*Reviving Your Prayer Life In God’s Word (Ps 119:145-152)*
/Preached by Pastor Phil Layton at Gold Country Baptist Church on March 15, 2009/
Psalm 119:145-152 (*NKJV*) 145 I *cry* out with /my/ whole heart; Hear me, O Lord!
I will keep Your statutes.
146 I *cry* out to You; Save me, and I will keep Your testimonies.
147 I rise before the dawning of *the morning*, And *cry* for help; I hope in Your word.
148 My eyes are awake through the /night/ watches, That I may *meditate* on Your word.
149 *Hear my voice* according to Your lovingkindness; O Lord, *revive me* according to Your justice.
150 They draw near who follow after wickedness; They are far from Your law.
151 You /are/ near, O Lord, And all Your commandments /are/ truth.
152 Concerning Your testimonies, I have known of old that You have founded them forever.
If your prayer life has lost life and needs reviving spiritually (as mine sadly often does), this passage was inspired in part with people like you and me in mind.
The 2nd half of verse 149 has the prayer “revive me,” a prayer we see 11x in this psalm, including 3x more in next week’s text.
For our outline, there are 4 patterns of prayer for us to emulate to revive our prayer lives:
Pray Earnestly (v.
Pray Constantly (v.
Pray Biblically (v.
Pray Trustingly (v.
*Pray Earnestly (v.
We see here the importance of being earnest in prayer.
As the passage begins, this is no mere duty or formality; there is a desperate urgency in the phrases of these earnest pleas:
v. 145 “I cry out with my whole heart, Hear me, O Lord!”
v. 146 “I cry out to you, save me” (v.
147 adds “I cry for help”)
One of the ways to revive and breathe life into your prayer life is to recognize your desperate need for God’s help.
I need Thee every hour.
If you do not have the same heart cry as this text, all the more reason to earnestly /pray for earnestness itself/ in your heart.
As you read Scripture, if your heart falls short of what you read, pray and plead with God to make that the cry of your heart, too!
Colossians 4:12-13 (NASB95) 12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, *always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers* … I testify for him that he has a *deep concern* for you
Epaphras is not one of the more famous names in the Bible or faith heroes we think of emulating, but I can’t think of a greater tribute and benediction than for a faithful saint behind the scenes earnestly praying for his brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Many of the most spiritual men and women of any time are not the ones on stage but the ones in their prayer closet who faithfully fervently earnestly pray.
Other translations have “fervently” laboring in prayer, even “wrestling … struggling on behalf of you … he worked hard”
Verse 145 here begins “I cried” or “I cry out.”
Calvin’s comments inform us that the Hebrew ‘verb /cry /always conveys the idea of earnestness; referring, as it does, not so much to the loudness of the voice as to the vehemency’ – more than its volume, in other words, there was a fervency, an intensity; he prayed passionately!
This is clear in the next phrase “with all my heart ~/ my whole heart.”
His prayers were not half-hearted but where wholehearted cries calling out as if in pain and need, which is better prayer than the most eloquent words of a Pharisee to be heard by men as they pray loudly and multiply words that impress everyone except God.
John Bunyan’s Dying Sayings, /he says in prayer, it’s better to have heart “without words than … words without a heart.”
It is the heart that God always looks to, even though man looks at the outward appearance.
That is an OT principle the Pharisees missed in their lip service without heart service.
Matthew Henry said it in his concise way, “lip labour, if that be all, is lost labour.”
In v. 145 “Hear me, O LORD” is translated by most of the other versions with “Answer me,” which also accurately conveys the sense of the Hebrew idea: “hear in the sense of answer, respond.”
God hears everything, of course, but this is a prayer that God would listen and look upon such heart prayers and answer kindly.
Psalm 66:16-20 (NASB95) 16 Come /and /*hear*, all who fear God, And I will tell of what He has done for my soul … 18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, *The Lord will not hear*; 19 But certainly *God has heard; He has given heed to the voice of my prayer.*
20 Blessed be God, *Who has not turned away my prayer*
Proverbs 28:9 (NASB95) He who *turns away his ear from listening to the law,* Even his prayer is an abomination.
If we do not listen and respond to God has to say to us, God will not listen and respond to what we have to say to him.
It is only those who hear God (Ps 66:16) that God will hear (v.
18-19), not those whose ears take in the Word while their hearts cherish sin.
In Psalm 5 we have the prayers we sang earlier “Give ear to my words … consider … hearken unto the voice of my cry,” and as he prays that way he expresses his confidence: “my voice shalt thou hear in the morning.”
God hears everything, but the psalm there speaks of an early earnest cry for help in faith that he is confident God will give ear to (attention to), will consider (look on), will hearken to (heed), and will /hear/ in the biblical sense of responding or answering, not just receiving with the auditory ear-drums.
