Why Should God Answer My Prayer?
by Mark D. Roberts (reprinted with permission)
In Psalm 143, David cries out to the Lord for help. He is being harassed by his enemies and is growing more and more discouraged. God alone will be able to deliver him and to direct his steps in the right direction. But why should the Lord respond to David’s pleas? What case can David make for God to listen to him and to help?
In situations like that of David, we are sometimes tempted to barter with God. “Bail me out this time, Lord,” we pray, “and I promise that I’ll serve you in the future.”
We might even try pointing to our good intentions or behavior: “You should help me, Father, because I have been faithful to you and have been living rightly.”
But in Psalm 143, David acknowledges that he has nothing in himself to persuade God to answer his prayers. The Lord alone provides the secure basis for answered prayer.
Thus David prays, “Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous.” Not “Answer me because I am faithful and righteous,” but “Because you are faithful and righteous.”
To be sure, our faith matters to God. Jesus himself connects faith with answered prayer (for example, Mark 11:24). But beneath our faith, undergirding it and strengthening it, is the rock-solid faithfulness of God.
Thus, even when our confidence in the Lord falters, even when our behavior is anything but faithful, we still cry out to God. Our prayers depend, not upon ourselves, but upon our God who is faithful and righteous, gracious and merciful.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION:
When you pray, how do you envision the God who hears your prayers? What in God’s character helps you to pray?
Gracious God, thank you for the privilege of praying to you. I can so easily take this for granted. Yet, when I step back and think, I’m amazed that you allow me to speak with you, that you care about my thoughts and feelings, even that you invite my prayers.Yet I also thank you that I come before you in prayer, not because of my worthiness, but because of your unique worth. You, Lord, are indeed faithful and righteous. You are trustworthy and true. When I fail you, you never fail me.All praise be to you, O God, because you do indeed hear my plea! Amen.
Mark D. Roberts
Rev.Dr. Mark D. Roberts is Senior Advisor and Theologian-in-Residence of Foundations for Laity Renewal, a multifaceted ministry in the Hill Country of Texas and the parent organization of Laity Lodge. He has written several books, including his most recent: Can We Trust the Gospels? (Crossway, 2007)He blogs at http://www.patheos.com/community/markdroberts, and writes a daily devotional for http://www.thehighcalling.org.
- How Should I Pray? (underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com)
- What If Your Soul Is Hard As Rock? (underthecoverofprayer.wordpress.com)
- Pray Over Every Decision (writersfield.wordpress.com)