Beckett: Pray with Confidence, O Children

Psalm 86:1-10
Incline Your ear, O Yahweh, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.
Preserve my life, for I am godly; save Your servant, who trusts in You—You are my God.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to You do I cry all the day.
Gladden the soul of Your servant, for to You, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.
For You, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon You.
Give ear, O Yahweh, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.
In the day of my trouble I call upon You, for You answer me.
There is none like You among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like Yours.
All the nations You have made shall come and worship before You, O Lord, and shall glorify Your name.
For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God.

Yet another psalm that looks to God for preservation and salvation. David asks God to “incline His ear” to him and answer not as wishful thinking or even a demand, but he makes such a request because he already knows God is one who answers His people: “In the day of my trouble I call upon You, for You answer me” (v. 7).

We all ought to pray with such confidence. Whether we pray for preservation, forgiveness, or graciousness, we all should pray with confidence that God hears and will answer in due course since He hears the cries of His people. No other god is like this, as David points out: “There is none like You among the gods, O Lord… For You are great and do wondrous things; You alone are God” (vv. 8, 10).

That is why we can tell atheists that Yahweh is nothing like the archaic false gods, such as the Greek gods, for none are like God. (Also because the Greek gods and others like them are part of creation in their mythology and God is not, wholly uncreated.) Only Yahweh has given something like the Ten Commandments not as the means to acquire salvation, but as instructions on how to live as God’s people on earth as a beacon for all the nations (Deuteronomy 5:1-21). That is, their vertical relationship with God in the first table (commandments 1-3) and their horizontal relationship with their neighbour in the second table (commandments 4-10).

God had just delivered the people Israel from slavery in Egypt after 400 years of bondage to live as His chosen people on earth. Previously, the people did not know what it meant to live as God’s holy nation. Hence why the Law—the Ten Commandments—was given to them; this is what it means to live as God’s people on the earth.

There is no god like our God who is Triune, who came in the flesh as Jesus Christ to live, suffer, die, and rise on behalf of the entire human race, through whom justification by faith is given, who baptises with His Holy Spirit to save us and work in us sanctification. Only Yahweh does this. Hence why we can pray with confidence like David in this psalm. Ask for preservation and His graciousness, and God will certainly answer, for what father does not answer his child who beckons him?

As Luther says in the explanation to the introduction of the Lord’s Prayer, “Our Father,” in the Small Catechism, “With these words God tenderly invites us to believe that He is our true Father and that we are His true children, so that with all boldness and confidence we may ask Him as dear children ask their dear father.”

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