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The Intent to Pray – Psalm 57:2

Hebrew_bible_4Psalm 57 begins with a cry to God for mercy: “God help me!” Human nature being what it is, there is no prayer more basic to our experience. It may not be the ideal prayer. But, it’s the most common one. There isn’t a person living who hasn’t at some time in their life cried out: “God help me” — even if they weren’t certain whether there was Anyone or anything to whom to cry.

But, the prayer in verse 1 is not just general, it is also very personal and intimate: “…for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge….”

This is followed by a statement of intent. In a sense, this statement implies a rationale for prayer.

אֶקְרָא לֵאלֹהִים עֶלְיוֹן לָאֵל גֹּמֵר עָלָי
“I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me.” (NASB).

Why do we pray? Why is it even possible or appropriate to bring our personal requests and needs to God? Because God accomplishes things for us, in answer to our requests.

Prayer operates on a hypothesis. As it says in Hebrews 11:6: “…for whoever would approach [God] must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” As we walk with God, and find our faith confirmed in experience, our trust grows stronger and deeper. We say to ourselves: “God has not failed me in the past. God will not fail me now.” So, it is in this instance. Experience has produced confidence. God is the One who brings things to pass.

prayer4It seems strange at first glance that the initial cry of mercy is followed by a declaration of intent: “I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me.” But, the idea here is that at all times — and especially in times of need and stress — the psalmist intends to call upon God.

Think about it. Prayer is often a last resort for us. When all other sources of help have been exhausted, then we seek out the place of prayer — and request the prayers of others. This verse says it should be more of a first resort.

Sometimes a church gets involved in a visioning process. And, sometimes this is fruitful and sometimes it isn’t. But, for a lot of people this process is frustrating — even maddening. It’s a process of reflection and prayer. It will be fruitful only as people seek God and God’s will. But, it’s hard. Our impulse is to do, to go get ideas from somewhere, to make a plan, etc. — sadly, our first impulse is not the impulse to pray.

Sometimes we are in the waiting time. But, it is those who wait upon the Lord who find strength.

But, someone who says: “I will cry to God Most High, To God who accomplishes all things for me” is someone who resorts to God in all circumstances. This is someone who has the intent to pray.

If I have the intent to pray I will rise in the morning and seek God. If I have the intent to pray I will find times during the day to seek God. I will be bold enough to ask — for myself and for others. I will look expectantly for answers.


Lord God
we praise you for your steadfast love and mercy.

We have learned from experience to trust You.
We have found You to be faithful.
We have found in You a continual source of hope and life.

Keep us in the place of prayer.
In uncertain times, keep us in prayer.
In times of joy and fulfillment, keep us in prayer.

We seek You now.
It is our intent to seek you always.

Our God
who may always to be found
in Jesus Christ. Amen.

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