When it seems God is not acting on His promises in our current circumstances, how do we pray?
Psalm 89 helps.
The psalmist writes a song of appeal to God to remember His covenant promises to David at a time when enemy nations have plundered the cities of God’s people.
The pattern of this psalm can help us structure our own prayers in times of confusion and need.
I will praise You for Your faithful love.
The psalmist begins with a determination to praise God for His faithful love and to tell future generations about God’s faithfulness.
I will sing about the Lord’s faithful love forever;
I will proclaim your faithfulness to all generations
with my mouth. (v. 1 CSB)
I will remember Your promises.
The psalmist remembers who God is.
Lord God of Armies,
who is strong like you, Lord?
Your faithfulness surrounds you. (v. 8 CSB)
Righteousness and justice are the foundation
of your throne;
faithful love and truth go before you. (v. 14 CSB)
The psalmist continues with a retelling of God’s covenant promises to David and his descendants.
I have found David my servant;
I have anointed him with my sacred oil.
My hand will always be with him,
and my arm will strengthen him.
The enemy will not oppress him;
the wicked will not afflict him.
I will crush his foes before him
and strike those who hate him.
My faithfulness and love will be with him,
and through my name
his horn will be exalted. (v. 20-24 CSB).
I will tell You my problem.
The psalmist’s problem is that God has allowed the enemy to oppress His people. How can these present circumstances be reconciled with past promises?
You have broken down all his walls;
you have reduced his fortified cities to ruins.
All who pass by plunder him;
he has become an object of ridicule
to his neighbors.
You have lifted high the right hand of his foes;
you have made all his enemies rejoice. (v. 40-42 CSB)
I will appeal to You to remember me and act.
The psalmist makes an appeal for God to act according to His faithful love as He has in the past and to remember His people.
How long, LORD? Will you hide forever?
Will your anger keep burning like fire? (v. 46 CSB)
Lord, where are the former acts of your faithful love
that you swore to David in your faithfulness?
Remember, Lord, the ridicule against your servants— (v. 49-50a CSB)
I will praise You forever.
The psalmist closes with praise.
Blessed be the LORD forever.
Amen and amen. (v. 52 CSB)
Once again, I am thankful for the honesty of the psalms.
In the space between promise and fulfillment, there is often pain we do not understand. Unanswered questions accompany us on this broken planet.
How long, LORD?
While we wait, we can praise.
Because of God’s faithful love, we can be determined to praise Him first, simply because He is worthy.
While we wait, we can remind ourselves who God is.
He is faithful. He is strong. He reigns with righteousness and justice. Love and truth go before Him.
While we wait, we can remember God’s promises.
When we know God’s Word, we can frame our requests as appeals to His promises.
While we wait, we can take our problems and questions to God.
We can be honest with God about our pain.
While we wait, we can keep asking God to remember us and act.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. What He has done in the past, He can still do today. We can ask Him to act on our behalf just as He has in the past for others.
Father, I praise You for Your faithful love. You are faithful and true, righteous and just. But sometimes I just want to know how long it will be until You act. While I wait, help me to remember who You are. Help me to remember Your promises. Thank You for the example of the psalms, for reminding me that I can be honest with You. Remember me, Abba. Blessed be the LORD forever. In Jesus’ name, Amen.