I love the old hymn by W.P. Mackay that begins, “We praise thee, O God, for the Son of thy love, for Jesus who died and is now gone above.” It praises God for sending His son to rescue us. It praises God for sending the Spirit to point us to our savior. And it praises God for what Jesus has done to bear the weight of our sins. In many ways, it mirrors what we see here in Psalm 85, where the psalmist is praising God for the ways He has provided for His people, praising Him for the forgiveness of His people’s sins. It can be easy for us to wake up and begin with our focus on what is wrong in the world and in our own lives, to focus even our prayers completely on what we want God to do, but this Psalm points us to a different starting place. God has been favorable to us. He has shown grace and mercy to us. We see it all over the pages of Scriptures. We hear it in the songs we sing in worship. We know it in our own experiences.
And far from being stuck in the past, when we begin by praising God and remembering what God has done for us, it leads us to call out to Him in faith to do today and tomorrow what He has done before, “Restore us again, O God of our salvation, and put away your indignation toward us!” Those words from Psalm 85:4 are a cry that is echoed again in verses 6-7, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation.” Those aren’t calls to return to some past time when everything was perfect. They’re calls to a God who is perfect, One who has proven it before and can do it again. So today, may hearts of praise lead us into a prayer like the final verse of that old hymn, “Revive us again–fill each heart with thy love; may each soul be rekindled with fire from above.”