Prayer Meeting: Reflections on Psalm 139

Prayer Meeting: Be Still and Know that I Am God

Every Monday, each branch of L’Abri sets aside time to sing and pray together.  From the beginning, prayer has been essential to the life and existence of L’Abri.  We hope these reflections from our prayer meetings can serve to encourage your own life of prayer.

[Read Psalm 139]

You Know Me and Lead Me

If you happened to live in ancient Greece and came upon the Temple of Apollo you would have read these words carved in stone: “Know Thyself.” That is no easy task. Who can really say they know themselves?  Who can say they know every motive that drives them and all that lies in the depth of their subconscious? With true wisdom and humility David prays, “Lord, you know me, and you lead me.” This Psalm starts with praise, “Lord, you have searched me and you have known me,” and ends with prayer for God to do it again, “search me God and know my heart and lead me in the way everlasting.”

You have searched me.  You have known me.   

God is no passive force we just tap into. He searches. He knows. He guides. David says, “You know all my movements, every thought of my mind, what I’m going to say before I say it.” And this is no detached knowledge. To know in Hebrew is an intimate endeavor. Adam knew his wife Eve. To be known by God does not mean God has a lot of information about you on file. It means He is interested in everything about you. It means He is involved in all the details. It means wherever you go, there also is God, not as a detached observer but as a knowing, caring Shepard.  “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” It doesn’t matter how far we go, or how dark it gets, with our God it doesn’t matter. Whether it’s the depths of our subconscious, the depths of the earth, or the darkness of the womb, there is God creating us and re-recreating us, knitting us together, writing all our days in a book before they come to be.

Search Me, Know Me and Lead Me

God’s thoughts are vast and precious. They overwhelm us and restore us, searching and testing our anxious hearts, then “leading us in the way everlasting.” Yes, Lord, may it be so! Search me, know me and lead me!

-Dave Friedrich

Prayer Meeting: Be Still and Know that I Am God

Prayer Meeting: Be Still and Know that I Am God

Every Monday, each branch of L’Abri sets aside time to sing and pray together.  From the beginning, prayer has been essential to the life and existence of L’Abri.  We hope these reflections from our prayer meetings can serve to encourage your own life of prayer.

[Read Psalm 46 and Acts 17:24-28]

Psalm 46 offers us a series of juxtaposed images of security and insecurity, stability and upheaval. No matter how solid the kingdoms of the earth and even the ground beneath our feet may seem, even these sources of security are ultimately flimsy compared to the Lord Himself. When they give away (imagine an earth quake) the Lord remains solid. Near the end of Psalm 46 we are given a command: “Be still and know that I am God.”

At first glance ‘being still’ seems to be a passive thing. We simply need to stop the hustle and bustle of daily life and listen to God. However, when we actually try being still we discover that it requires real exertion. There are many obstacles to being still and heavy lifting is required.

We need to lay aside…..

….the mental lists of everything we want to accomplish after we are done being still. Even this small act requires significant trust in God. Sometimes it is helpful to write a list of what we need to do in order to truly lay it aside.

… the anxious thoughts that make their home in our minds. This is a tremendous challenge especially in the times of chaos and instability described in the psalm itself.

… our idols. Significantly, the psalmist does not say that we should “be still and reflect on who God is.” He says be still and know that God is God. This is more than a daily doctrine check. It is a deep knowledge in which we, with our whole being, assent to the one-and-only-ness of God. It is to allow our whole selves to be utterly convinced and then to exalt him. So, being still requires the painful work of extracting our trust from the false gods that crowd around us and promise us security. When it comes to our idols, being still is a form of combat.

… our request mindset. Often making requests is the primary way in which we relate to God in prayer. The immediate concerns and needs of daily life grow up like brush in the foreground of our vision blocking out the depth and beauty of the landscape. Our dependence on God is much more fundamental than our wish lists. Life in each moment is an intentional gift from Him. As The Apostle Paul says to the Athenians: “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).

The command to be still is not a simple instruction for our quiet times. It is a description of a life-long effort to view reality for what it is. We can set out to do this with confidence in how the psalm ends:

“I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”

The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

-Ben Keyes

Prayer Meeting: I Will Be With You

Prayer Meeting: I Will Be With You

Every Monday, each branch of L’Abri sets aside time to sing and pray together.  From the beginning, prayer has been essential to the life and existence of L’Abri.  We hope these abridged reflections from our prayer meetings can serve to encourage your own life of prayer.   

Some Biblical truths are too well-known for their own good. I suspect that God’s promise, “I will be with you” is one of these. It appears many times in the Bible explicitly and still more times by implication, so its simplicity and familiarity can hide its importance from us. If we are a child of God, “the Lord of hosts is with us” no matter how much trouble we are in or whose fault it was. We are also told not to fear because “I am with you”. The Christian story starts with the birth of the one called Immanuel, “God with us” and Jesus’ ministry in the Gospels ends with the end of the Great Commission, “And surely I will be with you, to the very end of the age.”

How is God with us? As our shepherd. This sounds wonderful until we realize that it means we are sheep. It means that he will be “with us” not because we deserve it but by his mercy. In some of the most familiar words of the Bible, David wrote, “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…”  Why on earth would he say such a thing? “…for you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me.”

The Lord as our Shepherd has designs on our lives, purposes which will lead us toward becoming like Jesus. He transforms us from within through giving us encouragement, growth, response to our prayers, love of other people and life of the church. He also transforms us from within through our suffering, disappointments, failures and loss. This means that God is not only with us when our plans are working out and we feel like a success. He is also with us when our plans collapse and success feels far from us. If we can grasp that God is with us always, we will be less likely to take victory laps, patting ourselves on the back when things go well, and also less likely to conclude, “no one ever had it this hard, my life is hopeless” when things do not go well.

I can remember a time before I was a Christian, feeling afraid in a storm at sea in a sailboat. I was somehow surprised to realize that this sea which I had looked to for its beauty and refreshment, actually doesn’t care if it drowns me, nor does it care about anything I do, however irresponsible or cruel. It made me ask, “Does anyone care beyond family and friends? And is there any accountability?” I only came to believe later in the Good Shepherd who does care, enough to give up his life for his sheep. We should be inspired by the beauty and grandeur of the created world, but our help comes from the one who made it.

– Dick Keyes