Yearning for an Undivided Heart

By Mark D. Roberts

October 20, 2017

Teach me your way, LORD,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.

Psalm 86:11


A person walking from a dark room into light, with their reflection following them on the floor.Psalm 86:11 is one of my favorite Scripture verses. In fact, I used this verse as the basis for my pre-sermon prayer for many years when I was the pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church. It puts, in a nutshell, my desire for my own life as well as my desire for those who would learn from my preaching: “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” I say amen to this!

The original Hebrew of Psalm 86:11 reads “Teach me, O Lord, your ways, that I might walk in your truth/faithfulness.” The Hebrew word translated as “faithfulness” in the NIV can also mean “truth” (’emet; see NRSV, ESV). “To walk” means, in this context, to live each day. The psalmist is not asking for God to impact only his religious life. Rather, he wants to be guided each and every day by God’s truth and faithfulness.

The second sentence of Psalm 86:11 could be translated, “Unite my heart so that I might fear your name.” It assumes that our hearts are confused and in need of unifying. Fearing God’s name means honoring God and living all of life in the light of God’s awesome glory. Therefore, it entails living for God’s glory each and every moment.

I’m particularly struck by the request for God to give me an undivided or unified heart so that I might live my life for God’s glory. Psalm 86:11 assumes that we need God not only to teach us, but also to bring our inner selves into wholeness. Then we will be able to live according to God’s truth each day, glorifying the Lord in all we do.

As a child of God, I pray for the Lord to do these very things in my life. As a teacher of God’s Word, I ask that the Lord might use me to help people walk in truth and honor God in every facet of their lives. I pray that my teaching, whether in sermons or daily devotions, will help those I serve have undivided hearts so they might honor and serve the Lord in all of life.


Do you desire to live according to God’s truth? How is this desire seen in your life?

In what ways does your heart need to be unified by the Lord’s grace and truth? Do you sense that your inner being is divided and in need of God’s unifying grace?

How could you live to glorify God today?


Gracious God, teach me your ways, that I might live according to your faithful truth. May my study of your Word not be an exercise simply in gaining information, but also a way of helping me live according to your truth.

Unify my heart so that I might fear your name. Bring together the disparate parts of my inner life so I might seek you above all, each moment of each day. May my life’s purpose be, truly, to glorify you and enjoy you forever. Amen.


Photo by Alessio Lin on Unsplash.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentaryGod’s grace in the midst of judgment (Psalm 86)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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