Prayer and psalm 100

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Prayer and psalm 100

Post  dove on Thu 14 Aug 2008, 2:37 pm

By: Chris Gaffney

The context of this psalm is within more of an assembly or congregation engaged in a collective thanksgiving and praise to the Lord. We enter or pass through His gates with thanksgiving either individually or collectively. On the other side of these gates and within His courts is the goodness of the Lord, his enduring love and his continual faithfulness to those who are his. These are the traits of God we find on the other side of thanksgiving.

Verse 1 says" Shout for joy, all the earth". The call to joy is widespread, not limited to some local corner of the earth but the every corner of the globe is called. This call can be extended out, in whatever fashion is appropriate. Musically, they might have blasted the trumpets, this would be more of a triumphant joy and representing a jubilant presence and exaltation.

Verse 3 says, " Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are the sheep of his pasture."

That the Lord made us is more of a one time statement that we could make but we would not necessarily say this over and over again. But the Creator God is obviously always creating and one idea is to reference the context of His having created us and give thanks at a base level for some of the things he is currently doing for us that is part of His creative process. For example, maybe in praying for a physical healing, of say a bad ankle, I could say, Lord, that you for you healing presence as the creator of my ankle. Other examples could be thank you Lord for creating or making this opportunity to me. This way, we are referring to God as Creator or Maker as per this verse of the psalms, but also bringing the idea of creation into the base level on things we are thankful for that indeed come under the purview of his creation and his ongoing creative processes for us. For example, in other verses of the the Old Testament in Isaiah he says he will renew your youth like the eagles, a wonderful statement that would have to involve a creative process on the Lord's part, that is the actually renewal of a persons youth as a direct blessing from the hand of the Lord, and once youth has passed us by, it can only be regained in ways made possible by the creative presence of our Lord. There are any number of thanksgivings that we could specifically put the word creative into, and in fact almost anything that could happen in our favor in part involves a creative process that we can refer to in our thanksgivings to the Lord.

We knowingly enter his gates with thanksgiving, as God is our maker in the first place. Thanksgiving does not operate outside the realm of knowledge. Sheep as a metaphor doesn't mean we don't know what's going on, it is more a referencing that we are being watched over by the Good Shepherd and we are called back to the good pasture if we have deviated or just lost our way. It is more like we are called back to the palace, as per the story of the Prodigal Son. We are not thanking machines, parroting the word thanks, but we thank God from the place and position of knowledge and relationship, that we do know and contemplate that God is our helper, redeemer, finisher and so on. God knows and we know what is the subject of our thanksgiving. This knowledge flow is a two way street and often specifies. We are called to be specific in prayer. 1 Corinthians 14 verse 7 says, " Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how does anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?"

And so we too come to the Lord with distinct matters of concern, that sometimes only may involve us.

This psalm basically says, give thanks. It doesn't give any real restrictions on what this thanks could be for. I don't have to dress up my thankgivings in holiness. The first verse, where it says shout for joy, refers to an unrestrained type of thanksgiving. Thinking about what this thanksgiving could be for, it could be for anything that is evidenced as coming from the goodness and enduring love of the Lord mentioned in verse 5. It might for helpful for example to preface your thanksgivings in saying thank you for you goodness to me Lord in this matter or that matter. We can preface in with a thanksgiving, major themes we want to hone in on within our prayers. A theme I want to hone in on is communication, so I preface with the word thanksgiving attached the word communication as well. So you might say, thank you for communicating your goodness to me Lord by giving me warm weather to jog in. We can thank God for an answered prayer rather than just taking the answer and walking away with it as most of the lepers did with the healing from the hand of Jesus. They took the healing, but walked away without giving thanks. That God is showing enduring love means we can have enduring thanksgiving. God's enduring love, stretching into eternal life means that we aren't going to be in short supply of things to be thankful for.

You can be honest with the Lord in prayer however. Today for example, I lose all my money in the stock market, I get fired from my lucrative job, and I get sued for whatever I have left on a false charge. I might say to the Lord, I don't owe you thank for this as being a financial blessing, as far as I can see, because you never know what all this means either. But honesty is also a good policy in prayer, but in the case of the lepers, they were healed and for this they did owe thanks, they didn't owe money, they didn't owe work, they didn't owe any sort of payment other than the payment of thanks according to how this story reads. But if I say I owe thanks in prayer, by adding that I owe means that I am indebted to the point of thanksgiving, and that this is an actual debt that has incurred. Just like owe people money, time, or a favor, you could also owe them thanks and you can also owe God thanks as you ponder this for what you have in your hand.

That this psalm holds off on specifics, doesn't mean the specifics will not be there. We might be sharing in more general blessings, such as the prosperity of the land, which is not something to take for granted and something we should remember to give thanks for but there are also ways in which we are helped personally by the Holy Spirit and this calls for thanks as well, and often what is happening is very specific to you as a person in God's shining light. Thanksgiving could be considered almost like a joyful embrace of the presence of the Lord.

Those present in the story of this psalm are in the courts of the Lord and experiencing a joy or an afterglow that involves knowledge of the Lord and that the Lord knows them. After all if you can identify something in your life as coming from the Lord, then logically the Lord knows you personally.

Verse 4 says" Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise, give thanks to him and praise his name."

We give thanks in his name. If the sun comes up nice and bright and warms us, we don't thank the Sun for coming out, with thank the Lord in his name for having the sun come out for us. If our stock prices go up in the stock market, we don't thank the stock market but we thank the Lord in his name for this beneficence.

The story of the Prodigal Son relates to this psalm a bit. The Prodigal son, who is really a lost sheep but is more appropriately identified as a son, comes to his senses and comes back to his Father who rejoices from afar as he sees him coming back. In coming to his senses, he is acting out of knowledge and knowing what is in his fathers house or fathers courts. He is a lost sheep but a lost sheep that knows he is lost. He will enter or reenter the gates again, to his fathers house. There will be shouts of joy and gladness. This is a personal coming home.

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