Thursday, August 25, 2016

Psalm 4 - Part 4 - Steps 3 & 4 - Commune and Be Still

Psalm 4 - Part 4: The Most Powerful Intercessory Prayer Formula in the Bible - Steps 3 & 4

As was already discussed, in part 1 of our examination of the Psalm 4 prayer formula, we saw the context in which to use the special Psalm 4 level of intercessory prayer. in part 2, we examined the first step in this prayer recipe, which is to "Stand in awe". Then in part 3, we looked at the importance of being free from personal sin, in order to be powerful intercessory prayer warriors. Now, we will take an in-depth look at steps 3 & 4. Please remember, for this prayer to be effective, you need to complete the steps in the order in which the psalmist gave them.

Again, the most powerful intercessory prayer formula in all the Bible is found in Psalm 4:4-5, which reads:

Stand in awe, and sin not: commune with your own heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah. Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, and put your trust in the LORD. 

We will first look at what it means to "commune with your own heart upon your bed". Then we will study the concept of being "still," which are steps 3 and 4 in our powerful intercessory prayer recipe.

Intercessory Prayer Step 3: Commune with you own heart upon your bed

For many of us, when we or someone we know is in trouble, our "gut response" - you know, the response you give before even thinking about it - is to call a friend. We feel we need to elicit an army of prayer support - especially when things are bad. But when praying the prayer formula of Psalm 4, we aren't to request any earthly support. Communing with your own heart upon your bed means that you choose to pray at a time when the rest of your household is fast asleep. Pray during the time of greatest privacy and solitude with God. Pray. And do it alone with God.

Now, don't get me wrong. Praying with an army of like-minded prayer warriors is also a tremendous blessing. Scripture gives us powerful promises about what happens when two or three prayer warriors come together to pray.
Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in Heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of My Father which is in Heaven.  For where two or three are gathered together in My Name, there am I in the midst of them, Matthew 18:18-20.
There can be no question that praying together is powerful and effective. But there are also times, when God tells us to pray alone. In these times, He teaches us to rely on Him and Him alone. Such prayer times strip away any pretense or any doubt that maybe God answered that last prayer because "Susie" was praying too. This kind of private pray with God is raw, real, and rewarding.
But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly, Matthew 6:6.
Psalm 4 is one of those "closet" prayer times. But communing with your own heart upon your bed doesn't only refer to privacy, it also suggests the proper timing. When should you plan to engage in Psalm 4 praying? Only late at night - or in the wee hours of the morning. This is the time of day the Psalmist meant when he instructed us to "commune with" our "own hearts upon our beds". The reference to being in bed, connects to "night watches". And night watches are periods, during the night, in which we choose to be wakeful with God, while all others sleep.
"...I remember Thee upon my bed, and meditate on Thee in the night watches. Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy Wings will I rejoice," Psalm 63:6-7.
 Often then, praying the Psalm 4 spiritual warfare SOS prayer is something for which we plan ahead.  However, in extreme cases, such as my experience with Joe, I simply was in bed during the night watches. And it was the perfect timing to pray. 

So, let's quickly review the steps of Psalms 4, up to this point.

1) First, we stand in awe of God by spending the first 10-20 minutes of our prayer time in worshiping and praising Him.
2) Second, we are to confess and repent of all our sins. This portion of the prayer is untimed. You simply continue for as long as it takes until you can no longer call to mind any sins to confess - even after claiming Psalm 139:23-24.
3) When all of this is finished, you commune quietly upon your bed with God on this prayer matter. Use the time of night, when no one else is up to disturb your prayer or intrude upon this vital time spent alone with God.
4) The fourth step in the Psalm 4 prayer formula is to be still.

Intercessory Prayer Step 4: Be Still

One of my favorite Bible stories is the story of the Saviour calming the storm on the Sea of Galilee. After a busy day of preaching and healing, the disciples and Jesus had set sail for the other side of Galilee. It had been a long day, and Christ fell asleep in the back of the boat, while the disciples - all of whom were experienced fishermen - rowed quietly across the waters. Suddenly, a storm came up, creating huge waves which threatened the tiny boat and everyone aboard. You know the storm must have been the worst the disciples had ever seen. For the Bible tells us that they feared for their lives - and they were seasoned fishermen!

Throughout it all, Jesus continued sleeping peacefully. Amazed, one of the disciples finally awakened Him. "Lord, save us or we will surely die," he cried.

Jesus stood up in the boat, raised His Hands into the blustering winds and spoke, "PEACE. BE STILL."

Instantly the storm was calmed. The moon came out. There was absolutely no evidence that a storm had even taken place, other than that the shocked men in the boat were still drenched. They were amazed and asked themselves, "Who is this Man that even the winds and the sea obey Him?"

The dire circumstances in someone's life, which require us to pray a Psalm 4 level prayer may even be life and death. This was certainly the case with my family member, whom I have called Joe. I really believed Joe would kill himself that night, unless God miraculously intervened. Thus, my emotional state and the condition of my heart felt as turbulent as the stormy sea of Galilee that night. The salty spray of the ocean upon the disciples faces was mirrored in the tears which freely flowed down my cheeks.

Psalms 4 is the spiritual warfare SOS prayer - designed to be prayed in such dangerous and extreme circumstances. And this is why God has placed the fourth step here. Amidst conditions so dire that it's a matter of life and death - Christ still speaks - Peace, be still. This command is not only meant for the troubled one, for whom you are interceding. It is also for you. Awareness that God is bigger than this crisis brings peace to your turbulent heart. Mindfulness that God is the Almighty, Who is strong to save, brings stillness to your emotional soul. And trust in God's Promise to hear your prayers brings calm in the darkest of nights.

Do not worry about your loved one. Do not fear for them. Trust that the same wonderful God Who stilled the storm on Galilee will fight for you now, in answer to your prayers. And it is because you trust Him to do this and you can complete step 4 - Be Still....

Intercessory Prayer Steps 3-4: Commune with your heart upon your bed & Be Still - Step 5 will be presented in Shauna Manfredine's next blog...

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