Short Meditations in Psalms: 3.4a …and pray!
Psa 3:4 To the LORD I cry aloud, and he answers me from his holy hill.
In this very simple verse there are two very simple and yet very profound things to be considered. This is all about prayer – “To the Lord I cry aloud.” The sense behind this is that this is real heart anguish that has to be expressed in words out loud, but not mere words, a cry. I suspect that the truth is that initially at least, people never pray until they sense a need and the greater the need the greater the prayer effort. In dire crisis the survival instinct kicks in with a heartfelt cry of anguish.
I have read many books on prayer, many of them very good and very helpful but this verse strips away all the extras and leaves us with the fundament heart of prayer – a need that has come to the end of its human resources and turns to the One we hope is there who, for many of us, is otherwise unknown in life. But a crisis strips away all pretence and even the most hardened atheist has been known to cry out to God on their death bed.
We may start our life of prayer (which it may become) with this tremendous sense of need. Maybe that need passes away but we are left with the reminder that He is there and He takes that opportunity, and through a variety of ways draws us to a place of conviction where we realise we need His salvation through Jesus Christ. Thus we enter into a relationship with Him and prayer becomes a natural element of that relationship. Not always easy – for sometimes He feels a million miles away – but that only accentuates the need and makes us cry out even more.
‘Talking to God’, for that is what prayer is, is both the most simple and most profound thing we do in life. I confess that although I do it every day, purposely first thing every morning, and then in times of natural response or simple need during the course of the day, I still find it the greatest mystery of my Christian life. Why should I tell God all my worries, my fears and my doubts when He knows everything there is to know and so knows them even before I utter them? The answer is humbling: prayer is for my benefit not His. As I pour out those things so it seems He ministers to me and the worry, fear or doubt abates. I haven’t heard Him – that comes later – it just seems that somehow, maybe it is His peace of His presence, He ministers to me and the strife filters away. I struggle with repeating the same things day after day sometimes, yet the truths remain the same, I need Him to daily cleanse me and daily fill with me with His Spirit. And then comes the listening side which we’ll consider in the next meditation.