Prayer in The Midst of Disaster

Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.  - (Phillips Brooks). … More

Prayer

The Jews of the psalmist’s day had become apostate, yet at the same time, they adopted a superstitious attitude toward the temple. They imagined that since it was God’s house it could not be destroyed and therefore Jerusalem was off limits to the invader. However it was destroyed. Many commentators say this is the eighth of a dozen of the psalms written by Asaph. It is a cry of anguish and despair. Some say it was written at the time of the Babylonian invasion, when not only the temple had been burned, but Jerusalem itself was destroyed and the Jew deported into exile. It is also a time for earnest prayer and can be divided into two sections:

Why the Psalmist Prayed (vv. 1-4).

  1. Because of the desecration of the Sanctuary (v. 1) - Not only have the heathen entered the land, but they have profaned the sanctuary and defiled the Temple by breaking into it and seized its treasures and ornaments. Finally they set fire to it (Jer. 52:13).
  2. Because of the decimation of the Saints (vv. 2,3) - “The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls.” The fact that God’s servants were tragedy enough but that their bodies remained unburied was even worse.
  3. Because of the defamation of the scornful (v. 4) - “We are become a reproach to our neighbors, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us.” The testimony of Israel had been completely taken from them. It is so easy for us to loose our testimony.

What the Psalmist Prayed (vv. 5-12).

  1. For the Lord to hurry (v.5) - to have fellowship restored when sin comes in.
  2. For the Lord to heed (vv. 6-8) - with mercy toward our weakness and wickedness.
  3. For the Lord to help (vv. 9-12) - through His name, nearness and nature.

Application

God promises his faithfulness to me through chastisement as well as love.

Psalms 79:1-13 (English Standard Version)

O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name's sake! Why should the nations say, "Where is their God?" Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes! Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord! But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

View this passage in NIV (Bible Gateway) »