A Sermon Soundbite on Prayer’s Fuel by John Onwuchekwa
“Answer me when I call, God, who vindicates me. You freed me from affliction; be gracious to me and hear my prayer” Psalm 4:1
A great way to gauge who or what you trust in is to look at the place where you place your problems. Before David lays his head on his pillow at night, he converses with the Lord. Instead of making demands, he begins his prayer voicing a desire that God would enact his past faithfulness in the present (Psalm 4:1). He asks that he would provide the deliverance today that he tasted yesterday.
In this passage, it’s important to see that David doesn’t deny his frustrations (Psalm 4:2). Our frustrations don’t need to be denied—simply directed. Upward. Godward. We all experience frustrations in life, but it’s how we deal with them that determines whether a fire erupts or whether freedom ensues. His frustrations fuel his prayer. Can the same be said of us?
The text calls us to “be angry and do not sin” (Psalm 4:4). What’s your common reflex when you get angry? Nowhere on the pages of scripture do we see the Bible telling us to avoid anger. But, it does tell us to aim it. What do you do when problems, people, or pitfalls get under your skin? We should be led to pray. Frustrations fuel prayer and prayer diffuses frustrations. What we realize in the process of praying is that it doesn’t change God; it changes us. As we read the Psalm, the Bible, and history, the One who has never changed is the One who can’t—God. It’s impossible for God to change, but He uses prayer as a means to change His people. Because all Christians are problem people, all Christians should be praying people.
What’s your prayer life like? When do you get sweet communion with the Lord? Our most bitter moments in life can lead to some of our sweetest moments in prayer. As delightful as prayer is, it’s never an end in itself. Peace is. Prayer is just a pathway, a vehicle, a straw. It’s the straw that we use to get the living water that Jesus promises and provides.
I love how this Psalm ends: “You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and new wine abound. I will both lie down and sleep in peace, for you alone, Lord make me live in safety” (Psalm 4:7-8). David attests to a God who puts a heavenly joy in us that can’t be found anywhere around us. God’s people are given strange security that everyone is searching for but can’t seem to secure. When we neglect to pray, we forfeit, surrender, and sacrifice a sure outcome. Learning how to live as a Christian is learning how to leverage our weight. It’s learning how to lean on and lean into Christ. A kind God created and recreated us and wants us to experience the riches of His kindness in Him. Isn’t that Good News?
Prayer: Lord, we often allow anger and frustrations to get the best of us. We don’t always live out what we believe in. Teach us how to pray. Help us to be faithful, full of faith, laying our issues and insecurities at your feet, knowing that we will get peace and joy in exchange. In Jesus’ name. Amen.