Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us,
even as we hope in you.
Psalm 33:22 (ESV)
Have you noticed yet, sisters, that I use the word “psalmody” rather loosely? My edges are blurry, flowing like watercolors when I paint with such a broad brush with that word. When I use the Scriptures to largely & distinctly shape my prayers, as I have recently been sharing with you (and have plans to continue, as the Lord leads), I do not restrict myself to the book of Psalms, yet I still apply the title “prayers of psalmody” to them. Has this bothered you? Well, let me explain just briefly. What is a psalm? According to various dictionaries I glanced through, a psalm is a sacred song of worship, and of course specifically the ones contained in Scripture’s book of Psalms—which is not only the songbook of Scripture but also a prayerbook. But I think we can apply so much of those same broad strokes to other parts of Scripture by using them also as sacred songs—and when we turn Scripture into prayers that we give back to our Father who inspired every page of the Book to begin with, and we offer it to Him through prayer, it becomes a sacred song. Sacred prayers—brought back and set at His feet, offered to Him as a sacrifice. So today I come on my knees at the Throne of Grace to bring my Father a song of praise and prayer, asking for love. And I will be praying 1 Corinthians 13 to do this, which obviously is not found in the book of Psalms—but I will still categorize this as a prayer of psalmody because the heart that I use to bring this to God—of offering these words of His back to Him through elevated speech of song and poetry and prayer—is one of sacred song in prayer. And so I ask you to come with me now, bowing your heart and mind and soul, to seek the love of God which is greater far than tongue or pen could ever tell (Frederick Lehman, The Love of God, 1917).
Our Father who art in heaven, whose love outweighs what we could ever begin to measure (Ephesians 3:17-19), we come to You asking for Your loving Spirit to hear us and bend low to accept the prayers we bring. May You be honored and hallowed as we bring You our desire to emulate Your magnificent attribute of love beyond all description because of Christ Your Son who dwells in our souls. Please give us a desire to pray for love with honesty, and to make this request with sincerity. May increasing our love be just one of the ways You further Your Kingdom here on earth, and showcase Your will.
We need love, Lord God, more love—deeper, truer, selfless love. Give us love that abounds more and more with knowledge and discernment so we may approve what is excellent—as You do this, please fill us with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to Your glory and praise. (Philippians 1:9-11) You have made it plain that no matter what other virtues and graces we have, if we do not have love—true love, Your love—that we will be nothing short of a noisy gong or clanging cymbal. If we do not have love, we are nothing, and regardless of what we do or give, if we do not have love, we not only gain nothing but lose everything. So please, in Your grace, remind us that we need love to be preeminent—that it is worth pursuing and seeking and asking You diligently to provide because without the riches of love, we are bankrupt. O Lord, let us not love with our words and speech only, but with actions and in truth! (1 John 3:18) You are love, and we know You and belong to You—we are born of You—so please give us love for one another, because love is from You. (1 John 4:7-8) Please make us humble so that we will see our need—and give us the daily bread of love that our souls so desperately need to feed on, and use for the feeding of others around us.
Savior of our souls and bodies, please give us patience and kindness, so that love will dwell within us, fill us up, and seep from us each way, in every place, at all times. When we are poked, please give us the love we need to bleed patient hearts and kind words. Please make us content with what You have given us, but do not allow us to be lazy. Give us love for others in such abundance that we will rejoice in others’ gains without envy or covetousness. Please give us humility of heart so that we will not resort to rude arrogance and boasting. Cause us to love others so that we will rather seek their good, putting others first, sacrificing of ourselves in every way so that our humility in love will glorify You and praise Christ the Savior who gave Himself up for us in the most loving act of all history. (1 John 4:9-10) Please give us opportunities to emulate Him in daily ways.
