Matthew Scott — The Perfect Mug — Sunday, March 27th
In this session we continue to learn about the way prayer – as a practice we build into our lives – works for our formation in Christ. Above all, praying the Scriptures – particularly the psalms, the prayer-book of Israel – is key. When we do we relinquish our own words, our own voice, and take up the words gifted to us as Scripture. Praying someone else’s words as our own, and doing this regularly, transforms us. We start the “see” ourselves, and the world, and God himself, as the psalmist does.
Read Psalm 13, verses 1 and 2. The honesty – and boldness – is striking. This psalmist is unafraid of complaining to God, in the strongest of terms.
- How honest are your prayers? Are you able to complain to God? What would hold you back?
Over time, praying complaints from the psalms forms us to become more honest to God, more willing to name what is hard in hopes that he will hear us.
Read Psalm 13, verses 3 and 4. Here the psalmist turns his complaint into a prayer for God’s intervention. He’s even able to remind God what might happen if He doesn’t answer!
2. What do you refuse to ask God for, and why?
3. How bold are you willing to be in seeking God’s intervention? If “not very” is your answer, then why?
4. What would enable you to be more bold?
Over time, praying bold requests from the psalms forms us to become more bold with God.
Read Psalm 13, verses 5 and 6. Note the extraordinary shift in perspective: the situation is past, God has intervened, the psalmist will now sing with thanksgiving and praise. Many have wondered what happened in the temple when this – and many other psalms like it – were performed. Did the priests declare God’s coming? Did the musicians play an interlude? Did the glory fall?
5. What do you expect will happen when you voice a complaint and lay your request before God in prayer?
6. How is your expectation reflected in the way you continue to pray after doing so?
Whatever happened historically, the idea is that waiting is built into the structure of prayer. Having presented our complaints with honesty and our requests with boldness, it makes perfect sense to wait on the Lord who is present with us when we pray to see what He will do in response. Perfect sense – but do we wait?
7. Where does “waiting” figure in your practice of prayer?
8. How could you build it into your way of praying?
When the Lord responds, the psalmist breaks out in thanksgiving and song. This too is God’s gift of formation as we pray Psalm 13 and the many others like it: we are formed as those who wait for the Lord, and who respond with praise and faithful testimony when He shows Himself.
To finish, pray Psalm 13 together in its three movements. If you’re with others, have one person speak the first two verses, then give space for anyone to speak out the “how long?” of their own situation. Have the reader read the third and fourth verses, then give space for anyone to speak out the “answer me, Lord, else …!” of their own situation. Then wait quietly before the Lord for five minutes, to allow Him to respond to you. Finally, the reader reads the last two verses, and everyone speaks out their thanksgiving and declarations of faith. (If you’re on your own, you get to be both reader and responder!)