Praying Psalm 9
A vice president of a national ministry attended a seminar on effective leadership which had as its humanistic premise, "You must take control of your destiny and your life because nobody else will." Later he read Matthew 16:24-25 in The Message. "Jesus told His disciples, 'Anyone who intends to come with Me has to let Me lead. You are not in the driver's seat. I am. Self-help is no help at all.' "
The ministry executive listed twelve major items that he would face within the following three weeks. He listed family situations, personnel and mission issues, and personal and business relationships. Then one at a time, he asked the Lord to take control. He removed himself from controlling each situation. God will tell us to be involved if and when he prompts us. Most of the situations worked out without his involvement. In the others, when the Lord prompted him, he took action and observed that God's timing was perfect.
This message came at a very unsettled and stressful time that involved lots of practical decisions and actions. I had tossed and turned the night before, rehearsing all the details to be resolved in a major life-stress.
I drew a line down the middle of the next page in my prayer notebook. I labeled the left column "Self-help" and the right column "God's help." It would have been stupid to write anything I was worrying about on my side of the ledger. I knew I couldn't do it in my own strength and wisdom. On God's side of the ledger, I listed everything we were facing, getting all our daughter's belongings home from overseas and sorted through, buying the basics of Western life, like a car, computer, microwave, television. There was a family reunion and two open houses for her supporters. There was getting packed for moving again, securing a place to live, etc. Then we would face the dozens of business details of settling in, arranging for furniture, a bank account, utilities, telephone, etc., in a distant and unfamiliar place.
That act of laying it all out before God showed me dramatically that I could carry the burden for each item, or God would, if I let him. God did so many things so quickly that in time I wrote "Praise the Lord" across all items of the transition. Most important, I never fretted another minute about it, because God was carrying our cares.
God is still in charge, and it remains true that self-help is no help at all. One friend calls it a "casting your cares list." I have prayed with several people to put their burdens and up-coming "stuff" in God's capable hands, with the result being great peace and great thanksgiving as God is free to do his best work.
During this time, I read Psalm 9. It is a great scriptural framework to remind me about my part and God's part. God never intended his children to handle his part and ours, too. God is sure to engineer for us valuable lessons and opportunities for letting him be God.
1 I will praise you, O LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonders.
2 I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
3 You make my enemies turn back;
4 For you have upheld my right and my cause;
You have sat on your throne, judging righteously.
5 You have rebuked the nations and destroyed the wicked;
6 Endless ruin has overtaken the enemy,
You have uprooted their cities;
even the memory of them has perished.
7 You reign as LORD forever;
You have established your throne for judgment.
8 You will judge the world in righteousness;
You will govern the peoples with justice.
9 You, LORD, are a refuge for the oppressed,
A stronghold in times of trouble.
10 I know your name and will trust in you.
10 He has never forsaken those who seek him.
11 I will sing praises to the LORD, enthroned in Zion;
I will proclaim among the nations what he has done.
12 He does not ignore the cry of the afflicted.
13 O LORD, see how my enemies persecute me!
Have mercy and lift me up from the gates of death.
16 The LORD is known by his justice;
The wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands.
18 But the needy will not always be forgotten,
Nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.
19 Arise, O LORD, let not man triumph;
Let the nations be judged in your presence,
14 That I may declare your praises in the gates ...
And there rejoice in your salvation.
In the Amplified Bible, Proverbs 16:3 says, "Roll your works upon the Lord. Commit and trust them wholly to Him; [He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed." Who can do the most, you or the God of heaven and earth?
Make your self-help and God's help list. Roll everything over onto the shoulders of the God of heaven and earth. Experience the relief from the burden of carrying responsibility that you are not meant to bear. Declare his praises and rejoice in him.
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