January 14, 2012

Going beyond petitions

The Japanese use a figure of a drum in which birds have built a nest to express good wishes for their friends. This practice comes from a story about a benevolent king who was concerned for the welfare of his people. He set a drum at the palace gates and said if anyone had a need, or a want, or a wrong to be taken care of, they should beat the drum. He would at once, day or night, grant that person an audience and grant whatever was needed to give them relief. However, such prosperity and contentment reigned throughout the land that no one needed to appeal for anything, so birds built their nests in the drum and filled it with their songs.

Today’s devotional says that God grants me access to Him like the people had access to this king. I know that day or night I can bring my petitions to Him and He will hear me and take care of my needs. But there is a greater blessedness. It is expressed in these verses:

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. (Psalm 145:1–2)

Knowing that my good King hears and responds to me, giving me access through faith in Jesus Christ is a tremendous blessing, yet there is more. Perhaps the psalmist realized what I can see in my own life ­­‑‑‑ that many of my petitions arise from fear or anticipated loss rather than trust and recognizing that the Lord is indeed taking care of His people. I really have no wants and can rest assured of His care. When things arise, I can beat the drum, but I do not have to keep hammering on it. As God assures me of His attention, my prayers of petition could easily become ceaseless praise. Rather than asking, I can be rejoicing and making music.

Lord, sometimes when I pray I think how I’ve prayed certain requests for a long time. I know that You will answer these and the idea runs through my head that instead of praying, I should be thanking You. As I read about this drum filled with a bird’s nest, You are urging me to move from repetitive petition to repetitive praise. Thank You for the image and illustration, but even more, thank You that You are a King who takes such good care of Your people that we can live in joyful contentment like the subjects in this story. Help me to respond more to the songs in my heart than to any lingering concerns or doubts. I know that You have my best interests at heart, and I know that You are listening. I believe. Forgive my unbelief and open my mouth to praise You forever and ever.

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