Posted on March 18, 2015
Praying Psalm 77: The Right Focus
There I was again, doing what I’d done dozens of times before—laying awake, shooting advice at the ceiling, giving God reason after reason why He ought to do what I wanted. I cried, I pouted, I fumed, I pleaded. No settling in my soul indicated He was listening. I poked the power button on my cell phone to check the time. Three o’clock and all was definitely not well.
Psalm 77:1-9 describes this mid-night misery with words and phrases like
• cried out
• in distress
• stretched out untiring hands
• spirit grew faint
• kept my eyes from closing
• too troubled to speak
and the most telling phrase of all, “my soul refused to be comforted.” I wallow in my distress claiming I’m unable to find relief, when the truth is I’m unwilling to let go and let God take control.
No Peace to be Found
What holds our eyes open in the night, robbing us of rest?
When we focus on our problems instead of God’s power:
1) our song of praise is silenced. The psalmist remembers a time when he used to sing in the night (verse 6), but now his nights are full of sleepless struggle. He can’t even speak, let alone sing. Rather than praising God, he questions God.
2) satan’s lies become believable. Verses 7-9 give examples of the lies satan whispers to us in challenging times—especially in the darkness of night.
“Will the Lord reject forever?” No. Psalm 94:14 assures otherwise.
“Will He never show His favor again?” On the contrary, His anger is brief but His favor lasts a lifetime (Ps. 30:5).
“Has His unfailing love vanished forever?” No! Psalm 32:10 promises God’s unfailing love will surround the one who trusts in Him. I may fail Him, but He is forever faithful to me (Ps. 73:26).
“Has His promise failed for all time?” No. His promises never fail, as Psalm 145:13b states.
“Has God forgotten to be merciful?” No. James 5:11 says, “The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”
“Has He in anger withheld His compassion?” No. Lamentations 3:22 says His compassions are new every morning!
Satan will fill our sleepless nights and exhausted days with lies. We choose whether to believe him or to believe the Word of God, to be paralyzed by fear or freed by trust.
3) we’re unprepared to receive an answer. A doubting, troubled mind that refuses to be comforted is in no position to see or appreciate God’s solution. Trust precedes answers. Proverbs 3:5-6 urges us to trust with all our hearts, to not try to figure it out ourselves, to acknowledge Him—and He will direct us. It’s a significant order of events.
A Shift of Focus
Verse 10 contains a pivotal word: Then. When the psalmist shifts his attention off his problems and onto God’s power, his tone changes. This verse essentially says, “It’s my business to pray, it’s God’s business to work in my situation. I’ll mind my business and let God take care of His.”
Suddenly, the psalmist can recall God’s unfailing faithfulness in the past, the evidence of His power, and the assurance that He is able. No solution is present, as far as we’re told, but faith is firm that a solution will come.
Notice an important mention in verse 19, while the psalmist is remembering Israel’s divine deliverance through the Red Sea. God’s path of rescue led them through the sea, through the mighty waters (talk about courageous trust!) where He went before them though His footprints were not seen. Just because Israel couldn’t see God leading, didn’t mean He wasn’t there.
A Trusting Prayer
Based on this psalm, we can pray:
“My God, satan is trying to paralyze me with fears. But I haven’t forgotten Your faithfulness. Let Your promises resound in my ears, a symphony of praise that drowns out satan’s lies. You are wise, You are merciful, and You are able. Let me focus on trusting You, even when I can’t see Your footprints. Make Proverbs 3:24 true of me: ‘When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.’ Amen. Let it be so!”
© Diane McLoud 2015