Read His Words Before Ours!
“God, hear my cry; pay attention to my prayer.” (Psalm 61:1)
Have you ever wondered if God hears your cries?
If so, you’re not alone! David–shepherd, king, and psalmist in ancient Israel–expressed a similar sentiment when he penned the opening to Psalm 61. David was considered a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14), yet he wasn’t perfect. Just like you and me, he was full of dreams, plans, goals, desires (some good, some not so good), but his heart was most often set on the Lord.
David’s life and prayers appear in several books in the Old Testament, but his psalms offer the clearest depiction of his character and prayers.
David’s psalms teach us that prayers don’t only need to be offered with bowed head and quiet voice. In fact, David was often quite vocal as he poured out the depths of his feelings to the Lord.
“O God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you.
I thirst for you;
my body faints for you
in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” (Psalm 63:1)
David wrote this psalm in the desert of Judah, his words echoing the landscape around him as he cried out to God. Similarly, Psalm 62 expresses David’s pursuit of the One who is his hope, his satisfaction, and his deliverer; we feel the depth of his emotion as he sought the God who was everything to him, Yahweh Tsuri, “The Lord is My Rock.” (Psalm 62:7-9)
David also prayed before and during battles. While we don’t know the exact circumstances of each prayer, we know that in the midst of our own battles, we can pray like David. Like Psalm 62, Psalm 144 begins with David stating God as his rock and fortress. He continues by asking, or perhaps yelling, as he passionately pleads with God to destroy his enemies. He cries for rescue. (Psalm 144:7-8)
In fact, several of David’s prayers were written while under attack or hiding from his enemies. He composed Psalm 54 while doggedly pursued by his predecessor, King Saul, and Psalm 71 describes David’s heart’s cry to the Lord while fleeing from his own son.
Have you questioned God?
Have you ever wondered if He knew what He was doing?
Or why He seemed silent?
David experienced much of the same at times.
Psalm 22 asks, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?”
In David’s prayers, we find a man unafraid to bring his human-ness to the One who made him, the One who knows every part of him, and the only One who could bring David true comfort and peace in any circumstance.
One of David’s most relatable prayers is recorded in 2 Samuel 11-12. After committing adultery and murder, David is confronted by the prophet Nathan. Convicted of his sins, David moves into deep repentance, then grief at the consequences of his sin. I can picture him prostrate on the floor, utterly broken, crying out the words recorded in Psalm 51:
“Be gracious to me, God, according to Your faithful love; according to Your abundant compassion, blot out my rebellion. Completely wash away my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.”
While we may not have sinned in the same way, we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s perfect holiness. (Romans 3:23) Crushed by the weight of our sins, utterly broken, we can cling to the hope living in David’s story and words. This hope is rooted in God’s unchanging character and redeeming power. (1 John 1:8-9)
For God does hear us. He knows our hearts, therefore we can bring Him our messy prayers, our confused or questioning prayers, and our disjointed prayers when we don’t have the right words. The Spirit will make intercession for us, praying on our behalf when words fail us. (Romans 8:26-27)
In 2015, Psalm 121:1-2 became my constant prayer (it’s also the inspiration for For King and Country’s song, “Shoulders”). While traveling, my mother became ill. As my family rushed to be with her, it wasn’t clear whether she would survive. Though I was near the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s panhandle, this verse about keeping my eyes looking up was my soul saver.
Perhaps David’s heart had cried the same words as he was trapped in a valley, hiding, unsure if foes or friends were lurking in nearby caves and hills. He needed to set his gaze higher than the natural hilltops for his protection and help. Similarly, as I waded through the valley of my mother’s death and my subsequent grief, I needed to keep looking up. At times, I still do.
We can rest assured that no prayer is too small or too great to reach God’s ears.
Whether our prayers are offered in the quietest of whispers or with reverberating intensity sizzling through every word . . .
Whether we come to Him battle-weary or devastated by the wreckage of our sin. . .
Whether we are in a time of rejoicing or lost in grief . . .
He hears our cries.
“I called to the Lord in my distress,
And I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice,
And my cry to him reached his ears.” (Psalm 18:6)
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!