Weekly Devotion: Praying is Doing
Pray: Ask God to build your faith for prayer. Ask Him to fill you with expectation of mighty answers to prayer.
Text: Psalm 18:1 - 19, 28 - 30, 46 - 50 (ESV)
The LORD Is My Rock and My Fortress
To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David, the servant of the Lord, who addressed the words of this song to the Lord on the day when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. He said:
1 I love you, O Lord, my strength.2 The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. 3 I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised, and I am saved from my enemies. 4 The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me;5 the cords of Sheol entangled me; the snares of death confronted me. 6 In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears.7 Then the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked, because he was angry. 8 Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth; glowing coals flamed forth from him. 9 He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.10 He rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.11 He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water. 12 Out of the brightness before him hailstones and coals of fire broke through his clouds.13 The Lord also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire. 14 And he sent out his arrows and scattered them; he flashed forth lightnings and routed them. 15 Then the channels of the sea were seen, and the foundations of the world were laid bare at your rebuke, O Lord, at the blast of the breath of your nostrils. 16 He sent from on high, he took me; he drew me out of many waters. 17 He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me. 18 They confronted me in the day of my calamity, but the Lord was my support.
“Sure, I’ll pray about [fill in the blank], but what can I do? What is something practical I can do.” Have you ever said or thought something like this? Is there anything wrong with this? Of course, many times we say or think like this when seeking to minister to others in affliction, which is to be commended (and repeated). We are communicating a desire to help in every way we know how. To “attack the problem from every angle”, as it were. We want to see something get done. However, should we make such a sharp distinction between prayer and “the practical”?
Psalm 18 helps us understand the proper balance. David faced frightening enemies, committed to his destruction. He did many things to evade capture and to preserve the lives of those with him. He took action. However, to what or to whom does he attribute his deliverance? What brought about his rescue?
Answer: God delivered David in response to prayer.
David was in an impossible situation (v. 4 - 5). He cried out to God, and God heard him (v. 6). God showed up in a big way! Look at the language David uses to describe God’s response in this passage:
“The earth reeled and rocked...Smoke went up from his nostrils, and devouring fire from his mouth...He bowed the heavens and came down...The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Most High uttered his voice, hailstones and coals of fire...the foundations of the world were laid bare.”
Holy smokes! Literally! God brings all of His might, justice, goodness, severity, and wrath to bear on David’s situation. This isn’t a gentle nudge by a puny god of modern imagination. This is real, ultimate power. This is scary! The Sovereign of the universe bends heaven and earth to rescue His beloved child. God disrupts the typical order of creation, and channels His governance of them to dramatically rescue David. In other words, David’s prayers got a lot done. Prayer was practical. There were results.
What a dramatic deliverance! Before, David was surrounded on every side by enemies, and the very cords of death were coiled around him. Now, he is surrounded on every side by the protection of the Lord. He rests secure in a place of complete safety. He has refuge from the storm. In fact, the one in whom he has taken refuge owns the storm. God gives him grace to face his worst nightmares. David makes it through.
What’s on the other side of this exchange between David’s prayer and God’s response? Glory to God!
46 The Lord lives, and blessed be my rock, and exalted be the God of my salvation— 47 the God who gave me vengeance and subdued peoples under me, 48 who rescued me from my enemies; yes, you exalted me above those who rose against me; you delivered me from the man of violence.49 For this I will praise you, O Lord, among the nations, and sing to your name. 50 Great salvation he brings to his king, and shows steadfast love to his anointed, to David and his offspring forever.
- This passage demonstrates the amazing nature of prayer: We pray, God acts, we get the blessing and deliverance, and He gets the Glory. How does this arrangement encourage you to pray during this season?
- It can be difficult to think of prayer as “doing something practical”. That is, an action we take with the expectation of tangible results. Why do you think we tend to put prayer in the “not practical” category? Is this right?
- Do you usually expect God to answer your prayers? If not, why do you think that is the case?
Pray: Thank God and praise Him for answered prayers in the past. Be specific. Speak your fears and anxieties to God. Don’t hold back. Ask God to do mighty things. Ask God to deliver, provide, save, and change things. Declare your trust in Him.