Psalms for Prayer: Day 4

A Prayer Celebrating God’s Word


Today's Text: Psalm 119:1-32

Scripture Reading: Psalm 119:1-32

When we lived in town, I would occasionally notice an uncanny quiet in the house, and then realize that one of my little boys had escaped. Every Thursday was trash pick up, and the siren song of the garbage truck often proves too strong for the will of toddler boys. Racing after a child who is wandering down the street—myself dressed only in my best approximation of “this will do”—is a harrowing experience. Since we’ve moved out to the country, my fellas are still entranced by all classes of trucks, but now they line up at the fence and shout their admiration from a safe distance.

You read what makes all the difference, though, right? It’s the fence. In town, all of Franklin, Tennessee, was open to us; it was just a matter of how far we wanted to walk. There was nothing to stop us. But the kids had to stay close to the house. Out in the country, while we only have two acres (my dream come true), they are allowed to enjoy every inch of those acres. The boundary of the fence gives them huge freedom. As long as they stay inside the fence, they are safe.

There is such a joyful freedom in boundaries. Psalm 119 celebrates the gift of God’s law by extolling the beauty and truth of God’s Word. In fact, that’s the primary focus of this psalm—celebrating God’s law and the boundaries it gives. And it’s given as prayer, which means this psalm is a treasure for teaching us how to pray prayers which delight in surrendering to God’s Word and will. God’s law hems in our lives so that when we are lured by garbage trucks, or whatever delights the world has to offer, we can see exactly how we are to respond. There is such safety in knowing where the lines are, instead of huddling close to the house, unsure of how far we can go.

Throughout this psalm, we encounter a series of refrains—“teach me your decrees,” “I love your law,” “I will not forget your law”—which spill out like shouts of joy. The psalmist is so captivated by the goodness of God’s law, that he cannot help but declare it. He sings of God’s law as if were the very air he breathed. God’s law is the law of love, the law of liberty, the law of life. May we find our delight in his degrees! May it frame our every thought, our every breath.

R.C. Sproul calls the law the “school of righteousness.” Within this school, we learn what pleases God and what offends Him. What a severe joy and a mercy it is to have God’s law, to know where to set our sights, where our boundaries lie, and enjoy the wide freedom within His gates.


  • Amy Sharp

    Life in the Word is connected to wholeheartedness, focus, learning, forgiveness, meditation, enjoyment, enrichment, revival, repentance, awareness of my real need for God, walking in truth, and having a greater capacity to receive from God. Wow, I’m so thankful! “I will run the course… for You shall enlarge my heart.” God ooened my eyes to this chapter in a fresh way.

  • Madelyn Riddle

    26When I told of my ways, you answered me;
    teach me your statutes!
    27Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
    28My soul melts away for sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word!
    29Put false ways far from me
    and graciously teach me your law!
    30I have chosen the way of faithfulness;
    I set your rules before me.
    31I cling to your testimonies, O Lord;
    let me not be put to shame!
    32I will run in the way of your commandments
    when you enlarge my heart!

  • Madelyn Riddle

    27Make me understand the way of your precepts,
    and I will meditate on your wondrous works.
    28My soul melts away for sorrow;
    strengthen me according to your word!

  • Lindsey Tanner

    I love how David prays and asks the Lord to enlarge his heart so that he can have this desire to follow God’s law. The Lord delights in us praising Him, but He also delights in us asking for Him to help us in our weakness. So we can pray and ask God to give us the desire to follow His laws and He will!

  • Jami Nelson

    This a great reminder that rules and boundaries are their to protect us and guide us.

  • Brooke Trent

    What a beautiful way to think about God’s laws! I’ve always been intimidated by the term “laws” as in I’ll never be able to follow every law that God has given me, because I’m human and imperfect. But this is an incredible picture of how laws are like a safety net. This picture gives me an entirely different framework to envision what God’s laws mean for me. Thankful for this devotional! ❤️

  • Becca Minter

    God’s word is mentioned so many times in this section. The psalmist is simply enthralled by the voice/commandments/statutes/etc of God. The just, gracious, loving, words of God. Like someone in love. I pray to be that close to my Lord. ❤️

  • Jelaine Ropp

    In a world where law and boundaries are seen as an insult to ones personal freedom, I am so grateful for this Psalm! This puts into words much of what I have been trying to grasp lately- why living the way I do feels so free, while to others seems so restricted. Thank you Lord for loving us enough to create Your laws to keep us safe and constantly looking to You!

