PRAYERS OF A
Recently my wife, Paula, and I drove along one of Connecticut’s little known roads when suddenly we came upon the Dewey Granby Oak. Actually, we had already passed it when we realized we should turn around, go back, and take a second look. What is so remarkable about the Dewey Granby Oak tree? After all, the USDA says there are 806 million trees in the Nutmeg State. Ninety-nine percent of them are far less than 200 years old. But the Dewey Granby Oak is almost 450 years old! In 1620, when the Pilgrims landed in the New World this white oak was just getting started in an open field. There were no road, no town of Granby, no state of Connecticut, no colonists. I wonder, if ancient trees could talk what stories would they tell? If old trees could pray, what would they pray about? We know we will never have an answer to such questions. However, mature, godly people do pray, and if we have ears to hear we can learn some important things about how to pray.
King David wrote Psalm 69 in his mature years. It was not a time to pray about trivial things, even things once considered to be urgent. Life’s priorities were clearer now than when he was younger. His prayers focused on the most important things.
What should we pray about today — especially when coming face to face with the fact that life is not always easy and that life is but a mist that evaporates in a moment? Do our prayers show godly maturity?
• ASK GOD TO HELP YOU SET A GOOD EXAMPLE. “Let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me” (verse 6). Even your children, grandchildren, extended family, friends and acquaintances are influenced by the way you live. The things you talk about are remembered. Today you have opportunities to help someone see what it means to love God. You can be an encouragement to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33). Ask the Lord to keep you from being a stumbling block to anyone.
• CONFESS YOUR SINS EVERY DAY. We do not know David’s age when he wrote this Psalm, but I can assure you from 78 years of life on earth that no matter how old one gets, Satan never stops trying to entice us to neglect our Christian duties, to compromise our moral standards or corrupt our thoughts. The kinds of sin we face may change as we grow older, but the fact of temptation to sin never changes. David prayed: “O God, you know my folly: the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you” (verse 5).
• LOVE GOD’S CHURCH. Jesus exemplified loyalty to God’s house by the life He lived and the death He died. When He cleansed the temple, His disciples remembered that David once wrote: “Zeal for your house will consume Me” (John 2:16-17 a quotation from Psalm 69:9). If you are unable to do what you used to do in serving Christ, continue to be diligent in prayer for the church as long as you live. Pray for the church to grow numerically and spiritually, for missionaries to serve effectively, for elders to lead as shepherds, for teachers and preachers to be faithful to the word of God, for new congregations to be planted, for those who have strayed from the faith to return. Neither age nor poor health, financial setbacks, broken marriages nor disappointments with the life choices of family-members should be allowed to hinder our prayers!
• COMMIT EACH MOMENT TO GOD’S DELIVERANCE AND LOVE. This is what David did! “At an acceptable time O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness. Deliver me from sinking in the mire…. Answer me, O Lord, for your steadfast love is good” (verse 13-17).
• PRAY FOR YOUR ENEMIES. Some have been offended by David’s request that his enemies face the judgment of God: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous” (verse 28). We need to consider the wider context. It is not personal revenge for which he prayed. David knew that some people had evil intentions toward God’s plans for Israel and its divinely appointed king. If they were willing to repent of their evil ways, David would have been the first to ask God to be merciful to them. But if they were unwilling to change their ways, David prayed that the Lord would not let their evil plans succeed. His prayer arose from a pure heart of genuine concern that God’s plans prevail; that God’s justice be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. He prayed that the willfully wicked and unrepentant experience the holy righteousness of God. To pray for the wicked to succeed in their destructive intentions is the very opposite of what God desires. When our attitude is what it should be, we can pray for God’s justice to prevail as David prayed.
• SET YOUR HEART ON GOD’S SALVATION. “Let your salvation, O God, set me on high!” (verse 29). The best is yet to be! The great day of the Lord is coming. “Set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Other versions put it like this: “fix your hope completely” (NASB), “be perfectly attentive” (ABPC), “with perfect stedfastness” (DBT), “calmly and unfalteringly” (WNT). Our spiritual focus should not be half-hearted. We cannot afford to allow the distractions of the world and our surroundings deter us from our hope. Heaven is real and our reward is guaranteed!
• PRAISE GOD! In Psalm 69 the psalmist affirms the power and worth of God. “I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify him with thanksgiving …. When the humble see it they will be glad; you will seek God, let your hearts revive. For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise his own people who are prisoners. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and everything that moves in them” (verse 30-34). There are some who see the Dewey Granby Oak, and never connect the dots to God. They do not praise the God of nature for His magnificent handiwork. Let the humble remember to praise God for His beautiful world and for His mighty designs. Our God is the great God whose “eternal power and divine nature” are clearly perceived in the things He has made (Romans 1:20). Today and every day praise God from whom all blessings flow!
“But what lays ahead for the Granby Oak? If we are to consider the range of recorded ages for some of the oldest fallen white oaks in the Eastern United States, the Granby Oak would already seem to have cheated death out of as much as a century. In 2005, cross-dating of a remarkable white oak in Virginia revealed an age of 464 years, easily the most extraordinary specimen on record. And yet, if the Granby Oak’s estimated age is correct, then it’s quickly approaching even the most extreme known boundaries of longevity for the species. Truth be told, while the tree remains apparently healthy and hopefully endures for several more years to come, it seems quite unlikely that another century lays ahead. It stands today as an iconic and wondrous denizen of Connecticut, having outlived virtually all of the billions of trees that existed on the day it sprouted so very long ago. What a grand life it has lead!” (J.G. Coleman, August 29, 2018).
(All Scripture quotations from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.)
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