April 12, 2019 • Life for Leaders
LORD, hear my prayer,
listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
come to my relief.
In Psalm 143, David cries out to the Lord for help. He is being harassed by his enemies and is growing more and more discouraged. God alone will be able to deliver him and to direct his steps in the right direction. But why should the Lord respond to David’s pleas? What case can David make for God to listen to him and to help?
In situations like that of David, we are sometimes tempted to barter with God. “Bail me out this time, Lord,” we pray, “and I promise that I’ll serve you in the future.” We might even try pointing to our good intentions or behavior: “You should help me, Father, because I have been faithful to you and have been living rightly.”
But in Psalm 143 David understands that he has nothing in himself to persuade God to answer his prayers. The Lord alone provides the secure basis for answered prayer. Thus David prays, “LORD, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief.” Not “in my faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief,” but “in your faithfulness and righteousness.” To be sure, our faith matters to God. Jesus himself connects faith with answered prayer (for example, Mark 11:24). But beneath our faith, undergirding it and strengthening it, is the rock-solid faithfulness of God. Every prayer we pray depends on God’s great faithfulness.
Thus, even when our confidence in the Lord falters, even when our behavior is anything but faithful, we still cry out to God. Our prayers depend, not upon ourselves, but upon our God who is faithful and righteous, gracious and merciful.
Something to Think About:
When you pray, how do you envision the God who hears your prayers?
What in God’s character helps you to pray?
Something to Do:
Since God’s response to your prayers depends on God’s own faithfulness, not on yours, next time you are going to ask God for something, begin by focusing on God’s own character—on his grace and mercy, on his wisdom and knowledge, on his faithfulness and righteousness. Let God’s matchless character invite you before God’s throne of grace.
Gracious God, thank you for the privilege of praying to you. I can so easily take this for granted. Yet, when I step back and think, I’m amazed that you allow me to speak with you, that you care about my thoughts and feelings, even that you invite my open-hearted prayers.
Yet I also thank you that I come before you in prayer, not on the basis of my tarnished worth, but because of your matchless worth. You, Lord, are indeed faithful and righteous. You are trustworthy and true. Even though I fail you, you never fail me.
All praise be to you, O God, because you do indeed hear my plea! Amen.
Explore more at The High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project:
Do We Have to Lift Our Hands When We Pray?
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.