Many of us struggle with prayer. Are you familiar with that struggle? “How should I pray?” “What should I expect when I pray?” “Does God even care about me and my feeble attempts to pray?” “What difference does prayer really make?” Do those questions resonate? Perhaps they are symptoms of what could be diagnosed as a serious Vitamin-P deficiency in our spiritual health. We know we need to pray and we’ve heard that praying is good for us, but…
If you’re a fellow prayer-struggler, could I recommend Psalm 17 as worthy of serious reflection today? It’s a prayer of David. Notice how it speaks–three thousand years after it was written–to some of the most haunting questions and doubts we can have about connecting with God through prayer.
Is the Almighty Creator of the universe really listening to me when I pray?
Hear … O LORD … attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer…
From your presence let my vindication come!
Let your eyes behold the right! (17:1-2)
Is our Father in heaven really involved in the lives of his children?
You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night,
you have tested me… (17:3)
Can I really expect the LORD to respond to the cries of my heart?
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me; hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O Savior of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand. (17:6-7)
Does the God who hears really care? For me?
Keep me as the apple of your eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings… (17:8)
Can I really be honest with him about the deepest hurts and anxieties of my life?
…the wicked do me violence,
my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They have now surrounded our steps;
they set their eyes to cast us to the ground.
He is like a lion eager to tear,
as a young lion lurking in ambush. (17:9-12)
Can I really hand those burdens and hurts over to God, trusting that he’ll carry what I can’t?
Arise, O LORD! Confront him, subdue him!
Deliver my soul from the wicked by your sword,
from men by your hand, O LORD,
from men of the world whose portion is in this life. (17:13-14)
What difference can prayer really make in the long run?
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness. (17:15)
Psalm 17 continues to serve as a healthy dose of Vitamin-P for the anemic prayer life. Your Creator is mighty, no doubt. In his hand is the ability to humble and exalt, no question. But hear the crystal-clear testimony of Scripture. He cares. For you. He sees. You. He wants to hear. From you. That’s why he continues to invite his children to cast all their anxieties on him in prayer, just like David did in Psalm 17. And that’s how we can walk away from the Psalm 17 pharmacy with the comfort and confident assurance that David modeled for us.
I have purposed (17:3).
I have avoided (17:4).
My steps have held fast (17:5).
I shall behold your face, and I shall be satisfied (17:15).
I don’t know about you, but I needed a healthy dose of Vitamin-P for the day.