Songs for the Road: The Psalms of Ascent: Day 15

The Active Discipline of Hope


Today's Text: Psalm 130:1-8

Scripture Reading: Psalm 130

The Christian life is a climb—a journey of constant growth, sacrifice, and trusting God for what we cannot see. As Eugene Peterson said, we are pilgrims, but we are also disciples—always moving and always learning. The Psalms of Ascent (Psalms 120-134) were sung by worshipers as they made the journey up to Jerusalem for the annual feasts. In this 3-week reading plan, we are digging into these traveling songs with the help of short summary essays and thoughtful, reflective questions for each psalm. Take your pack on your shoulder and walk with us as we pursue God together.


Psalm 130 (CSB)
A song of ascents.

1 Out of the depths I call to you, LORD!
2 Lord, listen to my voice;
let your ears be attentive
to my cry for help.

3 LORD, if you kept an account of iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that you may be revered.

5 I wait for the LORD; I wait
and put my hope in his word.
6 I wait for the Lord
more than watchmen for the morning —
more than watchmen for the morning.

7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD.
For there is faithful love with the LORD,
and with him is redemption in abundance.
8 And he will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.


A Song of Hope
The pilgrim-disciple cries out from the depths, placing her hope in God’s forgiving love.

This is a song of repentance for not trusting in the forgiveness God offers. If God were to hold our sin against us, we could not enter into His presence. But God’s mercy beckons us to come to Him. The God who forgives is to be revered and trusted. We depend on God, and in Christ He gives us everything we need to know Him and worship Him without fear.

1. The opening verse of this psalm has an urgency to it. The pilgrim-disciple is asking the Lord to hear her cries for mercy. What is typically your most urgent prayer? Why?

2. Do you believe your sin makes it so that, apart from God’s mercy, you could not stand before Him? Do you believe He shows mercy and forgives? Why or why not?

3. This is a corporate song—one believers would sing together. What impact would it have on a community if every member believed they needed God’s mercy, and trusted that God gives it? In what ways do you add strength to your community by believing in the mercy and forgiveness we have in Christ?


  • Usually my most urgent prayers would be that God would take away my anxiety or ease it. I usually pray this prayer repeatedly at night when I feel the most anxious or when I feel an anxiety attack coming on or am in the middle of one. I feel desperate and I want the anxious feelings to disappear. I definitely have days when I am fine and I thank God for those times, but then the prayers to erase my anxiety pop up again sometimes.

    • She Reads Truth

      Praying for you in this, Molly. Asking the Lord to ease your anxiety and to remind you that He is always present. So grateful for you.

      – Stormye

    • Sissy

      May the Holy Spirit fill every nook and cranny of your being. May the peace that passes all understanding wash over you. And may the Lord be a shield through which the enemy cannot penetrate. Each day I try to have a piece of scripture or a few words of truth in the back of my mind ( ‘I even rite them on an index card and carry in my pocket) so when those anxious thoughts try to take over I can replace them with truth. It’s almost impossible to just “not be anxious” – you have to replace it with truth/Holy power.

  • My most urgent prayers are repeated every night- forgiveness for smoking. I want to stop, I have tried for years and I feel so broken that it hasn’t happened yet. I feel like a failure every night and question whether or not I am even a Christian- shouldn’t I be strong enough? I’ve tried to let God be strong for me but I get in his way. It’s like I do it without thinking. Oh, I am so ready to be done. My heart it willing but I am so weak. It’s the worst. But nightly I go to Him, asking forgiveness yet again…

    • Lex

      Keep praying and believing. God is good. God is all-powerful. He is faithful and sticks to His promises. There hasn’t been a promise He didn’t keep.

    • Beth L.

      Allie, God does love you and wants you to have victory over the smoking that controls you. But He also expects us to be wise and do our part. That can seem impossible, but being wise means to seek help, alternatives, ect. Do not buy any cigarettes ever. If you do not have them, you cannot smoke them. Find someone that can be your accountability partner to ask you every few days how you are doing. Hen you feel weak and want to give in to the urge call your accountability partner to give you encouragement to get through the rough patch, no matter how many times it takes. When you do “fall”, pick yourself back up and keep on. Pretty soon there should be bigger and bigger lengths of time that you aren’t smoking. It will be a process but you will begin to have bigger and bigger victories until you have won the battle. These are just a few things to try, there are many other things that you can do. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom. Some things work better for some people and other things for others. Turn to the Lord during the weak moments and ask Him to strengthen you and give you other practical ideas for getting victory one day at a time. Praying for you, Allie, and I am sure many other SRTers are also.

    • Amelia

      “If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities, O LORD, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared.” Allie take courage in that you are not alone. We each stand in this place of begging for God’s mercy at the days end. But he is not tallying up your iniquities against you. In him there is forgiveness. I pray that the refreshing that comes from complete forgiveness would wash over you anew.

