I confess that when I read this passage, I was struck with the feeling that I had read all of these verses before. I had to stop and check to see if I had my days mixed up. Of course I found that this was indeed the passage for today. As I thought on what possible lessons could be learned and shared from verses so similar to those we have already discussed, one thought came to mind. Let me share it with you.
Section 16 (AIN)
Psalms 119:121-128 I have done judgment and justice: leave me not to mine oppressors.
Be surety for thy servant for good: let not the proud oppress me.
Mine eyes fail for thy salvation, and for the word of thy righteousness.
Deal with thy servant according unto thy mercy, and teach me thy statutes.
I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies.
It is time for thee, LORD, to work: for they have made void thy law.
Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.
Therefore I esteem all thy precepts concerning all things to be right; and I hate every false way.
As you read these verse you cannot help but feel like you are going over familiar territory. He has spoken of all of these things before. His enemies are giving him a hard time. He asks for God to deal mercifully with him. He wants understanding so that he can learn God’s Word. He loves God’s Word! He hates every false way. All of this is familiar.
So I sat for a while and just thought about it. Then I started asking myself some questions.
What is the psalmist doing here?
Why is he repeating himself?
As I looked over the verses I came to a realization that while this may indeed have been a song (psalm), it was also a prayer. The psalmist was praying. He was speaking to the Lord. He has been doing that for almost the entire chapter we have been studying together.
All of these request have been made before. He is making them again. That was the lesson.
Sometimes we feel that we cannot pray because we have nothing to say. Yet, if we are honest, we have many things we have prayed for recently that have not been answered.
How often do we pray for something once, or twice, and then assume that the answer must be no, or that we are doing it wrong, or that God really doesn’t answer prayer.
Now, I recognize that prayer is not always easy, but, in far too many Christian’s lives there is a tendency to give up on prayer requests without getting the answer we seek.
If we are honest, our experience in prayer does not match up with Biblical teaching. As we look at the Scriptures we seek that God has promised to hear and answer our prayers. He wants to give us the good things we pray for.
Far too often we hide our lack of answers behind some trumped-up sense of spirituality. We say things like, “Well, sometimes it is yes, and sometimes the answer is no.” Yet, we don’t really know what the answer is at all. We use the teaching of praying that God’s “will” be done, to excuse our lack of answers. After all, it must not have been God’s will.
I do not claim to have all the answers, but it does seem that one of the keys, often missing in our prayer lives is the key of repetition. Not vain repetition, but the act of coming back to God over and over with our requests.
Jesus taught us this very thing in the parable of the unjust judge. He tells us right at the beginning that this was its purpose.
Luke 18:1And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
The psalmist had the same needs he had several sections ago. He still had enemies. He still needed to understand God’s Word. He was still waiting on deliverance, etc. He did not see any problem with coming again, and again with the same requests.
His confidence in God’s Word motivated his repetition. If God had promised deliverance, then he would pray until he received it. If God had promised to give him understanding, then he would pray until he received it. If God’s way was the right way, then he would pray for strength to walk in it: every day.
Repetition is built into prayer. Jesus, in his model prayer, taught us to pray for daily bread. God didn’t intend to reward us with a lifetime supply of bread so that we would never need to ask again. He wants us to ask daily. The same request. Every day. Why? Because then we are reminded of our need to depend upon him. God knows our weakness. He knows our frame. He remembers we are dust. We are ones who forget. Coming to God over and over again is a method of keeping ourselves humble before Him.
That is what I think we can learn from this passage today.
What do you have in your life that you have ceased to pray about? Do not be afraid of repetition.
Heavenly Father, we are a needy people. We are also a proud people. We do not like to ask for help. Having asked once, we are not prone to asking again. We sometimes feel that you are wearied if we keep coming to you with the same requests, but that is in fact what You desire for us to do! Teach us to keep our requests continually before you. Remind us of our need, and hear, and answer our prayers. In Jesus name, amen.