(The following devotion is taken from a Running Toward the Goal broadcast I recorded in 2003. — HN)
12 Our LORD , you are King forever
and will always be famous.
13 You will show pity to Zion
because the time has come.
14 We, your servants,
love each stone in the city,
and we are sad to see them
lying in the dirt.
15 Our LORD , the nations
will honor you,
and all kings on earth
will praise your glory.
16 You will rebuild
the city of Zion.
Your glory will be seen,
17 and the prayers of the homeless
will be answered.
Psalm 102:12-17 (CEV)
A few years back I was teaching a Sunday School class on intercessory prayer, and I worked from Psalm 102. I consider this Psalm to be an excellent example of intercessory prayer. It illustrates a number of valuable principles that intercessors should keep in mind as they pray for others.
But at the end of the Sunday School class a lady approached me, and said that I had presented five affirmations about God that I said we should always make in intercessory prayer. She said I had taken these from the middle of the Psalm, but she hadnâ€™t been able to get them into her notes. What were they? There were no five points in my notes. When I looked at the Psalm I saw some affirmations, but they werenâ€™t organized into five. I didnâ€™t remember making five points. So I had to leave it at that.
A few days ago, reading Psalm 102 for my devotions these five points jumped out at me again. Iâ€™d like to share them with you. These are things that we say, or affirm, about God as we approach him in intercessory prayer.
First, God is king (verse 12a). We affirm that God is the ruler, that he is in charge, and that we, as subjects (and children) are under his will. This affirmation is an important antidote to the attack of pride against intercessors who may be inclined to start speaking about what they have done and what they have accomplished.
Second, God and his glory are eternal (12b). The Contemporary English Version that I read above says, â€œalways famous.â€ The NRSV says, â€œYour name endures to all generations.â€ Not only is God in authority over us, but he was in authority over all of our ancestors, and will be over all our descendants. He is eternal.
Third, God is merciful (vs 13 & 14). This is a critical affirmation for the intercessor. It is Godâ€™s mercy that is at the root of intercessory prayer. When the king of Nineveh is told by Jonah that his city will be destroyed in 40 days he calls for city-wide prayer because, â€œGod may relent and change his mindâ€ (Jonah 3:9). And indeed the king was right, and God did not destroy the city.
Fourth, God is universal (15). Godâ€™s interest is not only in Israel, or in the church, but it is in the entire world. Israel, and the church have been called as instruments for God in that blessing, but Godâ€™s interest is always universal.
Fifth, God hears (17). Not only does God hear, but he doesnâ€™t neglect those that society neglects. He hears and answers their prayers.
There is an element of worship and praise that is part of every prayer. In some cases it should be our entire prayer. In facing difficulty, thanksgiving may do us more good than any amount of petitioning. Often itâ€™s our attitude that needs the most change, not the situation or other people involved.
But these affirmations let us know that we can pray with confidence to a God like this.