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Praying to Our God Who Hears and Acts - Psalm 86

Our God hears and acts!

There are many Psalms in the Bible in which the author tells his fellow Israelites, or even the nations around, about God, and his character and actions.  Think of Psalm 18 as one example, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge” (18:2).  Then there are some Psalms in which the Psalmist speaks to God about God.  Psalm 86 is one of the clearest examples of this kind


Through David’s words in this Psalm, we are reminded much about the character of God, but perhaps most especially that God hears and answers when we call to him.

We don’t know the detail of the distress that Israel’s King David finds himself in as he writes this Psalm, but verse 14 suggests there is a very real threat to his life!  In this moment of trial, David finds comfort in God’s goodness and mercy, and in the confidence has that God will act.

While COVID-19 restrictions are easing, and some of us are even thinking about going away on summer holidays, there are still times of concern and anxiety for many. For some it’s fear of illness.  Others in our church family are mourning the passing of loved ones.  Some fear the loss of jobs, and the financial implications of lockdown.

What a time to be reminded of our God who hears and acts!

As with each of the Psalms in this series, I have expanded upon each verse in a prayer. You might like to pray on your own, or with your small group, or together with others in your household.

Psalm 86
A prayer of David.

Hear me, Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Gracious Lord, you know our true state, and our real needs, even as our own assessment of these things is so often warped by our sin.

Guard my life, for I am faithful to you; save your servant who trusts in you.
As Peter said to Jesus, “you have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68). There is no one and nothing else we can trust in for salvation, security, and provision.

You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord, for I call to you all day long.
You have made us your own, and we can approach you as dearly loved children.  In your mercy, hear our prayers, we ask.

Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
We thank you that the deeper our trust in you, the greater the depth of our joy, so make us truly joyful, we ask!

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you.
We don’t deserve your love, yet you pour it out on us, forgiving us in Christ Jesus, enabling us not just to be saved from sin, but to know you and understand your goodness.

Hear my prayer, Lord; listen to my cry for mercy.
Not because we deserve it, but for your glory, we ask you to act – to work all things for our good (Romans 8:28).

When I am in distress, I call to you, because you answer me.
Whether it’s anxiety in the face of illness or death, loneliness and isolation, financial difficulty, or relational turmoil, this season has caused much distress. May our first response be to call on you, confident that you hear and answer.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord; no deeds can compare with yours.
Guard us from the temptation to put our trust in anyone or anything, though they look dependable and reliable to our tired eyes.

All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, Lord; they will bring glory to your name.
How we long for the day, when all nations come to worship you. Use us now, towards that end, through our words, our invitations, and a godly life that commends the gospel of Jesus.

10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds; you alone are God.
Father, we have learnt that who you are, and what you do, are beyond comparison to any other. Forgive us when we exchange your glory, for created things (Romans 1:23).

11 Teach me your way, Lord, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.
Use the challenges and difficulties we face, to draw us closer to you, to deepen our confidence in your goodness and trustworthiness, and to grow us in our understanding of who you are.

12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart; I will glorify your name forever.
Whether in difficult times, or in good times, may the whole of our life be lived to the praise of your name!

13 For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths, from the realm of the dead.
We praise you that when we were dead in our transgressions and sins (Ephesians 2:1), you saved us and raised us up in Christ, seating us in the heavenly realms – this is the status we enjoy now.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God; ruthless people are trying to kill me— they have no regard for you.
We know that many who oppose the name of Jesus will hate us (John 15:8), and we pray especially for brothers and sisters around the world, who die for their obedience to Jesus and their faithfulness to his call.

15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
What wonderful words to hear Lord, when we’re tired, anxious, or frustrated at our own sin. There is always grace to help us in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

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.
The mercy and sacrifice that David looked forward to with such confidence, we look back on with awe and wonder; you acted for your people, to save us from our sin.

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.
Thank you that in Jesus, we can see and know you; your glory and goodness are made known.D