David’s prayers are often rendered to God with an air of confidence. What is the source of this confidence when we pray? We have been exploring Psalm 91 as a model for our praying during the Covid-19 pandemic. As we close out the discussion of praying in the midst of this pandemic, the final three verses of the psalm help us find the path to confidence in our prayers. In these verses, the voice shifts from David’s to that of the Lord, who explains why David can have confidence in his prayers.
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.”
Here we find David’s reason for confidence in this prayer. It is based upon three things that are true of David. First, David loves his God. The importance of this cannot be overstated. The greatest calling upon human beings, and the greatest priority for our faith and relationship with our God is to love Him above all other loves.
In our current religious era, we rarely talk of this priority, even through it is foundation of the Old Testament law and the identified highest priority according to Jesus Himself. Because we rarely if ever talk of this, I believe it is not the functional priority of most adherents to the faith today.
Time and attention are the true measures of our priorities in our faith. Few adherents can honestly say that they give significant time to building a deep and abiding love for God that excels all other loves. And that is the measure, according to Jesus. Our love for God must exceed by a wide margin all other loves, including family and anything of this life and this world (see Matthew 10:37-39).
The blessings of our God flow most freely to those whose love for Him is growing into a consuming passion. The scriptures are clear on this, and yet we ignore this love to our own hurt. We are so distracted and divided in our living and we entertain so many competing loves and interests that we are starving our spirits of a Great Commandment love for our God. Just look at how we spend our time. Just look at our praying, which for most is limited to minutes per day and focused upon giving our God the list of things we want or need from Him. Our prayers are far too often self-serving. Self-service and love are not compatible.
Second, David knows his God. The NIV used here has changed the meaning of the word in the Hebrew for knowing God, mistaking it for acknowledgement of God (“for he acknowledges my name”). That is not the common meaning of the Hebrew term. To know God as the Hebrew word implies is to be intimately and deeply related to Him. It is a term of intimacy as opposed to one of acknowledgement.
One sign of the weakness of current religious practices is the preoccupation with learning facts about our God and His ways as opposed to coming to deep intimacy with Him. Knowing about our God or even acknowledging that He is God is not the same as intimately knowing him.
If we would have confidence in our praying, it will come in part because we are intimately acquainted with our God and are deep into His counsel. And that is to what our God is speaking in this psalm. Such intimacy derives from our consuming love for Him, the commitment of significant relational energy toward Him, and resting in surrender to Him.
Third, David is in the habit of calling upon God. If you read David’s psalms, you will encounter depth and fervency. He is not merely giving His God the shopping list of requests. He is engaging with Him around his deep longings and needs. When our relationship with our God begins to be one of love and intimacy, our praying will change. Calling upon our God will become more and more an expression of love, intimacy, longing and surrender.
As we move deeper into this pandemic, our God desires that we also move into deeper love, intimacy, longing and surrender with Him. He desires that our praying flows from confidence in our hearts because we are deep into intimacy and the counsel of our God.
Perhaps in this potentially frightening time we will find that our God is drawing us all nearer to Himself in love, intimacy, longing and surrender. Then what a gift these difficulties will turn out to be to those who choose to pursue this amazing opportunity.
May we all be found faithful to Him in these times.
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