How would you rate your prayer life? Are your prayers being answered? Do you think your prayers are effective?
Elijah was a man just like we are. He prayed earnestly that there’d be no rain. God answered his prayer and it didn’t rain for over three years. Then, he prayed again and God sent rain. (James 5:17-18) Elijah’s prayer was toward the end result. He wanted the effect of his prayer to come to pass. He prayed, was approved by God, and got his prayer answered on multiple occasions.
Another man in the Bible who was a passionate prayer was David. There were circumstances in David’s life that made him desperate for God. At one time in Psalm 143, David even describes himself as being desolate. He was forlorn, dismayed, appalled, isolated, bare, bleak, dreary. His circumstance in life had sucked him dry.
In this dry and desperate situation, what did David do? What were his actions? What can we learn about prayer from this man of humanity – like us?
Lesson One: Know Who You Are Talking To In Prayer
David considered the One to whom he was praying to be a God of faithfulness and righteousness. He addressed God as the “loyal one” who does everything “right”. David asked God to hear what he was speaking to Him not because of what David was saying, who David was, nor because of David’s dire situation. Instead, David requested a hearing before God because of God’s character of trustworthiness and justice.
- Hear my prayer . . . in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. (Psalm 143:1)
- Thou art my God: thy spirit is good. (Psalm 143:10)
- I am thy servant. (Psalm 143:12)
Lesson Two: Plea for Mercy
David understood God was not required to answer him. The fact that David was a sinner coming before a holy God was at the forefront of his mind. Before David was able to ask for help for his current situation, he needed to ask for mercy from God whom he had trespassed from his youth. David understood all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23) David’s approaching God was not on the merits of David’s goodness, but on the merits of God’s mercy toward David.
- Enter not into judgment with they servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. (Psalm 143:2)
- Of thy mercy cut off mine enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul. (143:12)
Lesson Three: Tell God All Your Problems – Causes Too
David told God what was making him so discouraged, parched, weary, overrun, dismayed. An enemy was after him. The enemy had worn him down. All the light David had was gone because the enemy had caused it to be shut out. He was way down in sorrow and despair with no life left in him.
NOTE: It is important that we understand the enemies we face today may not be people or people groups like David faced in Bible times. The three main categories of our enemies are The World, The Flesh, and The Devil. These are the systems, faculties, and dominions that tear us down, destroy us, and seek to end our very existence. These are the ones who fight against God and if we are on God’s side, they are fighting against us too. (Ephesians 2:1-3, I John 4:4, John 16:33)
What David experienced, he stated. He expressed his feelings, his thoughts, his circumstance, his needs, and all that was causing him problems.
- The enemy has persecuted my soul; he hath smitten my life down to the ground; he hath made to dwell in darkness, as those that have been long dead. (Psalm 143:3)
- Therefore, my spirit is overwhelmed within me; my heart within me is desolate. (Psalm 143:4)
- My spirit faileth. (Psalm 143:7)
Lesson Four: Force Yourself Toward God
David used his memory, thoughts, body, and very life to reach toward God. He rehearsed in his memory what God had done in the past. The accomplishments God had performed from of old were readily in his memory. He thought thoroughly about all the works God had done since before the creation of the world. Physically, he reached up his hand as a way to reach out and touch God recognizing God was higher and wiser. Desire controlled him as he longed for God to come meet his desperate need. David trusted God and showed his trust by his moving himself closer to Him.
NOTE: Reading the first few chapters of Genesis is a great way to remember the works of the Lord. You can see how the Lord didn’t depend on anything to make the world and everything in it. The chapters will demonstrate for you how God created from nothing, made distinctions, worked with ease, gentleness, accuracy, authority, and order. God took emptiness and made something beautiful. We can force ourselves toward God with the same expectation that He will take the voids in our life and make something beautiful.
David passed the time of his desperation with fresh visions of God’s past accomplishments, works, and attempts to reach the God who could do the same for his dreary existence. He flees unto Him, lifts up his soul to God, and puts his trust in God.
- I will remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands. I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. (Psalm 143:5-6)
- In thee do I trust. . . I lift up my soul unto thee. (Psalm 143:8)
- I flee unto thee to hide me. (Psalm 143:9)
Lesson Five: Tell God What You Need Him To Do
David petitioned God for what he needed. At times David told God the benefit of providing what he asked. At other times, David warned God of the danger that would accompany not giving what was asked. David asked God for specific things, not a general “help me”. David had thought through his situation and presented to God a list of things that would aid him in his need.
The order of priority David asked God for what he needed is remarkable. David didn’t just ask for deliverance, he first wanted God’s hearing, God’s answer, God’s presence, and God’s voice. David knew that if he had these 4 things of God, he’d be able to make it. The prayer of David didn’t stop with those four things. Instead David made his prayer effective by praying to the end . . . have his enemies destroyed.
- Hear my prayer. Give ear to my supplication. Answer me. (Psalm 143:1)
- Hear me speedily. Hide not thy face (presence) from me. (Psalm 143:7)
- Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning. Cause me to know the way wherein I should walk. (Psalm 143:8)
- Deliver me from my enemies. (Psalm 143:9)
- Teach me to do thy will. Lead me into the land of uprightness. (Psalm 143:10)
- Quicken me . . .bring my soul out of trouble. (Psalm 143:11)
- Cut off my enemies, and destroy all them that afflict my soul. (Psalm 143:12)
David ended this prayer with his allegiance to God – “I am thy servant”. In doing this, David left the results in God’s hands. David had asked God to hear quickly and answer. There is no record how quickly God answered David’s prayer. David continually stretched himself toward God to be aligned with Him.
In your praying, use these five lessons learned from the passionate prayer. Know that when you pray with fervency, God hears and answers. Elijah who prayed and it rained again . . . prayed 7 times before it rained. (1 Kings 18:42-45) The number 7 in the Bible means completion. He prayed until it was completed. I encourage you to keep praying . . . until the completion of your prayers is effective.
Written by: Anne Gurley (5/11/21)