Singing The Same Old Song
“Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth.” – Psalms 96:1
You know the Holy Spirit is on your case when you’re zipping along, joyfully reading Scriptures, feeling good about yourself and your relationship with God, when suddenly you come across a verse that smacks you in the head so hard your feet ache. This verse did that to me about two minutes ago.
How, you may ask, can such a sweet, uplifting, joyful and inspiring verse bring you such misery and pain? Easy. It’s been a while since I’ve sang a new song, and I sense God telling me its time to change my tune.
I feel like my prayer life is in the rut of seeking the same things over and over and over. I’m getting so tired of praying the same old song (“Lord, guide me to our next ministry. Help my book find a publisher. Lead me to a job that pays well enough that my wife won’t have to work. Give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning other than going to work to sell plumbing parts….”) that I’ve mostly given up on prayer.
You’ll notice, of course, that my prayer life is mostly about me. My ministry. My job. My book. I’ve focused so exclusively on my self that I don’t have time to pray for others. Having said that, I believe the cure is one more selfish prayer: “Lord, give me a new song.” And as soon as I said that, I knew the answer. It is time to forget about myself and make my prayer time a time for others.
I once heard a humorist say that the cure for hypochondria is to get your mind off your own body and get interested in someone else’s. Likewise, perhaps the cure for praying the same old prayers is to get my mind off my own problems and pray about the needs of others.
Do I have a Scripture for this idea? Of course. After the Lord had a little discussion with Job about Who He really is, the LORD turned His anger upon Job’s three friends. God says, “My servant Job will pray for you, and I will accept his prayer and not deal with you according to your folly” (42:8). We go on to read, “After Job had prayer for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before” (42:10).
The Lord instructed Job to get his mind off his own situation and pray for the needs of his friends. It was only after Job prayed for others that the Lord met the needs of Job. Now, before we get the idea that if we’ll just pray for our friends God will give us double for our trouble (a teaching I’ve heard more than once), we may need to check our motives. If we think we can manipulate God into blessing us double just because we blurted out a few prayers for our cousin’s tonsillitis, we need to think again. Until you are willing to lose everything Job lost, you may not be ready to gain everything Job gained.
With this in mind, I’m going to start sincerely praying for others. Will God then meet my own prayer requests? Maybe. Maybe not. Still, praying for others is the right thing to do regardless of the (hopefully beneficial) consequences. Singing the same old song hasn’t gotten me very far. Now I’d like to change my tune and see the way a new song will be a blessing to others. And won’t THAT be a wonderful answer to my prayers?
Previously posted April ’09