READ Psalm 3
Psalms 1 and 2 are the two-part introduction to the book of Psalms. This makes Psalm 3 the first Psalm in the book that was written for use in the prayers of individuals and the worshipping community. It’s placement at the beginning of the book is clearly intentional as it shows us the kind of prayer that we should pray to start each day. Throughout church history many prayer traditions have used Psalm 3 as a prayer to begin every morning.
The introduction to this Psalm tells us where this prayer came from. It was written and prayed by King David of Israel after his own son, Absalom, staged a coup against him and forced him to flee from his palace. The is Psalm is filled with battle imagery (foes rising up, shield, enemies surrounding) as David was facing a military threat. But what’s significant about David’s prayer is that he doesn’t focus on the outward threat of his political enemies. Instead, he is overwhelmed by what his enemies and difficult circumstances were saying to his soul. This reveals why this Psalm is a pray for every person, every day because ALL of life – from the perspective of the Bible – is a battle/fight over where we look for salvation. Salvation in the Psalms is used for much more than just the final destination for our souls. Salvation means being rescued from anything that keeps us from living a faithful, full and flourishing life with God at the center. We pray because it is in prayer that our eyes are open to the battle we all face. Every person is looking for salvation from a life of emptiness, insignificance and pain. The battle is over where we look for this salvation. We pray because we can’t win this battle apart from prayer. Without prayer, the voices that tell us God is unnecessary, uninterested or absent to us in our struggles become the voices that define our souls. Not praying is essentially saying to God we can win the battle in our own strength. David had to come to the end of himself before he cried out to God for salvation from enemies that had grown so big He wasn’t sure if God was with him anymore. In prayer, he recovered perspective and was able to face another day in faith.
WHAT TO PRAY
In addition to showing us why we need regular, daily prayer, this Psalm shows us what we should pray every day.
1. Pray to God – Sometimes we think we are praying but we are really only talking to ourselves inside our heads. Over and over again, David address God as “LORD” (6x). Prayer is conversation with God.
2. Pray your situation – Sometimes we think, “Why tell God what’s going on in my life? Doesn’t He already know?” The answer is, “Yes, he does” but David vividly describes his situation and his emotions to God not for God’s sake but for his own. In prayer, his eyes were opened to what was going on in his own soul.
3. Pray truth into your situation – Prayer is how what we know about God is applied to our specific struggles and situations. For the 3-fold description of the enemy in verse 1+2, David counters by praying 3 truths about God (shield, glory, lifter of my head) in verse 3.
4. Pray out loud – David comes to God in raw, honest emotion. He “cried aloud” (v4). He isn’t having a peaceful “quiet time”, he comes to God as he is.
WHEN TO PRAY
Though David had made it through a day, he had to begin his next morning praying again for faith and deliverance from his adversaries. In his book, The Shape of Living, author David Ford wrote, “Our lives are shaped in large degree by the loudest and most influential voices in the community of our hearts.” Prayer is placing the voice of God at the center of heart’s community. CS Lewis helps us see why we need to do this every day: "the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in...And so on, all day"
WHO TO PRAY
We need to see that this Psalm was prayed for us before it can be prayed by us. Daily prayer can only be sustained if we know that we are never praying alone. This Psalm, as all others, needs to be prayed in view of the cross and resurrection. When we read it this way, we see that Jesus’ many enemies said the same thing as David’s (see Lk 23:35). But when Jesus cried aloud to God, God was silent. Why? The cross shows us that we too were among the enemies of Jesus, seeking to dethrone Him and remove his rule over our lives. Yet, while we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom 5:8). He defeated his enemies by dying for them, bearing their guilt & conquering their sin. Jesus won the victory FOR us so that when we pray for help in our battles, we can know God hears us & will always answer us in love (see Rom. 8:32-39)
1. What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?
2. How do you react to the Psalms depiction of life as a daily battle over where we look to salvation? How might this perspective on life drive us to pray regularly and passionately?
3. The place in our lives where we are saying, “It’s too much”, “I’m overwhelmed”, “I don’t know what to do”, “I can’t do this” – are our best opportunities to learn to pray. Where are you feeling these things right now? How has prayer played a role/not played are role in how you are handling these things?
4. Which of the 4 things listed under “What to Pray” are a part of your regular prayer life? Which are hardest for you?
5. What is your current practice and rhythm of prayer? What is your response to the idea of daily prayer? Does it sound like a burden? A blessing? What are the things that keep you from developing a habit of daily prayer?
6. How does knowing Jesus prayed this Psalm for us help us to pray with confidence?