“Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit. Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle (Psa 28:1-2).”
Psalm 28 was written at a time when David was in fear for his life. We cannot be sure now what the background story was but we can look inside the heart of a man who was after God’s heart and learn something about prayer from him.
Turning to God
David turned to the Lord for help in his time of trouble. Troubled times are usually good motivation to turn to God. But it should not only be during troubles when we remember God. We must always be ready to turn to Him.
David shows us in his psalms that he was a man who was always ready to turn to God, in good times and bad. But who do we turn to first in our distress? God is often remembered as a last resort when all else fails, even by His people. We must realise who it is we are turning to. He is the almighty God who is worthy of all praise.
Christians find joy and comfort in knowing who to turn to; in knowing the One whom we turn to.
Expecting an Answer
David pleaded with God to hear and answer him. Whenever we present our requests and supplications to God, do we actually expect God to hear us and answer? The way David prayed may sound very daring to us today. This was a cry from David’s heart.
When we pray, we do not want to be just saying words without really meaning them. That would be vain repetitions. Don’t say it if you don’t mean it. God is not mocked. Every week we hear the same prayers in almost the same words, just like reading from a template. Before we present our requests and supplications to God, perhaps we should ask ourselves: Do we really mean it? How badly do we want it?
God is Our Rock
David addressed God as ‘my rock’. Rock gives the idea of strength, of a firm foundation to stand on. Three times in Psalm 18 David addressed the Lord as his rock.
The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower…For who is God save the LORD? or who is a rock save our God?…The LORD liveth; and blessed be my rock; and let the God of my salvation be exalted (Psa 18:2, 31, 46).”
David declared his dependence on God and His power; his faith and hope were built on the firm foundation. We have the same firm foundation of faith and hope in Christ. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1Co 3:11).”
How do we make sure we are standing on this firm foundation? The key is obedience. Jesus says: “Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock (Mat 7:24-25).”
We put our trust in Christ for our salvation. If we truly trust in Him, we will obey Him. If we have been disobedient, can we reasonably expect to be standing on firm foundation when we turn to God for help? Effective prayers demand obedient lives. Sins not repented of are barriers to God giving us a favourable answer (cf. Psa 66:18; Isa 59:1-2).
Pleading for God’s Attention
“…be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit.” David pleaded for God not to leave him alone. His argument was that if God ignored him, he would be without hope.
It is easy to fall into the trap of praying just as a formality and not be concerned whether God really hears. The one assigned to pray must not do so just because he was assigned, or worse, trying to impress the brethren with his eloquence without really caring if God hears him.
Remember the blind beggar in Luke 18:38-39. He begged for no other reason than for relief from the pain of his condition. He was not ashamed to beg. David was not ashamed to beg as well. He said in verse 2, “Hear the voice of my supplications, when I cry unto thee, when I lift up my hands toward thy holy oracle.”
We must be shamelessly persistent in prayer. Half-heartedness will not do. God wants His children to trust Him and ask without doubt.
When we come before God, don’t come with any reservation. Don’t ask thinking maybe He’s not listening. Don’t ask if you’re unclear or not serious about what you are asking. Jesus says, ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit’ (Mat.5:3). If we are still in some way trusting in our abilities alone and not relying on God to bless us, we cannot seriously expect God answer to us favourably.