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Psalms as Prayers of Christ

The Thesis: Many psalms record Jesus Christ praying to God and in them God replies, sometimes with speech, often with action.

Have you ever prayed a prayer to God, wishing he would reply, and he actually does? Do you remember how that feels? If God speaks to us, why wouldn’t he speak to his Son? Well, in Scripture he does!

There are two main biblical sources for the prayers of Christ to his Father God.

I. the Gospels

II. the Psalms

I. Three gospel accounts come to mind that record actual prayers of Christ. There are many more:

John 11:41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” 

After the above address to his Father, Jesus commanded his friend Lazarus, who had been dead in the tomb for four days, to come out, and he did. Jesus had thanked his Father in advance, and the answered prayer was in fact the miracle.

Mark 15:34 And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

The above cry to his Father, Jesus made from the cross. God’s reply was to resurrect his Son.

John 12:27 “Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour. 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” 29 The crowd that stood there and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus answered, “This voice has come for your sake, not mine.

Here again, Jesus cried out to his Father, and this time, God answered him with actual, audible words. This is not the first time that God the Father spoke to his Son with audible words. He also spoke audibly at Jesus’ baptism (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-12) and at his transfiguration (Luke 9:34-35). Later in Scripture, after his ascension, Jesus in turn spoke down to Saul, who became Paul, in audible words.

II. The second place we hear the voice of the Lord in prayer is in the book of Psalms. Prophetically spoken, Psalms are filled with prayers of Christ to God his Father, prayers to be realized by Christ during his incarnation. In some of the psalms, God himself speaks; in others, only Jesus speaks. In many psalms, Christ, the one praying, reports that God has heard and replied. Most often, the replies are not words the reader can hear, but replies of action. The action can be of different kinds: some is simply reported by the one praying, who is Christ; other actions are described in detail for the reader to see and hear, such as in Psalm 18. Sometimes the reply can be found in the same psalm as the prayed request. Other times the reply can be located across the book in other psalms. All the psalmist’s prayers are answered somewhere within the book of Psalms. As mentioned, when Jesus prays in the Psalms, it is prophetically, by the Holy Spirit, through the prophet/writer, such as David. Much more will be said on this in future posts.

Psalm 22:1 To the choirmaster: according to The Doe of the Dawn. A Psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? (See Mark 15:34 above and Matthew 27:35.)

God responded to the above cry with action. The psalmist reports the action in verse 21b and praises God throughout the rest of the psalm:

21b You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen!
22 I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you:
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! [and forward]

Example 2:

Psalm 5:1 To the choirmaster: for the flutes. A Psalm of David. Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning. 2 Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray.

While this psalm has no specific answer given within the psalm itself, other places in the psalter speak loudly of its answered prayer. One place might be Psalm 103:

2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits,
3 who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
5 who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

Example 3.

Psalm 138:1 Of David. I give you thanks, O LORD, with my whole heart; before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.
3 On the day I called, you answered me; my strength of soul you increased.

Verse 3 above is a reported answer to prayer. The entire psalm is one of praise and thanksgiving.

Conclusion: 

I look forward to delving into actual psalms in detail. Before we do that, however, I feel it would be practical and useful to describe a few of the books I have discovered that bear witness to my approach of hearing the voice of Christ in prayer to his Father within the book of Psalms. So, Lord willing, my next post will present other authors who read Psalms with this ear.

 

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