Prayer is talking with God.
That is the simplest statement one can make about prayer – but for those who are not familiar with talking to someone Who is Spirit – it can be a little difficult to know how to pray. That is why David’s psalms are so precious to the believer – they give us examples and teaching on actual praying. Psalm 5 is one of the most wonderful examples. It is primer on prayer. It is one of David’s songs that teach us how to approach God, what things to bring up in his presence, and what attitude should be evident in us as we pray.
Give ear to my words, O LORD, Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to You I pray.
In the morning, O LORD, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch.
David begins by calling on God to hear his prayer. This may seem strange to us, seeing that we rarely begin our conversations with statements asking others to hear us – consider what we’re saying – and to heed our call for help. Yet with God this is actually a wise practice. Conversation with your average sinful human being (which if you’re not familiar with the biblical worldview – is “every” human being) is based on similarity. We are similar physically, spiritually, and morally. But with God we are speaking with someone Who is holy. We are anything but similar. We are speaking to an infinitely superior being in every way. In fact we can say that He is wholly another category of being with no one else in that same category. So approaching Him asking for His mercy and attention to our prayer is definitely a good thing to do.
David speaks of words, groaning, and a cry for help. Considering that David was praying during the time of the incident with Absalom – this is understandable. He was facing a rebellious son – a rival to his throne – and a person who intended on killing him if possible. But this is also a great way to grasp three aspects of our prayers to God. First there are our words themselves. We speak by using words when we talk with God. But there is more to communication than the mere words we use. There is also our “groaning.” The word here is the Hebrew word “hagiyd” which refers to someone sighing or to a meditation in the mind even while the mouth is speaking. It is the though behind the words – it can also refer to the intent behind the prayer. This particular word refers to an intense meditation or sigh in the spirit or heart of the one praying. What are the intent, the motive, and the desire of the one speaking the words? Then finally, David speaks of his “cry for help.” David was crying out of despair and a very real sense of danger – and definitely wanted God to get that idea.
David also uses three verbs that are very instructive in this prayer – that indicate just how bold he is being as he calls out to God. First he asks God to “give ear” to his words. This first verb means to “broaden the ear,” This phrase meant to cup one’s hand behind their ear so as to hear well. The second phrase is even bolder as David asks, “heed the sound” which is a great phrase – even though it may seem mildly inappropriate when speaking to God. The phrase is used of a dog or animal that cocks its head and perks up its ears to hear something. David boldly asks God to cup His ear – cock His head – and perk up His ears to hear what he is praying. Though this may sound like a little much – when we are serious about being heard – there will be a passion in us to know that God is listening – hearing our cry to Him.
There is also a submission to authority that resounds in this prayer. David calls God his Lord, His King, and His God! What a beautiful picture of submission to God even as David speaks so boldly to Him of a request that God listen. When we talk to God – we are speaking with the Lord of the universe – and the King of all – the One Who is God. Who I am talking to governs how I will speak to Him. We can pray for what we want – but if the One we address is absolutely sovereign over all things – it might be wise for us to come with humility, submission, and honestly – a willingness to alter our plans according to His will.
Another thing we see here is that David is approaching God in the morning. Twice we see this in his approach of God. Jon Courson made a wonderful comment about this verse when he said that when he doesn’t meet God early as the day begins – he winds up mourning his day when it comes to a close. We are not speaking of a legalism when we say to come to God early each morning – but – we can say that when an orchestra plays a symphony – it warms up before it plays the piece – not afterwards. Consider the symphony the way you are going to live through today – and the warm-up as your time with God before the day begins.
The last thing we see about David’s approach is that he is waiting for God’s instruction with eagerness. He says that he is ordering his prayer to God (a word meaning to set things in a row or organize things) and then watching for God eagerly. He expects God to speak to him about the matter. When prayer becomes a monologue where we speak to God – but God says nothing to us – it will become drudgery to us. Real prayer communicates with God – and that communication is a two way street. Our hearts need to speak to God, yes – but it is just as important that we hear from Him as well. David said that he “eagerly” watched for God to speak. What a wonderful thing it is when God speaks through a passage of Scripture – through a leader – through a brother or sister who loves us – or just through circumstances in our lives. It is why we speak to Him – so that He will speak to us as well. Too often though – people pray with little or not expectation that God is going to speak. They pray out of duty – our out of obligation – or out of some misguided thought that it makes them godly to do so. The reason we pray – is to communicate with God. Therefore why wouldn’t we pray
and then watch with anticipation of what He will do or say in answer
to what we’ve prayed to Him.
Prayer is meant to be an exciting endeavor – not a monologue to the ceiling or some religious object in a room. It is meant to be communication with the Living God Who answers and Who speaks to us in real life situations. It is such a blessing when we move prayer out of the realm of being only a spiritual discipline into being a relationship with God Himself. Yes it requires discipline – but if that is all that is happening – you won’t pray for long. You’ll lose heart. Prayer is meant to be a time of literally talking to God and hearing from Him. That is why David’s example of prayer is so instructive and invaluable. It reminds us that we speak to our very real God – who hears – who speaks – and who invites us into His presence to experience Him in a very real life lived on this earth. If your times of talking to God have degenerated into just “prayer times” where you seek to maintain the façade of religious activity – my request to God is that He reveals Himself to you in a way that draws you into a relationship with Him. I hope that it becomes the time where you experience God’s wisdom – God’s direction – God’s gracious care – God’s comfort – God’s love in a way that wonderfully impacts how you live every day.