Our second Monday Tabletalk post focuses on the article which Dr. Derek Thomas wrote as one of the lead articles for the theme this month: “The God-Centered Life”. His particular subject is prayer, and he has some excellent thoughts on genuine (vs. hypocritical) prayer. At the beginning of his article he speaks of the fact that so much prayer today is self-centered and “this world” focused. As a case in point and with some British humor, he writes, “Listen to prayers at the church prayer meeting…. You will discover that the majority of prayers are ‘organ recitals’ – prayers for someone’s liver, kidney, or heart” (p.14). As he proceeds, Thomas directs us to have prayers that are truly centered on God, filled with worship of Him and praise to Him. To help us do that, he thinks we ought to make use of the OT Psalter more. After quoting Psalm 147:1, he says:
God is praiseworthy. Getting that fact under our skin is not as easy as we might think. Self-centered praying (which is a form of idolatry) fails to appreciate that our purpose here in earth is to praise our Creator and Redeemer. Listen to the psalmist as he extols the praiseworthiness of God again and again. The Psalter used to be the basic diet for Christians. Christians sang psalms around the dining room table and in church services on Sunday. Subliminally, the God-centered praise of the book of Psalms became the language of prayer. Since psalm-singing has waned, the rich God-exalting praise that the Psalter represents has waned as well (p.16).
In the end Thomas gives these helpful five (5) steps to ensure that our prayers are God-centered:
1. Remind yourself that there is only one God in the universe, and that you are not Him.
2. Adoration comes first, before confession, thanksgiving, or supplication. Worship the Lord in your praying.
3. Read a Psalm before you pray, and attempt to emulate what you find: a preoccupation with God in all His multifaceted nature. Find psalms of joy or grief, praise or lament, and note how the psalmist spends time with God, making Him the center of his thoughts and desires.
4. Learn to love God’s names so that saying and repeating them fills you with an inexpressible joy, a reminder of who He is and His covenant faithfulness to you in the gospel of His grace.
5. Learn to ‘wait’ upon the Lord. Watch how the psalmist, ‘fainting’ as he thinks of his own troubles, finds relief by deliberately focusing on the great things God has done… (he then quotes Ps.77:11-12).