    • Abbigail Clark

      Yes! ❤️
      I find it so important to check on my inner desires and attitudes whenever I think I’m being held back. It’s easy for me to forget that we’ve been given these laws and boundaries for good reason. I pray that I can take the joy that this writer has for the rules and the laws and learn to live this way.

      Thank you Jesus that you care enough about us to tell us exactly what we need to do to please you. Help me to hear your voice of guidance and direction as I take on whatever is next in store for me.

  • Amy Wolford

    That’s amazing that we can pray prayers that help us thank Him for His laws because they ARE the laws of the boundaries that equal freedom! Wow! His laws keep us joyful.

  • Enjoyed this post very much! Noticed two things you may want to edit, though. The word typed ‘degrees’ should be ‘decrees’, and in the R.C. Sproul quote, it’s probably not ‘severe’ joy. One writer to another ;) Keep up the great work!

  • I love that you compare following the delights of this world to following garbage trucks. I am going to keep this in mind the next time I am tempted to wander after a delight of this world that I know is listed as a sin in the Word of God. It can be so easy to give in at times and think “Just this once is okay.” But I know even once is not okay and I am so grateful for my Father’s grace which is mine bright shiny and new every morning. I am definitely a work in progress and I am so grateful that He understands this.

  • Chelsea Wherry


  • Alyssa Baker

    Thank you for your Word, God. Your Law is so good. Thank you for keeping us safe and also freeing us from the world with your boundaries.

  • Denise Powers Fabian

    Pleasant and freeing are God’s boundaries!

  • Ana Lisa Johnson

    Beautiful psalm to remind me of the beauty and goodness of God’s Word. God, help me delight more in your Word! I want to love it like this psalmist does. “How sweet your word is to my taste—sweeter than honey in my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103)

  • Kelly Anne

    Yes, Lord! Amen! Goid morning, ladies!

  • Katelyn Olivier

    Psalm 119:32 “I will run the course of your commandments, for you shall enlarge my heart.” I love this verse because it reminds what walking with God is meant to look like. Each time I read the Word and step out in faith in response to it, God is enlarging my heart. Enlarging it to know and love Him more, to know and love others more, and to desire what God desires.

  • Like many scriptures, a good process in reading Psalm 119 is to read it, then zoom out and get a birds-eye view of it and then zoom back in and read again. The word of God is not a read and run book, it’s a read and ruminate, while asking for understanding. Although the author of this Psalm isn’t known for sure, the verses listed for reading (1-32) remind me of David. David spent most of his adult life on the lam. Not many periods of his life were spent in peace and tranquility. Some due to his own ill choices, others because of just who he was; a military man, and a man in position of authority. As a result, he used much of his on-the-run prayer time reminding and encouraging himself of the goodness, faithfulness and trustworthiness of God. These verses extol the righteous law and rule of God. It’s like the author is reciting back to God all that He knows to be true about the ways of God, the steadfastness of God, the just laws and decrees of God, and in doing so, encourages himself. Because it is encouraging to know there is no shadow of turning in God. He is absolute. He is just. He is kind. He is merciful. He is love. He is right and true. And now by His Holy Spirit, He dwells in us working out all these true things of Himself. The woman who has been set free by Christ, is truly a free woman! Encourage yourself with these truths and live life in response to these truths.

  • Psalm119:4-6 “You have commanded that Your precepts be diligently kept. If only my ways were committed to keeping Your statutes! Then I would not be ashamed when I think about all Your commands.” I giggled a little when I read these verses because I often times feel the same way! I know what blessings come from following God’s commands, and I also know that it honors Him greatly when I do, but why is my heart still led astray?? Connecting heart and head knowledge is a huge part of the Christian walk. Seeing the cause and effect of obedience but also understanding the relationship we have with God and the desire to serve Him in following His ways go hand in hand. Lord, make me more like You each day and give me the desire to follow your commands with great joy, knowing that the boundaries you have established for me are to protect me and bring me freedom.

  • Victoria lewis

    Freedom within his hedge of protection! Love it.

  • The things that God forbids, keep us from harm. What a loving Father we have!

  • What a beautiful way to explain God’s laws as not confining but a way to give us protected freedom!

