First Verse, a journey through the Psalms: Psalm 20

In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry.
May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm.
(Psalm 20:1, NLT)

After twelve Psalms of personal pleas or cries and seven Psalms of observation, the Psalms suddenly shift to a prayer of encouragement for someone else.

Twelve Psalms start out “free me,” “hear me,” “save me,” “help me,” “keep me,” a couple of Psalms start with proclamations of trust, praise and love, and several Psalms present questions.

But now, a Psalm prays for someone else.

As we walk in our relationship with the Father, we are often concerned about our own well being and cry out to Him.  We may struggle with questions we don’t understand and ask for answers  And we can even reflect on what we know about Him and praise Him for who He is and what He has done.

But then somewhere, along the way, our prayers expand:  I becomes you.

And we remember to pause and pray for others.

As the Psalmist did, interceding for another, asking the Lord to answer, to protect in times of trouble, to send aid, to give what is desired.

And as Paul did, who included prayers in his letters.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.”  (Romans 15:13, NLT)

“I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.”  (Ephesians 1:16-17, NLT)

“Whenever I pray, I make my requests for all of you with joy,”  (Philippians 1:4, NLT)

“We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,”  (Colossians 1:11, NLT)

In praying for others, our prayers continue to expand.  I becomes you.  And you becomes we.

And where there is we, there is joy.  Joy just seems to resonate when we pray for others.

I love verse 5 of Psalm 20:
“May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God.”

And Paul says:

“Then, by the will of God, I will be able to come to you with a joyful heart, and we will be an encouragement to each other.”  (Romans 15:32, NLT)

We don’t always understand this thing called prayer.  We wonder why God allows some things to happen.  We wrestle with how a sovereign God can be moved to act or change His mind because of our prayers.  We struggle with prayers that seem to go unanswered.

But one thing seems clear, as our prayers expand, as we pray for others, and as we are drawn into the answers to their prayers, we too are filled with joy, we will be an encouragement to each other, and we can raise a victory banner in the name of our God.

Heavenly Father, may we be ever faithful to pray for others.   May we always make requests for them,  May we ask You to answer their cries, to keep them safe from all harm, to fill them with joy and peace, to give them spiritual wisdom and insight, to strengthen them and fill them with joy.  And may we give a shout of joy as we see You at work in their lives.

Grace & Peace


About Jill English Johnston

God writes His story on every heart, if we only pause to read it. My heart has lived in a fantasy world since early childhood and am delighted that God has finally brought me to the place where I can bring the fantasies to life through story. I am currently working on a fantasy trilogy (of course) but I also post thoughts, reflections and (hopefully) inspiration to my website: I am a follower of the Rabbi Jesus, married to my best friend and inspiration, and the mother of three incredible children, one daughter and two sons, a son-in-love, a daughter-in-love and two adorable granddaughters. When not writing, I passionately pursue prayer, reading (never enough time to read them all!), and the outdoors. My husband and I both served in the US Navy and have lived/travelled through many states and all over Asia. We both still enjoy travelling, but we really love our home in New Braunfels, located at the Texas Hill Country.
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