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.
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.
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.