As we focus on Old Testament prayers in this issue, we literally have hundreds of choices, but I have chosen David. Our GIFT group just completed an overview study of the Psalms and we find many prayers in this book. Although David did not write all of the psalms, he was the primary author and he offers a wide variety of prayers. There are prayers of praise, petition, confession, help and protection, and those of hope and trust.
As we know, David’s life was certainly not perfect! In fact, his sinful behavior is well-known especially when it comes to Bathsheba. He really disappointed God in many ways, but God used him in spite of his faults, just as God uses us. Even as a young brave man taking on Goliath, being a faithful shepherd, serving as king, etc., we see how God used him.
I especially like the prayer of David in Psalm 51. This psalm has been set to music in many forms through hymns, contemporary songs, and choral music. In fact, one of my favorite choir anthems, Create in Me a Clean Heart, O God, has become a favorite of our Worship Choir. In this psalm, we find David petitioning for help from God and also confessing his sin against God.
David begins this prayer by asking for mercy. Then he asks for cleansing. The prayer continues with an acknowledgment of his sin and that David recognizes his sin has been against God. He asks for cleansing again! He then prays for God to create a clean heart and to renew him. He prays to have the Holy Spirit within. After all of these requests, David then changes direction as he asks for restoration so that he will have a willing spirit to teach the ways of God to others who have transgressed. He prays to have his mouth opened to express his sincere praise to God. David closes this particular prayer by listing what God truly wants from us…a broken spirit and contrite heart. In other words, he knows that he needs to give up his selfish desires and yield to the desires of God.
This is a great prayer and one that we all need to pray ourselves. In fact, many times we fret over how to pray and for what we should pray. I find that simply praying through the prayers in Scripture pretty much covers it all! Why not start with Psalm 51!