In this Psalm below we encounter the author pouring out his heart to God in a time of great need. His heart is faint within him, he is searching for a place of refuge and safety and therefore deeply desires that the Lord would hear him and respond. As I read this psalm, I’m struck by the fact that we often reserve this posture of prayer for the “big moments” of crisis or trial in life. Though we may not say it, we act as though there is a limited number of times we can come before the Lord in prayer. It is a shortsighted mindset that tells us God’s love can run out and we can exhaust His willingness to be near to us in our times of need.
“Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings. For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” Psalm 61:1-5
When we fail to come to God in prayer we foster a posture of self-sufficiency. We save up our prayers for the times of crisis and overwhelming trial, and in the times in between, we act as though we simply must figure it out on our own. And so we toughen up and take matters into our own hands. Over time, our normal rhythm of life, therefore, becomes one of independence and self-help, with divine intervention coming only in truly extraordinary circumstances.
The Psalms push against this autonomy and invite us to learn afresh how to be people for whom prayerful dependence becomes the daily rhythm of our lives.
For this to happen, two things are required of us. The first is to trust God. We must trust that He is, in fact, good. That He will not lead us astray or give us a stone when we ask for a fish (Luke11:11). If we do not believe that God is good, we will never fully trust Him in every area of our lives. As we encounter Him in his goodness and faithfulness, we are then, secondly, invited into a lifetime of learning to release control. Self-sufficiency and control are so closely related. If we think everything is up to us, we will do all that we can to guarantee outcomes by minimizing variables and vulnerabilities. And yet, if God is who he says He is, we can learn to trust His plan even when we feel exposed or uncertain of how it will work out.
This Psalm reminds us that the Lord is a rock that is higher than we are, a strong tower, and a source of refuge for those who are weary. Turn to the Lord today and allow Him to lead you out of a place of self-sufficient control and lead you into a posture of trust and gratitude for his faithful guidance and goodness in your life.