Ps 67:1-2 “God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah. That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.”
Why would the God who sits in heaven bless people so insignificant and feeble as us? The ultimate answer is completely evangelistic in nature! Too often our prayers for divinely-sanctioned prosperity are regrettably short-sighted and selfish. I recently heard one of the most convicting/challenging questions ever posed, “If God answered your prayers, would your neighbor know Christ? Or would you have lots of stuff?” To biblically pray for God’s favor properly is to be a missionary!
Three missionary motivations that move God to bless His people:
Pray for God’s favor to broadcast to the world His salvation. (1-2)
The familiar priestly blessing of Numbers 6:24-26 is adapted for use in the first person in order to present the basis of Israel’s greater mission. God’s gracious dealings are viewed as the means by which all people are led to turn to God. Israel is to be the witness by which the knowledge of God is spread abroad. The main point of the psalm is the link between verses 1 and 2 found in the word “that.” He prays, “God be gracious to us and bless us, and cause his face to shine upon us; that thy way may be known on the earth, thy salvation among all nations.” God blesses his people for the sake of the nations.
While this Psalm is primarily focused upon Israel, there are obvious implications for the church age with our same mandate to pray and mission to reach the world with the Gospel. Your prayer for God’s “shining,” a reference to divine favor and approval, will only be answered when you yield to your role as the “light of the world” (Mt. 5:14).
Pray for God’s favor to enlist the world in His worship. (3-5)
This psalm definitively teaches that God’s purpose is to be known (2) and praised (3) and enjoyed (4) and feared (7) among all the nations. In other words, He want the world to think and feel strongly about Him as a result of His entrance into our needy world. As one author put it, “God is jealous to be known and praised and enjoyed and feared. He is displeased when people are ignorant of him or disrespectful to him or bored around him or unduly casual in his presence.”
The ultimate end of our answered prayer is, from God’s perspective, not stuff for us but glory for Him. Any person on the planet who receives Christ as Savior become a temple or earthly dwelling place for God to receive worship. What an inspiring realization to elevate our supplications from earthly values to eternal ones!
Pray for God’s favor to harvest the world’s divine purpose. (6-7)
This brief psalm of thanksgiving is remarkable for its beauty, its simplicity, and its world outlook. The occasion for its use is probably to be seen in verse 6, where the climax is expressed in terms of harvest thanksgiving. The hymn may well have been a part of the music for the Feast of Pentecost or the Feast of Tabernacles. Verse 7 amplifies the thought of verse 1 expressing hope for God’s continued blessing in order that Israel’s mission may be completed.
Validated prayer, for the believer, is basically “companion planting” on God’s part. Companion planting in gardening and agriculture is the planting of different crops in proximity for any of a number of different reasons, including pest control, pollination, providing habitat for beneficial creatures, maximizing use of space, and to otherwise increase crop productivity. To be fruitful we must pray, and to have God’s favor our motives must be evangelistic.
God will not allow you to “prostitute” His favor through manipulative intercession! In summary, God blesses his people for the sake of the nations. Therefore God is most likely to bless us when we are planning and longing and praying to bless the nations—and to make the nations glad in God.
As Samuel Zwemer wisely asserts, “The history of missions is the history of answered prayer.”