Scripture: There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours. All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name. For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God. Psalm 86:8-10 ESV
Observation: The compiler of this third book of the Psalms (73-89) notes that the 86th psalm is a prayer of David. Its structure follows a typical chiastic format of an ending that mirrors the introduction with a buildup to its center point for emphasis. And at its center are the above three verses. David, passionate for his Lord, declares that there is none like him, that he alone is God. And for this reason, all the nations of the earth, who find their existence in him, will come and worship Yahweh and bring him glory.
And being mindful of God’s steadfast love, goodness, forgiveness, mercy, grace, and faithfulness (verses 5, 13, and 15), David is bold to ask the Lord to strengthen and deliver him from his enemies and be gracious to him—gladdening his soul (verses 3-4, and 16). Lastly, David bookends the prayer petitioning Yahweh to listen to his servant who trusts in him (verse 1-2) and show him a sign of his favor (verse 17).
Takeaway: So David twice asks Yahweh to listen to him and then requests confirmation. Is he being impertinent? On the contrary, David sincerely talks to his Creator with expectations that match his knowledge of and trust in his Lord. He does not presume on the Lord’s grace and goodness but expresses gratitude. David does not take Yahweh’s steadfast love for granted but relies on it. And he knows that there are no other gods to which he can turn for help.
But if God is sovereign and the outcome is inevitable (as verses 8-10 imply), why does David pray? Because prayer is an extension of his relationship with the Lord that works through him, changing his perspective. As C.S. Lewis similarly contends, “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God, it changes me.”
God has given us the gift of prayer for our benefit: it keeps us connected to the One who loves us and died for us, and it changes how we see our present circumstances—transforming our fear and anger to love, our sorrow and despair to hope, and our bitterness to joy.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for the gift of prayer. Knowing that prayer is a lifeline to you and changes us from glory to glory, would you please inspire us to find creative ways to pray to you throughout each day? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling