This week, in his 3rd sermon on prayer, Pastor Sunder spoke on something called the “tyranny of the urgent” – the onslaught of busy and cluttered lives that many of us live today. In his sermon, he highlighted that when we give into the busyness of our lives, what suffers most is our relationships. We don’t give time to significant conversations and opportunities for intimacy. And this can happen in our relationship with God as well. We neglect important things. In particular, one of the main ways that we build intimacy and connection with God: prayer.
Pastor Sunder challenged us to apprentice under Jesus and sit as his feet to listen to and learn from Him. He also said that something incredible happens when we do this and pray: “When we pray, eternity touches time and transforms both us and the time that remains.” What he means by this is that prayer itself can effect time – it can transform not only us, but also the world around us. We believe that prayer is powerful. It changes us, by atuning us to God’s presence, will, and work and can also supernaturally transform situations, time, and even cultures.
With this in mind, my hope for you this week is that you will now take some time to slow down and sit at the feet of Jesus and spend some time in conversation with Him. Throughout this series we have been reflecting on the book of Psalms as their words inspire us to pray prayers of our own. So, I encourage you to set aside at least 5 minutes each day (but feel free to take as much time as you feel led to) to read over the psalm for the day and then pray in light of its subject matter. I have provided you with a few reflections and prayer prompts to assist you in your journey.
My prayer for you is that as you fight against the tyranny of the urgent through the practice of prayer this week, you will see eternity touching time and transforming you, the world around you, and even – in God’s supernatural way – transforming time itself.
Day 1: Psalm 11 - Prayers for the Despairing
It is easy for us to look at culture and to despair and feel hopeless. The news stories we hear each day aren’t usually particularly encouraging, there seems to be rising crime, sexualisation, anger, deception, inequality and even hostility towards those who follow Jesus. When we see the darkness of the world around us we can feel tempted to “flee like a bird to [our] mountains…” (verse 1, NIV). But this psalm calls us not to despair, “God hasn’t moved to the mountains; his holy address hasn’t changed. He’s in charge, as always…” (verse 4, MSG). So today as you pray, ask God to bring about justice and righteousness in our world. And trust that He will do this, “For the Lord is righteous, he loves justice; the upright will see His face” (Verse 7, NIV).
Day 2: Psalm 12 – Prayers for the Oppressed
Our world is riddled with deception, manipulation, and oppression. While, in light of recent events, we may complain about deceptive politicians here in Canada, others around the world live in environments of increasing deception or constant oppression from governments, corporations, or even their own families. Today’s psalm talks about how “everyone lies to their neighbour… [and] harbor deception in their hearts” (verse 3). But it also pronounces hope: “‘Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,’ says the Lord. ‘I will protect them from those who malign them’” (verse 5). Today, make time to pray for the needy and oppressed in our world. Pray for God’s pure truth to be made known and to prevail in our world.
Day 3: Psalm 13 – Prayers for the Depressed
Anxiety and depression are becoming epidemic in this generation, but they are not new feelings. I love this Psalm because David gives words to some of the cries that have arisen from my own heart during my personal struggle with depression. “How long, Lord? … How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?” (Verse 1-2). I believe that we are called to stand in the gap for those struggling with mental illness and to advocate for their freedom before the throne of God. Today as you pray, would you consider asking the Holy Spirit to burden your heart for someone you know who is struggling with mental illness. Ask him to give you the words to pray over their life, and perhaps even consider sending them an encouraging note to let them know you are praying for them, and anything that God put on your heart today.
Day 4: Psalm 14 – Prayers for the Bloated
“Wait… what?” You might be asking. “Prayer for the bloated?” Yup, you read that right. The Message translation of this Psalm translates verse one like this, “Bilious and bloated, they gas, ‘God is gone.’ Their words are poison gas, fouling the air” (verse 1). It can be easy for us to pray for God to bring about justice and to point our fingers at others and highlight their foolery. But it is another thing to let the finger point at ourselves. So let’s take a short break from praying for others and take some time to pray over/examine ourselves. Today, pray and ask God where, in your pride, you have been living like there is no God? Where have you believed in your own righteousness and taken God’s saving grace for granted? Where have you become good at pointing the finger at others and ignored the sin in your own heart? Where have you been “bilious and bloated” lately? Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you, then repent of your pride and sin, and ask God to transform your heart and character so that you can do differently. Once you have done this, take some time to rejoice in God’s saving grace that He gives you freely and willingly.
Day 5: Psalm 15 – Prayers for the Righteous
Have you ever caught yourself saying, “well everyone does it…” or “no one is perfect?” as a way to excuse your behavior? We often say these phrases about things that we know probably aren’t right, but have become so normalized in our culture that we stop questioning it. Maybe it’s a little white lie, a tidbit of gossip, not claiming that thing on your taxes, paying cash under the counter, or illegal music and movie downloads. Small things that don’t seem to hurt anyone that we let slide because, well, “everyone does it.” And while it may be true that everyone does it, that doesn’t mean it’s the way of Jesus. This Psalm says, “who may dwell in [God’s] sacred tent? Who may live on [His] Holy mountain? The one whose walk is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;” (verse 1-2). It is these people who will never be shaken. Our God is a God of amazing grace, but don’t we sometimes take it for granted? Don’t we sometimes keep small bits of our lives from being touched by his redeeming and transforming love?
Today, as you pray, consider this question: are you letting your love for God impact even the smallest decisions in your life? Does it affect the way you do your taxes, the way you make promises, the way you acquire entertainment? Ask God to highlight how you have let even the “small things” get in the way of your obedience to him. Ask that He would continue his transforming work in your life and see it to completion. Thank Him that in Jesus, you are made righteous, and ask Him to help you live out of that identity.