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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, June 15, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Psalm 20

The Lord answer you in the day of trouble!
   The name of the God of Jacob protect you!
May he send you help from the sanctuary,
   and give you support from Zion.
May he remember all your offerings,
   and regard with favor your burnt sacrifices.

May he grant you your heart’s desire,
   and fulfill all your plans.
May we shout for joy over your victory,
   and in the name of our God set up our banners.
May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.

Now I know that the Lord will help his anointed;
   he will answer him from his holy heaven
   with mighty victories by his right hand.
Some take pride in chariots, and some in horses,
   but our pride is in the name of the Lord our God.
They will collapse and fall,
   but we shall rise and stand upright.

Give victory to the king, O Lord;   
   answer us when we call. (NRSV)

Most of us loved Sister Jean, Loyola University basketball team’s stalwart ninety-eight-year-old super fan. A Catholic sister for the majority of her life, Sister Jean and her smile and her vibrancy inspired us and warmed our hearts. On occasion, we heard her prayers for victory for her team. We’ve heard the same sentiments from athletes and coaches in every sport. Those prayers, maybe lighthearted, maybe serious, convey the belief that somehow God is responsible for a particular team’s victory or a particular player’s fabulous night of scoring, as though God cares about which team wins. I wonder.

Psalm 20 is said to be one of the psalms of David and is categorized in my Bible as a Prayer for Victory. If we were honest, most of us probably pray for victory in our own lives—victory over illness, victory over grief, victory over some long-held detrimental habit. We should pray for our heart’s desires because those prayers help us get in touch with the depth of what is important to us. One of the verses in the psalm says, “May the Lord fulfill all your petitions.” Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

Or would it?

Listen to Garth Brooks’ song “Unanswered Prayers.”He sings, “Sometimes I have to thank God for unanswered prayers.” I believe the real victory for any of us is when our trust in God allows us to pray for our heart’s desires but also allows us to trust God even when our prayers go unanswered. 


Hearer of all my prayers, thank you for listening to my heart’s desires. And thank you for not answering some of my prayers. For giving me hints and nudges along the way, twists and turns, open doors and closed doors. Thank you for continuing to teach me the way I should go. Amen.

Written by Judith L. Watt, Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care

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