A promise and a prayer

I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly. Psalm 119:8

In this verse, we see a promise and a prayer. The promise is, "I will keep thy statutes." There is a determination in those words, a purposefulness, an intentionality that is often lacking in our pursuit of holiness. My friend, you will not stumble over holiness like a piece of furniture in the night. If you will be holy, you must diligently and wholeheartedly seek it. Holiness is not an afterthought, nor is it something we will suddenly discover we have. As the hymn puts it, "Take time to be holy." If you want it, you must determine to seek it.

Note also the way of holiness: it is in the way of God's statutes. If you want to become a better you, the first place to start is not in the self-help section in the local bookstore. The first place to start is in your Bibles. And it is important that you go there, not only to be encouraged by sacred history, not only to have your faith strengthened by sacred doctrine, but also by having your mind, heart, and will molded by sacred statutes and commandments.

Then there is a prayer: "O forsake me not utterly." The true saint understands his or her own limitations and that apart from the daily grace of God we can do nothing truly pleasing to God. We need the Holy Spirit who mediates the presence of the risen Christ. It is only through him that we can mortify the deeds of the body; it is only as we walk in the Spirit that we will not walk according to the flesh (Rom. 8:13-14). Apart from Christ, we can do nothing (Jn. 15:5). And so the psalmist cries out to God, and pleads with him for help. But, my friend, those who thus cry out to God will surely find him full of grace: "O Israel, trust thou in the LORD: he is their help and their shield" (Ps. 115:9).

If you will keep God's commandments, you need to do both these things. There must be a promise and a prayer. Prayer without promise is an empty gesture; promise without prayer is a useless one. Let us therefore cry out with the psalmist today, "I will keep thy statutes: O forsake me not utterly."

By: Jeremiah Bass