday, Pastor Sam shared about her experience praying of healing from a chronic disease and how Psalm 34 helped her faith in God’s love and provision for her life. This week, we will use Psalm 34 to open up the challenges we face to God a little more. Here is the Psalm:
Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelek, who drove him away, and he left.
1 I will extol the Lord at all times;
his praise will always be on my lips.
2 I will glory in the Lord;
let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the Lord with me;
let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the Lord heard him;
he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him,
and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the Lord is good;
blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the Lord, you his holy people,
for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry,
but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
12 Whoever of you loves life
and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from telling lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
to blot out their name from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 The righteous person may have many troubles,
but the Lord delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones,
not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked;
the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The Lord will rescue his servants;
no one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.
Many of the psalms fall into two broad categories. In the first category, God rewards the good and faithful people and punishes those who do evil. Psalm 34 fits into this category. In the second category, the psalmist questions why those who do evil seem to go unpunished and why God is allowing his people to languish for so long. It can be useful to keep both orientations toward God in mind when praying either type of psalm.
Psalm 34 is fairly long, so make sure that you have some time to pray before you start. As you start your time of prayer, invite God to be with you in your prayer. Invite the Holy Spirit to help you experience God’s love and care for you personally, as well as share His wisdom with you. Consider what has been on your mind the most lately; what you have (or have not) been praying to God about. Then start reading Psalm 34 slowly. Be aware of your reactions and feelings as you go through the Psalm. Do you sense an increase in faith? You might thank God and remind God of the thing that you have been praying about. Do you wonder why God hasn’t answered your prayers? Is it because there is something wrong with you? God doesn’t care? God doesn’t hear the prayers of ordinary people like you? Share these thoughts with God. Try to be quiet for a minute or two, waiting for God’s response. If you sense a response, either jot it down or make a mental note of it so you can write it down later.
When you finish reading the psalm, look back over your experience. Was there something to be grateful for or was something disconcerting? Share this with God and again take a minute or two to give yourself time to hear God’s response.
Then read the psalm through one more time, more slowly this time. Are you having the same reactions and feelings this time as you did the first time through? Or are they different? If they are similar, is there a way to go deeper into your feeling with God? Can you share even more joy or frustration with God? If different, repeat what you did the first time through. Converse with God about the situation and your feelings about it — your gratefulness or your frustration. Continue through the psalm.
When you finish reading the psalm this second time, again look back over your experience. Share your overall experience of this time of prayer with God and again take a minute or two to give yourself time to hear God’s response. Make a note of any significant sense from God or decision God seems to be asking you to make as a result of this time of prayer.