Teach me the way I should go, for to Thee I lift up my soul.
Psalm 143: 8
Here is a sobering question: Does your prayer to God sound more like “Lord, serve me,” or “Lord, use me”? Do we only ask “Lord, can you do this for me?” or do we offer “Lord, show me what I can do for You”?
One of the most humble prayers we can offer is Psalm 143:8—“Teach me the way I should go, for to Thee I lift up my soul.” In others words “Lord, YOU show ME what you want me to do, and I will lift up my soul to You and to that endeavor in which you are guiding me.”
At summer camp, we sort of joke with the campers at our camp dance, to “leave room for the Holy Spirit,” in other words, don’t get too close and do something physically that would be construed as inappropriate. However, in our prayers, we often times do NOT leave room for the Holy Spirit to be at work. We oftentimes offer up our litany of things we need, but we forget to leave room for God to be at work in our lives.
We may even be asking for good things, like “Lord, protect my children,” or “remember Lord those who are sick.” Included in our prayers should be things like “Lord, use me today in some way,” or “send someone into my path today who needs some help,” or “Lord, provide me with a special opportunity to glorify You.” These kinds of phrases show a spiritual maturity that takes prayer from being like a vending machine, where we put in a request and God answers it, to us being true servants with the Lord as the Master. It is very humbling indeed.
I want to encourage you to put in one statement of “service” into your prayers each morning. I had written several times on the prayer team about the “rule of five” for morning prayers—to offer to the Lord at least five things for which you are thankful, five people for whom you wish to pray and five needs of today that you have that You would like for God to assist in or bless. To this “rule of five” I am now going to add one important addition—to offer to the Lord in at least once sentence, “Lord, use me in some way today for Your glory.” We have to leave open the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, directing our footsteps each day. So, as we offer our thanks, ask for protection for people and throw our requests before the Lord, let us also throw ourselves to Him, humbling offering our service to God in whatever way HE sees fit for us on a given day.
It’s no coincidence that Psalm 143 is offered in the morning at Orthros (or Matins). This provides us an opportunity each morning to offer our service to the Lord by asking Him to show us the way He would have us walk. This Psalm is also offered at the beginning of the Paraklesis service of supplication to the Virgin Mary. Again, in a service where we will be asking for intercession and help, it is offered at the beginning as a reminder that we are also offering to help, even as we are asking for God’s help.
Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my supplications! In Thy faithfulness answer me, in Thy righteousness! Enter not into judgment with Thy servant; for no man living is righteous before Thee. For the enemy has pursued me; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. I remember the days of old, I meditate on all that Thou hast done; I muse on what Thy hands have wrought. I stretch out my hands to Thee; my soul thirsts for Thee like a parched land. Make haste to answer me, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not Thy face form me, lest I be loke those who go down to the Pit. Let me hear in the morning of Thy steadfast love, for in Thee I put my trust. Teach me the way I should go, for to Thee I lift up my soul. Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies! I have fled to Thee for refuge! Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God! Let Thy good spirit lead me on a level path! For Thy name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In Thy righteousness bring me out of trouble! And in Thy steadfast love cut off my enemies, and destroy all my adversaries, for I am Your servant. Psalm 143
Ask the Lord in prayer each day how you can serve Him. Ask Him to use you in some small way today and everyday!