(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Over the fifty years of being a pastor, one of the chief complaints I have heard from Christians is, “I have prayed and prayed, but God doesn’t seem to hear me. He just doesn’t answer my prayers.” Often such a complaint is followed by, “What’s wrong with me? Why doesn’t God answer my prayers?” I have found the answer in Psalm 37! And within this Psalm is given the way to have the Lord answer ALL our prayers! Here are verses 1 through 7:
Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity. For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithful- ness. Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass. He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him....
While the whole Psalm is profitable to read and heed, I want to especially focus on verse 4, “Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” The last part of this verse sounds great, “…and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” That’s what people want when they pray! “God, this is what I desire, what I want. Please give it to me.” But the condition to God giving us “…the desires of …our heart…,” is that we must “Delight …ourself also in the LORD…”! I think the other verses of our featured Scripture give us a hint of what it means to do such delighting!
Verse 1 – “Do not fret because of evildoers, nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.”
- “Do not fret because of evildoers….” There are those who take advantage of a tragic situation such as the death of George Floyd on May 25th last year in Minneapolis, or the recent shooting of Daunte Wright on April 11th in Brooklyn Center – both in Minnesota. These two incidents, and others like them, have caused demonstrations that have tuned into riots, property damage, looting, businesses burned, injury of people, and even deaths! In Portland, Oregon, after the George Floyd tragedy, there were over 100 days of riots in 2020! More riots, destruction, and looting have ocurred in this new year!
There are a lot of people angry, frustrated, and ‘fretting’ over the lawless activity of so many in cities across the country. They are asking, “What can we do? What can anyone do? What is happening to our country?” And the same questions apply to politics, illegal immigration, big business overreach…many things going on over which we can fret!
But we are told “Do not fret…”!
- We are also told “…nor be envious of the workers of iniquity.”
➔ Someone manipulates the tax laws and comes away with a large, but undeserved refund! ➔ Hackers get into personal information via computers, smart phones, and other ways of snooping. Then they have withdrawn bank accounts, opened charge accounts, even taken out mortgages on an unsuspecting person’s house! ➔ A man leaves his wife and children and runs off with his new ‘honey’, leaving his family in dire straits! ➔ A shady saleman sells a product that does not live up to the ‘hype’ so convincingly told! ➔ Someone gets ‘inside information’ on a stock or commod- ity, and makes an illegal killing!
There are all sorts of “workers of iniquity” around us! And we may be tempted to wonder, “Why can he get away with this, and if I tried it, I would be caught!”
But we are told, “Do not…be envious…”!
Verse 2 – “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb.”
- When? “…the workers of iniquity…” may soon be caught by law enforcement. Or their chosen lifestyle catches up with them, and shortens their time on earth. Or, even if they seem to make it all through a long earthly life, they still have to stand before God! As Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes 12:13 and 14 (Lexham English Bible):
Now that all has been heard, here is the final conclusion: Fear God and obey His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.
- Such evildoers “…shall soon…cut down like the grass…”! “Soon,” you may say? “That could be a long time from now, maybe 50 or 60 years!” Yes, but remember, the Lord’s ‘soon’ can be very different from ours! “For with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.” (II Peter 3:8). But know this: God’s judgement is sure!
- I suggest you read all of Psalm 73, concentrating on verses 16 and 17! It helped me to understand God’s ways relating to Psalm 37.
Verse 3 – “Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.”
- “Trust in the LORD….”
✞ Proverbs 3:5 and 6 expand this idea of trust: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” ✞ Why should we not “...lean...on... our own understand- ing...”? Because “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9) ✞ We are all tainted by sin, and we cannot trust our own judgment apart from God’s leading! (See Romans 3:10, 21).
- “…and do good….” In Galatians 6:10 we are told, “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Yes, do good, even to the extent of what Jesus said in Matthew 5:43 through 45:
You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven....
- “…dwell in the land….” Originally, this was directed to Jews to dwell in the Promised Land of Canaan. Applied to Christians today…
✞ John 17:16 – Jesus prayed, “They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world.” ✞ I John 2:16, 17 – “For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away....” ✞ Philippians 3:20 (Jubilee Bible) – “...our citizenship is in heaven, from where we also look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ....” ✞ Hebrews 11:10 – We are to be like Abraham, who, “... waited for the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” ✞ Hebrews 13:14 (God’s Word) – “For here we have no con- tinuing city, but we seek the one to come.”
Because of all this, we are to follow what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:1 through 4:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.
Heaven is the land in which we are to dwell – even as we live upon this earth! And we are to explore the land in which is our citizenship!
- “…and feed on His faithfulness.”
✞ God is faithful to fulfill all He has promised to us! ✞ Get to know what He has promised! It is all in the Bible! ✞ We are challenged in Colossians 3:16, “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly....”
This all applies to How To Get Your Prayers Answered! We will continue in the next Gem.