The Prayer Series – Praying for God's Presence, Provision and Protection

The Prayer Series
  • While you can pray through any part of the Bible, some books and chapters are much easier to pray through than others. Overall, the Book of Psalms is the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture. Almost every aspect of man’s relation to God is depicted in these poems: simple trust, the sense of sin, appeals to a higher power in time of trouble, and the conviction that the world is in the hands of a loving God. Join us in this 4 week series as we learn how to pray more God-centered prayers and enjoy more focus in prayer.
3. Praying for God's Presence, Provision and Protection (Psalm 63)
  • No matter where we are, our desire should be for God because only He is the source of everything.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • We are utterly dependent on God and must come to Him in prayer with that understanding. (Psalm 63:1-3)
  • As we pray to God in our dependence on Him, we must acknowledge His presence and allow it to issue in praise. (Psalm 63:4 & 5)
  • As we pray to God, we must recognize that His presence is the source of our provision and protection and rest in that. (Psalm 63:6-11)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • Do you understand that you are utterly dependent on God and live that way?
  • When you pray, do you acknowledge His presence and practice it too?
  • Because God is God, He is indeed the source of our provision and protection. Do you recognize that, believe that and practice that?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • What does it mean when David prays, “O God, you are my God?”
  • What does David mean when he writes that his soul thirsts for God?
  • What is the meaning of David's saying that he has beheld God's power and glory? What is the effect of that vision for God and who He is?
  • According to this Psalm, what is the source of praise to God?
  • How does David, in t his psalm, deal with his difficult circumstances?
  • How does one's soul “cling” to God?
  • How does God's right hand uphold a person?
  • How does David understand that God will make things right vis-a-vis his enemies?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • Can you pray, “O God, you are my God?” Write your own statement of that reality in a few sentences and pray it.
  • Does your soul “thirst” for God? What does that look like in your life?
  • What would happen to you spiritually if you were not able to drink of God and His love?
  • Where do you find your greatest satisfaction? Assuming that is in God, how does God satisfy your deepest longings?
  • How can you daily acknowledge that all your resources are from God?
  • When you are in dire and difficult circumstances, what is your first reaction? Is it to go to God and express your dependence on Him and allow that dependence to issue in praise and joy?
  • Write your own paraphrase of this Psalm. Pray that paraphrase every day. Make it your highest priority to seek God with all your heart for His presence, provision and protection, and pray constantly to that end.
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
In Psalm 145, we saw that in prayer we are to approach the God of the universe in a personal way and express our adoration and praise for Him just for who He is and for what He has done. In Psalm 67, we saw that the God of our blessing and of salvation wants us to pray for people to come to know Him. In Psalm 63, the focus of these Notes, we will see that in prayer, we are to approach Him for His presence, and in our worship of Him, can pray with confidence for His provision and His protection.

Psalm 63 is a Psalm of David, the king of Israel. The superscript to the Psalm indicates that it was written when David was “in the wilderness of Judah.” The timing was most likely when David was king of Israel, ruling in Jerusalem, but had fled the city with his followers in the face of the rebellion of his son, Absalom, who was seeking to become king instead of David. (II Samuel 15; 17:21-29) In due course, David and his company stopped their running away when they arrived in the wilderness at a place called Mahanaim (II Samuel 17:24, 27). This wilderness area was not a desert, per se, but was a generally barren area particularly in the summer when the heat and sun had baked the earth and dried up the sparse vegetation, and the winds had blown away much of what was left. Water was scarce at best during the summer, which was when David ran from Absalom. Thus it was that when David and his followers arrived in Mahanaim, Scripture tells us they were “hungry and weary and thirsty in the wilderness.” (II Samuel 17:29b) It was in these circumstances – a king on the run in charge of thousands of followers far from his royal throne with all its luxuries, wondering what to do about Absalom's rebellion and the kingdom of Israel - that David composed this Psalm.

