One Powerful Reason to Pray

God's Rock-Like Character

Though God’s loving disposition toward us was settled at the cross, our feelings and circumstances often shake our confidence in who God is for us. We think of him as a glorified composite of reluctant benefactors, flawed parents, gracious strangers, and indulgent friends. And we know all too well how quickly human patience grows weary of human weakness.

Perhaps this is why we love Psalm 71. If you’ve wearied a friend with your tears or known the shame of crying hopelessly about that thing for the thousandth time, you begin to understand the power of the psalmist’s declaration and request: “Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come.” In this prayer alone he utters three petitions for deliverance, recounting the rich history of his relationship with the Lord in the process.

In this prayer alone he utters three petitions for deliverance, recounting the rich history of his relationship with the Lord in the process.

Praying to a Faithful God

With each of these petitions, the psalmist declares that he depends “continually” on God. The Hebrew word for this, Tamid, can also be translated “always.” Tamid could be said to be the theme of Psalm 71, but not just because of the tenacity of the psalmist. Much more importantly, the psalmist puts the faithfulness of God on display. We see God actively involved in everything that touches the psalmist’s life—protecting, defending, strengthening, saving, and teaching him. And we get a bird’s-eye view of God at work over the course of a life—from birth to old age.

Though we may be less aware of it than the psalmist, our prayers are also uttered within the framework of a proven relationship. God has proven his faithfulness in our lives, in the lives of our brothers and sisters today, and in the lives of the saints in church history and Scripture no less than in the life of the psalmist.

Dare to Hope

God is not like us; he is unswervingly true to his promise. That’s why we return to Psalm 71 and lean on (and learn from) the prayer of one who is actively rehearsing God’s faithfulness. Through the psalmist’s words of faith, we taste God’s past faithfulness so palpably that present and future faithfulness seem equally sure. As the psalmist remembers and anticipates, we too are swept up in the expectation that such a righteous God will come through in the end.

Let your heart be swept up. Dare to hope. Dare to trust. Dare to believe. And run to God continually. “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Heb. 11:1–3).

This post is adapted from the ESV Women's Devotional Bible with contributions by Michele Bennett Walton.

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