A Prayer, a Song, and a Memory in the Night

When life is darkest, what do we pray? When hope dims, what songs do we sing? When opponents taunt, on what memories do we rely? In his prayer to the Lord, the writer of Psalm 119 provides his answers to those questions as he prays in verses 49 through 56.
He prays with anger: “because of the wicked, who forsake your law” (verse 53). He prays with hope: “Your promise gives me life” (verse 52). He prays with confidence: “this blessing has fallen to me, that have kept your precepts” (verse 56). The psalmist trusts God and obeys him.
He sings the laws of the Lord as his songs (verse 54). I remember myself singing a song based on another verse from this song as a child: “O how love I thy law; it is my meditation…” During my darkest hours, songs of faith have sustained me. The songs “It Is Well With My Soul”, “Nearer, Still Nearer,” and “Wayfaring Stranger” especially strengthened me in times when tragedy struck or life unraveled. Songs that contain or reflect the teachings of Scripture etch the reasons for our continuing to believe more deeply onto our soul. They reawaken us to potential and renewal of life.
Ridicule stings. When chanted or texted by esteemed peers, it may draw blood, even if only figuratively. Pain permeates our psyche. The psalmist responds, “The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.” Even when life seems darkest, his memories of God’s reality and the power of his word bolster his resilience: “I remember your name in the night, O LORD, and keep your law” (verse 55).
We confess our awareness of God’s love, articulated by him in his promises and demonstrated by the incarnation of Jesus, when crises threaten or cripple us. When friends and family disappoint, when our avenues for escaping danger disappear, spiritual songs emerge in our mind to comfort us and remind us of other paths to defeating danger. A disciplined habit of studying the Bible prepares us so that when skeptics question how we persist, we remember God’s word and respond with confident obedience. This psalm reminds us, too, that when we pray, we may call for God to remember and to act.

  • Bible quotes are taken from the English Standard Version.

O Lord, comfort us when we sing your songs while listeners laugh at our faith. Remember your promises. Inspire us with confidence as we remember your acts on behalf of your people throughout history. When it is “night” in our lives, we pray that we will remember your reality and realize that our hope has a firm foundation. May memories of the life of Jesus goad us on to obey as he obeyed so that if opposition be intense, we, like him, may be made perfect in suffering. Draw us nearer that we may sing more confidently and remember more clearly. In Jesus’ name, amen.

About Michael Summers

Michael Waymon Summers has preached in twenty-seven of the United States as well as seven other countries. Michael earned a Master of Theology degree. He also has done graduate work in international studies. Michael likes to run, loves to sing, and reads voraciously.
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1 Response to A Prayer, a Song, and a Memory in the Night

  1. Reblogged this on Call for Fire Seminar and commented:

    I remembered this post while reflecting on the prayer I discussed in it from Psalm 119:49-56. I focused on the encouragement that we derive from songs whose lyrics mirror our prayers. I encourage you to read the entirety of the original post after you read these comments. I think that it will encourage you. As the Psalm says,
    “Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge. In the night, LORD, I remember your name” (Psalm 119:54-55).

    The prayer is rooted in faith in God’s promises. Another hymn comes to mind when I read this prayer, one I sang frequently when a child, “Standing on the Promises.” In the midst of his suffering, that precisely is what the Psalmist did. He trusted God to keep his word to his people. Because of that faith in God keeping his promises, he in turn kept his spiritual focus. He writes in verses 52 and 56,

    “I remember, LORD, your ancient laws, and I find comfort in them…This
    has been my practice: I obey your precepts.”

    Suffering can tempt us to compromise our values if we think that will alleviate our pain. May we maintain our confidence in God and our focus on following his Word.

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