I sat down to write this article, and I prayed first. How ironic would it be to write something about prayer that you haven’t actually prayed about?
The thing is, I rarely remember to pray first.
I get going with something either out of excitement or necessity, and it’s not until I hit a snag or need help that I stop to pray. I get the impression from the Psalms that David prayed all the time.
When he was happy, he praised God. If someone wanted to kill him, he ran to God. When he failed miserably, he cried out for mercy.
But it seems like in life prayer is often an afterthought (unless it’s mealtime).
A few years ago, I decided I’d do more than just pray during my morning quiet time and at mealtimes, so I set an alarm on my phone. Every day at 1 p.m., the alarm went off, and I would step outside my office for a few minutes and pray.
But more often than not, instead of praying, I would hit snooze for a while, then turn it off without ever saying a word to God.
Then, I wondered if it might be a bad thing to have to set an alarm on my phone to remember someone. Shouldn’t I remember God without the alarm?
I can remember my spouse and my kids without needing an alarm to talk to them. Perhaps my lack of prayer signified something deeper going on within me.
I think it did.
David went to God often because he knew God. He knew he could tell God things, trust him with those things, and that God could help him with his struggles. In general, I think most people know praying to God is what you do when you need help.
That’s why the word request is so easily connected to the word prayer. And we should pray when we need help. God cares. He wants us to bring that stuff to him.
He wants all of it. The good, the bad, everything. If there’s a care on our hearts, he wants it. When we have exciting news, he smiles and listens.
Prayer isn’t so much about the request, struggle, or victory, but about the one to whom we pray.
That’s where the real power lies.
We could talk to anyone, pour our hearts out to a shoe or a pillow or the air, and what would it matter? But pour your heart out to the living God, and there you will find healing and hope.
David knew God. We can see it in the Psalms. His relationship with God was intimate, real, and it changed him. Knowing God will change us too. Talking to God—bringing all of life to Him—is intertwined with knowing him.
Read over the following Psalms and spend some time praying and listening to God. He loves you, and He wants you to know Him better.
Psalms 61:1 – 61:4
“Hear my cry, O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. I will abide in thy tabernacle for ever: I will trust in the covert of thy wings. Selah.”
“My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”
“Hear me when I call, O God of my righteousness: thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress; have mercy upon me, and hear my prayer.”
Psalms 139:23 – 139:24
“Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:”
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God… Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.”
Psalms 55:16 – 55:17
“As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”
“A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba.) Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”
“O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.”
Psalm 31:1 – 31:5
“In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness. Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me. For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me. Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength. Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.”
Psalms 17:6 – 17:8
“I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings,”
“Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.”
“Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee.”
“Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.”
“Hear my prayer, O God; give ear to the words of my mouth. For strangers are risen up against me, and oppressors seek after my soul: they have not set God before them. Selah. For he hath delivered me out of all trouble: and mine eye hath seen his desire upon mine enemies.”
Psalms 13:1 – 13:6
“How long wilt thou forget me, O LORD? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O LORD my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the LORD, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.”
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