Confidence in the Face of Fear (Part 3—Prayer)
Pastor, East Marion Baptist Church
Hear, O Lord, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! 8 You have said, “Seek[d] my face.” My heart says to you,“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”[e] 9 Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! 10 For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the Lord will take me in. 11 Teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.12 Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence.
Having declared our confidence in God in verses 1-3, and having guided us to worship in verses 4-6, David now leads us to prayer in the face of fear. There are three things David does of importance here.
First, he declares the promises of God. God has told him to seek his face, so David comes to God saying, “I’m seeking your face. Don’t turn me away.” In essence, he is calling on the faithfulness of God, as it says in Hebrews 13:5, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
He calls him the “God of my salvation.” God’s character has been and always will be a saving character, and we can remind him of that in prayer. As Paul says in Romans 8:32 – “He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things.”
Second, he names his situation. And the language that David uses is one of great destitution. He says, “My father and my mother have forsaken me.” This is a way of saying that he has lost all of his social supports. Everything that was there to prop him up is gone, so the Lord is all that he has. We are in a situation that feels eerily similar. So let us too call out to God.
And then lastly, he is driven to pray for his own obedience – “teach me your way, O Lord, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies.” This seems out of place. David is facing a great threat, and he is driven to pray for his own relationship with God?
It reminds me of the story of Horatio Spafford who wrote the classic hymn “It Is Well.” Horatio’s daughters had been killed in a shipwreck on a trip to Britain. On his voyage across the sea to meet up with his wife after this tragedy, the ship captain came down to Horatio’s cabin to inform him that their ship was now at the approximate location of the shipwreck.
Horatio went up to the deck of the ship and looked out over the heartless waters and penned these words. “When peace like a river attendeth my soul, when sorrows like sea billows role, whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, it is well with my soul.” Beautiful words of great faith in a time of great grief and fear. But it is what comes next that is surprising. Horatio goes on to write, “My sin, O the bliss of this glorious thought, my sin not in part but the whole, was nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, praise the Lord it is well with my soul.”
When we face such things as this, the wise man is driven to consider our own hearts before the Lord. We recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
As we call out to God in prayer, let us do so in humble reliance upon him in our need, but also in sober reflection of our greater spiritual need that is only met by the shed blood and resurrected body of Jesus!