The prayers of Psalms are deep with feelings of joy, fear, shame, sadness, and at times inconsolable rage. Our God in heaven awaits on His throne, pleased to receive the prayers of His children. Psalms is a study that helps broaden and deepen our understanding and experience of prayer by looking at the prayers of some of our spiritual ancestors: David, Moses, Asaph, and others. These prayers give us myriad examples of how we are to pray and what we are to pray for-examples God expects us to follow and emulate.
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PRAYERS OF WORSHIP AND PRAISE
Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name. (Psalm 29:1-2)
Lesson Objective: That participants will understand how worship and praise is foundational to effective and satisfying times of prayer.
Desired Action: That participants would approach times of prayer with an attitude of reverence and awe for God.
Psalms for This Lesson: 19, 24, 29, 33, 34, 47, 48, 65, 66, 67, 76, 89, 92, 93, 96, 97, 98, 100, 104, 108, 117, 122, 134, 147, 148, 149, 150
Psalms are typically associated with praise and worship. Many contemporary praise choruses are simply the psalms set to modern music. In fact, this reflects the original purpose of many of the psalms: to be sung in order to prepare people's hearts for worship in the temple. In this sense, they can also prepare our hearts for prayer, for it is only in the context of worship that prayers of confession, intercession, and thanksgiving have any meaning at all. When we focus on the power, greatness, and majesty of God, everything else is placed in its proper perspective.
For the director of music. A psalm of David.
The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
1. The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands (19:1). What are some ways that nature provokes you to worship the Creator? What are some of your favorite outdoor places to pray?
2. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. (19:3-4). Imagine people in different countries seeing the same beautiful night sky and being moved to prayer in different languages. What is it about praying with brothers and sisters around the world that is so exciting even though we might not speak the same language?
3. Why should prayer be at the heart of worship? Is it possible to worship without prayer? Explain.
Pavilion. The bridegroom's pavilion would have been a covered place, such as a booth or small tent, where the groom would have been kept in waiting for the bride. The purpose was to make his entrance into the wedding that much more spectacular.
The law of the Lord is perfect,
refreshing the soul.
The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The precepts of the Lord are right,
giving joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are radiant,
giving light to the eyes.
4. The law of the Lord is perfect (19:7). What role should the Bible play in our worship? How is studying the Bible in depth different from using the Scriptures during a time of worship?
5. Refreshing the soul ... making wise the simple ... giving joy to the heart ... giving light to the eyes (19:7-8). What have the practical manifestations of these benefits from God's Word looked like in your life?
6. How does the faithful preaching of God's Word affect how you pray or what you pray about?
Laws, statutes, precepts, and commands. In contrast to the general revelation of God in nature, the special revelation of God through His Word is focused and far less prone to subjective interpretation. Whereas the general revelation of God points to His intelligence and existence, the specific revelation of God tells us how He wants us to live.
The fear of the Lord is pure,
The decrees of the Lord are firm,
and all of them are righteous.
They are more precious than gold,
than much pure gold;
they are sweeter than honey,
than honey from the honeycomb.
By them your servant is warned;
in keeping them there is great reward.
7. The fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever (19:9). How do we express our "fear of God" in prayer? Is this more than reverence? Explain.
8. By them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward (19:11). What does God's Word command of us in regard to prayer? What are the consequences of ignoring these commands? What are the great benefits of faithful and consistent prayer?
9. Who were some of the great pray-ers in the Bible whose examples we can follow?
Honey from the honeycomb. The tsuph was made up of the cells of a honeycomb that were filled with honey; although the cells were not edible, you could put the tsuph in your mouth as a utensil for the honey. These types of combs occurred naturally, usually in forested areas, and were considered a delicacy for the weary traveler.
But who can discern their own errors?
Forgive my hidden faults.
Keep your servant also from willful sins;
may they not rule over me.
Then will I be blameless,
innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight,
O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.
10. Keep your servant also from willful sins (19:13). What is the difference between willful sin and sin done in ignorance? How should we confess them differently in prayer?
11. May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight (19:14). What is it about our thoughts and prayers during worship that delights the heart of God?
12. Why is a clean heart and conscience necessary for effective worship?
Rule over me. The compelling, addictive power of sin was no less intense during the time of David than it is today. Whether our sin is an addiction to a substance or destructive behavior, the psalmist reminds us that only the power of God can set us free from the entanglement of our sin
For the group
Warm-up. Ask your group members about some of their expectations for this particular study. Is there anything in particular they want to learn about prayer? Do they simply want to become more consistent in their prayer life? Do they have questions about whether prayer really makes a difference? Do they understand that most of the psalms are prayers themselves and that there is much we can learn from them? Be sure to write down their responses and find the part in the study where those questions will be addressed.
Questions. Psalm 19 is representative of a host of psalms that focus on the worship and praise of God. While the questions in this lesson are derived from Psalm 19, they illustrate the biblical principles that are part of any expression of worship to God. This psalm focuses on the value of the Word in worship and why God's revelation is such an intricate part of the biblical experience of praise. Some of the questions will help you better understand the views of the Bible held by your group. Those members who do not see the Bible as a reliable and authoritative source of God's truth are going to have a hard time with the rest of the study. If they need special attention in this area, be sure they get it — either through you, a pastor, or perhaps a special class at church.
Prayer. Set the tone for the entire study by offering nothing but expressions of praise and worship of God during the closing time of prayer. Everything else you're going to study is based on this. So much of prayer involves acknowledging different attributes of God. If we focus on these attributes during times of worship, our times spent in the types of prayer you'll study in the coming weeks will be far richer and more colorful.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Psalms"
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Table of Contents
How to Use This Study 5
The Book of Psalms (Introduction) 9
1 Prayers of Worship and Praise 13
2 Prayers of Confession and Acknowledgment 21
3 Prayers of Intercession and Supplication 29
4 Prayers of Protection and Deliverance 37
5 Prayers of Vindication and Forgiveness 47
6 Prayers of Renewal and Restoration 55
7 Prayer: Looking to the Past, Planning for the Future 63
8 Prayer and the Apparent Silence of God 71
9 Prayer and Waiting on the Lord 79
10 Prayers of Reward and Thanksgiving 87
Study Aids 95