Dear brothers and sisters,
In Psalm 141, the Psalmist is so desperate for God that he begs Him to hear his prayers. And notice the awe and reverence he has for God as he presents his requests. There is so much reverence that he longs for his prayers to be pleasing to God, like incense as a fragrant aroma. He is deeply concerned about the content, motivation, and goal of his prayers. The posture of his heart is to pray in order to please God, not himself. There is not a trace of self-glory in the words of the Psalmist.
What does this mean for us? For one, it is important not only that we pray, but also how we pray. James 4:3 states, “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.” No, God does not expect our prayers to be perfect. We could never accomplish that in our own strength. That is why we have the gracious assistance of the Son and the Spirit! But, at the same time, we do need to be concerned with what we ask for, and the posture of our heart when we ask for it.
Of course, we know that God is always listening and hears every word that is uttered. But the Psalmist is seeking more than just the knowledge that God audibly hears our every prayer. He is longing for intimacy and communion when he prays. He longs to pray according to God’s will and purpose. He wants God’s Kingdom to come, and His will to be done on earth as it is in Heaven (Matthew 6:10)!
Notice something else. Look at how the holiness of his life is vital to the Psalmist’s prayer motives. He refuses to enjoy the pleasures of the wicked, but will accept the rebuke of the righteous (verse 5). He prays in order to live holy, and as a result, his holy life then feeds his prayers (James 5:16). What a powerful combination, and a deadly weapon against Satan! The Psalmist is very concerned about his walk with God, and it beautifully shapes his prayers.
How does this instruct us as Christians? That communion with God in prayer is essential to our sanctification. We cannot do without it. Again, this also echoes the Lord’s Prayer when Jesus instructs us to pray against temptation, and deliver us from evil (Matthew 6:13).
So let us pray, and be desperate for God to hear and answer our prayers. Let us be mindful of our motives and goals when we pray. God desires that we live holy (Leviticus 11:44), and He will surely answer us as we pray to be more like Christ. No motivation could honor Him more than that.
O Lord, I call upon you; hasten to me!
Give ear to my voice when I call to you!
2 Let my prayer be counted as incense before you,
and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice!
3 Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
keep watch over the door of my lips!
4 Do not let my heart incline to any evil,
to busy myself with wicked deeds
in company with men who work iniquity,
and let me not eat of their delicacies!
5 Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil for my head;
let my head not refuse it.
Yet my prayer is continually against their evil deeds.
6 When their judges are thrown over the cliff,
then they shall hear my words, for they are pleasant.
7 As when one plows and breaks up the earth,
so shall our bones be scattered at the mouth of Sheol.
8 But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord;
in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenseless!
9 Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me
and from the snares of evildoers!
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets,
while I pass by safely.
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