As in the two Psalms we have already looked at, in Psalm 63, we see prayer which rightly starts with God and is wrapped around all He is. But this Psalm in particular, and its prayer, come from a point of extreme need and uncertainty given David's circumstances. Still, rather than beginning with requests, David begins with God and with a very personal approach to the One, indeed the only One, who could help. So he writes and prays this declaration of dependence and trust: “O God, you are my God.” The English translation does not do justice to the determination of these words. Literally they read, “Lord, you are my God.” In the Hebrew, the reading is “Yahweh, you are my El.” The Hebrew word “Yahweh” is God's name for Himself (Exodus 3:13 & 14) and it was considered by the Jews as so sacred that they would not even speak the name aloud. Hence, in this prayer, David addresses the all powerful, sovereign God who made Himself known by His name which represents all that He is. And in his prayer, David then reminds himself – and God – that the He is David's God (“my God”) in the sense of a personal relationship and an understanding of David's being under God's rule and reign, authority and power, by using the word “El” which is the familiar, common, even personal, name of God. “El” is the root word for God that Jesus used when He called out to His Father from the cross (“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Matthew 27:46); it means might, strength or power, and is typically connected to other words that give substance and greater definition to who God is. For example, El Shaddai is the all sufficient God; El Elyon is the most high God; EmmanuEL is God with us. There are many other examples too numerous to cite here. (this is an example of the multi-faceted use of Hebrew words to convey the greatness and wonder of God. For example, Deuteronomy 10:7 reads “For the Lord (Jehovah) your God (Elohim) is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God (El).”) So David begins his prayer to the Almighty God with whom he has a personal relationship (Psalm 63:1), the God whom he has experienced (Psalm 63:2), and the God whose love he knows (Psalm 63:3); he begins with the knowledge and commitment that he is fully and wholly dependent on this very God.

And David does not merely address God; he “earnestly” seeks Him (Psalm 63:1), meaning that he eagerly searches after closeness with this God of his. Moreover, the word earnestly carries the sense that David does this seeking first before anything else, including the thought that he does so first thing in the morning (the root of the word is also translated “dawn”). The lesson in this verse of seeking God first thing in the morning was not lost on the early Christians as evidenced by the late fourth century AD preacher, John Chrysostom (“golden-mouthed”) of Antioch-on-the-Orontes, when he commented: “That it was decreed and ordained by the Primitive Fathers that no day should pass without the public singing of this psalm,” based on the phrase in verse 1 (sometimes translated “early will I seek you”), this psalm was sung on a daily basis during the morning liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox churches.

And thus as a guide for prayer, this Psalm teaches us to long for God's presence. And how much longing? Verse 1 goes on to tell us: our souls and body, literally our whole selves, should long for God as one would long for water in a barren desert. What an apt picture, especially as it comes from David who has run from Absalom into the dry Judean wilderness. It is reported that being in a desert and without water saps one's strength, and that the desire for water becomes all consuming. In fact, the lack of water will ultimately sap the very life out of a person, as water means life. Likewise, God is life to us, and we should seek after Him with an understanding of that truth and a craving for life. David then continues in his prayer, confirming the blessing of God's presence, and that his longing for that presence is based on his past experience of God; he has “seen” God in the sanctuary; he has beheld God's power and glory (Psalm 63:2), and therefore he can confidently seek Him again, knowing that in God is his own life, and indeed, that the reality of God's constant and faithful love is “better than life.” (Psalm 63:3a). This reality of God's constant presence leads David to praise (Psalm 63:3b), even as it should lead us to praise of God in prayer both in the present and in the future days of our lives (Psalm 63:4).

But David's prayer does not end with praise; it goes another step and anticipates satisfaction and deliverance from God on the basis of His name (cf. Psalm 72:17, 19 which is a Psalm of Solomon) even as he constantly remembers God and meditates on who He is, what He has done and what He will do (Psalm 63:5 & 6). Interestingly, David references meditating on God during the night watches (Psalm 63:6). Is this a reference to the night watches while he is in the wilderness? Or is this a reference to future times spent on night watches? It seems to be a “both/and” proposition; in his prayer, David knows that God will (in the future) satisfy him as richly as the beautiful odor of the fat offerings and the satisfaction of the best food as he thinks about his God while lying in bed or on a night watch (Psalm 63:5 & 6). The prayer is thus a prayer which anticipates God's provision in the deepest sense, namely “soul satisfaction” even as it hints at actual provision of needs. And yet again, this prayer is based on David's past experience, as God has been his help, and he has been sheltered in the wings(cf. Psalm 36:7; 57:1; 91:4) of God's provision and protection and lead him to sing for joy (Psalm 63:7). So, what does God's presence provide? God will provide peace and satisfaction (Psalm 63:6), help in circumstances (Psalm 63:7), and support as one leans on Him (Psalm 63:8). And this provision is based on God's sovereign power (His “right hand” which signifies power. Psalm 63:8).

