Keys to prayer from Psalm 86

We find an interesting model of prayer written by David in Psalm 86. It shows us how to approach and present ourselves before the Lord with our requests. Here David displays ten attitudes of the heart when coming before God in prayer.


1. Psalm 86:1 – Humility before God
Bow down Your ear, O LORD, hear me; for I am poor and needy.

Come humbly before God in prayer, appealing to His greatness.


2. Psalm 86:2 – Trust in God
Preserve my life, for I am holy; You are my God; save Your servant who trusts in You!

Sometimes we doubt whether God will really hear or answer us. Therefore,  decide to trust God as the One who will never forsake you, who is looking out for you and loves you.


3. Psalm 86:3 – Persistence
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I cry to You all day long.

We often give up praying too soon. Also, many view prayer as something you quickly do in the morning or before you go to sleep. David models prayer as an all day long practice. This shows his devotion and continual focus on God.


4. Psalm 86:4-5 – Understanding the nature and character of God
Rejoice the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

The enemy continually tries to convince us that God is ‘against us’ and wants to punish us. David affirms and chooses to see God for who He really is. Make a decision to trust that God is who He says He is.


5. Psalm 86:7 – Being in need
Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the day of my trouble I will call upon You, for You will answer me.

David always poured out his heart before the Lord.  Likewise, we can choose whether or not to direct our passionate requests to God in expectation that He will answer.


6. Psalm 86:8-10 – Worship
Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord; nor are there any works like Your works. All nations whom You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name. For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God.

Christians are often tempted to seek alternative solutions to find answers or breakthroughs. To overcome this temptation, David wisely chooses to spend time worshipping God for who He is – he directs his focus towards the only true and living God who answers prayer.


7. Psalm 86:11 – Undivided heart
Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; unite my heart to fear Your name.

Everyday distractions and doubt can weary our trust that God hears and will answer our prayers. David models the importance of cultivating an undivided heart in prayer by asking God to show him His ways and His truth, mingled with the fear of God.


8. Psalm 86:12-13 – Recognise Jesus as Saviour/Forgiver of sins

I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart, and I will glorify Your name forevermore. For great is Your mercy toward me, and You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Seeing God’s blessings in our lives cultivates gratitude and an awareness of God’s mercy towards us. God not only answers our prayers, but also forgives and delivers us from evil.


9. Psalm 86:14-16 – Calling on God’s character

O God, the proud have risen against me, and a mob of violent men have sought my life and have not set You before them. But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth. Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me! Give Your strength to Your servant and save the son of Your maidservant.

David continues to focus on God’s character, regardless of those who want to destroy him. He knows only God can save him. He therefore reminds God of His character in his petition for breakthrough and deliverance.


10. Psalm 86:17 – Favour and blessing of God

Show me a sign for good, that those who hate me may see it and be ashamed, because You, LORD, have helped me and comforted me.

David’s pursuit in prayer also includes a petition to be a testimony that the living God answers prayer. He does not only pray for his own escape, but also for others to recognise God’s goodness. Our pursuit in prayer must likewise be for God’s glory to be displayed.

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