Study 6 THE PRAYER FOR SPIRITUAL ILLUMINATION
GREAT PRAYERS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
by Francis Dixon
Scripture Reference: Psalm 119: 18
In this study we are to examine this prayer of David: “Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law.” Our object will be to see exactly what it tells us and then to suggest ways in which we should pray this prayer, for it is a prayer which should arise from our hearts every time we read God’s Word. If we consider Psalm 119:18 carefully we shall see that this one petition embodies five truths. First of all we learn that:-
- (1) The Bible is a unique book. In this section of the psalm it is described as “your word” (verse 17); “your law” (verse 18); “your commands” (verse 19); “your laws” (verse 20); “your statutes” (verses 22 and 24); “your decrees” (verse 23), and the emphasis in each case is upon the word ‘your’. The Bible is unique because it is God’s Book; He is the Author. David’s Bible was much smaller than ours, but now we have in the completed canon of Scripture 66 books, all of which are unique as they are inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21).
- (2) The Bible contains wonderful things. David says this in his prayer, and when we think of the scope of the Bible’s contents – its histories, types, poetry, doctrines and its prophecies – we at once begin to realise how wonderful it is. It tells us about God, man, sin, death, heaven, hell and eternity, and above all about the amazing salvation that is in the Lord Jesus Christ – look up 2 Timothy 3:15.
- (3) Before we can see the wonderful things our eyes must be opened. It was this that David prayed for – that he might “see” these things hidden in God’s Word. We are just like the two who were walking on the Emmaus road (Luke 24:13-35). As we pray the prayer of Psalm 119:18 the Lord Himself comes near, revealing Himself to us and opening our eyes, so that our hearts burn within us and we hold fast to His statutes (verses 31-35). Compare 1 Corinthians 2:14.
- (4) Only God can open our eyes to see the wonderful things in His Word. What we need is spiritual illumination, like that given to Peter at Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13-18; compare Matthew 11:25 and Psalm 16:11).
- (5) To gain this illumination we must pray David’s prayer every time we come to God’s Word.
How should we pray? What things should we pray to see? There are three ways in which we, as individuals, should pray.
1. “Open my eyes that I may…” see myself and the sinfulness of sin.
We should begin here when we pray, for we were born in sin (Psalm 51:5); we have committed sin (Isaiah 53:6); and we only ever see ourselves and our sin as we look into God’s Word and He opens our eyes! In these days we are inclined to think that because of the progress man has made in so many areas, that our hearts are not so bad after all. Scripture teaches us the sinfulness of the human heart – Genesis 6:5; Isaiah 1:5-6; Isaiah 64:6-7; Jeremiah 17:9; Matthew 15:19; Ephesians 2:1-3. Now read about Lot’s backsliding (Genesis 19:1-38), Achan’s deceitfulness (Joshua 7:19-23), David’s impurity (2 Samuel 11:1-27), Peter’s denial (Luke 22:54-62) and Diotrephes’ pride (3 John 9). Are we any better by nature? When God shows us ourselves the revelation is very humbling. It was for Job (Job 40:4); for Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5); for the bride (Song of Songs 1:5-6); for David (Psalm 22:6); for Peter (Luke 5:8); for the Prodigal (Luke 15:21); and for Paul (Romans 7:14).
2. “Open my eyes that I may…” see the love of God and His mercy and grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know the story of the grace of God so well, which is declared in John 3:16. How all-embracing is the love of God! Read again Luke 15:11-24 and revel in verses 20-24! The great proof of God’s love is seen at Calvary, and when my eyes are opened to see the Lord Jesus dying there for me I cry out, “the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20), and humbly say, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28). Have you had this view of Christ crucified for you and Christ raised and exalted as your Saviour at the right hand of God? Read Philippians 2:5-11 and say to yourself, ‘All this was for me!’
3. “Open my eyes that I may…” see the kind of Christian God wants me to be.
Do you ever read your Bible with this prayer on your lips and in your heart? If you do and if you read Psalm 1:1-3 you will see at once the kind of Christian God wants you to be. You will see this in Romans 6:12-14, Romans 8:37-39, Ephesians 4:31-32 and 2 Timothy 4:18. God wants every one of His children to be victorious in Christian living and fruitful in Christian service, and He has made every provision for us to live for Him and to serve Him in this way. The Lord Jesus has died and risen again to give us His own victorious life, and this life is imparted to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit.
These, then, are the three special prayers that we should always pray when we take up our Bible to read it. Many other things will be revealed to us as well – so let us pray this prayer and cultivate the habit of doing this often, remembering that the Holy Spirit is with us and in us, waiting to answer our prayer and to give the illumination we need.