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Prayer, Plain and Simple

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

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When the going gets tough, the tough repeat this phrase over and over (or a variation thereof): “Give thanks to God for He is still good in spite of these circumstances, and His faithful love will endure longer than this suffering.”

Read Psalm 136 in it’s entirety and note the declaration, “Give thanks,” is repeated a dozen times, and the statement, “His faithful love endures forever,” 26 times time – one time in every verse in the chapter.

Needless redundancy? Not by a long shot. When things get difficult, and they will, and they do, instead of moaning and crying in self-pity, we need to declare that God is good. Then we, like the Psalmist, start declaring what He has done in our history.

Psalm 136 goes into detail of Israel’s history of being miraculously released from slavery. They were up against the most powerful force in the world: Pharaoh and his magnificent kingdom. Still God took these poor slaves, beaten and down-trodden, their children ripped out of their arms and murdered ruthlessly, given unreasonable workloads, and generally not appearing in any way shape or form like God’s Chosen People. On the contrary, no one would want to be in their shoes, if they had any, which I doubt.

Read the Psalm and note the celebration of God’s strength, how He created a pathway through an impossible situation, how He convinced the hardened heart of Pharaoh to let His people go, how He made a dangerous path safe, a dark path illuminated by miraculous light, and while it wasn’t a cake-walk by any means, He made a long and laborious journey manageable for people who often made it difficult for Him, perpetually complaining as they did.

There were giants standing in the way of God’s promises to Israel, giants that these former slaves could in no way manage to subdue, but with God’s help, they gained victory. From large issues such as help from powerful enemies to small issues such as meals and sustenance and even food for their pets and animals, God was their Provider in a desert. That’s why they were able to give thanks.

The phrase, “Give thanks,” is actually the Hebrew word yadah which means to lift your hands in praise and thanks. It’s a command to do so. So as you read through Psalm 136 today, lift your hands each time. In addition to being an excellent triceps workout, you’ll find yourself crawling out of self-pity and right on top of that mountain that is trying to crush you.

The mountain is real; there is no doubt. But God’s goodness is “real-er” and much more powerful than the enemy who seeks to defeat us.

So let’s not give up! Write down what God has done for you in your history. We have done this exercise for ourselves, and re-written the Psalm to suit the challenges we face. You do the same. In the meantime, feel free to borrow a bit of ours. This is our plain and simple prayer today, a declaration of truth that God is good, always has been, and always will be.

I will give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good!
Your love never stops!
You have delivered me from challenges in the past!
Your love never quits!
You have made a way of escape from traps the enemy has set in my way!
Your love never rests!
You have given us provision when we have been broke!
Your love always wins!
You have healed our bodies when we have been broken!
Your love never ebbs!
You have redeemed our relationships when they were hopeless!
Your love always flows!
You have helped me move mountains before; You will do it again!
Your love endures forever!
I give wholehearted thanks to You, my God, for You are still good in spite of these circumstances, and Your faithful love will endure longer than this trial.
Your love always comes through for me!
That is why I will never stop giving You thanks!

Amen!

Photo credit: 16:9clue via Foter.com / CC BY

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