Admittedly, I haven’t been reading the Word much as of late. A disheartening pattern has emerged in my life: when things are going smoothly I forget about God and cruise along, allowing prayer and Bible study to become intermittent chores instead of the life-giving disciplines they were intended to be. But inevitably, struggles arise and I run back to God, seeking help and expecting to be rescued. I read passages like Psalm 86 and believe it’s as simple as asking and receiving. I wait with my hand out believing that little is required of me.
My actions stem from a shallow understanding of this text (and others like it), leading me to treat God like a drive-through: “I’ll have a grande americano and a pay raise, please.” As if Christianity were that simple.
It was like I stopped reading after the first verse, “Hear me, Lord, and answer me”; or after verse 6, “Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.” I summarized David’s prayer using those two lines and ignored the other 15. Until just last week.
After reading it a few times, I drew a line down the center of a blank page, wrote “Me” at the top of the left column and “God” on the right. It may sound odd but I wanted to compare my responsibilities to God’s. There had to be something of note not only in how David asked but also in how he behaved. I listed the actions, attitudes and traits of each under their respective headings (try this for yourself).
I’ve listed below words and phrases that were repeated (total in parentheses) and they reveal much of what I missed before.
trust in/rely on God (3)
undivided heart/faithful (3)
praise/worship God (2)
bring glory to His name (2)
call/cry to Him (2)
hears/listens to me (3)
abounding in love (3)
saves/guards me (3)
answers me (2)
I don’t know about you but I tend to dwell on my wants more than anything else. I have mastered the calling out and crying yet ignore the rest. But life with God isn’t a one-sided deal; he is not my servant, rather I am His. We know the Bible’s penchant of repeating words to emphasize their importance and here we see our duties clearly identified. If I answer honestly I fall short quite often.
Thankfully, David’s prayer reminded me not only of our role, but also of what we can expect from God.
He does hear us, he is merciful and forgiving, he is abounding in love, he saves us. Verse 7 reads, “When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.” David has the confidence to call on God because God answered him in the past. We can trust God because He is faithful. He does, not because of what we do but, because of who He is.
What a relief.
Though we can be grateful for God’s mercy that doesn’t depend on what we do, we must still take ownership of the calling placed on us. Be thankful that He is “forgiving and good” but also be the “servant who trusts in [Him]”.
Let verse 11 be your prayer today: “Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.”