To this point, David has prayed for God's presence and in that presence sought God's provision in the deepest sense of that word, that is, provision for the whole person. And this prayer is based on David's desire for and priority of closeness with God, his confidence in God's character and nature, and his understanding that he is utterly dependent on God for all he is and has. But David prays on, claiming God's protection and resting in His justice against those who are His enemies (Psalm 63:9 & 10). Old Testament Israelites did not have a worked out view of the after-life, and tended to view God's judgment against His enemies and against unrighteousness as being meted out by God in the present life as He maintained His name and the continued His blessings on His children that derived from His covenant promises to them. Thus, instead of seeking to get even on his own and through his strength, David literally rests in God's judgment against his enemies who would seek to undo God's will and purpose in David's being king. He knows that God is jealous for His name and will vindicate Himself, triumphing over unrighteousness. So in striking word pictures, David acknowledges that God's protection will issue in God's ultimate judgment, and that his (and God's) enemies will “go down into the depths of the earth” (Psalm 63:9), will be killed by the “power of the sword” (Psalm 63:10), and that their dead bodies will be food “for jackals,” scavengers of the wild (Psalm 63:10). Wow! These seem like harsh words to our 21st century ears. But as commentator Steven J. Cole writes, as David

considered his circumstances, he realized that God is just; God would judge fairly. The wicked would not prevail in the long run. Thus David could commit the situation to the Lord and act with the right perspective and balance: He would make it his business to rejoice in God, and let God deal with his enemies and vindicate him. He knew his calling (“king,” 63:11) and that God would not fail to accomplish all that concerned him.

Deliverance will come from God and on God's timetable; meanwhile God's servant, king David, will rejoice in God, his God, with all those who call on His name. In the end, all who utter lies will be stopped (Psalm 63:11). God is able to fight His battles, and He will win His battles, for He alone is God! David therefore prays to that end, and thus aligns his will with that of God as to the glory due His name.


In this prayer of Psalm 63 we have another marvelous template for our prayer life. We should pray as if our livers depend on God, because they surely do; we should pray out of a personal relationship with God for His presence, His provision and His protection. And in praying thus, we make our declaration of faith in God, our confirmation of trust in God and our statement of priority in God and His will, all of which lead to our praise to God, our joy in God and our satisfaction in God. Through praying thus, we will also find stability, strength, perspective and balance, all of which derive from utter dependence on Him. Do you know thirst for this God? Do you desire Him first thing every morning? Do you find that His faithful, steadfast love is better than life and is the source of blessing and praise? Pray Psalm 63 with David in all circumstances of your life, especially in trying circumstances. In so doing, you will find yourself in the shadow of His wings with His right hand upholding you (Psalm 63:7 & 8). So, pray Psalm 63, and pray it as if your life depends on it … because it does!

The Prayer Series – Praying for All the Nations

The Prayer Series
  • While you can pray through any part of the Bible, some books and chapters are much easier to pray through than others. Overall, the Book of Psalms is the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture. Almost every aspect of man’s relation to God is depicted in these poems: simple trust, the sense of sin, appeals to a higher power in time of trouble, and the conviction that the world is in the hands of a loving God. Join us in this 4 week series as we learn how to pray more God-centered prayers and enjoy more focus in prayer.
2. Praying for All the Nations (Psalm 67)
  • Joy comes from spreading the news about God around the world.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • God is a God of blessing to His own, and that blessing is to reflect Him to others. (Psalm 67:1 & 2)
  • We are to be witnesses by our lives to make God known to all. (Psalm 67:2 & 4)
  • Praise to God and joy in Him are proper responses to His activity of salvation. (Psalm 67:3 & 5)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • What is your response to God's blessing in your life? Is it to keep it in or share it?
  • How are you to be a witness to others as a result of God's blessing in your life?
  • What is your response to God's activity of salvation? What do you say and do when someone you know becomes a follower of Jesus?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • What does it mean for God to be gracious to us?
  • What does it mean for God to bless us? How does He do that?
  • How does God “make his face to shine upon us?”
  • What is the relationship between God's blessing us and His being made known throughout the earth?
  • Who are “the nations?”
  • What does it mean to say that God “judge[s] the peoples with equity?”
  • How can nations be glad and sing for joy? How can individuals be glad and sing for joy?
  • What is the increase the earth has yielded to us?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • How has God been gracious to you? To your church?
  • How has God blessed you? Blessed your church?
  • What is the effect of God's saving power in the earth, and what do we have to do with that?
  • What is the basis for your praising God as it relates to outreach to the unsaved?
  • What have you learned about God through this Psalm? In what ways does knowing such things change you?
  • How can you pray Psalm 67?
  • Write out your own Psalm 67 prayer, and pray it every day for a week, or a month … or every day for the rest of your life!
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
In the Notes for the first study in this series, we saw that one of the reasons prayer is so awesome is that in prayer we approach the God of the universe in a personal way and express our adoration and praise for Him just for who He is and for what He has done. We saw that through looking at Psalm 145. In these Notes, we will look at a “missionary” Psalm and find we are to be praying for “all the nations,” and that praying in this way is part of accomplishing God's will on earth.

