March 20: We Don’t (Really) Mean It
Numbers 23:1–30; 1 Corinthians 6:12–7:16; Psalm 20:1–9
“I’ll pray for you.”
We say it often, but how many times do we actually remember to do it? Our biggest downfall might not be a lack of compassion—it’s probably just not taking time to write down the request and not having a model of praying for others.
Some of us might feel like we’ve mastered the art of the task list, but it can still be difficult to keep up with praying for our friends. It’s easy to think, “God knows their needs, so it’s fine.” But that’s not the New Testament view of prayer: we’re meant to pray always (Luke 18:1; 1 Thess 5:16). And Paul himself regularly asks for prayers. If they weren’t important, he wouldn’t ask (Col 4:3). For this reason, it would be helpful to develop a system to track what people need prayer for, like a prayer journal. But what about the model?
When I pray for God’s will in my life, I’ve found that using the Lord’s Prayer works well when I’m having trouble praying. But I haven’t adopted a model for praying for others. Psalm 20 contains such a model, and the psalmist offers some beautiful words for others:
“May Yahweh answer you in the day of trouble.… May he send you help … May he remember all your offerings … May he give to you your heart’s desire … May we shout for you over your victory” (Psa 20:1–5). And then the psalmist goes on to proclaim God’s goodness and that He will answer (Psa 20:6). And this is the line I think I love the most: “Some boast in chariots, and others in horses, but we boast in the name of Yahweh, our God. They will collapse and fall, and we will rise and stand firm” (Psa 20:7–8).
“They will … fall … and we will rise.” We must pray for our friends with this kind of confidence. And then the greatest challenge of all: we must pray for our enemies as well.
How can you hold yourself accountable to pray for others? How can you use Psalm 20 as a model for prayer?
JOHN D. BARRY
- And Balaam said unto Balak, Build me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks, and seven rams. And Balak did as Balaam said, and Balak and Balaam offered on every altar a bullock and a ram. Then Balaam said unto Balak, Stand by thy burnt offering, and I will go, if so be that the Lord will come and meet me: and whatsoever he showeth me, I will tell thee: so he went forth alone. And God met Balaam, and Balaam said unto him, I have prepared seven altars, and have offered upon every altar a bullock and a ram. And the Lord put an answer in Balaam’s mouth, and said, Go again to Balak, and say on this wise. So when he turned unto him, lo, he stood by his burnt offering, he, and all the princes of Moab. Then he uttered his parable, and said, Balak the king of Moab hath brought me from Aram out of the mountains of the East, saying, Come, curse Jacob for my sake: come, and detest Israel. How shall I curse, where God hath not cursed? or how shall I detest, where the Lord hath not detested? For from the top of the rocks I did see him, and from the hills I did behold him: lo, the people shall dwell by themselves, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. Who can tell the dust of Jacob, and the number of the fourth part of Israel Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his. Then Balak said unto Balaam, What hast thou done unt ome? I took thee to curse mine enemies, and behold, thou hast blessed them altogether. And he answered, and said, Must I not take heed to speak that, which the Lord hath put in my mouth? And Balak said unto him, Come, I pray thee, with me unto another place, whence thou mayest see them, and thou shalt see but the utmost part of them and shalt not see them all: therefore curse them out of that place for my sake. And he brought him into Zophim to the top of Pisgah, and built seven altars, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar. After, he said unto Balak, Stand here by thy burnt offering, and I will meet the Lord yonder. And the Lord met Balaam, and put an answer in his mouth, and said, Go again unto Balak, and say thus. And when he came to him, behold, he stood by his burnt offering, and the princes of Moab with him: so Balak said unto him, What hath the Lord said? And he uttered his parable, and said, Rise up Balak, and hear: hearken unto me, thou son of Zippor. God is not as man, that he should lie, neither as the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? and hath he spoken, and shall he not accomplish it? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: for he hath blessed, and I cannot alter it. He seeth none iniquity in Jacob, nor seeth no transgression in Israel: the Lord his God is with him, and the joyful shout of a King is among them. God brought them out of Egypt: their strength is as an unicorn. For there is no sorcery in Jacob, nor soothsaying in Israel, according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought? Behold, the people shall rise up as a lion, and lift up himself as a young lion: he shall not lie down, till he eat of the prey, and till he drink the blood of the slain. Then Balak said unto Balaam, Neither curse, nor bless them at all. But Balaam answered, and said unto Balak, Told not I thee, saying, All that the Lord speaketh, that must I do? Again Balak said unto Balaam, Come, I pray thee, I will bring thee unto another place, if so be it will please God, that thou mayest thence curse them for my sake. So Balak brought Balaam unto the top of Peor, that looketh toward Jerusalem. Then Balaam said unto Balak, Make me here seven altars, and prepare me here seven bullocks and seven rams. And Balak did as Balaam had said, and offered a bullock and a ram on every altar.. Numbers 23:1–30
- All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not profitable. I may do all things, but I will not be brought under the power of any thing. Meats are ordained for the belly, and the belly for the meats: but God shall destroy both it, and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. And God hath also raised up the Lord, and shall raise us up by his power. Know ye not, that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid. Do ye not know, that he which coupleth himself with an harlot, is one body for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the Lord, is one spirit. Flee fornication: every sin that a man doeth, is without the body: but he that commiteth fornication, sinneth against his own body. Know ye not, that your body is the temple of the holy Ghost, which is in you, whom ye have of God? and ye are not your own. For ye are bought for a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit: for they are God’s. Now concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me, It were good for a man not to touch a woman. Nevertheless, to avoi fornication, let every man have his wife, and let every woman have her own husband. Let the husband give unto the wife due benevolence, and likewise also the wife unto the husband. The wife hath not the power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not the power of his own body, but the wife. Defraud not one another, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer, and again come together, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency. But I speak thus by permission, not by commandment. For I would that all men were even as I myself am: but every man hath his proper gift of God, one after this manner, and another after that. Therefore I say unto the unmarried, and unto the widows, It is good for them if they abide even as I do. But if they cannot abstain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn. And unto the married I command, not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband. But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled unto her husband, and let not the husband put away his wife. But to the remnant I speak, and not the Lord, If any brother have a wife that beliveth not, if she be content to dwell with him, let him not forsake her. And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, if he be content to dwell with her, let her not forsake him. For the unbelieving husband is sanctified to the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified to the husband, else wre your children unclean: but now they are holy. But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart: a brother or a sister is not in subjection in wuch things: but God hath called us in peace. For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thine husband? Or what knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? 1 Corinthians 6:12–7:16
- The Lord hear thee in the day of trouble: the Name of the God of Jacob defend thee: Send thee help from the Sanctuary, and strengthen thee out of Zion. Let him remember all thine offerings, and turn thy burnt offerings into ashes. Selah. And grant thee according to thine heart, and fulfill all thy purpose: That we may rejoice in thy salvation, and set up the banner in the Name of our God, when the Lord shall perform all thy petitions. Now know I that the Lord will help his anointed, and will hear him from his Sanctuary, by the mighty help of his right hand. Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God. They are brought down and fallen, but we are risen, and stand upright. Save Lord: Let the King hear us in the day that we call. Psalm 20:1–9