  • Lauren Savory

    We have the freedom through God’s power to live a victorious Christian life. How wonderful that we are given all the tools in Scripture.

  • Hello everyone, my friend Nathan is halfway around the world in a hospital fighting for his life. He can’t move and his organs aren’t functioning properly. Please read the GoFundMe page so you can pray for him better. Thank you❤️

  • Jadelyn Bates

    Lord, teach me your law! Let you will be my own, lead me through truth and righteousness!

  • “I have sought you with all my heart, don’t let me wander from your commands.”

    Lizzieb85 mentioned a comment perfectly for me,
    to me…a spiritual revelation does not need to appear immediately after reading a passage…

    That’s why I pray for His guidance. Please be patient with me.

  • “I have sought you with all my heart, dont let me wander from your commands.”

    I struggle with staying on track with his commands, but I know He is by my side guiding me.

  • Miranda G

    What a great idea!! Love it!

  • Deborah Craytor

    Those wanting to take a deeper look at Psalm 119 might be interested in Sarah Koontz’s free online study:

  • This puts me in mind of verses 5-6 in PS 16 [one of my favorite Psalms], which states, “The Lord is my inheritance and my cup, You are the One who determines my destiny. Your boundary lines mark out pleasant places for me. Indeed, my inheritance is something beautiful.” [GW]

  • Jess Rivera

    Thank you God for you lass, because of them I am able to live a life of abundance in love, joy and peace! Blessed be your name❤️

  • What a joy that God lets us in on the sweet spot of being in close relationship in Him. How awful would it be i’m thankful for how specific this psalm is. It literally tells us where true joy is found. How awful to desire Him and the safe joy that His statutes bring but have no idea where to go or what to do. We don’t have to “do” to be loved by Him. But we get closer to His heart when we keep His statutes and we get to experience Him in new ways when we commit our hearts to His. We don’t have to live in pain unaware why what we are doing isn’t working. His law guards our ignorant, ever-wandering hearts. Thankful for the guidance of scripture! Thank God for His faithfulness and that He has set it up this way and would let us in on it!

  • when I am in a place that I am comfortable, these verses stress me a bit. what is God going to allow, that is going to shake me up? When I am in a place that doesn’t feel comfortable, These verses comfort me.

  • Stephanie

    Honestly, when I read this I hear more of a desperate plea than a celebration. I think I am reading it from my own perspective, but does anyone else hear that? I hear “help me be wise, help me know the right thing to do. I am seeking you, I am meditating on you, I am listening, I am trying to do the right thing. Help me, strengthen me.”

    • Rachel

      Yes! I definitely hear the joy and gladness in the law, but also a “please HELP.” Maybe I’m reading it from my own need, too – but at least you’re not alone?? ;)

    • Lisa-Jane

      That’s the beautiful thing about God’s word, it’s so individual. Read it again in a few months time & the tone might be different for you. Your perspective might have changed.

    • Victoria Park

      That is what I felt as well. I sense the celebration too, but I relate with the repetitive cry to be taught. I so deeply want to do the right thing, and when I fail I feel this same frustration with my constant sin. I sometimes wish God could just teach me a one-time lesson and just get it through my thick skull so I’d never mess up again. But I guess that’s not quite how sanctification works ;). It’s in the struggle that the purification happens.

      • Stephanie

        Such a good point Victoria. Becoming a better person often means facing challenges That refine you. Which is why sometimes I fear when I ask God to help me grow closer to him, I am asking for challenges. Which is hard.

        • Rhonda

          I know what you mean Stephanie! Sometimes it scares me when I feel in a safe place. And yet I pray to draw closer, or hear, or what do I need, and then I get scared that I will get challenged or something will happen. It’s hard to explain, but you said it well!

    • Katie Salinas

      This is fascinating! I always feel guilty reading

  • KC Derond

    I’m reminded of the words from another SRT devotional in which the author wrote: “When we bow to Jesus as our King, we receive what we are most afraid of losing in the face of authority: freedom. REAL freedom.”
    This grants me so much peace! Who wants to live under another’s will? Yet His will is so good and pleasing and perfect that it sets you free. How awesome is our God?!

  • Gina Glennon

    And as I seek after God’s word and His law I remind myself that Jesus kept the law perfectly fir me and His righteousness is mine. What joy, peace and security in knowing that.

