The Intersection of Our Desires and Our Prayers

Psalm 71Sometimes there’s an interesting discrepancy between our prayers and our desires.  

When I read Psalm 71, I am once again struck by what feels like the Psalmist’s selfishness (and maybe anxiety?). It is another in a long string of Psalms in which David and other Psalmists pray for God’s protection, for their enemies to be defeated, and for their own victories.


It just gets a little old to be honest.


But then I think about some of the most beloved stories in the Bible. Like when God protects Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Or when God parts the sea so that the Israelites may cross on dry ground and flee from the pursuing Egyptians. Or when Jesus stops the storm that is scaring the disciples. Or when the very same David who writes many of the Psalms stands up against a giant, and wins.


We love it when God shows Himself faithful. When He protects and strengthens and upholds those who are following Him.


And if we are honest, don’t we want that for ourselves, too?


Because it’s much easier to talk about God’s faithfulness when He helps us stay married than His faithfulness when He is present with us in the midst of a divorce. God’s protection when He helps us heal from our illnesses is more clear than His protection of our hearts in the midst of the pain.


The intersection of life and faith is messy. It would be nice if once in awhile God would clean it up a little.


Sometimes we are afraid to admit that.


Maybe it’s because we’re afraid God won’t come through if we are bold enough to pray for things like healing and protection and victory. Maybe it’s because it feels somehow selfish to pray those things for ourselves.


But I want to more often. I want to mix the “but even if God doesn’t save us” faith of the three in the furnace, and the audacious request of the Psalmist who says,


“In you, Lord, I have taken refuge;     let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me;     turn your ear to me and save me.” – Psalm 71:1-2


And as the “I will praise You no matter what” attitude mixes with the “show up and prove me right” hope, I dream I will be the kind of person who will boldly declare God’s faithfulness like this,


“Your righteousness, God, reaches to the heavens,     you who have done great things.     Who is like you, God? Though you have made me see troubles,     many and bitter,     you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth     you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor     and comfort me once more.” – Psalm 71:19-21


Show Yourself faithful, O God, because I know that You are.


That was my reflection on Psalm 71. Please link up your own reflection below! And join the #PsalmsJourney community next week with a reflection on Psalm 72.