33. Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes;
and I shall keep it to the end.
34. Give me understanding, and I will keep your law;
I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35. Make me to go in the path of your commandments;
for I delight in it.
36. Incline my heart unto your testimonies,
and not to covetousness.
37. Turn away my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life according to your way.
38. Establish your word to your servant,
as it produces reverence for Thee.
39. Turn away my reproach which I fear:
for your judgments are good.
40. Behold, I have longed after your precepts:
Revive me through your righteousness.
The psalmist knew that a humble heart before God requires prayer. To keep his heart right before God, he had to be teachable (119:33), humble (119:34), go forward in God's power (119:35), incline his heart to the word (119:36), focus his eyes in God's direction (119:37), be grounded in his faith (119:38-39), and rely on God's grace. These are the things he prayed for, and this gives us an example of how to pray for ourselves and those we love as we live our day to day lives. This is also a guide in how to pray for the leaders of our country at this crucial time in our history.
Let's take a look at these prayer concerns one at a time:
First, to be teachable means not only to be open to learn from God's Word, but to actively apply what we've been taught. It means to be practical and not just ideological. God does not teach us so we can proudly share our learning with others and espouse grand ideas. God teaches us for the purpose of reaching out to others in practical ways to help make life better, not just for ourselves, but for others, and especially for those in need.
Secondly, the psalmist saw the need for humility. It should humble us that the Creator of the universe reaches down, not only to teach us through His Word, but to give us understanding through the power of His Holy Spirit. Does that inspire you to humble yourself and obey?
Thirdly, as we open our hearts and minds to learn, we need to pray for the will and the power to do His work in the sphere where He has placed us. It is God who gives us to power to "go" -- to act in His will and in His Name.
Fourthly, as we go forward, we need to go with hearts yielded to God. And we need to go with "all our heart". It is God who keeps our hearts from straying into the world and the worlds' ways. He is the one who protects our hearts from being carried away by worldly philosophies and lusts. It is God who draws our hearts to Himself and reveals the "excellence of obedience" (Charles Spurgeon). Is your heart safe in the loving hands of God or straying into the clutches of the world?
The mention of covetousness in verse 36 leads the psalmist to pray next (fifth request) for his eyes, asking God to keep them focused in the right direction -- upon Him and His ways, turned away from temptation. Remember that sin entered the world through the "lust of the eye". That is a warning that we need to be aware of the dangers of the world as they press in upon us. Our eyes need to be open and not shut, but our focus is important. Our focus is to be upon God, His Word, and His ways.
It is clear the psalmist realizes his total dependence upon God, as his sixth request is for his faith to be established. Faith is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and it is established as we become firmly grounded in God's truth and live lives that honor Him. In this way we remain steadfast and persevere in the face of temptation. As God's children, we have no need to fear the judgments of men, but we have deep reverence for God's judgments which are good.
Finally, the prayer closes with a desire for God's grace to go forward with hope and resolve to live a life of righteousness. And shouldn't we all have that longing as we read, study, and meditate on God's Word?
This is a prayer of hope -- hope in God and in the power of His life changing Word. Do you cling to the psalmist's hope? Is his hope yours too? The beloved Scottish pastor and poet, George MacDonald, wrote: "Hope in the God who first breathed into your nostrils the breath of life; that He would at length so fill you with His breath, His mind, His Spirit, that you should think only His thoughts, and live His life, finding therein your own life, only glorified infinitely."
With love and hope,