We know that prayer starts with God and is wrapped around all He is. All He is includes His will which, in turn, includes various things, not least of which is that He be glorified as He alone is worthy. Part of His being glorified is that He desires that people everyone come to know Him (II Peter 3:9) and be part of His kingdom family, so that they can adore and glorify Him. That is one reason why God is creating a people for Himself in Christ. As it says in I Peter 2:9, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (emphasis added) Once in His family as a child of God, we have the privilege of praying that His will be done on earth (cf. Matthew 6:10), or, in the lesson of these Notes, that we pray for “all the nations” to come to know Him. Such is the prayer of Psalm 67 which we can use as a “template” for our own praying.

Interestingly, it helps to think about the nation Israel as we delve into Psalm 67, as the Psalm was written to and for the Jewish people, God's chosen ones. God chose Israel to be His not because the Jewish people were special in any way; He simply chose them to be His. Genesis 7:6-8 says,

For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were t he fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath he swore to your fathers ...”

And God's will was that through His people, all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:2 & 3; 22:18; 26:4) as they came to know the God of Israel through His people and their obedience. So in Psalm 67 we have a prayer to God for the blessing of Israel and its people so that God may be known (Psalm 67:2), and they, too, might praise God (Psalm 67:3 & 5). Indeed, a part of God's blessing of His people is that others come to Him, and therefore, it is inherent in God's will that we pray for those others and their coming to Him. The joy that comes in praise to God in this Psalm is thus for both the Jewish people and all non-Jewish people (the nations), and it is because God is who He is and exercises His saving power to both Jew and Gentile, that is to say, to everyone!`

The central verse in this song, Psalm 67, is verse 4 which asks that “the nations” be glad and sing for joy. How can “the nations” do this? Only insofar as they have a relationship with the Almighty God, the God who judges “with equity” and who “guide[s] the nations.” Again, who are “the nations?” They are all those peoples other than the Jews, and they are the people who are to see God through Israel. In our present situation, who are “the nations?” They are all those people other than the Church, who do not know Jesus and need to see Him through us. Thus, we are to pray for those who are outside of God's family, that they will be able to praise God as verses 3 and 5 of this Psalm asks. These two verses purposely surround the request of verse 4 in the construction of this song in order to lead to and point to verse 4 and the request of God that all nations come to Him and come under His reign and rule. And in a similar way, verses 1 and 2, and verses 6 and 7, are the bookends to verses 3-5, as they begin and end with the request for the blessing God's people, which will lead to the inclusion of the nations, so that “all peoples” will come under God's reign and rule. This is God's will.

So here is the guide from this Psalm, the template, for our praying for all the nations: start with God, the One who is gracious, the One who saves, ask for His gracious blessing so that we will be enabled by His presence in us to show who He is to those who do not know Him; then ask for those who do not know Him to come to know Him and join in praise for who He is; then ask that God become known (in Jesus, through our witness) for who He is, the righteous judge of all and the powerful guide for all of life; then thank God for what He has already done in blessing us, and ask that those blessings continue on us and on all those who come to Him. This is a big-time prayer … it is for all the nations. At the same time, however, it is to be specific prayer for people we know, for communities in which we live, for neighborhoods of which we are a part, and for ourselves, that we would reflect back God to these others with whom we have contact as we are blessed by Him. So, when we ask for ourselves, it is not so much for our own benefit, though we surely benefit from God's blessing; it is that our blessing is for the benefit of others to know the great God, to praise Him, and to receive His blessing as well.

What do we learn of God in this Psalm, the knowledge of which should make us even more inclined to pray? We learn that He is approachable and gracious; He is a God of blessing and favor to His own; He is a God who desires to be known by all peoples and who makes Himself known through His people; He brings joy to those who know Him; He is the just ruler of all peoples; He provides for His own; and He is the God of salvation. Do you know this God? If you do, pray Psalm 67 as that prayer will be effective in releasing His will on earth; if you do, pray Psalm 67 as that prayer will bring blessing to you and to others and will empower your own witness; if you do, pray Psalm 67 because it will open the eyes of those who do knot know God to see Him and come into His family; if you do, pray Psalm 67 and praise Him in the midst of it.








The Prayer Series – Praying Adoration for the King

The Prayer Series
  • While you can pray through any part of the Bible, some books and chapters are much easier to pray through than others. Overall, the Book of Psalms is the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture. Almost every aspect of man’s relation to God is depicted in these poems: simple trust, the sense of sin, appeals to a higher power in time of trouble, and the conviction that the world is in the hands of a loving God. Join us in this 4 week series as we learn how to pray more God-centered prayers and enjoy more focus in prayer.
1. Praying Adoration for the King (Psalm 145)
  • Because God is full of love, He fully satisfies all who trust in Him.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • We approach God in prayer with exaltation of Him as God. (Psalm 145:1 & 2)
  • In exalting God, we express our adoration of Him, for who He is and for what He does. (Psalm 145:3, 7, 9, 14, 18-20)
  • In our exaltation and adoration of God, we desire that He be exalted and adored by others. (Psalm 145:4, 7, 10-12)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • How do you approach God when you pray? How should you approach God when you pray?
  • Who is God and what has He done? How can you express your answers in adoration of God when you pray to Him?
  • Why should you desire that others adore God?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • What does it mean to extol God? To exalt Him?
  • Why is God worthy of exaltation?
  • List the characteristics and traits of God as reflected in this Psalm. What is wonderful about those things you listed, and why do they lead to adoration of God?
  • What is the basis for adoring God?
  • What is the meaning of God’s kingdom? Why is is a basis for adoring Him?
  • Why is it important that we tell God about who He is?
  • How is adoration of God expressed in this Psalm (example: verse 2 tells us to “bless” God)
  • How often should we adore God in prayer?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • What is prayer?
  • What does it mean to you to commune with God?
  • Why do you desire to exalt God Do you adore Him, and if you answer yes, how do you express that adoration?
  • Describe how great God is as you have experienced Him. Do you agree with David’s assessment of God’s greatness?
  • How has God been good in your life? How does that make you feel and what should you tell God about that as you pray?
  • What does “God’s kingdom” mean to you? What is your relationship with God and His kingdom?
  • Do you feel near to God and feel Him near to you? How can you gain “nearness” to God?
  • How often should you express your adoration of God to Him?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
These Notes begin a four part series on prayer. Certainly as a topic for study, we could spend a lifetime delving into prayer, but these four studies will have to do for now, though you are encouraged to make prayer a matter of your own study, learning and, more importantly, doing, for the rest of your life! In our study, we will look at four Psalms as they contain keys to what prayer is while answering the questions of how we should pray, for whom we should pray, when we should pray, and why we should pray.

We each likely have an idea of what prayer is, that it is at the very least conversation and communication with God. But in reality, prayer is so much more. It is literally communion with the living, sovereign, eternal God of the universe; it is basking in His presence; it is enjoying Him for all He is; it is offering praise and worship to Him using multiple means; it is interacting with His will as it is engaged on the earth; and it is growing to know Him more intimately and deeply. E.M. Bounds, who lived from 1835 to 1913, was an American author, attorney and pastor, who wrote 9 books on prayer which still sell. He writes this of prayer: “The driving power, the conquering force, in God’s cause is God Himself.” and then adds, “Prayer puts God in full force into God’s work.” (E.M. Bounds, Purpose in Prayer, Moody Press Edition, 1980, @ p. 26). Bounds has it right; prayer indeed is our connection to God, made possible through Jesus Christ; it is our gateway into God’s throne room where we fellowship with Him. But always, always, prayer recognizes that God is the inestimable, unfathomable, wholly other One, who, though our Father, is unapproachable but for His grace. The prophet Isaiah in God’s presence cried out, “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5) Others in the Bible had similar experiences (See, e.g., Judges 13:22; Ezekiel 1:28). We thus come into God’s presence in prayer with a measure of fear and trembling simply because He is God Almighty. And yet He tells us to come to Him (Jeremiah 33:3), and even come boldly to Him (Hebrews 4:16), and in so doing to give Him glory in His holiness. So, before anything else prayer starts with God and is wrapped around all He is.

With the foregoing in mind, perhaps the key word is “adoration.” When we come to God in prayer, we “adore” Him, with all the many faceted nuances of that word, in recognition of who He is but also in love for and worship of Him. The Psalms are really the poetic songs of Israel; but they are also prayers. Psalm 145 is a Psalm that reflects this concept of prayer as adoration of God. It happens that this Psalm is one of many written by David, the famous king of Israel called the “sweet singer” of Israel (II Samuel 23:1) and of whom God said he was “a man after my own heart.” (Acts 13:22) The Psalm is written from David's perspective but it is meant to be the perspective of all who approach God. Verse 1 begins right away by extolling (or, exalting) God: “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.” In typical Hebrew poetic fashion of parallelism, the second verse repeats the thought of the first verse but in a slightly different way: “Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever.” The word “extol” means “to place on high, raise, elevate; to praise enthusiastically, go into raptures over, rave about, sing the praises of. In short, it means to lift up God's name above any and all other things in an enthusiastic, even rhapsodic manner. One does that about a person one adores and loves. We are to come to God with that heart and mind.

The adoration continues with a statement of God's greatness, “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” (Psalm 145:3) Because God is great, so great that His greatness is unfathomable, He is worthy of great praise. God knows this of Himself, of course; but by saying such in exalting Him in prayer, we remind ourselves of who He is. The Psalm continues by setting forth a litany of character traits, actions and aspects of God that merit His greatness and our consequent adoration. He is great because of His works and mighty acts (Psalm 145:4 & 5), His abundant goodness (Psalm 145:7), His righteousness (Psalm 145:7). His grace (Psalm 145:8), His mercy (Psalm 145:8), His withholding of anger (Psalm 145:8), His steadfast love (Psalm 145:8), His mercy (Psalm 145:9), His glorious kingdom
(Psalm 145:11 & 12), the everlasting nature of His kingdom and dominion (Psalm 145:13), His care for those who fall and those who need lifting up (Psalm 145:14). His material provision (Psalm 145:15), His spiritual provision (Psalm 145:19 & 20), His responsiveness to need (Psalm 145:18 & 19), and His judgment of the wicked (Psalm 145:20). Obviously, the foregoing is not an exhaustive list of God's attributes and character. However, it is a list sufficient to elicit awe and wonder, praise and thanksgiving, worship and exaltation of the living God being described, and especially as we meditate in prayer about each of those things on that list and what they say about God and us at the same time.

Not only do we need to extol God in prayer and meditate on His greatness (Psalm 145:5), but we also need to declare that greatness to all who would listen including ourselves (Psalm 145:6), and desire (and pray) that others who love God will make His greatness known from one generation to another (Psalm 145:4). Notice that even without such commendation, God's works themselves, as well as His fame, will speak for God's greatness. Thus, His “wondrous works” will speak of the “might of [His] awesome deeds” (Psalm 145:6 & 7), “pour forth the fame of his abundant goodness” (Psalm 145:7), and sing of His righteousness (Psalm 145:7). These same works of God in His greatness will speak of His kingdom (Psalm 145:11), tell of His power (Psalm 145:11), and make them known to all mankind (Psalm 145:12). God's greatness is so great that it extends to everyone, literally to “every living thing” (Psalm 145:15 & 16). But in the end, God's preservation is only to those who love Him (Psalm 145:20), whereas those who are wicked He will destroy (Psalm 145:20). And for how long will we continue to extol and adore God in prayer? For all time and beyond (Psalm 145:1 & 2, 13, 21)

When He walked the earth and taught His disciples to pray, Jesus began His instruction with these words: “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.” (Matthew 6:9) With these words Jesus taught what David modeled in the foregoing Psalm of adoration, namely that prayer starts with God. When we begin with God in prayer, we recognize Him as Father. The word “father” signifies a personal relationship, indeed, a familial relationship. In Christ, we are related to God as part of His family, brought into a relationship with Him as His children. The Apostle John in his gospel put it this way, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12 & 13) A child comes from and relates to His or her father; likewise, having been born of God, we relate to God as our Father. Further, He is our Father who is “in heaven” which means that He is apart from us, above us, outside of us, and beyond us. God exists in a different plane, as it were, namely in heaven as opposed to “on earth.” Heaven is not so much a place as it is a realm in which God is, and over which God has absolute authority (Cf. Isaiah 6:1-4; Ezekiel 1:25-28; Daniel 7:9 & 10). As Lord over His realm, God exercises and extends His will, and His will includes His children. So to pray to our Father in heaven means that we come to the ruler over all in the context of His realm and in recognition of His power to accomplish His will even as it relates to us. And going still further, we acknowledge His greatness as God by “hallowing” His name. To “hallow” means to honor as sacred, to revere or to consecrate. Thus, to “hallow” God's name is to honor and revere Him as sacred and set apart, to exert His “otherness.” And in so doing, we express our adoration for God and our position as created ones, as His children who come to Him as creator God.

What an awesome thing is prayer! One of the reasons prayer is so awesome is that in prayer we approach the God of the universe in a personal way and express our adoration and praise for Him just for who He is and for what He has done. God is great and mighty, God is everlasting, God is holy other, God is good, God is famous and glorious, He is just and righteous, He is gracious and merciful, He is … we could go on, singing His praise. All told, it is sufficient in the moment to say He is worthy. And we say this to God when we pray, and underscore such truth to ourselves when we pray. So with King David, by praying we speak “the praise of the Lord … and bless his holy name forever and ever.” (Psalm 145:21) Amen!



While you can pray through any part of the Bible, some books and chapters are much easier to pray through than others. Overall, the Book of Psalms is the best place in Scripture from which to pray Scripture. Almost every aspect of man’s relation to God is depicted in these poems: simple trust, the sense of sin, appeals to a higher power in time of trouble, and the conviction that the world is in the hands of a loving God. Join us in this 4 week series as we learn how to pray more God-centered prayers and enjoy more focus in prayer.

