The Logic of Prayer (Psalm 17)


1 A Prayer of David. Hear a just cause, O LORD, Attend to my cry; Give ear to my prayer [which is] not from deceitful lips. 2 Let my vindication come from Your presence; Let Your eyes look on the things that are upright. 3 You have tested my heart; You have visited [me] in the night; You have tried me and have found nothing; I have purposed that my mouth shall not transgress. 4 Concerning the works of men, By the word of Your lips, I have kept away from the paths of the destroyer. 5 Uphold my steps in Your paths, [That] my footsteps may not slip. 6 I have called upon You, for You will hear me, O God; Incline Your ear to me, [and] hear my speech. 7 Show Your marvelous lovingkindness by Your right hand, O You who save those who trust [in You] From those who rise up [against them]. 8 Keep me as the apple of Your eye; Hide me under the shadow of Your wings, 9 From the wicked who oppress me, [From] my deadly enemies who surround me. 10 They have closed up their fat [hearts]; With their mouths they speak proudly. 11 They have now surrounded us in our steps; They have set their eyes, crouching down to the earth, 12 As a lion is eager to tear his prey, And like a young lion lurking in secret places. 13 Arise, O LORD, Confront him, cast him down; Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword, 14 With Your hand from men, O LORD, From men of the world [who have] their portion in [this] life, And whose belly You fill with Your hidden treasure. They are satisfied with children, And leave the rest of their [possession] for their babes. 15 As for me, I will see Your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in Your likeness.

PSALM 17:1-15, NKJV


I have a teenager who has learned to argue. I liked it a lot better when she would ask for something and if we ever said, “no,” All we needed to do was say no, and it was enough. Those days are gone. She now needs us to give her a compelling reason as to why we said, “no.” Once she hears our reason, she will attempt to help us see things her way. She has learned to argue. The rational part of her brain is growing. She has suddenly become very intellectually interesting and smart. Her appeals for things have become better as well. Instead of just asking to go hang out with her friends, she has learned to suggest where she will be, what times, who she will be with, who else will be aware, and most importantly, how this plan of hers would benefit me as her dad. She knows what I will ask and has already worked her logic on my possible objections to make her petitions more appealing.

Often when we pray, we offer God just a bunch of random concerns. There certainly isn’t anything wrong with that, for we are told to, “cast all our cares on Him, for he cares for us.” (1 Peter 5:7). But I think we can pray better by applying a little of God’s Word and logic to our prayers. (Not better in the sense that we will get an answer we want, but better in the sense praying with confidence that what we are asking for is more in line with God’s will than a random petition.)

My daughter learned to amend her own would be petitions because as she brought previous petitions, she heard the answers and the objections. In short, she listened to my concerns. In the same way the more we read God’s word, the more we will know God and the more we will know about God. This will help us weed through the rambling and get to the heart of the issue, “What is God’s will in this matter?” By reading the scripture we are informed in our praying. We can ask God confidently for him to forgive our sin, we can pray behind the Psalms and ask him like a shepherd to lead us, feed us, and bring us home safely. In praying for children we can remind ourselves that he cares for little ones. In praying for the sick we can be reminded that he is a God who heals. In praying for the grieving, we can be reminded that Jesus knows what death is like and has promised to bring us to the other side.

What we see David doing here isn’t just praying random thoughts, but he is applying logic to his petitions. God delights in truthful lips and so David confesses his honesty. He knows that God defends the righteous and so he pleads for the Lord to do just that. David’s petitions for God to hear his prayer have come with a little work on his part to offer prayers that He knows align with God’s character.


Father, thankyou that you hear our prayers. Thank you that you have given us free access to call out to you in prayer. I am grateful that you have told us to boldly approach your throne of grace. I am grateful that you have promised to never leave or forsake us and that you provide for the needs of those who belong to you. Today I ask you to provide for me all that I need in Jesus Christ. As I meditate on your word help me to examine my own life. Let me be a man of honesty and integrity in a way that pleases you. Give me contentment in your provision to let you deal with those who unjustly accuse me. Let me stand before you as my judge and let my ears listen to what you would say. Keep me as the apple of your eye, hide me under the shadow of your wing. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

I’m reading and blogging the Psalms Through The Summer. I’d love for you to join me. You can find out a little more here.

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