The Key Of Prayer From The Word.

I shot an arrow into the air,  It fell to earth, I knew not where. – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Christians can be dismayed with prayer.  At times, it can seem obvious and overly simple – like the prayer of a child.  Then there are times when it can seem hollow or even futile.  They know it is a valuable exercise and would readily acknowledge its importance, yet it can still be a struggle.  Many approach prayer like the Longfellow poem.  But instead of an arrow, they think, “I shot a prayer, I have no idea where it went!”

Prayer, in its simplest form, is communication.  Whether it’s praise, petition, protection, thanksgiving or intercession, prayer is communication.  While within Scripture you can find examples of each of these different types of prayer, I am not going to use this chapter to explore and explain the differences of various prayers.   Rather, I wish to show from these verses of Psalm 119, eight simple requests every believer can incorporate into their prayer life.  These verses make up The Key Of Prayer From The Word.

We have the added benefit of looking at these verses through the lens of the New Testament.  Jesus’ teaching of The Lord’s Prayer in the Sermon On The Mount[1] and Paul’s various prayers in his writings[2] are powerful models of prayer.  James 5:16 gives us great insight about prayer when he states the “effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”   Obviously, the Bible has quite a bit to say about prayer.

Before you ever open up a text of Scripture, try this prayer;

Open my eyes, that I might see, wondrous things from Your Law.– Psalm 119:18

This needs to be our first request anytime we invest ourselves in His book.  This verse is just four simple phrases, but it holds a wealth of material for us.

First, the psalmist asks the LORD to “open my eyes.”  This means much more than just the physical opening of our eyes.  Otherwise how would blind people ever know and understand the Bible?  Clearly this has a deeper meaning as he asks God to open or bring the Scripture to him in a way in which he might gain insight.  It is asking God to help you be attentive to what you are reading in His Word.

Next he says “that I might see.”  Again, this must have a deeper meaning than just physically “seeing.”  The psalmist is moving beyond having his eyes opened to now “seeing” or applying things.  We might say it is moving from head knowledge to heart knowledge.    A thief might very well know the Ten Commandments, but he willingly violates the “Do not steal” commandment because he hasn’t applied it to himself.  Not only are we to know (have our eyes opened) His Word, but we need to apply it (see it) to ourselves.

Thirdly he says “wondrous things” or some versions use the word “marvelous” things.  Both terms convey the idea of “extra-ordinary” or something beyond normal expectations.  If I go into Bible reading/study with little expectation, there is a good chance I will not see anything beyond a record of history or a cute story with a moral lesson.  But God has “wondrous” or “marvelous” things in His Word and He wants to show them to us!

Finally, he indicates he would find these wondrous things in God’s law.  While I can gain knowledge from other books and I can acquire a degree of wisdom from some sources, it is through His Word (in this particular verse the word is “law”) that I truly find and learn wisdom.  His Word is above all other voices.


[1] Matthew 6:9-15.  One of the easiest to read, simple to understand, books on the Lord’s Prayer is J.I. Packer’s Praying The Lord’s Prayer 2007.

 [2] For 2 excellent books on the prayers of Paul, I recommend Discover The Power In The Prayers of Paul by David Barton 2005 and the 1992 work by D.A. Carson’s Call To Spiritual Reformation: Priorities From Paul And His Prayers.

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About The Short Bald Guy

Most of my adult life, I've been in Christian media with 2 years on a church staff and 9 months driving a semi-truck. I don't claim to have any unique wisdom, but I do have a great love for studying the Bible and sharing things God is teaching me from His Word.
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