“It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask”
1I will extol you, O Lord, for you have drawn me up, and did not let my foes rejoice over me. 2O Lord my God, <1> I cried to you for help, <2>and you have healed me. 3O Lord, you brought up my soul from Sheol, restored me to life from among those gone down to the Pit. 4Sing praises to the Lord, O you his faithful ones, and give thanks to his holy name. 5For his anger is but for a moment; his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning. 6As for me, I said in my prosperity, “I shall never be moved.” 7By your favor, O Lord, you had established me as a strong mountain; you hid your face; I was dismayed. 8To you, O Lord, I cried, and to the Lord I made supplication: 9“What profit is there in my death, if I go down to the Pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it tell of your faithfulness? 10Hear, O Lord, and be gracious to me! O Lord, be my helper!” 11You have turned my mourning into dancing; you have taken off my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, 12so that my soul may praise you and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever. NRSV
raying is the easiest thing we do. It’s a lot simpler than setting up your home computer. It is way easier than programming that new digital TV remote. Indeed, there is nothing hard at all involved with prayer.
Our text tells us most of what we need to know in order to pray: (1) We talk (2) He responds. Or, in verse two in our text I have underlined the pattern of prayer <1> The Psalmist cried out for help, and <2> you (Father God) have healed me.>
Sure, there are folks who pray for an hour but are too timid to ask. What if a groom was too afraid to ask his beloved to marry him? She would not be able to say yes. Actually that is not such a good simile for most young women would help him out a bit by jumping in with a resounding “YES!” before being asked.
“Yes”, is God’s word to us when we pray; perhaps not a yes to our wrong request, but the Spirit helps us to see the better way through the hard place with a modified yes.
Romans 8: 26 gives an example of God redirecting our request, “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself interceded for us with groans that words cannot express.” God must hear a lot of groaning. I believe that the deepest prayers, and in the times that I have needed God’s help the most, all I could do was groan. Groaning is a kind of substitute for words when there are no words that can express our feelings; or in a situation where we are in the midst of an emergency. Some years ago in Rome we had three feet of snow. Our front yard had deeper drifts and two children became caught under the snow. As I ran toward where I saw them go under, I later recalled saying, “O God, O God, please help me find them, O God help me!” And I was able to feel for their coats and pull them out.
Of course, the main thing that God wants to help us with is that we can know the certainty of His Love for us, our assurance of salvation. Lots of folks don’t seem to care about that but there will come a time when that’s the thing that matters most.
We are observing “Campmeeting in the City” during these hot days in Georgia. There are many Campmeetings being held during this time of the summer. It’s a time when most of the crops are gathered and when its too hot to work in the fields, so our forefathers would pack the kids in a wagon and go to the campground where there would be great singing and preaching and some folks would discover Christ for the first time, and others would respond to God’s calling upon their lives. And folks would pray! Some were asking forgiveness for their sins since the last Campmeeting, others were struggling with all of the problems of life and sin. Prayer and sin, that’s what I remember hearing about during Campmeeting time, and we all prayed hard and loud.
But a simple prayer, offered sincerely from the heart, was all that is needed. Out of the silence of our soul we can say something like, “O God forgive me for my many sins and accept by little life as yours to do whatever you would have me do. And please give me an assurance that I am doing the right thing.” That sounds about like what I remember praying and God answered my prayer with a big, “YES! Prayer was easy and it still is.
So, pray right now, in a soft voice, or in the silence of your heart and God will hear and answer your prayer.
sermon synopsis by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor