Three Psalms to Pray
By: Shane James O’Neill
Sex: More Than Biology
No matter what kind of beautiful community I have around me, there are times when I just want sexual intimacy. The more distance I get from pornography, the more it becomes less a biological thing and more of a soul thing.
By watching pornography, a person elevates their hormonal levels. Once we get space from porn by discontinuing the practice of it, our libido (sex drive) levels out and our biology doesn’t rage against us the way it does when porn is in our lives.
And yet our soul does still ache to be deeply known. We’re designed to be physically loved and explored. There’s nothing wrong with that. Sex is a remarkable gift. But with any great gift, it carries the ability to be a great idol. Hence our current culture’s fixation with sex.
As we noted last week, our cultural obsession with sex isn’t about sex alone, rather, it’s a cultural longing to be known. The issue is physical, emotional, and intensely spiritual.
Community Isn’t Enough
Again, as I mentioned in last week’s article, I was leading a Proven Men Group at a church this summer and one of the guys in the group made a confession I didn’t expect. He said, he didn’t know how to pray. Of course, he knew the mechanics of it, but as far as talking with God in a deeply relational sense, that aspect of prayer seemed out of his reach.
I could relate.
We can have the richest relationships and community in the world, and still feel empty.
We don’t just need external resources, like community. Really, we need something that can pierce deeper, something that gives communal-vulnerability its meaningful content.
In an allegorical book Hinds’ Feet on High Places, a person, while looking at Jesus, says:
As the Shepherd said this he looked at her very steadily and she realized that his eyes were searching into the very depths of her heart and knew all that was there far better than she did herself… she looked flinchingly into the eyes which were gazing at her so penetratingly and became aware that they had the power of reflecting what they looked upon.
When we look into Jesus’ eyes, we see a deeper reflection into ourselves that we wouldn’t be able to see by looking elsewhere.
There are parts of ourselves that we can discover in community, for sure, but the greatest benefit of community is learning to be free with others. We need Something else to mine the minerals from our soul, so that we can bring those resources into community and forge them into things of substance. Community doesn’t set us free, rather, it’s the place we practice freedom.
When we take time to look into His eyes, our soul is being excavated and exhumed from the tomb of our own sin.
Jesus has shown us the face of God: His death removed our exile and His resurrection allows us to gaze into the compassionate face of God, every moment of every day, from this moment into all of eternities moments.
We need an intimacy that can start from within and then work its way out. If we aren’t regularly sitting before the face of God, looking into His eyes, then we aren’t growing or healing. It really is that plainly real.
If we aren’t actively looking into His eyes, then we aren’t discovering new parts of ourselves, nor will we ever be free.
In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul expresses this idea with more insight and eloquence than I can muster:
And all of us, with unveiled faces, are beholding the glorious face of God, and are being transformed into the same likeness, from one degree of radiant holiness to another.
As we look into God’s face, it re-shapes our soul to look like His.
But then the question arises, how do we even do that? How do we sit before the face of God and see our reflection in His eyes? And how do we do this in the midst of our lust, when we hurt and ache, and feel utterly lonely or ashamed?
Here are three Psalms that will allow you to experience Jesus, engage the hard places in your soul, and move toward healing-purity.
This is a hard passage to even read. David killed a man to cover up his sexual exploitation of that man’s wife. She got pregnant, then miscarried. Needless to say, David messed up and his insides are all sorts of beat up.
Not many of us have wrecked it to this extent, but the soul-cry in this Psalm is something we can all relate to. However, often times we try and stifle the cry of our soul with other stimulation — Facebook, Netflix, Hulu, all that stuff. Or other times, we feel severely trapped in our sin and mess and don’t know how find purity and light.
David, in this Psalm, shows us how to see God’s face in the midst of failure. Make it a practice to pray David’s prayer to see Jesus’ face of hope and compassion. Let this prayer be the voice to lead out of your dark places into light.
For you do not delight in sacrifices, or I would give it… the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Don’t offer God good works to make up for your failure, He just wants to see you and know you in the hurt.
This Psalm looks at sin and contrasts it by then looking at God. Our sin isn’t greater than God, nor does He leverage our sin against us. This Psalm is summed up by Paul in Romans when he says: It’s the goodness of God that leads men to repentance.
Without a Psalm like this, I sit in my sin or avoid it. And without a Psalm like this, I typically don’t think of God as good. David gives us a prayer to see that our sin doesn’t stand a chance in face of God’s goodness and affection for us. When I sin, typically the face I implicitly imagine on God’s face is one of rage, disappointment, or dismissiveness.
This Psalm helps us to re-imagine the look on God’s face in the midst of our worst moments.
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
This is the Psalm Jesus prayed as He hung dying, naked, and shamed. Imagining Jesus inhabiting this Psalm in His worst moment sobers me beyond words. Not least because I see what He went through to know me, to understand my shame.
Jesus, who is always our example of knowing God, teaches us to know God in our worst moments. I both hate that Jesus went through this, and yet love Him for it.
Regularly praying this Psalm will show you what God is like by directly allowing you to see into Jesus’ soul.
For he (God) has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him.
Pray these Psalms as though they were your own prayers. If you do that then you’ll be looking into God’s face, and you’ll see yourself rightly in His eyes. He is the only one who can make you pure and set you free to be the person you’ve always longed to be. This is how we wage war, and win.
Join us at our October 19th conference in Lynchburg Virginia!
— axe throwing
— keynote speaker
— did we mention axe throwing??
Shane James O’Neill is the Editorial Director for Proven Men Ministries. He is currently working on a graduate degree in apologetics at Liberty University’s Rawling School of Divinity.