Pray Psalm 4

The book of Psalms is often called a hymnbook, but it might just as rightly be called a prayerbook. I like to take possession of a psalm and pray it as my prayer. Psalm 4 is a prayer that can easily be prayed as a personal, very contemporary, prayer.

 Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
This cry sounds almost disrespectful – “Answer me when I call” – but the psalmist is simply crying out for God from the depths of his distress. To whom else can he turn in this hour of distress and despair? I, too, have moments of great distress when I almost shout for help. I need God to answer, and I trust he will answer. The culture around me, and government of my beloved country conspire to repress my expression of faith, because they think I believe an ancient myth. I call to God because he is real, and he is actually near me in my time of need.

You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
It is good to remember that God has already answered me many times and helped me through problems in the past. When I remember what God has already done, I am able to calm down and simply ask for help.

How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?
Secular philosophy disdains the very existence of God. Secular thinkers see beauty in church buildings and kindness in church people, but they completely dismiss existence, the death and the resurrection of Christ. The Bible, hymns, worship and all acts of faith are scorned as imagination at work. Instead, secular thinkers look for some evidence that their fictional concept of the steady, gradual maturing and improvement of human beings is taking place. I wonder when the scorn of secularism will stop. I wonder if they will ever be open to truth.

But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
My faith and my experience teach me that God does not forget us no matter how we are treated by the world around us. I remember that Jesus said the world would hate us, because it hated him first. I remember that Christ my Lord promised to be with me. He will hear my prayer.

When you are disturbed, do not sin;
It is disturbing when people pressure us to give up our silly religious ideas that make us look immature to the sophisticated thinkers who have moved past imaginary ghosts and makebelieve heroes who walk on water. We can’t give in to that pressure, even though we do not have the power in ourselves to fight back against the combination of culture and state.

Ponder it on your beds, and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.
When I take the time to think about it, I know I can trust the Lord. I can offer my sacrifice of praise and trust him to empower a faithful testimony.

There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Much as I desire to be faithful, I do get discouraged. Sometimes I look around and ask if there could be some sign, some signal, that all is not lost.

Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD!”
The demands of the world suck light and life out of every day, and in my deep discouragement I call for help. Sometimes I simply can’t hold it all together on my own.

You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.
To know Christ and to live in relationship with him overcomes the effects of cultural restrictions and state oppression. I may not be in good fellowship with secular thinkers around me, but I am glad anyway because of Christ in my life.

I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.
My neighbors think I am silly to believe the same thing some ancient Bedouin believed. My government does not think my convictions about the way Christ wants me to live have any validity when they interfere with presidential policy, but I can tune all that noise out and trust God to carry me through the dark night. My peace does not come from what is around me but rather from Christ living in me.

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Pray Psalm 4 as your own prayer for strength and wisdom

 

Answer me when I call, O God of my right!
You gave me room when I was in distress.
Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.
How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame?
How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies?
But know that the LORD has set apart the faithful for himself;
the LORD hears when I call to him.
When you are disturbed, do not sin;
ponder it on your beds, and be silent.
Offer right sacrifices,
and put your trust in the LORD.
There are many who say, “O that we might see some good!
Let the light of your face shine on us, O LORD!”
You have put gladness in my heart
more than when their grain and wine abound.
I will both lie down and sleep in peace;
for you alone, O LORD, make me lie down in safety.

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