Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Psalm 17:1-9 Prayer with Confidence

KEY TEXT: Psalms 17:1-5 Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! From your presence let my vindication come! Let your eyes behold the right! You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing; I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress. With regard to the works of man, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.

KEY THOT: David has written in Psalms 66:18, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.” Sin clouds our motives and confuses our will with God’s will. David in this particular psalm has confidence that God will hear his prayer: “Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!” The basis of his confidence is that he speaks with integrity and honesty—no half-truth, hypocrisy, cunning or flattery is found on his lips. In fact, God himself has already “tried my heart”, “visited me by night” and “tested me” (v.3) —and has found nothing perverse in David's heart. David is committed to guard the integrity of his heart so that there is no sin within: "I have purposed that my mouth will not transgress" for he knows that what he speaks reveals the true condition of his heart. If his heart is compromised, he quickly confesses the sin so that he may stay cleansed (purified) from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9). 

When we approach God in our prayer, our heart must be cleansed by confession of our sins: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” (Psalms 139:23-24). Confession must be an integral part of our prayer because sin will block our communication with God: “Behold, the Lord's hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear” (Isaiah 59:1-2). When our hearts are cleansed through confession, we can pray with faith and confidence: “Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him” (1 John 3:21-22). 

So David could petition God with confidence: “attend to my cry!”, “let my vindication come!” and “let your eyes behold the right!” (verses 1-2) because he knows his heart is right before God. There is a direct link between God's hearing our prayers and our obedience to His commandments. Our faith and confidence in God's ability to answer our prayers depends on the integrity of our heart.

If our prayers are not answered, we may consider asking God to first search our hearts to see if there be any wicked way in us. Then we can confess that wickedness and be cleansed of impure motives in our prayers. Only those who are aligned with God's will can pray His will into being in their lives. And for that we need not only to know God's commandments but also wait upon the Holy Spirit to guide us: "
he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God
" (Romans 8:27).  

Father God, may You search me and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me. Lead me in the way everlasting! Amen.

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