By Tommy Welty
Every week in my home group Bible study, we go around the circle sharing about our weeks and praying for one another. But a few weeks ago I was only their out of obligation. My heart and mind were distant. It had been a difficult day leading up to our group time. Things hadn’t gone right at work, a good friend and I had been arguing, and there were some unexpected bills. When my turn came round to share and my group asked what they could pray for, I answered with the most dreaded of prayer requests: “Unspoken.”
Sometimes we don’t know what to pray. In our time of need, we turn toward the Lord and blank. There’s nothing we want more than to draw near to God, enjoy His glory and His grace, and to know and be known by him. David in Psalm 63 describes this eager longing like thirst, “in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” The title of Psalm 63 tells us that David wrote this psalm during one of the times he was in the wilderness. Tradition suggests it was most likely in the years before David took his promised throne while King Saul was hunting him.
Being in the wilderness is a theme that comes up time and time again in Scripture. And it is common in our lives with God. In these times it feels like we are far from God, or, worse, that He has left us. On our bad days, when we feel like we’re in a desolate wilderness, we can be tempted to forget what is true about God and what is true about ourselves. This ache is one familiar to Scripture and especially to the psalms. But the book of Psalms reminds us of the truth of who God is and invites us into prayer.
Psalm 63 was written in a wilderness where God might feel distant. And yet, David prays confidently, “God, you are my God” (v.1). God had not left David, and God has not left us. Psalm 63 reminds us of the mighty truth that God remains our God. In the wilderness, on your worst day, you can pray truthfully, “God, you are my God.” This truth leads our lips to glorify God because His “faithful love is better than life” (v.3).
Despite the circumstances and location of David writing Psalm 63, it is a prayer of tremendous confidence and joy. In a distant place David knows he will once again gaze on God “in the sanctuary” (v.2). In a desolate place David is satisfied in God “as with rich food” (v.5). When pursued by enemies, David lies in bed rejoicing in God, his sure help, safe “in the shadow of [His] wings” (v.7). Psalm 63 guided David and guides us to pray with confident, joyful, vocal praise. Because of the truth of who God is, we’re led to glorify Him with our lips (v.3), bless Him with lifted hands (v.4), and praise Him with our mouths (v.5). The psalm ends with David resting in the truth of the promised throne and praying, “the king will rejoice in God; all who swear by him will boast” (v.11).
When we pray, like David, we are reminded of the truth of who God is and who we are in him. In a “dry, desolate” wilderness we know God satisfies us. In the dark of night we know God has not left us alone. We can pray confidently for God’s sure help. We can pray joyfully for God’s promises. The psalms speak our unspoken prayer requests with truth pouring from our mouths: “God, you are my God.”