With Psalm one as our baseline for this study, we are launching out this week into Psalm 25. The foundation that we have laid over the last two weeks is the foundation on which the entire Psalter was built: a glorious picture of the life of faith, and an even more glorious picture of the only One who could fulfill it perfectly, Jesus Christ. With Christ as our only hope of salvation and our only hope of living a life of supplication and submission in view, we are now equipped to turn to the work of prayer.

Over the next several weeks we will be studying selected Psalms that contain this liturgical pattern for us to follow: supplication and submission.

What does the word “supplication” mean to you? What does it bring to mind?

What does the word “submission” mean to you? What does it bring to mind?

In the introduction of this study I shared with you one of the reasons I wanted and needed to study the book of Psalms. My prayers were selfish and self-focused, and, as such, they had grown limp and mealy. My prayers had almost no substance to them, and I had very little endurance in prayer. At the root of my inwardness was a profound misunderstanding of the purpose of prayer. I misunderstood prayer to be for the purpose of letting God know my needs so that He could respond to them. That’s what I thought “supplication” meant. But I was wrong.

Supplication is much, much more. It is the act of asking for something with earnestness and humility. Embedded in the unchanging character of God is His omniscience. God is all-knowing. There is nothing that is hidden from Him. We need not make Him aware of the things we need in our lives, or keep Him “in the loop” of our life’s happenings. In fact, right now, He knows everything in your heart, on your mind, and on your to-do list. He knows how much money is in your bank account, how much food is in your fridge, the substance of your marriage, and the fabric of your home. He knows. He is, after all, all-knowing.

Supplication, then, is an invitation to you and to me to join God in the work He is doing. He knows your needs and is providing for your needs at all times (even needs you are not aware of). The biblical call to bring our requests to God is God’s invitation to earnestly seek Him and humbly bring our needs before Him – not to move God into action, but to join Him in His ongoing activity.

How would this understanding of supplication change the way you pray?

That was the first reason I wanted and needed to study the Psalms. I needed to relearn how to pray. But that was not all. I also needed to relearn submission.

Submission is a word that makes many churched women cringe. It tightens the knot in our stomachs and creeps up into our throats. It calls to mind sermons on Ephesians five (“wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands…”), and makes us shift in our seats for fear that what will follow the mention of “submission” might demean our value, diminish our abilities, and oppress our spirits. It speaks to many of us, myself included, of hurt and confusion. Truly, this is an area where the Evangelical church has been wrong before, and we have a lot of reconciling work to do in this area.

But biblical submission doesn’t start in Ephesians five. It’s not primarily for wives or primarily about marriage. Biblical submission starts in Genesis one as we read these words: “In the beginning God created …” In the beginning … God. God was in the beginning and He was God since the very beginning. In fact, He has no start and no end. He is the Author of all life, including yours and mine. He is, after all, the only God.

And this juxtaposition of our created-ness and God’s creating-nature sets us up, as men and women created in His image, for a lifetime of submission to Him. He is above; we are beneath. He is Creator; we are created. He is infinite; we are finite. Our entire lives, by nature, will be submitted to Him because of who He is.

It is easy for you and me to forget that submission starts in our relationship with God. Men and women, adults and children, husband and wives, singles and married people … all are called to submit daily to God. We do this as we submit our wills to His perfect will, submit our plans to His perfect plans, and submit our characters to His perfect character.

How would this understanding of supplication change the way you pray?

And this is the model we will see laid out for us in the book of Psalms: supplication and submission. It’s a rhythmic pattern of bringing our requests before God to join Him in the work He is already doing, followed by submitting to His work and will and character. This is the antidote for sickly, selfish prayers like mine. This is the liturgy that leads to a fruitful life modeled after Christ’s – a life of being deeply rooted and bearing fruit.

If we truly want to grow in prayer, we must put it into practice. I want to challenge you for the rest of the study to choose a length of time – 10 minutes, 30 minutes, 1 hour, etc. Set your timer, and set your attention to this work of prayer. If you choose 10 minutes, spend five minutes in prayerful supplication followed by five minutes in prayerful submission; if an hour, spend 30 minutes on each. Set your timer or alarm if you need to, but be diligent to practice this pattern of prayer, so that it might sink into your soul and form in you a good and fruitful liturgy of life.

Pray & Reflect:

Supplication: Ask God to rewrite your understanding of supplication and submission. Confess to Him where you’ve misunderstood these words, been hurt by these words, and where you need Him to come and set your understanding aright.

Submission: Confess to God that He alone can grow you in prayer. Praise Him for being who He is, sovereign above all. Confess that He alone is God.

Author: amygannett

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