Daily Devotional February 1st
“They called for help, but no one came to their rescue. They even cried to the LORD, but he refused to answer.” (Psalm 18:41)
I noticed this curious verse in my Bible reading this morning. David is in the process of praising God for rescuing him and vanquishing his enemies. What caught my eye, was the phrase, “They even cried to the Lord…” Those who had stood in opposition to David, God’s anointed, were in fact those from the community of faith. So why did God refuse to answer them? Because their prayers opposed God’s will. They lacked discernment. I think there is definitely a lesson in this relatively obscure sentence for us today.
We need discernment when we pray or we may end up finding our prayers ignored. It is good to spend much time praying and we are encouraged to be like the persistent widow, who did not let up on her petitions to the judge and therefore had her request granted (Luke 18:1-8). However, if our prayers are taken up with all the things we want, things that in our wisdom we have concluded are best, but in fact do not line up with God’s will, our words will return unanswered…or with an emphatic, ‘No!’ God loves it when we pray, but if our prayers stand in opposition to how He intends to work—what He has deemed is best, we may find ourselves frustrated and accuse God of not caring. But this is so far from the truth…
Our perspective on the world is limited to what can be seen through a pin-hole compared to God’s all-encompassing vision. Nothing is outside of His knowledge, so when we presume we know what is best and pray to that end without first asking the Holy Spirit to give us understanding and to direct our prayers, we can potentially set ourselves up for disappointment. As genuine and well-meaning as we think we might be, we should also note some other words of David’s, “How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults” (Psalm 19:12). To assume that we will always know how best to pray is not only misguided, but entirely arrogant.
Paul encouraged his readers in his letter to the Romans, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (Romans 8:26-27). If those who had opposed David had understood this truth, how different their prayers might have been. How would our attitudes and prayers shift in focus if we too believed this truth?
God is our loving heavenly Father and He loves to respond to us as we seek Him; He has no interest, however, in simply granting our every desire. Those of us who are parents know that it is never wise to give our children everything they ask for. We, like children, often lack discernment in our asking and do not understand the full ramifications should our every desire be granted. God wants what is best. He has a plan. It is good to pray. Prayer for discernment is needed. It is then that we can pray with confidence, knowing that our prayers line up with His plans because of the Spirit’s guidance in our lives.
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!