Please fill us with love that longs to serve and sacrifice—which only You can give us. Lord, make us to give up our desires for others so that we do not insist on our own way, and do not cling to our stubborn longings. Please cause us to refrain from irritability and resentment, but rather give us joy in giving ourselves up for You, Your Kingdom, Your people, our neighbors, and even our enemies. May love dwell within us so richly that the good of others is what we crave. Grant us love that rejoices in truth and justice, rather than selfishly, haughtily, secretly rejoicing at wrongdoings and injustice—may the love in our hearts that comes from Your Spirit enable us to seek the truth at all times because the earth is full of Your steadfast love. (Psalm 33:5)
Give us love that bears all things. As we interact with our callings, our families, our tasks, and our own spiritual battles, please give us love to bear the burdens that are laid upon us. Establish our hearts in holiness. Increase our love for the people and tasks You put into our paths each day, so that we will bear what You give us with joy, patience, kindness, righteousness, and blamelessness. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13) Please remind us, Father, to bring our burdens to You, to share the burdens of others, and to bear all things with a spirit of love and sacrifice. (Galatians 6:2)
Give us love that believes all things. When we are faced with opportunities to doubt or believe, please give us eyes to see truth, with love that desires to give others the benefit of the doubt. Keep Your commandments ever before our eyes so that we will remain grounded in truth. Delight us in loving Your commands, allow us to meditate on Your statutes. (Psalm 119:47-48) In this way, make Your laws the lens through which we look when we interact with one another, with You, and with the world. Give us joy in believing and in seeking truth, with eyes full of love that continually look for the best.
Give us love that hopes all things. Give us loving hope that is unswerving, because our hope is in You (Psalm 33:22)—the King who is merciful, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. (Psalm 103:8) There will be times where doubt and despair threaten to take over our hearts (Luke 24:38), so Father, we ask that You fill us with love that remembers where our hope is—that You are our hope, and that in You all things live, move, and have their being. (Acts 17:28) Be our hope so that our love will overcome all wrongs and doubts and worries.
Give us love that endures all things. Give us love that endures without fear, and stands in the day of tribulation. Enable us to love strongly even when we are wronged—give us love that covers offenses and forgives insults or injuries. (Proverbs 10:12) Take away our love of keeping score, of tracking offenses, of puffing ourselves up. Rather give us a spirit of love that takes the hit for the sake of Christ without anxiety. Grant us love that casts out fear, that loves our brethren in all situations for Your sake. (1 John 4:18-21)
Give us love that never ends. We read over and over in Scripture that Your love is everlasting, that your hesed endures forever. (Psalm 136) Please give us love that comes from You so that our love will not be blown about by our capricious nature and human emotion. When we are confronted by a scenario where we could walk away from love, rather give us the commitment to hold our ground and choose love. Give us a love that never dies, allowing us to bear Your image in this way, and help us to be friends who love at all times. (Proverbs 17:17)
God, You are the Alpha and the Omega—we are made of dust, and die like the flowers of the field—all things that are part of our humanity will diminish and fade. (Psalm 103:13-18) Our thoughts and words, our knowledge and actions: none of these will last. You continue to reveal wisdom to us by Your grace and favor, and You increase not only what we know and believe but what we do. You know us fully, so Lord, grant that we may learn through Your love how to know You more and more all the time—so that when we are united with You in glory someday, we will see You face to face as You are, and we will know You as intimately as You know us, as we will love as You do. Grow us up into maturity by Your Spirit, and in this maturity please give us superabundant measures of faith, hope, and love. These three virtues are gifts from Your hand, and You have taught us that love is the greatest of these. So Father, as we bring our petition before You for deep love to be planted and grown and harvested and fed in our souls, hear us and grant our request for the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ who loves us and freed us from our sins by His blood. (Revelation 1:5)
We love You, our God and King, because You first loved us. (1 John 4:19) Increase our love as we increase in the knowledge of You, so we may be rooted and grounded in love, and give us strength to grasp and know Your love even as it surpasses our understanding. (Ephesians 3:17-19) We bless You, God, for not rejecting our prayer, for not removing Your steadfast love from us. (Psalm 66:20) We pray in a spirit of love because of Your Spirit dwelling in us (1 John 4:12-13), and we know You hear our voice and pleas for mercy (Psalm 116:1), for the sake of Christ. Amen.