1. Praying Adoration For The King [Psalm 145]
Because God is full of love, he fully satisfies all who trust in him.

2. Praying For All The Nations [Psalm 67]
Joy comes from spreading the news about God around the world.

3. Praying For God's Presence, Provision and Protection [Psalm 63]
No matter where we are, our desire should be for God because only He is the source for all our needs.

4. Praying For Mercy, Forgiveness, and Cleansing [Psalm 51]
God wants our hearts to be right with him.

Prayer Life: God's Plan Empowered

God's Plan Series
  • We live in a culture that constantly tells us that our identity is found in what we have or have not done; what job we have or what career we are hoping for; how we have succeeded or how we have failed. This however is not God's plan for our lives. The Gospel says that the identity we all need is one that cannot be taken away by our failure or circumstances. The identity that we need is found only in Christ.
6. Prayer Life: God's Plan Empowered (Ephesians 3:14-22)
  • God is making Himself known to the world through the Church.
Sermon Preparation Guide
  • Importance – What are the central ideas of the text?
  • God is the sole source of our power. (Ephesians 3:15, 20)
  • We can go to God in prayer expecting to secure all the requisites for empowerment, namely being strengthened in our inner being, allowing Christ to take full residence in our hearts, comprehending His great love, and being filled with His fullness. (Ephesians 3:16-19)
  • God is powerful enough and willing to do more than we even ask Him or think to ask Him in empowering us for His service to His glory. (Ephesians 3:20 & 21)
  • Implications – What questions should the listener be asking?
  • Where is only the place (or, who is the only one) we should go to receive power for living the life we are called to live in Christ?
  • What should we ask for in seeking to appropriate the power that is in us in the Spirit?
  • How and to what extent will God answer our prayer for empowerment and why?
Talk it Over Discussion Guide
  • Interpretation – What is the text telling/showing us?
  • Why do we go to God with any request?
  • Why did Paul write this prayer for those to whom he was writing (and to us)?
  • How did Paul pray? (example answer: He prayed with confidence.)
  • What were Paul’s requests on behalf of his readers (and for us)?
  • What is your inner being? Why is it important that you have spiritual strength in your inner being? How does this apply to the church?
  • What does it mean for Christ to dwell in your hearts?
  • Why is it important that Paul’s readers understand the extent of God’s love and the love of Christ?
  • What does it mean to be filled with all the fullness of God?
  • How able is God to answer our prayers?
  • Why does God delight to empower the Church to do its mission?
  • Implementation – What should the listener’s response be?
  • What is your family relationship with God and why does that matter in terms of prayer?
  • What are the riches of God’s glory and what does it mean that He answers your prayer according to His riches in glory?
  • Why is it important that you be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being? What is your inner being?
  • What does it mean for Christ to dwell in your heart through faith? Does He dwell in your heart?
  • Are you rooted and grounded in God’s love? What does that mean?
  • Why is it crucial for you to comprehend and know the love of God and of Jesus Christ?
  • How powerful is God when it comes to answering prayer? How can you access that power?
  • What does having God’s power do for you in the living of your live? In the living of the life of your church?
  •  What is the result of your living an empowered life as it comes to God?
Sermon Teaching Notes (as prepared by Pastor Dick Murphy)
  • Investigation – What’s generally going on in this area of Scripture?
Paul began chapter 3 with a start to a prayer, but interrupted his prayer as he thought about his imprisonment “on behalf of [the] Gentiles” (Ephesians 3:1), and about what God has done for them through his ministry. This interruption finished at verse 13, and the prayer picks up in verse 14 with the same words as in verse 1, “For this reason …” Then Paul bows his knees before God the Father “from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” (Ephesians3:15). Paul proceeds right to the sovereign God of the universe in bold prayer n behalf the believers to whom he is writing (and on behalf of all believers, really). God is the source of all power for individual believers and for the Church. As prayer is communication and communion with God, it is based on a relationship with God. And in this awesome thing called prayer (by the way – stay tuned for the 4 week long series on Prayer that follows after this God’s Plan series!) we the Church have power that is from God, to whom we have access in Christ through the Spirit, and thus have access to power for living. Paul knows this, and therefore he does not hesitate to pray for his readers.

