Praying Like David
If we were to try to come up with some common threats to a healthy prayer life, we might very well decide upon two main dangers: not really trusting in the power of prayer (or, thinking that prayer ‘may not really work’ as we’d like it to), and not expressing gratitude for what we’ve been given (or, having a sense of entitlement). It is perplexing but true that these problems often co-exist within the same person, despite seeming so opposed to one another. One may come to the Lord with a long list of wishes and wants, stopping but briefly to offer thanks for the vast riches he has already received, and yet still inwardly feel that the whole exercise might be a vain pursuit.
David — ever a worthy example of a man who was in contact with his Lord — answers to both of these potential pitfalls in his own prayer to God in 1 Chronicles 17. “Then King David went in and sat before the Lord; and he said: ‘Who am I, O Lord God? And what is my house, that You have brought me this far? And yet this was a small thing in Your sight, O God; and You have also spoken of Your servant's house for a great while to come, and have regarded me according to the rank of a man of high degree, O Lord God. What more can David say to You for the honor of Your servant? For You know Your servant. O Lord, for Your servant's sake, and according to Your own heart, You have done all this greatness, in making known all these great things’” (1 Chr. 17:16-19).
It is obvious from the beginning that David did not think of himself as one deserving of anything from the Lord — on the contrary, the king wondered why God had seen fit to bless him so richly. Nothing would be asked of the Lord until the point was made plain that David knew his position in regards to God; the king was making requests as a supplicant, not stating orders as a commander. However, neither did David seem to be surprised by the Lord’s goodness — he did not view God as a harsh, miserly, and forbidding deity, exacting and demanding but never generous. To David, Jehovah was quick with blessings, charitable with love, and free with mercy. So, while David asked, “Who am I?”, the point is quietly made that it didn’t really matter who David was, because of who God is. The Lord had worked wonders in the king’s life ‘according to His own heart’; not based on David’s merits as a man, but based on the Lord’s natural disposition as the supreme Giver. With time and perspective, we will always see the blessings of God in action, but we must not be impatient, greedy, selfish, or arrogant as we expectantly wait for His goodness to be made manifest.
Furthermore, David’s prayer clearly shows a lofty view of God’s capabilities. Even looking at the extraordinary prosperity, success, health, and happiness he had enjoyed, David confessed that such blessings had been merely ‘small things’ in the eyes of God. This was a man who had slain giants (literally), survived countless mortal perils,
crushed all of his enemies, found favor with men and women, and received an entire kingdom with all of its wealth, honor, riches, and glory. Did he think that bringing about such good fortune had been taxing on the Lord, stretching the power of God to maximum capacity? No, what the king had received was hardly worth mentioning, as it pertains to God — easily achieved, freely given. If you’ve ever given a child a small toy — something out of a Happy Meal, for instance — you can understand the point being made. While the gift cost you virtually nothing in terms of effort or money, and you could surely duplicate it time and time again, the child is much more impressed. It immediately seems to be his favorite toy, something he could not imagine doing without. In God, we have a Father willing and absolutely able to grant bountiful favors to His children, things which are effortlessly accomplished by Him and life-altering to us. If a kingdom, and all that went with it, was not withheld from David, should we expect God to be incapable of answering our prayers?
James reminds us that God “gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). He also encourages us to “ask in faith without any doubting” (James 1:6). Both attitudes should be employed in any conversation with our Lord — remember that He is the Almighty God, but also remember that He uses His power to our advantage when we ask in faith.