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Big Picture Prayers

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My wife is not a squeaky wheel. She is not constantly complaining or demanding my attention. The saying goes, “the squeaky wheel get the grease.” We tend to spend our time and energy on what causes us the most annoyance. Though a natural tendency, it is unwise and shortsighted — not to mention bad husbanding. My wife still has needs that God wants me to provide. Similarly, our prayers can reflect the squeaky wheel pattern when we lose sight of the big picture.

Previously, we examined David’s big picture worship in his affliction. In Psalm 9:13-20, David petitions God while still maintaining his broad, farsighted perspective.

By Grace

First, we notice a common but critical theme in the Bible. We must approach God on the basis of his grace not our merit. Any prayer that does not proceed from that perspective is an affront to the holiness of God.

Be gracious to me, O LORD!
 See my affliction from those who hate me,
 O you who lift me up from the gates of death. (v. 13)

Next, we see in these verses how dependence on God’s grace promotes humble confidence. The psalmist merely asks God to “see” his situation. He is confident that God will respond in a way consistent with his own holy character, steadfast love, and gracious promises. Like David, the Christian can approach his heavenly Father with the same humble confidence. Through Christ, we too have been lifted up from the gates of death (cf. 2 Cor. 1:8-10; 4:14).

Beyond Deliverance

David’s prayer focuses beyond deliverance from suffering. He wants more opportunities to magnify the grace and power of God.

that I may recount all your praises,
 that in the gates of the daughter of Zion
 I may rejoice in your salvation. (v. 14)

Self-centered prayers result in frustration. An astronomer needs to know that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Similarly, our prayers must proceed from an understanding God’s big picture — his grand, unfailing purpose throughout time and eternity is to reveal his glory (Rom. 11:36).

Lo! Their Doom Is Sure

While praying for deliverance from evil men, David realizes that their downfall has already begun.

The nations have sunk in the pit that they made;
 in the net that they hid, their own foot has been caught.,
The LORD has made himself known; he has executed judgment;
 the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands.  Higgaion. Selah
The wicked shall return to Sheol,
 all the nations that forget God. (vv. 15-17)

God announced the devil’s downfall in the garden of Eden (Gen. 3:15). As New Testament believers, we have the sure evidence of his destruction in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (Col. 2:13-15). Our enemy has amassed his troops on the precipice of hell. We pity them, plead for them, and marvel at their ferocious obstinacy, but we need not fear them. We know that the ground under their feet is slipping away.

Sure Hope

Just as certain, is the hope of the godly.

For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
 and the hope of the poor shall not perish forever.

They are referred to as “needy” and “poor.” In this fallen world that is often the lot of the righteous. However, there is a spiritual aspect to their poverty as well. Jesus echos the hope of the psalmist, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

Reality Check

Though patient and hopeful, David is no less zealous and eager for God to finally put things right.

Arise, O LORD! Let not man prevail;
 let the nations be judged before you!
Put them in fear, O LORD!
 Let the nations know that they are but men! Selah

The psalmist’s request that the nations be made to understand their mere humanity underscores the insanity of sin. Satan promised our first parents that they could be independent of God (Gen. 3:5). Now “the nations rage… against the LORD” (Psalm 2:1-3). They are “haters of God” (Rom. 1:30) and worship the creature instead of the Creator (Rom. 1:25). In seeking his own sovereignty, sinful man no longer knows who or what he is. The confusion about gender today is rooted in a denial of God’s sovereign, creative purpose. Like David, we need to plead with the Lord to bring a great reality check to our friends, neighbor, and the nations. 

The song of the redeemed in heaven repeat David’s theme:

Who will not fear, O Lord,
 and glorify your name?
For you alone are holy.
 All nations will come
 and worship you,
for your righteous acts have been revealed. (Rev. 15:4)

Let us hope and pray for the day when all in heaven and on earth will say, “Amen!”

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