Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #265 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading Psalm 86 today and our focus is on How To Pray When You are In Trouble. We are a daily 10 minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Another Psalm of David. Another time he is in deep trouble. Another heartfelt prayer to God in the midst of that trouble. What can we learn from David’s Holy Spirit inspired prayer today? Let’s dive in!
First sentence of David’s prayer:
Listen, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy. Psalm 86:1
Straight to the point – no pretense whatsoever. This is a desperate situation, and that comes out in the very first verse. David tells God that he is in great need and implores God to listen AND answer his prayer. Can we do this also in our prayers? Absolutely and positively – not only is such directness allowable – it is encouraged and biblical.
The second thing David does is quite interesting, and it might seem unnecessary on the surface.
For you, Lord, are kind and ready to forgive,
abounding in faithful love to all who call on you…Lord, there is no one like you among the gods,
and there are no works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and bow down before you, Lord,
and will honor your name.
10 For you are great and perform wonders;
you alone are God. Psalm 86:8-10
What is David doing here? He is reminding God who God is, at least on the surface. Does God need reminders as to who He is? Is this like a child reminding his father that the father promised to take him fishing on Saturday? Not exactly. God doesn’t need reminders of who He is, because God has never forgotten a single shred of information. So, why remind Him? It is a great question to think about, and I believe the answer is that when we, on the surface, are reminding God who He is, what we are really doing is reminding OURSELVES of who God is. We are building faith by verbalizing the faithfulness of God. God needs no reminders – but we do. A dynamic that might be at play here involves reading and praying out loud. My understanding is that those in past ages very rarely read to themselves – or read quietly. Most of the time when people read, they read out loud, and that has only changed quite recently from a historical perspective. If prayer was the same way, and I believe it was, then most prayers were prayed with voices speaking them audibly, and that means that others were reminded who God is in prayer, so David reflecting on God’s kindness and readiness to forgive was likely helpful to the faith of those who would have been listening to his prayer also. Let’s go ahead and read our Psalm through.
How can this Psalm help us pray when we are in trouble and distress?
First, it informs our prayers in that it teaches us how to pray. It shows us that Biblical prayer is not necessarily based on a cookie cutter type model – in other words, prayer doesn’t always follow the same pattern. Sometimes biblical prayers begin with praise and worship. Other times they begin with Thanksgiving. Often they get straight to the point and begin with a request for God to hear and deliver. This tells me that we don’t have to pray in any particular way, or in any particular order, and we certainly don’t have to pray the same way every time. In the same way that our conversations with humans differ in their beginning, middle and end, so do our conversations with God differ in these ways.
Secondly, we can take prayers like this – prayers that fit our current situation quite well- and read them back to God as our own prayer. Some church traditions do this regularly, using prayers from the Bible and prayers from books like the Book of Common Prayer as an aid to prayer. Some church traditions avoid that like the plague, but I see no reason to do so. Praying biblical prayers back to God – especially when they line up with our current circumstances – is a very legitimate way to pray, and can help us when we are struggling with Words.
Finally, prayers like this show us that we are not alone in our suffering, trials and tribulations. If you only knew of King David’s life from the Psalms, then you’d think he basically lived from one crisis to the next with very, very little rest time in between. If life has been hard for you lately – or even over the past few years, or even decades, then you can read and pray through the Psalms knowing that there were mighty saints of God who loved Him and lived a life that was pleasing to Him who had the same experience – trouble after trouble after trouble. And, even though they seemed to constantly walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death, they nevertheless found the Lord to be faithful, good and more than enough for every trial they faced. That should comfort us!
Commenting on the very first line of this Psalm, where David asks God to bow down and listen to him,Spurgeon says:
When our prayers are lowly by reason of our humility, or feeble by reason of our sickness, or without wing by reason of our despondency, the Lord will bow down to them. Great as he is he loves his children to be bold with him. For I am poor and needy. Our distress is a forcible reason for our being heard by the Lord God, merciful, and gracious, for misery is ever the master argument with mercy
Psalms, by Charles Spurgeon, “Introduction,” in Psalms, Crossway Classic Commentaries (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1993), 1.
Bible Memory verses for the month of September: 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, 17 so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 2nd Timothy 3:16-17
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