When we pray we are demonstrating our trust in God. Prayer is also an acting out of what we believe about God. It is also very important for us to realize that how we come to trust in God and what we believe about God all comes to us by revelation. God's Word teaches us - reveals to us that God is a God who is able and willing to save us and therefore is a God who can be trusted to deliver us in our time of greatest need. Psalm 25 reveals this to us very clearly. In Psalm 25, we find an example of praying for vitally important needs and a declaration of faith which empowers our prayers.
The three crucial needs that David focuses on in Psalm 25 are the threat of personal opposition, his great need for guidance from the Lord, and his burden of guilt for past sins. David brings each of these concerns to the Lord in prayer while in the midst of it, declaring his faith in God's character and reminding himself of God's grace to those who fear Him. In verses 1-7 David is praying, speaking directly to God. Verses 8-15 then are declarations about God spoken to the reader of the Psalm with the exception of verse 11, a one-line prayer spoken to God, which comes right in the middle of the whole Psalm. Finally, verses 16-22 again are words of petition spoken directly to God. The main aim of the Psalm seems to be an exhortation for God's people to put your trust in God (vs. 2a). Let's consider this.
The Threat of Enemies (personal opposition): If you have read or heard much about David's experiences as king and even before he was king then you are aware that he had his enemies. King Saul made himself an enemy of David. The Philistines were a constant threat throughout David's life. Then David's own son Absalom rose up against him later in his reign as king. There was never any lack of enemies who were threatening David. We may not have the same experience, but we all have our share of personal opposition. We all live under threat to those who would like to cause harm to us. The enemy of God's people most often spoken of in Scripture though, is not flesh and blood, but is our spiritual enemy, Satan and the influence he has over rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. You may also have someone out to get you at work, or in your own family, or if you are a student maybe you deal with a bully at your school. Throughout the Psalm David seeks help from the Lord to save Him from His enemies. In doing so, he realizes he must trust God. He must trust that the LORD will provide what he needs to endure the threat of his enemies and to save him from them. Far too often we believe it is up to us to deal with our enemies, especially when it comes to avenging ourselves for something we have suffered from them. God's Word, however, instructs us to let God deal with them, after all His way of justice will be far better than any recompense we could cause to bring upon them (Romans 12:17-21)
The Need for Guidance: "Make me to know your ways, O LORD: teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me" (Psalm 25:4-5) How do we deal with our enemies? How do I respond when my reputation is being threatened? When we feel threatened or under pressure we are in need of some direction to know how to respond. As David prays he calls out to God for this direction. David had the law of God. He had the first five books of the Hebrew Scriptures, also known as the Pentateuch. We have the whole counsel of God in the 66 books of the Bible. Too often when we pray for guidance and direction we are hoping that God would give us a feeling of which way we should go, or a clear sense of what exactly the best response would be for us. Yet, God has already provided for us all the guidance and direction we need in His Word. We just need to make ourselves much more familiar with what He has already said in His Word. There he has made His way known to us. There we will see the path laid out before us. Yet we still must depend upon God the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to see it, to give us spiritual discernment to understand, and the power to walk in it. The good news is that He has promised to provide it for us. (Matt 21:22)
The Burden of Guilt: One of the main strategies of our spiritual enemies is to remind us of our sin and to lead us to despair in our guilt. "If you are still struggling with that sin, you must not be who you think you are. How could God use you when He has got to be so disappointed in you? You might as well just continue in your sin since you cannot overcome the little bit of temptation you are under. Remember what you did when you were in college/high school/younger? How could God use you now?" These are all just examples of the condemnation we hear or feel in our hearts from the enemy. Guilt can be extremely heavy to carry around. Condemnation can be debilitating to our spiritual lives. We must follow David's example to cry out to God with our guilt. Acknowledge it, and trust that God has already dealt with our sins on the cross of Christ. "having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him." (Col. 2:13b-15)
O My God, in You I Trust - What is then needed from us is to simply trust God to deliver us and to provide for us in these critical needs. Prayer is the outworking of trust. We share our needs with God through verbalizing them inwardly or outwardly. We come directly to Him because we trust He will help us and provide for us like a child who runs home from school into the arms of his mother when he's had a bad day at school. Yet as we trust in God it will almost always require us to wait upon Him. Waiting is how we demonstrate our trust in God. "Indeed, none who wait for you shall be put to shame, . . . . For you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long." (Psalm 25:3, 5) While we wait, it will be wise for us to continue to remind ourselves of God's faithfulness and trustworthiness and long-suffering which reading His Word will show us. As David declares God's faithfulness and graciousness in the middle of his prayer in Psalm 25, we will also have to do the same as we wait upon the Lord (Psalm 25:8-15) Then even if we find ourselves on a very difficult path, we will be assured we are right where the Lord wants us if our hope is in Him. "All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies. The secret counsel of the LORD is for those who fear him, and he makes known to them his covenant." (Psalm 25:10, 14) Trust in Him, and He will redeem you out of all your troubles.