  • I have always been raised Christian but I’m in my early twenties and struggling to know and draw near to God for myself. I want that connection of my own and a strong relationship that I have worked to build with God. That’s why I’m thankful for these studies. My biggest cry to Him is for my father’s sobriety and my parents’ marriage and health. I am an only child and they are quite older. I often feel lonely and worried about them and I’m praying that He heals them inside and out and protects my biggest blessings.

    • Britt

      Kelsey, sweet friend I am lifting you up in encouragement this morning! I to continuously pray for my father to be freed from addiction to drugs and alcohol! I also continuously pray for my parents marriage for my whole life I have seen them struggle to show one another love like the love we are shown! But can I just encourage you don’t grow weary for our strength is found in the Lord and through the Lord I only will he sings be healed!

      I can happily say that after 21 years of my dad being addicted to drugs and alcohol he is now 130 days clean which is the longest he’s ever been clean for. It is worth celebrating! So don’t give up don’t give up on God because he has a plan !

  • Heather Legge

    My most urgent prayers are that my girls are returned to me by their father who has made it his goal to punish me over the last three years by keeping them from me.

    • Miranda

      May not be what you want to hear, but I suggest praying for your daughter’s father. It’s hard and against what we feel to pray against someone who’s hurting us… but you won’t believe the power it has. I felt the lord tell me to pray for someone that hurt me… every time I had sad or angry thoughts of that person, I immediate had to start praying for them. It softened my heart and I saw transformation in that person! I felt like God needed me to push myself aside, seek him in a place that was hard, and find forgiveness within myself.

      • Miranda

        Also, praying for you in this hard season. I can’t imagine what you’re walking through but the Lord blesses obedience and he will provide.

  • Melody Suarez

    My biggest plea for God is during my bouts of anxiety.

  • Lucy La

    My most urgent prayer is typically asking the Lord to protect me from stumbling – from sin, because I know even though I’ve been given a new life in Christ, I’m not immune with sin, which “wages war on my flesh” – I’m up against cosmic evil. Yet because I am a new creation because of the blood of Jesus, He is MIGHTY and FAITHFUL to forgive and continue redeeming sinners like me who are imperfectly following Him. He, who called me, is faithful, to complete the work He has begun in me in the day of Christ Jesus. There is HOPE for me in Jesus!

  • My most urgent prayer is typically when I am hurt over something. I would love to have that urgency over the less dire items but long term might be even more important.

  • My hope is that Jesus lives with me and I am abundantly free! This is my hearts truth. Often though, my reality is that I am complacent,content with less than His presence. It is a lazy ,empty feeling. But,the discipline,the calling over me is always for my best lufe, found only in his presence!

  • Emily Cele

    Beautiful rendering of this Psalm from John Rutter’s Requiem:

  • My most urgent prayers are often for other people. Today, if you have a moment sisters, please pray for my friend Benjamin. Please pray for his redemption. Please pray that God wraps him in His arms so tight that he MUST acknowledge the love of the Lord. And please pray that God intervenes in his life in such a divine way, that God must receive the glory! Please pray for his soul and his relationship with God. Please rebuke anything not of God that might be around or dwelling in him and please pray that he allows God to fill him with the Holy Spirit. When two or more are gathered in his name… I beg for your prayers, sisters. Thank you. Just said a prayer for all us as well. God’s got us. So grateful for his fresh mercies every single day.

  • These verses are all too familiar to me. I read/recited them many times in the last year as I prayed for relief from grief, unanswered questions, and the anguish of waiting for the Lord. I remember reading this one morning and ugly crying as I pleaded for God’s mercy and did my best to believe in the hope the verses talk about. Right now, still, I find myself asking for His mercy in the waiting. It’s one of those seasons…waiting for a lot of things, some of which I’m not even sure wha

    • Eriana

      **what they are. But knowing that His mercy touches that is what keeps me hoping and finding extra reserves of patience that are found only in His grace and mercy.

  • Caroline

    5 I wait for the LORD; I wait
    and put my hope in his word.

    Amen! I will wait for you Lord!

  • As the pilgrim-disciple, convicted of sin by the Holy Spirit, cries out of the depths as an unholy sinner before a Holy God who is without sin, and cannot be in the presence of sin, and whose very nature requires that sin be dealt with in holiness; but, He is also a merciful God who provides a way straight into His holy arms through the blood of Jesus Christ. But for Jesus…And, the psalmist knows as sure as morning will come there is forgiveness for his sins and he stands…lifted out of the pit of conviction, into forgiveness and mercy…and he stands in awe, in fear of the Lord.

  • My husband and I are teachers, and this time of year everyone is just so ready to be done!! Pray for my husband as he has a challenging student with a dysfunctional home life whom I’ll call N. One challenging student takes attention away from the other 20 that they deserve. Thanks for you prayers!!

    • Emily B.

      I’m a teacher, too, and it is a crazy/stressful time of year! I pray that you and your husband will be repaid tenfold for the energy and care you put into your kids’ lives, especially the ones who are more difficult than others. :)

  • Bridget

    I think when we live in the truth that we are indeed forgiven, we are more giving of mercy and forgiveness to others. And THAT strengthens families and communities alike.

