Psalms for Prayer: Day 16

A Prayer for Help in Trouble

by

Today's Text: Psalm 142:1-7

Scripture Reading: Psalm 142:1-7

We are not a people fond of showcasing our flaws and failures. So much of our society is meant to elevate our best selves. But no matter how long we drink from the fountain of “you have what it takes” ideology, our frailty remains a bitter pill that cannot be swallowed.

Then we open our Bibles and see an entirely different approach. Prayer is not the place for pep talks or public relations. Unlike social media posts, the purpose of prayer is not to put ourselves in the best light and convince God we are good so that He will respond. Rather, prayer is the place where we admit we are weak and needy, an invitation to confess we are utterly lost in the face of trouble without the sovereign hand of God.

David didn’t write Psalm 142 from his palace, surrounded by adoring fans. This isn’t a psalm penned after a military victory or personal triumph. This psalm is a prayer, written from a cave, a crude place of refuge, by a man on the run.

It’s not clear if these words were penned from the cave of Adullam or En-gedi, two places we find David hiding as he fled from the paranoia of King Saul (1 Samuel 22, 1 Samuel 24). In both circumstances his leader and mentor had vowed to kill him and had the resources and resolve to carry it out. David was a sitting duck who knew he could not defend himself. His enemies were armed and dangerous and David had nothing but desperation. Remarkably, he didn’t try to spin the story. When trouble surrounded him and pressed his back up against the cave wall, David declared his frailty to the Lord:

Listen to my cry,
for I am very weak.
Rescue me from those who pursue me,
for they are too strong for me.
—Psalm 142:6

Perhaps one of the reasons why God described David as “a man after my heart” was David’s willingness to own up to his desperation for God’s help (Acts 13:22). I read through God’s Word and cannot help but see a pattern: God is near in our trouble.

When faced with a battle he was too weak to win, Jehoshaphat declared, “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” and God secured the victory (2 Chronicles 20:12).

Daniel was powerless to shut the lions’ mouths, so he “implored God” to do it for him. God did (Daniel 6:11).

Paul begged the Lord to take away his weakness. In response the Spirit reminded him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).  

Weakness is power because in our weakness, we are made strong by God. In the age of spin, I need to be reminded that even weak faith is productive, even feeble prayers are answered (Matthew 17:20). Prayer is an invitation to come as we really are and hear from the God who loves us anyway.

We each have our own enemies to face and battles we cannot win. Sure, we could try to puff ourselves up with false bravado, but the illusion of our strength is easily exposed. There is an alternative to sinking into despair and defeat. When this world brings trouble to our doorstep, we can look to the Lord for comfort and wait with open hands to receive His strength.

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Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

  • Elizabeth Aouad

    Yes LORD, take this pain from me. Bring relief to my hand. Heal my husband and intervene in my children’s lives. We are desperate for you!

  • Alyssa Baker

    A pep talk. Yes. Agh. Just last night, I’m praying, “God I know I can get through the night with you. You will fill me up even when I am drained from no sleep with my baby.” Pumping myself up for that sleepless night…but oh God tonight I am weak and tired, and I just need you. All I’ve got are half hearted prayers. Have mercy on me and just hear my cries. You are enough. You are strong and I am so very weak.

    • Annie VE

      There could be another set of psalms written from the prayers of mothers in the midst of sleepless nights. May god be with you in the middle of the dark nights and also may sleep come soon.

  • Denise Powers Fabian

    Weakness is my middle name.

  • I am weak but thou art strong .

  • Lauren Caldwell

    Amen! Thank you God!

  • Carley Guillorn

    I so needed to hear this today. My troubles are not people but situations. Car trouble, phone problems, health issues. It is such a needed reminder that we were created to need God.

  • Monica Davis

    My eyes are on you!

  • Thank-you for this, Erin. This hits home in a number of ways. Even after many, many years I find myself back in the ‘cave’ feeling helpless and of little faith. It is so wonderful that we serve a great God that does not put us off to the side because we don’t ‘measure up’.

  • Ana Lisa Johnson

    So thankful God hears and cares about our struggles and fears.

  • Does anyone else ever feel like their troubles are so much less significant than some of these biblical circumstances where these men would have died without the help of God. Currently going through a difficult time with studying for a large test for medical school and applying soon and I feel like I am so weak and these struggles are real. However, then I feel like they are so small in comparison to the mouths of lions or the sword of a king. How do I deal with this season?

    • Dee

      Often that struggle is mine too. In difficult times I’ll say, “in the scheme of things this isn’t much, it’s not all that important.” [Yeah, it smacks of reverse humility.] But if I’m walking in obedience, if I’m where God wants me to be, then to say that what He is allowing into my life “isn’t much, not all that important,” is in a sense saying that God doesn’t place much importance on my life, that this trouble won’t really make me more like Christ. That’s a lie from the Enemy and I refuse to believe it. What’s important isn’t the degree or severity of the trouble, but that we take our troubles to God…every time. Your troubles are not insignificant to God, nor does He compare them to the troubles the Patriarchs endured. God sees each of us as a unique individual He created, and He’s ready to provide the strength and grace in our individual circumstances – that brings Him glory.

