Prosper the Work of Our Hands

Prosper the Work of Our Hands

A devotional reflection on Psalm 90:17

May the grace of the Lord our God be upon us;
Prosper the work of our hands; O prosper the work of our hands.
Psalm 90:17 (2019 BCP Psalter) 

 

Here in the concluding lines of Psalm 90 we hear two petitions, one of which is repeated:

May the grace of the Lord our God be upon us.
and
Prosper the work of our hands; O prosper the work of our hands.

I have, for some time, been leaning into the petition, “Prosper the work of our hands.” I can remember thinking, many years ago, that the “prosper” prayer was, frankly, self-serving—carrying the odor of the prosperity gospel. I think at one time I would have been reticent to pray this prayer for that very reason. But I am no longer—for two reasons.

First, the “prosper prayer” is preceded by a petition that the grace of our God be upon us. Grace is taken to mean a lot of things. It is sometimes understood as simply the forgiveness of sins, but here, and very commonly in the Scriptures, it seems to suggest both that and something more. Concepts like “common grace” and “special grace” also suggest the something more. Grace in this petition of Psalm 90 is an impartation of God himself to us. It is God giving us capacity, out of His own fullness.

Thus, the two petitions here are related, if not the same. “Impart your power, your capacity to us, so that the work of our hands might be empowered by you and thus that it might prosper.” The prayer that our work might prosper is predicated upon it being inhabited by the grace— impartation—of God, and thus be to His glory.

Second, and relatedly, if we are ever to see any real fruit, or movement, or transformation—prospering—it must be the work of God in Jesus Christ. He alone brings the mountains low and raises up the valleys. All true and lasting movement, or prospering, is the supernatural work of God. That is prosperity I can get behind. Lord, would you inhabit the work of our hands that it may prosper in you. And all for the praise of your glory.

Grace and peace to you,
+Alex

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