  • I’ve been feeling stressed and overwhelmed recently and so I’ve been responding to friends and even my husband in a very irritable way. My urgent prayer has been for grace. Grace for the times I snap at them but also grace to help me not to respond that way.

    Grace upon grace!

    • Nicoline

      I feel the same way, while studying this, that is what I prayed for, GRACE, not my snapiness to rear it’s ugly head.

  • We sang this song yesterday at church and I think it’s very timely for today’s reading. My sins they are many, his mercies are more. Amen!

    • Cherylin

      Beautiful words! I’m so thankful for that! Thank you for sharing this song!

  • Right now at 6:45am, my urgent prayer is “Please let that dang baby go back to sleep so I can have a minute to sit with you and THINK, Lord!” I’ve been thinking lately about how waiting on the Lord in this season involves not only an abstract belief that he forgives me, but a very concrete, real-time confidence that He will empower and strengthen me to do the things my life requires. The whole flow of it reminds me of Romans 8:

    vs. 1 – I am forgiven: “Therefore there is now NO CONDEMNATION for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

    vs. 11 – I am indwelt and empowered by him. “…if THE SPIRIT OF HIM WHO RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD DWELLS IN YOU, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.”

    vs. 15 – I pray little urgent kid prayers: ” you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which WE CRY OUT, ‘ABBA! FATHER!'”

    vs. 19, 23 – This involves learning to WAIT: “For the anxious longing of the creation WAITS eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God…. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, WAITING EAGERLY for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.”

    vs. 24-25 – Which produces hope: “For in HOPE we have been saved, but HOPE that is seen is not HOPE; for who HOPES for what he already sees? But if we HOPE for what we do not see, with perseverance we WAIT eagerly for it.”

    vs 26 – And HE prays with urgency for me – the right, grown-up perfect prayers that I couldn’t find: “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for WE DO NOT KNOW HOW TO PRAY AS WE SHOULD, but THE SPIRIT HIMSELF INTERCEDES for us with groanings too deep for words…”


  • Victoria Byrnes

    My most urgent prayer is to be an instrument of God’s peace every day. To be thankful for what I have and to discern between needs and wants. I believe doing so adds to my community and helps me personally to get through the toughest of days in a way that honors the Lord.

  • So in the light of the daily mercies and forgiveness I receive daily because of what Jesus did on the cross I can be real & admit my frailties & weaknesses even is n community with humility knowing I can put my full trust in Jesus as he wipes my slate clean and is for me I can share that so others can know it also. Thank you Jesus.

  • Christina

    For me, a typical urgent prayer is over mental anguish, but I am convicted that my most urgent prayers need to be over my children. I know that apart from God’s mercy, not only would I be unable to stand before Him, but without His Spirit at work in my life, my sin would be so much more defiant, unrepentant, and antithetical. All of it is reprehensible, and I too often excuse my sin as more acceptable, but it is not ok. If every member believed she needed God’s mercy and trusted that God gives it, there would probably be many fewer words spoken in our midst and a lot more acceptance of imperfect human beings as valuable to our community. I am blessed to be surrounded by families and individuals who do I’m sorrys, do-overs, and graciousness.

  • Kristine L

    My most urgent prayers are always along the lines of “Ack! Help! Get me through this!” Unfortunately I’m not nearly as emphatic in my “Wow! Thank you! You’re an amazing God!” My goal is to praise God in the good times just as passionately as I yell for Him in the bad times.

  • churchmouse

    I love a good redemption story. I love to watch a movie where the character realizes the error of their ways and comes to a happy ending. Cue the sappy music! It’s a feel – good storyline that I like. Perhaps it’s because I myself am a redemption story. I was lost in my sin, separated from my Beloved. I came to know the error of my ways and asked Him for forgiveness. No, I didn’t ask. I cried out. My sins were grievous but His mercy greater. Though I was unworthy, He forgave me. Unlike some family and friends, He never brings up my past mistakes. He just loves on me. We’re always together now. He’ll never leave me. For sure, I’m a redemption story. I have a happy ending. Cue the music. It sounds like heaven to me.

    • claire Bishop

      love the way you have expressed this

      • Cherry

        I am in total agreement with you. However, sometimes I struggle with believing I’m forgiven. That I’m covered in Grace and The Lord truly loves someone like me. I constantly beat myself about past errors/sins/mistakes.

        • truthseeker

          God has forgiven you. You seem to need to forgive yourself. I also struggle with this constant beating myself with the past. I thank God that He is God and Christs blood has made me white as snow because I am forgiven. I am praying for you the peace that passes all understanding.

    • Sissy

      Churchmouse, I hope you’re a writer – that was beautiful and we could all use more words like these in our days!

  • Heather

    My most urgent prayers are about upcoming court appearances. Which makes me feel badly–my most urgent prayers SHOULD be for mercy and grace to worship in a manner worthy of God!

    • Mache

      “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor for sake forsake you. Do not be afraid do not be discouraged” Deuteronomy 31:8 I’m praying for your court days Heather. May He filled your heart with peace in the midst of this trail.

    • Heather Legge

      I understand. Mine are for court appearances as well.

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