January 18, 2021
1 Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
2 Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; 3 have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
4 Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.
5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
6 Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
7 When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.
8 Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
9 All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.
14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
Prayer in the Hebrew Bible is described as an evolving means of interacting with God. In Wesleyan theology it may be called a “means of grace” by which a clearer understanding of the Lord’s will can be revealed. It has been said that prayer changes things. However, the real and visible change may often come to the person offering petitions of confession, intercession and thanksgiving.
Scripture teaches that we are to do everything with prayer. We are instructed in Philippians chapter 4 to not worry about anything. We are to tell God what we need, and be thankful for what has already been received. Another scripture says whoever comes to the Lord (in prayer) must believe that God exists and rewards those who diligently seek God. (Hebrews 11)
In the passage from Psalm 86, David acknowledges his own poverty and need for God. He seeks divine protection and confesses a personal desire for mercy. He is asking for restoration of joy.
You and I may identify with those who have things of material value but continue to feel empty and alone. Jesus taught that a person’s life does not consist of the abundance of things possessed. We can discover life’s full joy by trusting our Creator God and believing that all things are possible through faith.
David was convinced of God’s love for all people. In verse 9, he says “All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name. You are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.”
David, who was known as a man after God’s own heart, wanted to rely on the faithfulness of God, and possessed a teachable spirit. In our Christian liturgy, we confess that we have not loved God with our whole heart, and have not loved our neighbors. We have failed to be an obedient church. Then our prayer is for forgiveness and unity with God and others around us.
In order to do this with honesty and transparency, we must rely on the faithfulness of God and strive for an undivided heart. We can live in the assurance that all goodness abides in God, and our lives are hidden in that goodness.
The prayer of David concludes by once again trusting in mercies that are new every morning. He does not fear earthly enemies, and offers thanks that God is his comfort. May we have that same assurance that God loves everyone unconditionally and extends comfort to all who are in need.