As is my custom, I go to the Psalm appointed for the day to make my plea before God in the pastoral prayer. On this fourth Sunday in Advent 2018 we have before us the 80th Psalm which is a Psalm of Asaph. Three persons in the Old Testament are named Asaph. The Asaph of the Psalms is undoubtedly a musical or liturgical director, perhaps even a musical guild, with a vocational priority to render liturgical leadership around the Ark of the Covenant in Jerusalem under King David. Asaph composed 12 Psalms: Psalm 50, and Psalms 73 through 83. It is important to remember that God used ordinary men and women to establish divine revelation to humanity. In the 80th Psalm Asaph leads the congregation in singing or a liturgical litany. In doing so, he recognizes “the plight of Man and the power of God” (to borrow from Dr. Martyn-Lloyd Jones) to save humanity through a coming Messiah whom he calls “the Son of Man.” Thus, we have before us the majestic setting for a pastoral prayer that is perfectly suitable for our own lives today. As the psalmist wrote, “Restore us, O God; let Your face shine, that we may be saved!” So, we cry out from the stages of life, the circumstances of life, and the vicissitudes of life. And does Asaph points Israel to her salvation we to look to the Scripture for our own:
“But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!” (Psalm 80:17-19 ESV).
So, let us call upon his name.
“OUR DEAR HEAVENLY FATHER AND OUR GOD MOST HIGH: we come to Thee even as ancient Israel approached Thee in the temple in days of old. Israel cried out to you, “Restore us O God; let Your face shine, that we may be saved!” Even so, we cry out to you with their words for we recognize our need of Thee, O God, in every area of our lives.
Save us in our spiritual development;
In our health and ability to serve you and others;
In the constant battle with the old man who forever seeks to diverge the strength you have given us from that which would bring about right to that which is wrong and self-serving, consequently spawning pain upon ourselves and the ones we love; and
We pray for our people here in every stage of life: the little children, the young adult, the single and the married, mothers and Fathers, Sons and daughters, from the youngest to the eldest, all of us standing before you and saying, restore us to God.”
How we thank Thee, O heavenly Father, that in Thy mercy and goodness you sent Thine only begotten Son to be “the Son of Man” prophesied in the 80th Psalm. Our Savior came most remarkably: for He is Emmanuel, God with us, virgin-born, with a humble but noble carpenter as his adopted father, and being born in a humble dwelling. Our Christ was born to Mary, “Immensity cloistered in thy dear womb,” and the very “Son of Man” of Psalm Eighty who came “from out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire.” Jesus of Nazareth is our God-in-the-flesh. He is our Savior, Jesus Christ. And for every one of our shortcomings and every one of our failures and every kind of predicament, we turn unto Thee, O Lord Jesus Christ, “Restore us, O God.” Yes, we cry to the Son of Man, “Let Your face shine, that we may be saved!”
O, our Heavenly Father, for the sake of Thy dear Son our Savior Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one God now and forever, hear our prayer and restore us to Thee that we may be saved. Through the name that is above every name, even the name of Jesus, I do pray. Amen.”