When You Pray

David was a King, and a gifted poet and writer. He was also a man with real hurts and real emotions. He expressed raw, deep, honest pain, wild, enthusiastic rejoicing, and the ebb and flow of faith and confidence we all experience.  Psalm 31 is one that covers the whole gamut. Take a moment and read this psalm and meet me back here.

This is a Psalm of Lament, a song David wrote when he felt trapped by his enemy (v. 4), weak with sorrow and grief (v. 9), and consumed by anguish (v. 10). He was being slandered and terrorized (v. 13). In vivid imagery he said, “I have become like broken pottery” (v. 12). Useless and only good for scraping painful sores (Job 2:8). David was about a low as a man can go.

And yet . . .

David took refuge in the Lord (v. 1). He cried out for rescue (v. 2), mercy (v. 9), and deliverance (v. 15). And then he put his whole trust in God. He called God his Refuge (v. 4), and rejoiced in His faithfulness (v. 14), goodness (v. 19), and wonderful love (v. 21). He poured out his broken heart, and poured in the healing balm of faith.

There is something I saw in this Psalm, that I believe is the key to trusting God in these hard, painful seasons. In verse 2, David pleads, “Be my rock of refuge; a strong fortress to save me. Then he immediately says, “Since you are my Rock and my Fortress, for the sake of Your name, lead and guide me” (v. 3). Do you see it? “Be . . . Since you are . . .” David asked, and then he trusted.  

I confess, very often I have prayed and then still fretted. I have pleaded and continued to worry. That is not the way of faith. Jesus said, “Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours” (Mk 11:24). That’s NOT a “name it and claim it verse.” It is a “Be . . . Since you are . . .” verse.

I am praying over a very hard situation in my family right now. I trust that the Lord hears and cares and will act according to His wisdom and perfect will. You can too. You can be assured that He will hear and He will help (v. 22) “Be strong,” Beloved, “and take heart and hope in the Lord” (v. 24).

The Truth is . . .

Has anyone ever lied to you? Ever listened to a politician? Ever asked a toddler, “What have you got in your mouth?” Or asked your teenager, “Do you have homework tonight?” Yep, you’ve been lied to. I know people have lied to me. Some were “white lies” and some were “indiscretions.” And there’s the occasional covering up a birthday surprise. Few things will draw my ire more than a bald-faced lie – when someone lies to my face and we both know it. If I’m truly honest, I’ve lied to people too – but not intentionally. Well, maybe sometimes intentionally. Like that time as a teenager when I . . . on second thought, I’d better not divulge that. Most of the time, the lies I told were when I said I would do something and failed to follow through. That usually comes when I over-promise. I have every intention of doing the thing, but for a variety of reasons, I just can’t pull it off. I’ve eaten a lot of humble pie in my life admitting I fell short of my promises.

Hebrews 6:18 tells us “it is impossible for God to lie.”  God is truth, and everything He says is true. You and I can take it to the proverbial bank. The Bible is God’s Word, thus, whatever the Bible says is the absolute truth.

When the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), we can trust that is true.

In the Scripture, God said, “I will be with you, I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Jos 1:5). That’s a true and trustworthy promise.

When the Bible says that God is your shield (Ps 7:10), your strength, rock, fortress, deliverer, refuge, stronghold, and salvation (Ps 18:1-2), you can be assured that you are safe in His arms.

When the Bible says that God sees your trouble and grief and listens to your cries (Ps 101:14,17), you can rest your weary head on His shoulder and pour out your heart into His ears.

When the Bible says that God has good plans to give you a future and a hope (Jer 29:13) and that He will fulfill His purpose for you (Ps 27:2), you need not fear the days ahead.

And most of all, when the Bible says God loves you – that He lavishes His love on you (1 John 3:1) – you can know without a shadow of a doubt that it is the truth, no matter what your feelings or the devil, or the world may say. The Creator of the universe loves you. And that, Beloved, is no lie. It’s the truest thing you’ll ever hear.

Why Should I Choose God?

“Why should I believe in your God? What benefit is it to me?” The young man stood with his hands on his hips and a scowl on his face. I was very young in my faith and I didn’t know how to answer him. I mumbled something about heaven and hell and he laughed at me and walked away. I’m a lot older and a little wiser. I’ve walked through some stuff with God. I’ve seen His power and felt His presence. He has set me free from strong chains. He has healed me, provided for me, comforted me, and brought Joy to my life. He has directed my life in amazing ways. I wish I could tell him all that.

And I also know Scripture better now. I would take him to Psalm 62 and show him how he could benefit from a relationship with God. In this Psalm, David said that his “soul finds rest in God alone” (v. 1, 5) and then he shares all the reasons why. They are true for you and me as well.

God is the source of our salvation (v. 1, 6, 7) through His Son, Jesus we are saved to eternal life. He is our Rock, our Fortress, and our Refuge (v. 2, 6, 7, 8 ) – a sure place of security and safety. He is the source of our hope (v. 5)  and even shares His glory and honor with us (7).  

And David added this wonderful statement: “One thing God has spoken, two things have I heard: that You, O God, are strong and that You, O Lord, are loving” (v. 11, 12).  I love this because it shows the perfect balance of our Father. If God were all strong without love, we would be terrified of Him. If He were all loving without strength, He could only pity us but offer us no help.  But He is both able and willing to save me, protect me, lift me up, and give my life meaning. In His love, He promises to give me eternal life. By His power, He can deliver it.

You may be wondering what life with God means. I think David expressed it perfectly. I don’t know where that young man is today, so I’ll just tell you, Beloved. Life with God is full of power and love. Don’t walk away from it.