I totally felt this way on Sunday night, having been in the first day of our stay-at-home-order. I had a growing sense of anxed in the pit of my stomach, and I realised...I felt locked down within, and it wasn't pleasant!
It was 10:30pm at night, and I was feeling as wired as ever. So I went for a walk. This is my way of getting moving (when I feel stuck), getting energy out, and getting clarity prayer-walking with the Lord. God, faithful as He is when we seek Him, brought me some much needed clarity as began this stay-at-home work week.
As I was thinking about how I could encourage us, the Lord reminded me of David's experience in Psalm 18. Quite the dramatic Psalm, David speaks of his overwhelm, of God's might moving on his behalf, and then he declares so eloquently what the Lord did next:
"He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the LORD was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me." [Psalm 18:16–19]
Now it would be extreme to equate our current lockdown restrictions to being attacked by strong and powerful army forces, but that's not quite the parallel I'm seeking to draw. Rather, the encouragement for us is this - that God, Almighty God Himself, responds to our overwhelm personally! Psalm 18 is all about David being hemmed in on all sides, crying out to the Lord, and finding deliverance and brought out into a "spacious place".
For the Claustrophobic Among Us
David's testimony of God's mighty response to his "locked-in" condition is faith-building. So how do we break through our anxed, our fear, or our sense of being "locked-in" - no matter whether it is because of our current circumstances, or whenever it might strike in our lives?
Praise God for Who He Is - Notice how David starts this Psalm: "The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold." (Psalm 18:2) You can feel the strength of this declaration, as you read each phrase and line. And this is the secret to strength in hard times - finding the truest source of strength. And God is always and unceasingly our sure source! Even more importantly - God's strength CANNOT be affected by the changing circumstances of our lives and times. So as we focus our hearts on praising God for who He is - our anxed is replaced with awe and wonder in who God is, for us, right here and now!
Cry for Help (Pray) - David does not deny his need. After freshly beholding the Lord in His greatness and strength, David gets straight to it: "In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help." (Psalm 18:6a)
Be Assured of His Answer - In the second portion of verse 6, David continues: "From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears." (Psalm 18:6b) David is without doubt as to God's response to his cry for help. He is heard, and then we read on from verse 7, of God's powerful answering response.
But...Will God Answer Me?
This is a question that has assailed me many times. And it is a real one. Does God really take such close notice of my life, as to answer me like He answers David here in Psalm 18?
Let me offer a response by way of pointing to the regular teaching of Jesus in the Gospels. It is powerful to note that Jesus often taught like this in order to build our faith to seek God and expect powerful answers. Check out these two passages, as examples, that indicate to us just how Jesus wants to respond to our cries and prayers:
"Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer.” (Matthew 21:21–22)
"Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him with the plea, ‘Grant me justice against my adversary.’ “For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself, ‘Even though I don’t fear God or care what people think, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won’t eventually come and attack me!’ And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:1–8)
What can we say about God's desire towards our prayers? He clearly wants us to pray, with expectation that He will answer us.
You Can Pray Anywhere, Anytime
Here's the biggest deal about prayer - prayer cannot ever be "locked-down." You can seek God, cry out to God, and experience His answers anywhere, anytime. Prayer is the single most powerful, important, and constantly accessible form of agency you and I have in this life as followers of Jesus.
So, this week - choose to praise God, cry out, and be assured - God's mighty answers through Jesus Christ are on the way. miracle of miracles, God may provide immediately in answer to your cries!!! He's capable, and willing! Don't underestimate the power of your prayers before the living God!
Let's get praying church!
Written by Ps. Rob