(I wrote a word for today yesterday – a final throw for 1 Thessalonians 1, but did it directly onto an email at the farm. I pressed send, but no-one got it. Maybe it was just as well. Who knows if it is somewhere or no-where. We may return to Thessalonica, but not for now).
The Psalmist, or should we say the singer, in Psalm 85. Or maybe we should say the pray-er.
Either way, he, or indeed she, is thinking about the nation, the people.
About hard times past and good times gone by.
He turns to God in prayer, and asks, seriously, longingly, that the good times would return.
‘Restore us again, O God our Saviour, and put away your displeasure towards us.’ Psalm 85.4.
Then, assuming this Psalm contains some record of this person praying, I imagine that he gets up from the place of prayer, and goes about his business.
But if you read onto verse 8, you will see these words:
‘I will listen to what God the Lord will say.’
When he prayed for restoration from God, it wasn’t a take it or leave it prayer. It wasn’t a walk on by because I’ve done that prayer. It was a returning prayer. He looked for the answer. Maybe as some do, he or she went back to the prayer notebook to be reminded what had been prayed for in all seriousness.
And the answer came. Don’t know how, but it came:
‘He promises peace to his people, to his saints.’ Psalm 85.8.
That was sufficient answer. God had not forgotten.
The rest of the Psalm explores the answer.
A preacher from the 17th century, Thomas Goodwin, has this phrase when thinking of this Psalm:
“The return of prayer.”
His thought in part is that there is unfinished business in prayer. There is more to prayer than the praying. There is the watching for the answer. There is the return to God to find where the prayer has settled. There is the listening, the living in expectation. There is the hope.
There is the return to God, there is the return from God.
True prayer has a stamped addressed envelope.