Well, it happened again. I was saying something heartfelt and important to someone on my cellphone, not realizing that the connection had died. After a few seconds of silence, “Hello… hello… Are you there?” Feels kind of stupid and helpless, talking to a dead phone, right? Do you ever feel as though your prayers aren’t getting through? Like you are trying to talk to God and the connection is broken? Don’t sweat it, it happens to everyone, even to a guy considered to be so good at praying, he wrote many of the prayers in the Bible.
David felt disconnected and cried out, “Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.” And, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long. Bring joy to your servant, for to you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” (excerpts of Psalm 86:1-4).
You’ve probably felt like that, too, right? What do you do then? (“Who you gonna call?”) Consider two things David asked God for when he felt that his connection was down:
“Teach me your way, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)
David knew God could hear him, even when he felt disconnected. But he also knew he, David, needed to change in order to “hear” God. So he asked God to teach him the right way, so he could walk on the path of truth. David sensed that the disconnect he was feeling happened in part because he had wandered off the path of truth and into the weeds of ideas and attitudes that were not true.
It’s kind of like when an adolescent gets the false idea his parents don’t love him, as so frequently happens, even when they really do. All their attempts to communicate become disrupted. It is not until he accepts what is true about their love that their relationship can be really restored. So David says, show me what’s true, show me your way. Smart man.
But he also asks God to give him “an undivided heart.” David recognizes his heart goes back and forth between the ways of God and the pull of the world. Perhaps you, like me, yearn for a heart that is undivided by all the stuff that clamors for our attention in the world. David knew to ask God to fix his heart, that self-help wasn’t going to work. When he asks “that I may fear your name,” he doesn’t mean that he will be scared by God’s name. He means that he will live with an awareness of God and a reverence that keeps their lines of communication intact.
My guess is that David’s prayers were answered on the spot, because one of the next things he says is this:
“For great is your love toward me; you have delivered me from the depths of the grave.” (Psalm 86:13)
Next time you feel as though your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling, try David’s approach. Ask God to show you where you’ve gotten off the path of truth and the way you should go. Ask Him to fix your heart so it is undivided.
Quotes: The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.