Psalm 119: 84 How long must your servant endure? When will you judge those who persecute me? 85 The arrogant have dug pitfalls for me; they flout your law. 86 All your commandments are enduring; I am persecuted without cause; help me!
The writer is one of an entire nation of people who are in covenant relationship with God. A covenant is like a mutual promise of one party to another. The people will obey the laws and statues and commands of God. In return God will prosper the people, protect them, give them victory over their enemies. That’s the way it was supposed to work, but it’s obvious from the words of the psalmist (in his opinion) that it wasn’t working.
A simple explanation is to suggest that God wasn’t protecting the people because they’d been worshipping other gods. True enough. Yet that doesn’t seem to be the case in this instance. Here are a few verses from earlier in the same chapter:
80 May my heart be blameless in your statutes, so that I may not be put to shame. 81 My soul languishes for your salvation. I hope in your word. 82 My eyes fail with watching for your promise; I ask, “When will you comfort me?”
In essence the psalmist is calling God out. He’s frustrated because God does not appear to be honoring his part of the covenant. But the psalmist also understands he has no other options. His enemies are too great. There is no military solution here. There is no political solution either. His only hope is in God the Father. And so rather than turning to some human-designed “hail Mary” play to get out of trouble, he pleads with God to act.
This is the essence of the “prayer of faith”, which I described in this blog post from a few days ago:
To me, the prayer of faith might also be called the “prayer of desperation”. It’s the prayer that goes out when there are no other options left. I’ve prayed like this many times, as I’m guessing have many of you. It’s disconcerting because I like to think of myself as one who can fix things, get things done. But then life comes along to remind me just how little power and control I have.
Maybe that’s you right now. You’re in a season of life that is humbling you, revealing to you that things are not under control. You feel a sense of desperation growing as your options dwindle. I know the feeling. So maybe today the Lord is asking us to offer him the prayer of faith – which is also a prayer of desperation.
Heavenly Father, this morning we recognize that we are completely at your mercy. The struggles before us are too great. Our human solutions have proven ineffective. Hear the cries of your children this morning – and come to our aid. For you are our only hope. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.