Sometimes, we forget to pray in the time of need. A distressing call comes and we quickly begin problem-solving or melt into a pool of tears. After a few minutes or a few days even, we remember that God is on His throne and available through prayer.
Other times, we pray immediately to God for intervention in our lives yet have no expectation of God responding to our prayer.
Maybe you’ve prayed with someone for a need simply to encourage them? You didn’t really expect God to change anything. You prayed once but never followed-up in prayer or in person.
Maybe you’ve prayed for a need because you desired help and because the Bible talks about prayer yet you didn’t really think that God would respond? You prayed but thought, “God is sovereign so what significance does this prayer have anyway?!”
Maybe you have prayed to God for days or months for a change in your life or in someone else’s life but you have given up on God ever responding with change?
In Psalm 123, the singer prays to God with a remarkable posture of expectation, submission and patience.
“A Song of Ascents. To You I lift up my eyes, O You who are enthroned in the heavens! Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, As the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the Lord our God, Until He is gracious to us. Be gracious to us, O Lord, be gracious to us, For we are greatly filled with contempt. Our soul is greatly filled With the scoffing of those who are at ease, And with the contempt of the proud.” (Psalm 123:1-4)
The singer is in need. His life is contrasted with those who are at ease. He is seeking a change from God. His life is filled with opposition from the proud. This is not the picture of a happy life. He is “greatly filled” with trouble.
Yet, the singer prays with expectation of a response, of a favorable response from God. His eyes are turned upward to God on His throne. Like a maid in full dependence upon her mistress so the singer looks to God in His power and authority, asking for change. He is praying to the One who has the ability to work the change. He prays with confident expectation “until” God answers.
If you are following Christ Jesus, then you will receive painful opposition from proud men and women. Are you responding to this opposition by looking expectantly to God for deliverance? Are you praying with expectation until God answers graciously?
The singer is in full submission to God. He puts himself in the position of a slave, of a maid. God is on His throne in heaven. He is able to interject immediately into our lives and effect the change desired. But, He is waiting or preparing a different answer than the one we seek. The singer submits to that relationship. He submits.
Do you submit to God in prayer? Or do you seek to yank Him around like a bound genie? Do you look to God with submissive expectation? Would people recognize a faithful slave and maid through your prayers?
The singer of Psalm 123 is expectant of God, submissive to God and he is patient, long-suffering in prayer to God.
“So our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us.” (v.2)
At times, God communicates a “no” to our prayer requests. I am thankful that God allowed me to see the “no” answer to my prayer for a specific lady’s hand in marriage when I was a 15-year-old boy. How thankful I am for the wonderful wife God gave to me in my twenties instead of my initial prayer request!
But, at times, God leads us to seek Him in prayer for long periods. He leads us to be patient, long-suffering. He leads us to preserver in prayer. The singer in Psalm 123 is looking to God and praying “until” God answers with graciousness. The singer’s life is rough, filled with opposition and contempt, a lot more difficult than a single 15-year-old boy’s life. Yet, God leads him to preserver in prayer.
My wife and I shared a prayer request together before God for the first few months of our marriage. I soon considered the situation hopeless and quit praying with my wife. She continued in patience before the Lord for years until, to my surprise, God answered with a restoration of a relationship. Sometimes God does say “no.” Sometimes He gives a different answer than we expect. But, maybe you and I have missed out on answered prayers because we have not waited long enough with expectation and submission to the Lord who rules from His throne in Heaven?
Oh, Lord! Be gracious to us and answer us. Deliver us from evil, provide for us. “So our eyes look to the Lord our God, until He is gracious to us.“