The Two Most Powerful Words I’ve Ever Prayed

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MARCH 21, 2014

Psalm 74

O God, why have You now rejected us?
Why does Your anger burn against Your sheep?
You purchased us – Your own inheritance;
Recall Your people, and Mt. Zion keep.

Turn Your steps toward this devastation great;
The en’my has destroyed the Holy Place.
Your foes have roared into Your meeting place,
They’ve set up standards of their own disgrace.

They’ve taken axes as men would chop trees;
They’ve smashed the carved work, brought unholy shame;
They burned Your sanctuary to the ground;
Defiled the dwelling place of Your great Name.

They said within their hearts, “We’ll crush them whole!”
They burned each place where worship was of Thee;
No mighty signs or prophets can be found,
And none of us knows how long this will be.

How long, O God, will foes deride Your name?
How long will enemies their scorn deploy?
Why do You hold Your right hand back, delay?
Take Your right hand from waiting, and destroy!

You, O my God, are my king from of old;
You bring salvation unto all the earth;
You split the seas wide open by Your pow’r.
You crushed the monsters and Leviathan’s girth.

You opened springs and dried up rivers’ flow;
The day and night, sun, moon belong to You;
You set earth’s bound’ries; where they end, You know;
You made the summer and the winter, too.

Now, Lord, remember how Your foes do mock,
How foolish people have reviled Your name;
Don’t hand Your dove to wild beasts to devour,
And don’t forget Your people, clothed in shame.

Keep Your own covenant, O Lord, in mind,
For dark and violence now fill all the land;
Don’t let Your poor, oppressed no mercy find,
But may the needy praise Your mighty hand.

Rise up, O God, and now defend Your cause;
See how fools mock You daily, scornfully;
Do not ignore the clamor of Your foes;
Their uproar rises up continually.

CONSIDER THIS. . .

Song #74 reminds me of a time several years ago when we hosted my friend, Pete Greig, the leader of an International Prayer movement, for the opening of the Asbury House of Prayer. At the close of one of his evening messages, after recounting the devastating need for God amidst the ruins of the world, he led the packed  house in an unbelievably simple yet unforgettably powerful prayer. He instructed us that all five hundred of us were going to pray aloud at the same time, as loudly as we possibly could for a duration of five minutes. The prayer would consist of two words: COME ON!

Never before and never since have I been part of such a powerful crying out to God. Just two words. Talk about “storming the gates!” I’m not sure I had ever shouted like that before in my life. Take the most racous athletic contest you’ve ever attended and multiply that by three and you will get close. Though it took a moment to gain the self-permission to do such a thing, the praying soon took on the quality of abandoned impatience, of a deeply desperate emotional pleading. COME ON! COME ON! COME ON! COME ON!

The singer makes an interesting play with Song #74. Most laments tend to center around the woes of those who are lamenting. The words focus their prayers around their own pain and despair. Song #74 takes another tack. After likely exhausting the depths of the pain of the people, the poet drills down into the angst of the Almighty. The shame is no longer located with the people. The shame now lands squarely on God. Note how many times we see the words “you” and “your” and “thee.”

It is as though the singer stands before God and says things like, “How long are you going to take this? They are making a mockery of you? How long are you going to take this? They are making you look weak! Come on Yahweh! Not only have they burned your house, but they are systematically erasing your memory from your land! Come on! Then the song reminds God of his own glorious record in a play by play kind of way. The singer appeals boldly to God to arise and defend his own honor, for his own sake.

So as you read today’s paper or watch the evening news; as you see the unbearable suffering in a place like war-torn Syria and countless others, think about Song #74 and remember the two little words. And if you are feeling bold, go for it. COME ON! COME ON! COME ON! COME ON!

Before you get to the shout, you might want to try the song. Sing Song #74 now.  CLICK HERE.

J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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