Today’s reading: Psalms 86-89.
David’s prayer in Psalm 86 is full of praise, but that makes perfect sense. God has promised to dwell in the praise of his people. We never pray better than when we speak with a mouth full of praise, and our praises are never greater than when we magnify the character of God. David fills his psalm with accounts of God’s goodness, and we would do well to remember his list when we pray.
You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me. Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; no deeds can compare with yours. Psalm 86:5-8
His goodness and love. “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you.”
His faithfulness. “In the day of my trouble I will call to you, for you will answer me.”
His works that exceed all other’s. “no deeds can compare with yours… For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.”
His provision of eternal life. “For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.”
His abounding in grace towards us. “But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.”
David’s psalm isn’t only a song of praise, but his praise paves the way for his requests. One of them I can sympathize with, for I have prayed it often. “Give me a sign of your goodness.” David prays it to confound his enemies. I pray it to bolster my own faith. David’s main request for himself is so similar to a statement from the gospels that it sounds like Jesus: “Teach me your way, O LORD, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart.” Jesus was the way, the truth, and the life. An undivided heart, a heart united and undistracted in its devotion to God, is the surest guarantee of the abundant life Jesus made possible.
But if the heart be united for God, then we may say of such a Christian, as was said of a young Roman, “What he does is done with all his might.” A man of only one design, puts out all his strength to carry it; nothing can stand before him. Sincerity brings a man’s will into subjection to the will of God; and this being done, the greatest danger and difficulty is over with such a man. This is that holy oil which makes the wheels of the soul run nimbly, even in the difficult paths of obedienee. –John Flavel.
Image by Jesslee Cuizon on Flickr, CC by 2.0