Each week we’ll be providing prompts for praying the psalm preached the previous Sunday. Start with Pastor Josh’s blog post covering Three Ways to Pray the Psalms.
One of the ways Pastor Josh suggested for praying the Psalms was using the ACTS acronym—Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Let’s see how we might use this method to pray Psalm 91. Take a pen and paper and first make some notes as you read this psalm before you begin to pray.
As we begin to adore or praise God we want to ask ourselves several questions. What does the psalmist say about God? Does he use names for God? What do these descriptions of God convey about him? It won’t take long before we have a long list: shelter, dwelling place, Most High, Almighty, refuge, trustworthy one, deliverer, loving protector, faithful, etc. You get the idea. Work through the entire psalm continuing to see what the psalmist relates about God. When you pray, start with phrases like “God, I praise you because you are…” or “You are the one who…” This will help you keep your adoration God-focused, rather than self-focused.
The psalmist does not include any direct confession in this psalm. What we hear is his great confidence as he trusts in God. He has no doubt that that his God is his shelter and his dwelling place of safety. What about you? As you read, what is the Holy Spirit bringing to mind about your sin? Instead of placing your confidence in the Lord are you dwelling in fear? Are you looking for security in other places or things rather than in the shadow of the Almighty? Are you trusting in your idols to deal with your trouble more than singularly trusting in God? Confess your sins to God. He is faithful to forgive us. Christ’s sacrifice on the cross has purchased our forgiveness which leads us to thank God.
Psalm 91 is filled with God’s mighty acts of protection against enemies on behalf of the king. Can you thank God for those specific times when he has been your refuge and fortress, when he’s kept you from fear, or when he has held you fast? Thank God that he ultimately deals with the wicked. Thank him that in Christ we look forward to the consummation of all things where we will enjoy eternity, satisfied forever with our Savior. It’s not difficult to thank God, is it? Thank him for what you see in the psalm coupled with the situations and people that cause you to be thankful.
Just as the psalmist didn’t confess any sin in this psalm, neither does he request anything from God. He has such confidence in his refuge and fortress, in the God in whom he trusts, he does not have a single request. In Tim Keller’s book Prayer, he relates the story of a woman who learned to begin with praise and adoration before getting to her list of requests. “Before, she said ‘I would run right to my prayer list and the more I went through all the problems and needs, the more anxious and burdened I would get. Now I’ve started spending time thinking about how good and wise he is, and how many prayers he’s answered of mine in the past. And when I get to my own needs—now I find I can put them in his hands and I feel the burden coming off me rather than on me.’” Apparently, the psalmist had the same experience. For now, it is enough for the psalmist to know who God is and what he has done. However, God is always ready to hear your requests. Verse 15 tells us that when we call, he is ready to answer. What’s on your heart today? Come confidently before God’s throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace in our time of need (Heb. 4:16).