Psalm 18 begins, “I love you, O LORD, my strength.”
What a way to begin a song or prayer!
We learn from the introduction that this psalm was written by David when he was “delivered from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul” (ESV translation).
David said “the cords of death encompassed me” (Psalm 18:5) and no joke! In 1 Samuel 19, King Saul keeps going back and forth between welcoming David into his house and trying to kill him! In verses 9-10, it says Saul literally “tried to pin [David] to the wall with a spear.” I imagine that’s not quite the response David was looking for when he played his lyre; he probably would have preferred rotten tomatoes.
In response to the multitudinous attacks on David’s life that continued for years after he fled Saul’s house, the most beautiful thing happened. David said, “In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears,” (Psalm 18:6, emphasis added.)
Sometimes it’s hard to believe our prayers actually go anywhere other than the ceiling. At a Wednesday night youth group service in high school, I sat in a circle with seven or eight other girls. It was dark because the walls were purple and the floors were charcoal carpet. We huddled in a corner of the hallway between the food stand and a support pillar. I looked up at the black-tile ceiling and made a tossing motion. “Sometimes, it feels like throwing candy at a parade. I’m throwing prayers up to Heaven and hoping one sticks. It doesn’t always feel like they’re going anywhere, so I just keep throwing.”
“Parade candy prayers! I’ll have to remember that!” our no-makeup-wearing, always-soft-smiling leader said.
There have been days when I walked into our windowless little sanctuary at church, listened to the first worship song of the service, and thought, “I just don’t believe this today.” It sure didn’t feel like God was listening, that He had good plans, or that my prayers were doing anything other than getting caught in that space between the Earth-bound ceiling and the golden floor of Heaven.
It finally hit me between the third and fourth worship songs one Sunday. I wasn’t going to feel God’s promises into existence. I had days when my brain didn’t feel much of anything, so I certainly wasn’t going to create truth and hope through emotion.
I had to fight to believe.
David was a pretty good fighter. I mean, he killed a giant with a slingshot and a stone when he was so young his dad didn’t even bring him in from the shepherd fields to join the family anointing (1 Samuel 16-17). I think David sometimes had to fight to believe, too. He knew that even if his prayers seemed to hit the ceiling of Earth and get trampled underfoot on the floor of Heaven, he could say, “For it is you who light my lamp; the LORD my God lightens my darkness,” (Psalm 18:28).
I hope this encourages you today if you feel like your prayers are going nowhere. Keep praying, friends! God has the power to “lighten our darkness,” and He “shows steadfast love to his anointed,” (Psalm 18:28 & 50). It may not feel like it, but we can fight to believe God’s faithfulness is true.