Tuesday, February 19, 2013

psalm 26: afraid to pray the "test my heart" prayers

You know how you can read the Psalms and just feel great?

Sometimes it seems that the Psalms are just an easy read.  "I want to feel connected to God today, so I'll find something warm and squishy in the Psalms..."

I admit I fall temptation to this sentiment quite often.  But really, if we stop to consider what a lot of the Psalms are saying, there are many challenging verses with which to contend.

For instance, I came across this verse the other day...

"...I have walked in my integrity,
and I have trusted the Lord without wavering.
Prove me, O Lord, and try me;
test my heart and my mind."
Psalm 26:1-2

At first glance -- sure, whatever -- maybe I'd just breeze through the verse.  But something struck me -- a question lodged itself in my brain and made me wonder: Could I pray these same words that the psalmist prayed?  "Test my heart?"  "Prove me?"  "Try me?"  "I've trusted the Lord without wavering?"

I've known many-a-person who's said, "I prayed for patience," and then ended up having to go through some terrible ordeal.  I've asked God to prepare me for things only to battle with severe anxiety or depression.  I know the sorts of answers the "test my heart" prayer elicits, and I'm not sure I ever want to pray those prayers any more.  They scare me.

But then I read on...

"For your steadfast love is before my eyes,
and I walk in your faithfulness."
v. 3

The psalmist is able to say, "test me," and "prove me," because he credits the Lord with the ability to do so.  He can see clearly that he walks not in his own faithfulness but in God's faithfulness.  It's not because of himself that he is able to stand firm, but because of God's steadfast nature.

"But as for me, I shall walk in my integrity;
redeem me, and be gracious to me."
v. 11

Walking in my integrity doesn't mean that I will necessarily do all the right things all of the time, but it does mean offering myself to the Lord in everything I do.  It does mean praying He will redeem me and every situation.

It means that -- as always -- I can't do it alone.  
I can't be tested and proven faithful.  
I can't walk in integrity.  
I can't do all the right things.

I can't -- at least, not on my own.

But with God as my foundation -- with God's faithfulness surrounding my life -- with His steadfastness living inside me -- I can.

"My foot stands on level ground."
v. 12 

I can be tested and proven faithful...
I can walk in integrity...
I can be covered in the redemption of Christ and bring glory to the Lord...
...when I remember it's not my own faithfulness I'm depending on...
...when I acknowledge that God is more powerful than I am...
...when I stand on level ground.

Image by dontcallmeikke on flickr.
  • What Psalm has challenged you?
  • In what ways have you seen God's faithfulness surpass your own ability to be faithful?

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