But what does Paul pray for that is so important as a follow-up to knowing who his readers are in Christ as he has just written in essentially all the verses leading up to this prayer? He prays for two things, each of which contain a sub-request, and together lead to the conclusion and effect stated in verses 20 and 21. First, Paul prays that believers be granted strength with power “through his Spirit in your inner being.” (Ephesians 3:16) Note the source of this power and strengthening: it is out of the “riches” of God’s glory. God’s power and glory are beyond measure; they are limitless, and as such are more than sufficient to provide the answer to this prayer. This empowering relates specifically to the “inner being,” meaning one’s heart and soul, one’s deepest and truest person and personhood. We are to ask God, out of His unlimited power, to give us strength, spiritual strength, on the inside, as it is that strength that is necessary for the carrying out of the our mission to manifest His glory. The sub-request is that in the answer to the first request, Christ might make His home in us, might take up complete residence in our hearts, and that we be fully yielded to Him and his will so that we might be like Him in every way. We should be increasingly His as we grow deeper in our walk with Him. It is a work of the Spirit in us (Romans 8:9). It is the Spirit who produces spiritual fruit in us (Galatians 5:22 & 23) and by whom we have and appropriate the “mind of Christ.” (I Corinthians 2:10-16). This is the faith Paul references, as opposed to “saving” faith by which we first come to be a child of God. It is the faith walk of following Jesus whereby Christ comes to be truly Lord over all of who we are. That is the outcome of being strengthened with power; we become more and more like Christ, and that is an “inside out” thing; it begins on the inside, and issues in thought and action on the outside. Paul will write more about this in chapters 4 through 6.

Paul’s second request is that we may have strength to comprehend the limitless love of God, and thus know the love of Christ (two sides of the same coin, so to speak. Ephesians 3:18). We can get to this point as we are “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17) The basis of our relationship with God is in Christ and what He did for us on the cross. In that sense, we are grounded in Him. But we are also rooted in Him in the sense that He is our life. Just as to receive life and nourishment, a tree must sink its roots deep into the soil in which it is grounded where it will find water. Rooted in Christ’s love (See John 15:1-10) we will have the wherewithal to comprehend the immeasurable and limitless love of God, and know the love of Christ that otherwise is beyond knowledge. Comprehension is knowing more than mere facts; it is understanding the how and the why of things, and the very nature of things; it is grasping the essence of something, to seize upon what it is. That is how we are to comprehend God’s love. And the love of Christ is beyond knowing, yet we can know it experientially as we have been saved by His grace, and intellectually, as we begin to see His work and its effect when we come to Him. The measure of Christ’s love is that He gave up His rights as God to die an ignominious death as a human being on our behalf in order to remove the stain of our sin. The depth of that love is truly unknowable, but the sense of the verse is that knowing it in a limited way, we acknowledge it and approve of it and its effect which is that it saved a wretch like me! And the sub-request is that we would as a result of such knowledge, be “filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:19) This does not mean that we become God; rather it means that as we abide and dwell on knowing Him and the vastness of His love, we become ever more Christ-like, dominated by Him in everything, being constantly filled with His mind, reflecting His attributes, and producing spiritual fruit. It is a process as well as an end. That is the walk of the follower of Jesus, and it is attainable as the result of prayer to an all-powerful God whose will is that we be like Him.

Lest the goal of Paul’s prayer seem unattainable, he closes his prayer with one of the great benedictions in all of Scripture in verses 20 and 21. Blessing to God, writes Paul, who is “able” to answer this prayer. In fact, He is powerful enough (actually has unlimited power) to do more – no, far more than we ask or can even imagine. God stands ready to answer this prayer of Paul, and our similar prayer, in ways that go far beyond we could ever ask for or think to ask for. In short, we can do the kingdom work we are called to do because He empowers us to do it, and to do it in ways that go beyond human effort. It is His power that works in us “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (Philippians 2:13) God hasn’t called His Church into being and left it to its own, human devices. Instead, He has given us Himself in the Person of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, and embued us with the love of Christ that fills us, to the end that we have the power to accomplish His will. Praise God indeed that He has empowered us! But even more than that, by so empowering us, He brings glory to Himself. As the Church is empowered to live out the work of revealing God to the world, that work points to God and gives Him the glory in all of it not only on earth, but forever in heaven. Wow! It can get no greater than that.

As stated in the prior Notes, God's plan is indeed many splendored and beautiful. And one tremendous aspect of that splendor and beauty is that He has empowered the Church to know Him and His love and to be so filled with Him that He completes His mission of bringing glory to Himself through the Church. What an amazing and wonderful God. And what an amazing thing that we can come to Him boldly with the same prayer for empowering. Oh that we would do that regularly in our individual lives and as His Church; and oh that we would grasp that He is powerful enough to do so much more than we can ever ask for and thus work through us. In this power we can go forth with confidence that His work will be done in and through us. To God be the glory “in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:21)