  • Natalie Marion

    Growing up, church felt like a bunch of rules and regulations. “You can’t do this and you can’t do that.” It seemed as though God was waiting around to strike us dead if we messed up. I didn’t view God as a protective parent, just trying to keep us safe. Reading Psalm 119 was a reminder to me that He creates these “rules” (or fences) not because He’s waiting for us to fail, but because He loves us and wants the best for us. He sees the future, and He knows our weaknesses. He knows what worldly things tempt us away from Him. When we submit to His will and follow His commands, we’re safe and secure in His perfect plan for our lives. But even if we vear off the path, I’m thankful grace is there to point us back toward Him.

  • Katelynn Barlowe

    I come away from this passage with some grief – I so desire understanding! What is His law? Where are His holy boundaries? The more Scripture I read, the more confused I end up. I’ve been walking daily with Jesus for 13 years, and I feel like my understanding of everything has been completely shaken in the last year. I just want more of Christ – I want to understand where His heart is and how to interpret His word. I am praying for understanding and for purity in my heart. May my seeking not be motivated by pride or a desire to please the world.

    • Heidi

      This is what I think is so great of living on THIS side of the resurrection- He already fulfilled the Law and has created a NEW covenant that only contains 1 (some interpret 2..) Law- Love God with all you are/all you have, and the 2nd- love others (ALL others) in the way you yourself desire to be loved. That’s it- that’s the Law. If all of our actions and thoughts and decisions could be hemmed-in with these boundaries, we’d live in an immensely different world… :)

    • Gena

      Jesus lead this searching soul. Send someone in “her world” to guide her. Let her feel your love as she draws closer to you. Open your truths in your word to her. Amen

    • Natalie Marion

      Katelynn – Christianity is not about the rules, and not about whether or not we understand everything in the Bible.
      Trust me, there’s a lot I don’t understand either! But Christianity is about fully submitting to His purpose and plan for our lives regardless of what we think about it. We do this because we are so in love with Jesus that we can’t help but follow His commands because we want to do whatever to please Him. When we give our hearts to Christ, there is freedom from the rules. There is freedom from trying to have it all figured out. He knows what’s best for us! Stick with it and pray for God to speak to you in ways only He knows how. Praying for you sweet sister!!

    • Chelsea Audet

      Your desire to know His Word is a beautiful prayer that He delights in answering! When Jesus left Earth, he promised us the Holy Spirit as a better comforter, teacher, and counselor. I pray that His Spirit would fill you this morning with the peace that comes from walking alongside Him, knowing that He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in you! Philippians 1:6

    • Shannon Davison

      Katelynn I often feel the same. And the more I learn the less I seem to know. One thing, though, that I’ve found helpful these past couple years is to listen to preachers that are expository preachers. They go through verse by verse. That really helps to understand the word and what it all means in the context it was meant to read. John MacArthur is one I highly recommend. I have his study bible and it’s really great for understanding scripture as well.

    • Linsey Peterson

      I understand feeling confused, I think that many Christians, including myself, struggle with reconciling God’s law and grace. What helps me is to remember that when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He told us that it was love! My prayer is that we frame our actions and thoughts around His love rather than a worry that we might misstep.

    • Natasha Pavez

      I feel like this, and the more confused I feel the more I struggle in my walk. I’m really not going well at the moment and I miss those days where I felt secure in Christ. I wish I knew Him better and trusted more.

      • Alexis

        Lord, I lift up Natasha to you right now. Help her to see you clearly and hear your voice. Let her know, in the smallest ways that she is not alone and that you see her. You hear her. And you love her. Amen.

  • “God’s law hems in our lives so that when we are lured by garbage trucks, or whatever delights the world has to offer, we can see exactly how we are to respond.”

    When reading the Psalm I was reminded of this. In countless seasons of hardships, God’s word was the light in the harbor for me. Especially in those storms folks felt it necessary to share what they thought I should do and often times that didn’t align with what I thought, so it always brought me peace to be able to find answers in the Word. In the same regard, when I find my heart wayward, there is nothing better to humble my ways. Confusion is put at bay when I make the effort to seek Truth and I desire nothing more than to do what is pleasing to God. Prayerful that I remember His word always and that I seek it first above earthly opinion.

  • Kelly Chataine

    This study has been a delight to my senses thus far. Thanking God for His Word! Thanking God for the fences! God is amazing!

