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Devotion for October 29, 2006


The urgency of today’s prayer is captured in both the language and the brevity (only five verses, extracted and slightly revised from Ps. 40:13–17). Historically, we can call such prayers “javelin prayers” or “arrow prayers”—some preachers refer to them as “telegraph prayers.” One source specifies: “Javelin prayers are prayers that can be offered quickly and with accuracy. They are simple but meaningful phrases from Scripture, based on the premise that there is power in God’s Word! Offer them as you’re driving the car or preparing dinner. Offer them when you are tempted to worry or complain or be dishonest. These phrases can also be repeated in a prayerful way until the thought is engraved in your heart. Javelin prayers can nourish and feed you spiritually.”

“Come quickly to help me,” David prayed (v. 1)—no fancy invocation, no theological exposition, he got straight to the point! The emphasis is on speed. God is told to “hasten,” “come quickly” (twice), and “do not delay,” and these phrases are strategically positioned at the beginning and end of the psalm.

David prayed that his enemies would be ruined, that their evil would rebound on their own heads (vv. 2–3). If we feel tempted to smugly dismiss such sentiments, we should evaluate whether we realize how repugnant sin and evil are to our holy God. We should also realize that these words flowed from a strong desire for God’s justice. God is love, but He has promised that His wrath will overtake sinners (2 Thess. 1:5–10). But we may protest, what about loving our enemies (Luke 6:27–36)? Jesus Himself answered that question on the Cross—but never once did He ask His Father to sidestep justice, the truth that a death penalty was owed for sin.

David also asked that those faithful to God would continue to rejoice and worship (v. 4). He anticipated being one of that number, as soon as the Lord came to help him (v. 5).

Apply the Word

Take steps today to make “javelin prayers” or “arrow prayers” a spiritual habit. After all, Paul did say, “Pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). So why not “bend your bow” and “empty your quiver” every chance you get? A quick petition as you go in to see the boss, a word of praise as a car accident is avoided, a one-sentence request that your co-worker come to faith, or a brief confession of a wrong word or thought are possible examples of this kind of prayer.

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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