The psalms are cherished by God’s people for both their heartfelt expressions of praise to God as well as their raw outpouring of emotion in the face of stressful and even life-threatening situations. Psalm 5 provides a gripping example of the latter. Would you like to pray with the intensity of David when your back is up against the wall? This article will show you how to do that.
What impresses me in just the first two verses of this psalm are the various types of prayer that David offered to God when surrounded by his enemies. May we be encouraged to follow his lead and come to God in the manner described here.
Would you like to pray like David? Note the following five characteristics of godly prayer found in Psalm 5:1-2.
Give ear to my words.
Prayer is simply talking to God about anything and everything. “Give ear to my words.” Charles Spurgeon wrote that “Words are not the essence but the garments of prayer.” Truer words were never spoken. At the same time, the words we choose, when prompted by a Word-saturated mind and a God-focused heart, capture the essence of our spirit and find a home in the heart of our compassionate Creator who loves to hear the voices of his children.
Consider my sighing.
There are times when we don’t know what to say. We come into God’s presence and words escape us. Our hearts and minds are filled with 1,001 things we want to communicate, yet we just don’t know how to express ourselves.
This is most common when we are under duress. The stress of life can overwhelm us. David was the victim of much unjust persecution at the hands of evil men, and this psalm is one of many such “laments.”
What do you say to God when you don’t know what so say? “Consider my sighing” (NIV) is a good place to start. I like the ESV rendering even better, “Consider my groaning.” Have you ever groaned before God? David did.
Listen to my cry for help.
There is no better place to cry than in the presence of God. This verse should be a source of much comfort to us when we come to the end of ourselves and realize our desperate need of God. When all you can do is cry, then cry! I believe that God is more willing to listen to our crying than we are to release these emotions before the throne of grace.
Morning by morning I lay my requests before you.
When we think of praying, this is usually what comes to mind first — asking God for what we need. “I lay my requests before you.” David did this regularly, even daily. He was especially fond of praying in the morning. Note the repetition of the phrase, “morning by morning.”
Jesus, too, was in the habit of spending time alone with his Father at the break of day, for “very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).
How do you start your day? Like David and Jesus, may it be on our knees.
I wait in expectation.
God is delighted when we cry out to him for help. But David did not stop there. He not only brought his requests to God, he then waited in expectation for the answer. God wants us to pray in faith, believing that he will do what we’ve asked him to do. This can be the most difficult aspect of prayer, yet arguably the most important.
David’s confidence in his prayer-answering God presents us with a model to follow. Some 1,000 years later, Jesus himself would echo these words: “I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24). As it was for David, may it be so for us today.