May 19, 2017 • Life for Leaders
But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, “The LORD is great!”
Psalm 70 is a brief prayer for speedy deliverance. David is being harassed by his enemies, who, according to verse 2, are trying to kill him. So he cries out to the Lord to come quickly and help (70:1).
In the midst of his hurried prayer, David adds a request concerning those who seek God in order to receive his help. “But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you; may those who long for your saving help always say, ‘The LORD is great!’” (70:4). Here David implies that there is something even better than God’s help… namely, God!
Notice that the first part of verse 4 asks that all who search for the Lord “rejoice and be glad in you.” We might have expected something like, “May those who seek you be filled with joy and gladness when you help them.” But, instead, David focuses on God and his presence rather than the specific answer to his prayer. Similarly, in the latter part of the verse, the one who receives and even loves God’s salvation doesn’t say, “Salvation is great!” but, rather, “The Lord is great!”
I’m not suggesting that it isn’t wonderful when God answers our prayers, especially those uttered in times of desperate need. Indeed, answered prayer is a merciful and delightful gift. But I am noting that, for David, his ultimate longing was not for God’s help so much as for God himself. Answered prayer is not the final end of prayer, but rather a means of being drawn closer to God. Answered prayer reminds us of God’s goodness and grace, thus encouraging us to shout, “God is great!”
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
When have God’s answers to your prayers led you into a deeper relationship with God?
Do your times of intercessory prayer become an avenue for you to experience deeper intimacy with God? Why or why not?
When have you been overwhelmed with the greatness of God?
Gracious God, as you know, most of the time when I pray to you, I’m looking more for answers than for you. And sometimes, to be honest, I rejoice more in the answers when they come than in the one who gave them. Forgive me for the times I take you and your grace for granted.
Yet there have been other times, Lord, when I have come before you in desperation, needing your help. What I received in those moments wasn’t the answer I was seeking, but something so much better. I received the gift of your presence, the assurance that comes from being with you.
I have been filled with joy and gladness in you, because of your grace at work in my soul. Thank you, dear Lord, for such marvelous gifts. May my heart be open to receive even more of the same because, you, Lord, are better even than answered prayer. You are the answer to my deepest prayers. God, you are great! Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: How Micro-Prayers Can Get You Through the Workday
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, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.