Praying and Pondering Go Well Together

National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Praying can lead to pondering. And, pondering can lead to praying. They go well together and the Psalms often combine the two.

There are several good synonyms used to define ponder (and I’ll use various ones): meditate, consider, deliberate, contemplate, and muse. The longer definition of ponder that appeals to me is “To weigh in the mind, with thoroughness and care.” It’s not just a quick thought and then move on – the thoroughness and care are critical.

David gives a good example of praying and pondering in Psalm 143. “Hear my prayer, O LORD; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.” (v1-2). David prays for mercy, and then considers that on his own, he isn’t righteous before God.

In verses 3 and 4, he ponders to the point of “Woe is me!”

“For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled.” (v3-4)

            Then his contemplation turns in the right direction:

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah” (v5-6)

And, David finishes the Psalm with combinations of praying and pondering – acknowledging how much he needs God’s help and mercy, and giving the reasons he is asking for that help and mercy.  David concludes that all will be well because he is God’s servant.

Answer me quickly, O LORD! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Deliver me from my enemies, O LORD! I have fled to you for refuge! Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! For your name’s sake, O LORD, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.”(v7-12)

It is good for us to ponder long on the goodness and greatness of God, and meditate on what He has done for us. The more we thoroughly and carefully ponder those things, the deeper our prayer life will be.

A Prayer for Our Leaders

English translation of hebrew version. Map of ...

Map of the twelve tribes of Israel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stopped reading and listening to the news several years ago. Someday, I’ll probably give more explanation of that, but for now, I’ll just say I realized it added very little that was positive to my life. So, I try to live as I should, and do pray and vote, and that seems about all I can do. (I say “try” because I identify with the Apostle Paul when he bemoaned the fact that he didn’t do what he should but did do what he shouldn’t).

However, even if you make a concerted effort to avoid it, you are bound to read or hear snippets of news every day. You can even hear news on The Weather Channel, and if you go into a business or office that has a TV, it’s likely tuned to CNN or Fox News. And, you don’t want to be rude and run away if folks around you start a conversation about politics or the economy, so you have to participate in those to some extent.

I say that to note that I am aware of some of the conflicts, roadblocks, and seemingly senseless happenings within our government. Based on those, it appears to me that we need some men of Issachar among us these days.

Chapter 12 of the book of 1st Chronicles gives an account of King David’s mighty men. Some joined him when he was still fleeing from King Saul – they were of Saul’s tribe of Benjamin and were able to use both hands in shooting arrows and flinging stones. The Gadites joined him in the wilderness, and were fit for battle and swift as the deer in the mountains. It lists the names of the tribes, along with their characteristics, among the group who went to Hebron to turn the kingdom of Israel over to David after Saul died in battle. Of the tribe of Issachar:

Of Issachar, men who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do, 200 chiefs, and all their kinsmen under their command.”  1 Chronicles 12:32 ESV

That’s why I said we need some men of Issachar among us – we need people (men and women) who understand these times. Most of all, we need them to know what the United States ought to do. May we all pray that God will bless us with such leaders as that.