When we look at how to pray there is a lot to be learned from the Psalms. Too often we look at the Lord's Prayer as recorded in Matthew 6 and use it as the model for our prayer lives and I agree that Jesus provided the disciples and us with a superb model to follow. However, we have taken that prayer and made it into something we say often like a bedtime or mealtime prayer were it has been memorized and very little energy is applied to it. We do it out of habit like many things we do as Christians. Yet when we look at the prayer life of individuals like King David and we realize what James means when he says:
16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
James 5:16 (KJV)
You see we can see the prayer of David in Psalm 86 and recognize a man who is seeking to reach God. He recognizes that apart from God he is nothing. He pleads with God to hear His prayers.
1 Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. 2 Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in youyou are my God. 3 Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.
Psalms 86:1-3 (ESV)
Have you ever found yourself praying with that hard or with that much passion? We all can think of times when life has thrown something at us that has driven us to our knees. The problem is we don't often stay there after God hears and answers them. King David explains that in the prayer it has to do with a simple thing we have a divided heart. King David who was known as a man after God's own heart was still just a man. In verse 11 David prays:
11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.
Psalms 86:11 (ESV)
The New Living Translation words it this way:
11 Teach me your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to your truth! Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor you.
Psalms 86:11 (NLT)
Is your heart and prayers going before God from a unified and pure heart or is there some sense of doubt or unrepentant sin that hides within your heart. David was not a perfect man he was adultery and a murderer. However, God saw his true nature and restored David to his position not just physically but spiritually. But it required David having a pure and unified heart that only God can give to someone.
It's easy to become divided in heart because often what we want in our lives is worldly and what God desires for us is greater than that we just can't see it. Today I want to challenge you that in your prayer life begin by praying for the unified and pure heart. So that as you pray your prayers will not be about your will but about God's will for your life. Jesus argued with the Pharisees when they accused Him of working miracles through the power of Satan that, "A house divided cannot stand" Mark 3:25. The same thing applies to us. Is your heart divided between what the world offers and what God promises? I pray that today you ask God to unify your heart and make your motives pure as you walk in the Light of His Word.
Rev. Brian H. Mathis CSC
Ordained Minister Church of God, Cleveland TN
Currently serving as the Associate Pastor of Discipleship at Westminster Baptist Church
Graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary MDiv in Chaplain Studies