    • Taylor

      Hey Callie!
      I really felt like I should respond to your comment, so I hope you find this encouraging! The best thing you can ever do is go back to scripture. Colossians 1:17 says “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” One of the key words here is “all.” One of the best places satan can get us is in a place where we feel alone, because then we mentally try to take hold of the situation and rely less and less on God. He is the only one that can get you through. Satan is the great deceiver and will make you feel confused, alone, doubtful, worthless, and so much more–but that is the complete opposite of what God calls us to be. There is absolutely no trial or struggle considered “dumb” in His eyes. A personal relationship means running to Him for everything…and that’s what He wants! It is never your job to decide what is too big or little for Him. Remember: He is before ALL things, and in Him ALL things hold together. So never be afraid to go to Him. Never feel like yours isn’t “big enough.” James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” Run and cling to Him for all things! Sit back and watch how Jesus uses your situation to bless you and others.

      • theo

        love

      • Callie

        Taylor, thank you so much! This is so true and I think I have really allowed Satan to get into my head and stir up lies. I need to start running to Him before Satan even has a grip. Thank you for this encouragement!

      • Alex Dickinson

        So good! Thank you for sharing

  • Shannon T

    “Trouble” takes on many forms. Our troubles today may look very pale in comparison to those around us, but they remain top of mind. The key to living a full life in Christ is to continually renew our minds. For some of us, during a specific season of life this is more intensive and is something we must do hourly. For others, it’s simply daily. Whatever season you are in, be patient, be positive and be encouraged that God sees you, all of us and hasn’t left us. Let your trouble point to Him, rather than impede your path.

  • This is also my prayer this morning. I’m so grateful that all these devotions hit home. There is still so much unknown and I’m crying out to God to help me. I’m so grateful that he does listen and that my strength only comes from him.

  • I absolutely, positively, can not do what I do without Jesus!

  • “When I am overwhelmed, You alone know the way I should turn…” – Psalm 142:3

    This verse struck me. And the beautiful prayers of the people in the Bible who turned to Him during troubled times. I remember praying the same kind of prayer when I have to face and accept that my husband has a daughter from his past, and that our family will never be the same again… I needed to take refuge in God as I struggled to take the next step. I shared the full story in my blog this morning:

    https://steady-myheart.blogspot.com/2018/05/when-life-feels-complicated.html?m=1

    Blessings to everyone!

    • Hilary

      I know I’m behind a couple of days, but your blog post was beautiful. I admire you for letting God use you even in this situation you didn’t picture for yourself, and for being ready and willing to help guide Coleen to Jesus.

  • charlie woodruff

    praying for you and your family during this time.

  • Katie Pollard

    Thank you for this. What an encouragement to remember that facing our frailty doesn’t lead to shame or despair, but to HOPE and freedom. By God’s grace our place is “in the land of the living.” Thanks be to God!

  • A great reminder that we are made strong by God. Lean on Him. We don’t have to do it all ourselves, He is always there for us, we just need to ask. Thank you.

  • I love how the psalms also focus on Gods response. I feel when we talk about prayer, it’s often focused on what we do in that time. But God works in that time and every other moment – a miraculous communication if we’re not too distracted to hear it.

  • Churchmouse

    The purpose of prayer is honest confession of the situation I’m in through my perspective. And the purpose of prayer is attentive listening to God’s perspective on that same situation. And the purpose of prayer is acceptance that He will intervene in His way, in His timing, for my best and His glory. And the purpose of prayer is submission of my will to His. Prayer is, simply put, a “no spin zone.”

  • I am so thankful to have found your Bible studies. What encouragement it has brought me each morning. Each day, the reading and devotional seem to be exactly what I need! Thank you for allowing God to use you and speak through you!

    • She Reads Truth

      We’re so grateful that you’re reading along with us and a part of our community Courtney! -Margot, The SRT Team

  • Shuana Michele-Hackworth

    What great reminder that God will work on my behalf as a weak vessel. This devotional is right on time for me.

  • Kristine Loughman

    A few years ago I found myself in a situation where, through my own actions and people’s interpretations, I had earned a reputation that didn’t match who I thought I was. I retreated into a David-like cave, at least emotionally speaking! Thank goodness God looks at the heart! Thankful that we are loved by a God who doesn’t need us to fake our shiny best selves in his presence.

  • I am so thankful that right now in my life things are peaceful, not perfect but peaceful. I want God to teach me now how to deal with trouble when it comes. I want prayer to be my go to response when things are bad, but I also want prayer to be my go to response when things are good. I know that it is in adversity that we are going to grow the most, but in the peacefulness of this moment, I want God to grown and deepen my relationship with him. I want to know the joy of talking to God because it’s God, the God who is gracious and merciful, compassionate and steadfast. I want to walk in the joy of knowing that the God who created the universe desires an intimate personal relationship with Him. I pray that today I will walk in the joy of knowing that I am His child.
    I love You, Papa God. Thank you that You love me so much.

  • Marci-Beth Maple

    I love when my SRT passage speaks to closely to my life—just another reminder that God loves us and is for us. He is our portion and our shelter….what a beautiful picture!

  • I am Happy to read these truth this morning, just like David, I am at a low point in my life. But this truth reminds me that in my weakness, God’s power is made perfect. I will pray just like David did:
    Listen to my cry,
    for I am very weak.
    Rescue me from those who pursue me,
    for they are too strong for me.
    —Psalm 142:6
    I know I will see the goodness of God in the land of the living in Jesus name. Amen.

    • "Other Karen"

      Praying that God will use this low point in your life to make something beautiful happen and draw you closer to Him.

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