The Fruit of the Life of Faith
Someone once said ‘May all your problems this year be as long lived as your new year’s resolutions’.
There is nothing particularly Christian about a new year, but since the Lordship of Christ includes the Lordship of time, it does have some significance.
It is like a traffic light in the Christian life. It is a chance to stop at the theoretical red light and reflect for a moment before charging off into the green light of the new year. So it is a marginally useful time frame.
Psalm 5 has no obvious links with the new year, but it does involve the orange light of caution, focuses on the red light of troubles, and God’s green light for proceeding with the gift of life. It reminds us of priorities.
The setting of the psalm seems to be the morning sacrifice in the temple. There David, God’s chosen king at about 1000 B.C., worshipped and prayed. He lay before God what was on his heart.
He dealt with things differently than the man who once said, ‘Why pray when you can worry and take tranquilizers.’
In verses 1-3, David spoke of taking the positive alternative. In verse 1 there is a gentle appeal to God to hear him. ‘Give ear to my words O Lord.’ By verse 2 it is ‘listen to my cry for help.’ It is as if his desire for the presence, the desperation of his need, and his trust in God increases. He asks God to hear his sighing, or groaning as some translations have it. He can barely put into words his deep need.
In verse 3, he affirms that for him, the morning is a special time for prayer. He knows the Lord hears his voice, and like when we talk to someone we know is listening deeply, we tend to continue, and share more of what is on our heart. Therefore David says he waits in expectation.
You will receive from your prayer no more than what you expect from them. God will give you as little or as much as you expect. So, like David, expect great things of God and He will honour your devotion and prayer to him.
It’s found in Matthew 6:6. Work out where you will pray, the setting, the privacy and then… actually pray! Prayer has its own reward. Be brief on speaking and long on listening. Prayer in solitude, pray corporately, and pray with your spouse.
You will find it hard to pray this year because many of you will be so busy, but your business will be a productive business if it is grounded in prayer. God wants us to spend time with Him as we would in any important relationship.
The morning is important for me, but the important thing is to build your prayer life around the rhythms of your life.
Some people do their best praying when they are out walking. Others do their best before retiring for the night. Match your praying this year to the rhythm of your life, and it will be real for you.
In verses 4-7, the holiness of God and the arrogance of the people are spoken of. Unlike people, God takes no pleasure in evil.
I received a letter from an MP the other day telling me why he opposed my point of view on the casino poker machine legislation. He also opposes any attempt to restrict brothels and prostitution legislation. He gave all the reasons which to him seemed plausible. It seemed like a person taking pleasure in evil. All this is so contrary to God’s nature and wishes.
To those who lie, are blood-thirsty, and deceitful cannot dwell with God, and cannot even worship him is the inference of verse 4b.
In contrast in verse 7, David sees that it is only through the mercy of God that we can worship Him. He is not obligated to receive our worship, He receives it because of His grace, not our worthiness.
So it is with joyful reverence we come to the holy temple. It is with a posture of humility, bowing down, that David approaches the house of God.
That is hard to convey to our generation. Before worship sometimes people are trying to pray, or just sitting quietly, preparing themselves, while other people are calling out to each other, stewards are noisily joking and there is a build up of chaos. I felt this acutely on Christmas morning when a woman came to church early for the first time, and the rowdiness was great. Let us consider our co-worshippers as we come in reverence to the mercies of God.
By the time David gets to verse 8 he can see what his greatest need is. He has come out of the world for a moment and all the demands which go with the corner office, and sees that what he needs most is to be led by God. Out of prayer God can, and will lead his people. God’s view is not jaundiced by prejudices or materialism or ambiguous motives, therefore he knows what’s best for our future, and knows how we should go and where.
The outcomes of prayer are worship, integrity in faith, gladness, joy, protection, rejoicing, blessing, and favour. That is the fruit of the life of faith.
May you this year, know the truth of such gifts of God.
By George Robert Iles