146 I cried to You; save me And I shall keep Your testimonies.
Notice the verse says “I cried /to You/” – he wasn’t crying to others about this.
His first thought in difficulty was not to call up a friend and cry on /his shoulder/ and find sympathy and a pity party from a human support group or a human solution.
He says to God “I cried /to You/.”
It is to God first and foremost that he cries out and looks to for support and for help, the One who actually has the power and ability to do something about our problems.
The Lord has true sympathy for our weaknesses as our High Priest who on earth was tempted in every way as we are, yet without sin.
Jesus was known as a friend to sinners who are repentant, and He is /the Friend/ we should turn to first and fully and frequently and fervently.
Notice in both v. 145 and 146, he is earnest not merely for God’s help but his earnest heart’s prayer is for help /so he can obey the Word of God.
/He prays with desperation for the sake of dedication.
v. 145b “Hear me, O LORD! *I will keep* your statutes”
v. 146b “Save me *and I will keep* your testimonies”
This prayer is not motivated by a /desire for ease or comfort/; it’s motivated by a /determination with eagerness and commitment/ to obey God more and more.
The grammar of this phrase connects his obedience as the purpose or result of the prayer “save me.”
Look again at verse 146: he says “I cried to /You/, save me,” which is fitting emphasis on “You” because God is the only one who can save or deliver us from our troubles.
Often the way God does so is by saving us /through /our troubles, giving us the grace to go through and be safe and secure from all alarm with God’s presence
Notice again that he prays “Save me, /so that I shall keep/ Your Word.”
He is not praying “save me, so I can keep doing my own thing,” which is the unfortunate way some understand the gospel today and even the way some /present /the gospel.
- Many emphasize the love of Jesus but leave out His Lordship and calls to repent and diminish it to minimal mental acknowledgement of facts and “invite Him to be a part of your life”
- But the biblical call to believe in the Lord Jesus is not a mere mental trust in Him for eternity, while desiring to live your own life now, enjoy sin, and get salvation in next life
- If you believe in Jesus you also believe what He said, that to come after Him you must determine to turn from your sin, deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Him.
It’s not that you do all those things /before /you believe, it’s that a true follower of Jesus wants to follow what Jesus said
- It’s the end of your ways, and the start of a life pursuing the ways of our … /Lord/, which is another word for … /Master/
- The gospel isn’t fire insurance so you can keep living in, playing with the fire of sin while disregarding all warnings and cautions.
We’re saved /to serve the Savior/, not our sin
- The believer prays like this verse “save me (/from/ sin, not /to/ sin) /and I will keep Your word./”
We don’t keep God’s Word to earn God’s salvation, salvation comes first, but when grace transforms us our heart we now desire to obey
- Even the word order of this verse is important: “Save me /and [then] /I will keep or obey” – it is only by God’s grace that we can obey.
But if your lifestyle is not obedience by grace, many of the Bible writers challenge you to examine yourself to see if you /have/ God’s grace.
If you do not have a heart desiring to keep God’s Word, examine yourself: have you ever truly received God’s life-changing gospel?
We are not only dependent on God’s grace in initial salvation, His grace to be regenerated, and to believe as a result of God’s prior work in us – we are also dependent for God’s grace to keep us saved and to continually deliver us from evil, as Jesus taught His disciples to pray.
The prayer in /this verse/ “save me” is not here an unbeliever crying for initial deliverance, but a believer crying for God ongoing deliverance.
This Hebrew word “save” can include physical deliverance, or preservation through difficult or desperate circumstances.
Here it may be a prayer for God to save his life from death so he can continue to serve and obey the Lord longer.
Peter walked on water but took eyes off Jesus and began to sink, he cried out to the Lord the exact same words: “Save me!” (Mt 14:30).
It was not a long or eloquent or flowery prayer, but it was a fervent prayer, and a prayer Jesus always answers when it’s sincere and earnest.
May God help us to see our own desperate need and to pray more earnestly, so that our prayers can be more effective.
James 5:16-18 (NKJV) 16… *The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.*
17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and *he prayed earnestly* that it would not rain; and it did not rain on the land for three years and six months.
18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain …
Elijah on another occasion prayed down fire from heaven, and we need to pray earnestly like him that God may bring down fire again spiritually to set our lives ablaze with God’s truth and set us on fire for the Lord.
Like Elijah did on Mount Carmel, we can put wood on the altar spiritually speaking by the Word and spiritual disciplines, but we need earnest prayer for fire from heaven to enflame our souls, as we offer ourselves as living sacrifices.
May God kindle our hearts!
#. *Pray Constantly (v.
I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.
My eyes are awake through the night watches [/NASB “I wait for your words.
My eyes anticipate the night watches”/], That I may meditate on Your word
Notice the words “morning” and “evening.”
We sang earlier Psalm 5 that says “my voice shalt thou hear in the morning,” and we see in other psalms encouragement to start days in prayer: