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31 Days of Prayer – Another guide

As we continue our 31 Days of Prayer, here is another example from the Prayer Guide, so you can see how it looks to work with a longer passage:

Psalms 50:14-23 (CSB)

14 Offer a thanksgiving sacrifice to God,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call on me in a day of trouble;
I will rescue you, and you will honor me.”
16 But God says to the wicked:
“What right do you have to recite my statutes
and to take my covenant on your lips?
17 You hate instruction
and fling my words behind you.
18 When you see a thief,
you make friends with him,
and you associate with adulterers.
19 You unleash your mouth for evil
and harness your tongue for deceit.
20 You sit, maligning your brother,
slandering your mother’s son.
21 You have done these things, and I kept silent;
you thought I was just like you.
But I will rebuke you
and lay out the case before you.
22 “Understand this, you who forget God,
or I will tear you apart,
and there will be no one to rescue you.
23 Whoever offers a thanksgiving sacrifice honors me,
and whoever orders his conduct,
I will show him the salvation of God.”

Question 1: What does this passage tell you about God (his nature, his character, what he is doing, etc)?

He is the "Most High" – there is no one higher than He is, his ways higher than ours, his thoughts higher than ours; He is a rescuer – He invites us to call on him when need rescue, which implies he is capable of doing the act of rescue; He is a judge between good and bad – he will make a case against the wicked and rebuke them, but will show salvation to whoever honors him and orders their life around his instruction; He is the source of salvation – The only person who can show us the salvation of God is God himself. He is glorified (honored) when people who need saving call on him; He is gentle, and near – "Call on me when you are in trouble" is an invitation as well as a promise: "I will rescue you."

Question 2: What does the passage tell you people are like?

The wicked he is talking about are people who have God's words on their lips, but don't actually live it out. They might recite Bible verses in the right circles, but between Sundays they malign their own family, surround themselves with unbelievers, and use their mouths in foul and unbecoming ways, hating and ignoring the instructions/words of God; We tend to forget God; We are not sufficient – we need rescue; While God doesn't owe us anything, we owe him! We owe him keeping our word (vows), living with thankfulness (for what he has given us), and we owe him ordering our lives in such a way that we live what we preach; God is our only hope – if he is against us (you who forget me, I will tear you apart and there will be no one to rescue you), we don't stand a chance. No one else will be able to come to our rescue if God is opposed to us

Question 3: Are there any instructions here that we should follow?

14 Offer a thanksgiving sacrifice to God,
and pay your vows to the Most High.
15 Call on me in a day of trouble;
I will rescue you, and you will honor me.

God appears to be looking for people who live with gratitude and a deep trust in the Lord to be their rescue and salvation. Acts 2:21 says (quoting the prophet Joel) "all who call on the name of the Lord will be saved." So calling on him is a common theme throughout scripture, and again God seems to almost be begging us to call out to him. Why would he do that if he weren't good? Why would he do that if he intended to leave us hanging? Why would he do that if he didn't really mean, "I will rescue you"?

It's also fascinating that he doesn't say, "Figure your own life out – use your head, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, get your act together and you will honor me." Instead, he actually says something like, "admit you need help, call on me, and you will honor me."

There's another instruction tucked into verse 22. "Understand..." Many people think Christianity is a "feel good" religion, a rabbit's foot good-luck charm to make us feel better about ourselves, and that reason leads away from religion instead of toward it. But Christianity is for thinkers; people who understand they need help; people who understand what sin is and the judgment it deserves; people who are willing to consider the gospel and be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

Does any of this speak to anything you are currently experiencing in your life?

This passage deals with hypocritical people, who speak God's name in right places, yet in their daily or private lives, live something completely different. I've been that person before. I still am, some days. I preach the word of God to the Church every Sunday, and yet Monday–Saturday don't always look like what I just said. This passage leads me to see my own hypocrisy and want to repent.

Additionally, this passage repeats at both ends that we should live with thankfulness and dependence on God for every part of our lives. I know this past year has been rough, and we've done a lot more complaining than thanking; a lot more grumbling to each other than calling on the Lord.

Turn scripture into prayer:

Lord Most High – you are the perfect and holy Judge of us all. You are the one who has called the universe to order, based on your purposes and your plan for your glory. Yet I have often sinned by being more excited by my own plans and purposes than yours. I've even read things in scripture, quoted things to others, and then turned around and not done them myself. I have no right to claim your name or your promises.

Yet you are relentless in your grace. Every morning, your mercies are new for me. Every morning, you hold out the invitation to call on you so that you can rescue me from myself, and from the powers of evil that want to destroy my soul.

Lord, I need you today. Help me! I'm so thankful that you don't give up on me, even though I often forget you. Help me to understand more of how good you really are to me, so that I will order my life in such a way as to glorify you.

In Jesus' name, Amen.