3 My “Take” on the Prayer

Let the Words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in Thy Sight, O Lord, My Strength and my Redeemer…PSALM 19:14 

THIS IS A PRAYER.  I’m certain you noticed that.  Very brief and to the point.  Here are some of my thoughts on the assignment.  I’d rather know what you think.  And I do hope you’ll think.  I tried to break the prayer up in digestible sections and felt I could understand it better if  these questions:

 

 

 

 

1.     What does the word “Let” mean?  

          It can mean “to permit” or “allow.” It can also mean “to cause” something to happen, not just permit it.  I believe GOD is the Source and the Destination of our lives.  I cannot even say the right things consistenly.  In another place in Scripture, another person prayed: “Set Thou a seal upon my lips.”  In our words today, that means simply:  “Help me to know when to just simply shut up.”  It doesn’t mean just to “permit.” The writer isn’t just asking God to be a passive observer.  He’s asking God to be an active participant.  You can tell that by considering the Names, or Titles, he uses for the Person whom He’s addressing:  LORD.  STRENGTH. REDEEMER.

 

            I believe this carries with it a recognition that we are not empowered to think, speak, or correctly consistently. We need God.  Another writer put it this way:  in Him “we live and move and have our being.”  I need His help.  I must have it.  Every Day.  Every hour.  He must “Create within me a RIGHT spirit,” or I’ll continue to be spasmodic and erratic.  In other words, this is a joint venture.  God must do it, and I must allow it. My part is to be open, submissive and  yielded. I cannot resist  His Lordship over our lives and run and rebel and then wonder how my life often  gets into such a tangled, mangled mess.

             When my mind pursued further this idea of our “cooperating with God”, it occurred to me that it might be sort of like my praying that the Lord would LET me BREATHE.  See my point?  He makes the oxygen and lungs available and both enables and allows me to breathe.  But He doesn’t breathe for me. 

2.   Why are “The words of my mouth” important? 

They reveal what I am thinking.  They have power to hurt or to heal…to encourage or discourage.  Think about the power of words.  Think of Winston Churchill and the influence of his speeches.  Through the wisdom, courage and determination and sheer power of his words, he helped Britain survive World War II.  He kept hope alive and challenged the Brits so much that, as he said: “If the empire shall survive a thousand years, men will say: ‘This was their finest hour!”  And we still say that!  All my life I’ve admired that man and been awed at his magnificent handling of words.  Just words.  But they were used like weapons, like clear calls to duty, service, sacrifice and VICTORY.   

       One of my coaches came into our locker once at half time in high school and found a bunch of  whipped little puppies licking  our wounds  and whimpering over a 21- 0 pounding we were taking.  We didn’t even want to go back in the second half and take a worse “whoopin’’  Coach looked at us sort of disgusted, understandably, and took out what he said was a telegram from a “crippled” lady we all knew and he read these words: “…A winner never quits, and quitter never wins” Coach Heckman crumpled the paper put it in his pocket, turned and walked out of the locker.  I never saw the telegram, and really never knew the “crippled” lady.  But I do know those words lit a fire in us and we stormed out of the locker room like young tigers and left the field later with a 24-21 victory.  Just words. 

 

 

 

        But sometimes words can light a fire!  They can brace courage.  “Remember Pearl Harbor.” “ Don’t give up the Ship!” “9/11!”   are just a couple examples of what I mean.  You can certainly think of your own examples.  Words can inspire you to do better things.  Be better than you are.  They can help you keep trying when everyone and your own reason tell you to quit.  Here’s a thought that just occurred to me:  If the words of others can be so helpful or hurtful to me, what do you suppose the chances are that the things I say (and the WAY I say them) might have a good effect on someone else?

 

        The Bible does not make the distinction we make between words and deeds.  A statement is an act.  God spoke by His Son, “The Word became flesh and dwelled among us.Saying something is Doing something.  Be careful what you say.

 

        When I was a little boy, and said something mean or bad, Mom would say: “You hush, or I’ll mash your mouth.”  I can still her say:  “Don’t sass me son.”  More than perhaps anyone I’ve known, she knew and taught me to understand that  words can express disrespect or  reveal character.  Sometimes we have a slip of the tongue…I almost called the Tourette syndrome the Toilette syndrome. Every pshcyiatrist is familiar with what they call a “Freudian Slip,” and they know sometimes words can give a pretty good indication of what’s going on behind your face.

