As I closed the book of John I was an eyewitness to Jesus as he prayed in the Garden for God to remove the cup before him and yet “not thy will but thine be done” was the answer. Today in Psalm 141 I can visualize the Psalmist is in the mode of prayer and seeking God’s deliverance not only from the enemies around him but also from himself. What do I mean? Observe where he is in his mindset and what has beleaguered him.
First as he prays he notices his weakness with the ever defiant tongue just as James noted as well. “Jam 1:26 If someone thinks he is religious yet does not bridle his tongue, and so deceives his heart, his religion is futile.” And that is why the Psalmist prayed: Vs 3: O Lord, place a guard on my mouth! Protect the opening of my lips! The psalmist asks God to protect him from speaking inappropriately or sinfully, to protect him from untruths, and from the enemy of our souls who seeks to deceive our hearts. Put a guard, a fence around our mouth so that what is offered is sweet and pleasing as the aroma of the sacrifices offered each day at the temple offerings. May that be my prayer as well.
Secondly, he notices that he can easily become wayward in his feelings that are not in compliance with God’s will and so he prays: “Do not let me have evil desires.” Reminds me of this verse: Col 1:10 so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects – bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, As we saw in Revelation 3, Jesus stands at the door of our heart and as we saw in John he is the Door. It is he alone who can protect us from the wolves, thieves and robbers who seek entrance into our hearts and our minds. The psalmist desires that God bar the entrance and protect him as the Good Shepherd lay in the gate of the sheepfold. He alone is our protector for we are weak and vulnerable. O Lord, protect me from those thoughts that enter my mind seeking to distract me from the purpose of prayer.
Thirdly, he seeks God’s acceptance of his prayers like the incense that is offered by the priests at the temple sacrifices. It is his prayer that these are like that sweet incense that rises with perfume aromas and bring pleasure to the nostrils of God. May my words be sweet to the Father.
Today may I employ these same three strategies in my prayer walk, day by day; hour by hour; moment by moment.