On learning to pray: from polite conversation to crying out to God


March 31, 2014

Psalm 56

Show mercy, Lord, to me, for men pursue me day and night;
And all day long they bring attack; against me daily fight.

They slander and pursue me, and they hate me spitefully;
For in their pride they do attack – so many pursue me.

When I’m afraid, I’ll trust in You; In God whose word I praise.
Why should I fear what flesh can do? I’ll trust in God always.

Each day they twist my words; their thoughts against me are for ill;
They meet, they lurk, they watch my steps; waiting my life to kill.

On no account let them escape – in anger, bring them down;
Hear my lament, record my tears – in Your scroll they abound.

My foes shall, when I cry, turn back; I know God is for me.
In God, whose word I praise – in Him my trust will always be.

In God I trust; I will not fear – what can man do to me?
I’m under vows to You, O God – I’ll render praise to Thee.

For You have saved me, Lord, from death; my feet from stumbling;
That I may walk in light of life before my God and King.


By the time we get to Song #56, life stinks for David. The anointed King of Israel finds himself far from the throne and on the run from the rogue Royal, Saul. The giant-slayer seeks refuge in the giant’s home country. How could things go so wrong for one who held so much promise?

We don’t too often find ourselves with such violent enemies as David did, but we know what its like for our best laid plans to go south. Whether you are dealing with murderous threats or you got passed over for the promotion, one of the biggest lessons of the Psalms is also the most obvious one. CRY OUT TO GOD! By now, we know the Psalms are not sanitized prayers for the suburbs. They are the gut wrenching cries of real people who need immediate help.

I remember the years when my life, as I’d planned it, began to disintegrate. Armed with a resume to kill for, heading into my second year of law school, at the peak of privilege, I literally basked in a sea of opportunities. On the eve of writing my golden ticket, I awakened to a knowing beyond knowledge that I was headed down the wrong path for my life. Another calling arrested me and I resisted like the plague. In those days, for the first time, I learned to CRY OUT TO GOD. Literally. This went on for months. Though what I cried out for did not happen (a release from this calling), absolutely everything else did change. I’m not sure what I considered prayer to be prior to those days, but in light of my crying out to God, it was polite conversation; unholy small talk.

It’s a longer story I will save for later, but suffice it to say, I have never been the same since.

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J.D. Walt writes daily for Seedbed’s Daily Text. He serves as Seedbed’s Sower in Chief. Follow him @jdwalt on Twitter or email him at jd.walt@seedbed.com.

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