  • I have been reading this Psalm for the last few days. I always love when the writer gives the instructions on how we are to live, or what pleases God. Like David it is my hearts desire, also like David it’s usually 3 steps forward and 2 back, which is why when I read God’s word daily I stay on the right path most of the time.

    • Lizzieb85

      This is exactly how I feel. I mess up a lot. We are all not perfect. But I read the Word everyday. I still sin, but being in the Word consistently nudges me along the right path. I used to think I needed to have amazing spiritual revelations every time I read the Bible, but that’s not the case. Sometimes it’s enough to just keep me where I am.

  • Rochelle Walker

    I relate so much to this. It reminds me of the relief I feel, returning to my routines after a vacation. Oh, the time off was fun and refreshing…but there is something so safe and appealing and reassuring about returning to the daily habits and tasks I know enrich and further my life/growth. Boundaries are safety. Moderation, over excess. The way fitness trackers and journals help us keep track of what we are doing so we don’t lose ourselves in the unhemmed chaos of every day. We see this modeled over and over again – in the Scriptures and in life…

  • Kristine Loughman

    I understand this psalm much better now that I am a parent to two children old enough to start making their own decisions. Often I’ve told them, in response to whining about one of our “family rules,” that I would not be a good mom if I let them have their way in that situation. In the same way, our God would not be our good, loving Father if he didn’t mark our boundaries. Although sometimes I do want to bust out with a whiny “but why?!” And “but I want to!”

  • Reading this devotion reminded me of a quote I use as a warm-up when my students come into class. It says, “He who is slave to the compass has the freedom of the seas.” And one of my favorite verses is Psalm 16:6. “The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” I love the idea of having freedom within boundaries. So much of this world is totally out of control and I find such comfort in seeing God’s sovereignty and finding certainty in His Word. I praise Him today for boundaries and fences and for the beautiful ways He “hems us in”.

    • Rea queen

      Love this!

    • Rochelle Walker

      Love that compass quote…

    • Kristen

      In a prayer group last night a woman was talking about this! God has our areas/boundaries set. He has us where He wants us. He cares about every detail of our lives. He can use us where He has us. We must choose to do His will and work.

    • Natalie Marion

      Love this quote and what a perfect illustration it gives for today’s reading!

  • Churchmouse

    Boundaries are both provision and protection. Boundaries create the truest “safe space.” God’s Word is the boundary that provides the best way for me to live both free and safe here on this earth. Choosing to live within His boundaries reflects my trust in, and love for, Him. I take a deep breath and relax.

  • Mishell Ellis

    We are called to obey not because of duty, but because of our admiration, desire and love for Him.

  • Abi Pullen

    This is a part of our walk with God that I struggle the most with – finding joy in His law. It is a strange concept to me as we live in a world where rules aren’t seen as a joy to keep but something we must simply learn to live by. Some may call us robots, living under another’s will. I pray that God will teach me how to find joy in His law and how to truly love it, to not be a ‘robot’ but to choose to obey because of that love.

    • Bunny

      Very true! I was just saying this morning, that I feel like a robot.

    • Lizzieb85

      Yes, I understand where you are coming from. Our culture views rules as constricting our freedom YET everyone still stops at a stop light. Why? Because they trust that rule with their very life. I recently studied in Romans about respecting & obeying the authorities God puts over us. That includes government. A point was made that even the worst government is still better than anarchy. SOME sort of rule is better than chaos. Maybe I’m getting a little off from your comment, but the point I’m making is that rules are not to control us. They are to benefit us. As a believer in Christ’s saving work on the cross, we are already seen as righteous. Nothing we do on earth, no obedience will make us “better” than God already sees us as. So living a robotic life following rules with out the heart to do so actually is pretty lame (from an outsiders perspective). If you really wanted, you could sin in any way you want, whenever you wanted.if you’ve trusted Jesus as your Savior, disobedience will not change your salvation. But WHY does God still encourage us to obey? To put us in our place & make sure we know Who is in charge? No, that’s not the way God loves us. Obedience\ following His rules protects us from ourselves. Obedience recognizes God loves us & that we love Him. I don’t know if you have to learn to love His law, focus on loving Him & pray the heart obedience is a fruit of that.

    • Betsy Gibson

      I empathize with your feeling and I think it’s an honest struggle. In my own experience, I have found that when I have stepped outside of God’s laws the consequences have been pain and regret. Thankfully he does not keep an account of my wrongs because of his Son.

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