Theme: Praying for Others
In this week’s lessons, we learn how great suffering should turn us toward God, and then cause our prayers to also include God’s work in the lives of others.
Scripture: Psalm 102:1-28
Yesterday we observed that in verse 12 the psalmist begins to focus on God. But that is not all we can observe at this important turning point in the psalm. For it is not just a case of the writer turning his reflections from himself to God, anchoring himself in God’s eternity. Having done that, and thus having broken the damaging preoccupation with self that so often strangles our spiritual lives, the psalmist now finds himself thinking about other situations and other people and praying confidently for them. In them he knows that the work of God will go on.
There are four separate things he prays for, two of which we will look at today.
1. The rebuilding of Jerusalem. This is the only clue to the dating of the psalm, but the question of dating is only of academic interest. What matters is that the writer is concerned for his city. God’s servants are moved to pity by its sad state (v. 14). Therefore, he reasons, God will surely show compassion too: “You will arise and have compassion on Zion, for it is time to show favor to her; the appointed time has come” (v. 13).
The psalmist sees a parallel between his condition and that of Jerusalem; but having turned his thoughts to God, he is concerned now for the greater of the two disasters. Moreover, his concern for the city embraces his concern for the people in it. They are the “destitute” of verse 17. Yet they are also praying, as he is.
May I suggest that this is what we need today. When the people of God cease thinking about themselves so much and begin thinking about the state of things around them, particularly our cities and those who are suffering in them, then God may indeed hear our prayers and send a revival.
2. The conversion of the Gentile nations. Not only does the psalmist pray for his own people, that is, for Zion and its impoverished inhabitants. His concern now reaches beyond Jerusalem to all the world’s nations, whom he sees coming to worship God at some future day: “The nations will fear the name of the LORD, all the kings of the earth will revere your glory….So the name of the LORD will be declared in Zion and his praise in Jerusalem when the peoples and the kingdoms assemble to worship the LORD” (vv. 15, 21, 22).
This is nothing less than a worldwide missionary outlook, a view that has always marked the church in its best periods. We need it today. We need to do all we can to see that not only our own immediate neighborhoods and cities, but the entire world, hears the gospel of salvation through the work of Jesus Christ, and people of all tongues and backgrounds come to him.
What happens in verse 12, when the psalmist begins to focus on God?
For what two things does the psalmist pray? Explain how each one relates to Christians today.
Application: What practical help can you give to someone who is suffering?
Prayer: Pray for those around you who suffer. Also, ask for God’s blessing on missionary efforts.