 WORDS CAN HURT.  Did you ever have a parent, or someone you respected greatly, say: “You are so stupid!”  “You’ll  never amount to anything.” Or “Fatso!”  You know how it felt, and when you remember it probably still hurts.

 

WORDS REVEAL YOUR CHARACTER.  That’s what Jesus meant when he said: “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If you say unkind things, you are an unkind person.  If you continuously spew obscenities, vulgar speech, uncouth, uncultured words, that’s a measure others can use to decide what kind of person you are. With an uncanny degree of accuracy!

WORDS CAN ALSO HURT THE PERSON WHO SPEAKS THEM.   Have you ever said anything you regretted?  And then wished you’d  never said that.   And you can’t “un-say” it!!  Do you know anyone who’s ruined a relationship, or lost a job, or gotten in serious trouble by some careless word? 

 

 

WORDS CAN ALSO END ARGUMENTS.  I once heard someone say the toughest phrases to say in the entire English language are: “I’m sorry.”  and  “I forgive you”  From wide experience, I can vouch for the truth of those statements!

 The “Words of my mouth”  may have an effect on others.  The “meditations of my heart” are going to influence me.        

3.  Why are the “Meditations of my Heart” important?        

      This is the way Jesus answered that question:  “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  Thoughts, or “meditations” are what happens inside your life.  They are usually a pretty good indication of what you’re going to do. If you tell me what you think about most of the time, I can give you a good idea of the kind of person you are.  And also what you will eventually do, if you ever have opportunity or provocation.  Meditations are simply what you think about, in unguarded moments, when you’re quiet, or alone with yourself.  That’s why the Psalmist asks for both guidance and permission in this area. 

       Your “meditations” are the place where you dwell., not just where you visit once in a while.   Unless you “purpose in your heart” to do something the chances are that you will not follow through on anything significant for any significant period of time.

 

MEDITATIONS HAVE TO DO WITH ATTITUDES. . .   THE REASONS YOU DO THINGS, THE PLANS YOU MAKE, YOUR AMBITIONS.  AND THERE IS ABUNDANT EVIDENCE IN SCRIPTURE TO SHOW GOD ATTACHES AS MUCH IMPORTANCE TO OUR REASON FOR DOING SOMETHING AS HE ATTACHES TO WHAT WE DO. MAYBE MORE.

       In the first chapter of the book of Proverbs, these words appear telling you what a “blessed” man is:  “In His law doth he meditate both day and night” If he thinks right consistently, the writer says such a man will be “like a tree planted by the water.” He’ll be steady, “rooted.” and produce “good fruit.”  He’ll live a clean life and purposeful and produce good results.

      This habit of “meditating” is like exercise to the soul.  If I want to be strong, then as a continuous practice I have to eat, exercise, and rest right as a way of life.  How seriously would you take me if I told you I want to “get in shape” physically?  I’m so determined that I did a pushup yesterday.  Or, try this on for size:  “I’m morbidly obese and am going to get my weight problem solved; I cut down to a gallon of ice cream a day!” Both of us know that’s laughable!   If you’re serious about anything, you will think about it.  And do something about it.  And if you do anything at all worthwhile, it will not be an accident.                       

      When the Bible speaks of the “heart,” no one I know thinks it refers only to the organ beating in our chest.  It refers to the core of our being.  The place where intelligence, the will, and emotions come together.  It is  The Spring from which our lives flow.  So the “meditations” that take place at the center of our selves, our “heart,” will reveal who and what we are, what we’ll probably do, and what and who we’ll become.

 4.  Be acceptable in  Thy Sight

I think I’ll “hang things up here.  If I get tired of writing, I imagine you might get tired of reading.  Hope this hasn’t run you away so far.  If you are interested, let me know, and I’ll continue.    

 

Define “Acceptable”…. What do you think it would take to be “acceptable” in God’s sight?   If you don’t feel you can accomplish that on what’s your alternative.   

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One response to “3 My “Take” on the Prayer

  1. I am slowing reading through the Bible and am reading from The Message translation this time. So I thought I would post this verse in that translation: Psalm 19:14: “These are the words on my mouth; these are what I chew on and pray. Accept them when I place them on the morning altar. O God, my Altar-Rock, God, Priest-of-my-Altar.”

    Such a daily challenge — an intentional choice for each of us —

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