Psalm 3 – When in Need, Pray

Reading Time: 7 Minutes

This is the first Psalm that is a prayer. Over two-thirds of the Psalms are prayers. As we study them, they will teach us how to pray. Psalm 3 has all of the elements of prayer.

Each of the heading in the article today presents a different component of prayer.

(1) Prayer allows us to tell the Lord our troubles.

O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying to me,
“There is no help for you in God.” Selah
(Psalm 3.1-2)

David’s enemies were so arrogant that they could say, “Even God can’t help him.”

At certain times we may feel helpless to change our situation. Addiction, habitual sin, chronic illness, difficult living circumstances, and oppression are a few of examples of feeling hopeless.

Let’s remind ourselves of Jesus words, “For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible” (Matthew 19.26).

O. Hallesby in his classic book on prayer tells us that our helplessness is one of the greatest powers in prayer. Think of a baby who cries when hungry. The child has no power except to cry for help. Just as a mother responds to the cries of her hungry child, God likewise responds to our appeals for his aid.

Sometimes, we are tempted to look at the character flaws of other people and think that they will never change. We pray something like this, “God, I am totally frustrated with this person. However, this person is not beyond your help. I bring them to you for the change of heart that you can and will bring about in his or her life.”

(2) State your trust in the Lord, who answers prayers.

But you, O Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
I cry aloud to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah
(Psalm 3.3-4)

“BUT YOU” (verse 3) changes the situation. The reality of God moves the thought away from troubles to what God can do. Right in the middle of a problem that is so big that enemies say “Even God can’t help,” God’s care for people is called upon.

In times of trouble, state your faith in God. Declare your trust in God. Tell him who he is.

God, you are my shield. God, our shield, defends us against the judgmental words and actions of those who oppose us.

God, you are my glory. God protects our glory, that is our reputation and honor. As we consider God, who is our glory, remember “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8.31)

God, you lift my head, when it is bowed down under troubles.

God, you answer my prayer. Romans 8.32 is a powerful prayer promise. “He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?” As you pray, claim God’s love through his Son and ask him for what you need.

(3) Trust is expressed by how we act on what we have prayed.

I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
who have set themselves against me all around.
(Psalm 3.5-6)

When I am troubled, I often begin with Psalm 1 and continue praying the Psalms, one after another. This often happens at night, when the difficulties swirl in my mind like a tape that won’t stop playing.

My experience is like that of the writers of the Psalms. Somewhere in the midst of praying the Holy Spirit confirms to my spirit that God is at work in my situation. It is then, and only then, that I am able to go to sleep.

We don’t automatically jump to trust, when we are confronted with difficult troubles. However, if we stay in prayer using the Psalms as aids in prayer, there will be a breakthrough and we will be able to trust and not fear.

(4) Ask the Lord for his help.

Rise up, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
(Psalm 3.7)

God is able and willing to engage in forceful activity on behalf of people when they come to him in prayer. Be encouraged. Ask him to rise up with his deliverance.

Jesus actually commanded us and expected us to ask for his help. He said, “Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened” (Matthew 7.7-8).

(5) Our prayer requests are supported by the praise of the Lord.

Rise up, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God!
For you strike all my enemies on the cheek;
you break the teeth of the wicked.
(Psalm 3.7)

When this prayer was first prayed, King David was in a battle for his life, because his son attempted to overthrow his rule. (See 2 Samuel 15-19 for the account.) Literal images of physical conflict were in order, because he was engaged in war against his enemies.

David was able to remember God’s mighty acts in history and praise him for the ways he brought victory over his enemies.

Even though Absalom was David’s enemy, when he died in battle, David cried out in anguish, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18.33).

As we praise God, we remember that the way Jesus defeats his enemies is by conquering their hearts and making them his friends.

No matter how we praise God, we need to know that praise is a valuable component to prayer. As we pray through the Psalms, we will learn ways to praise God, led by his word and his Spirit.

(6) End the prayer by proclaiming the Lord’s salvation and asking blessing for the people.

Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
may your blessing be on your people! Selah
(Psalm 3.8)

King David knew the deliverance of the Lord from those who sought to overthrow his rule. Instead of there being no help for him in God (verse 2), he experienced the blessing of the Lord.

As we have experienced the saving and delivering power of God in our lives, we end our prayer and declare his majesty. We also commit to join Jesus in his work that delivers people from whatever trouble they face.

Please use this Psalm today.

The best part of Psalm 3 is yet to come. Please open your Bible and use this Psalm to connect with God. Use your own words to state your confidence in God and to ask him for help in your life.

Thanks for joining in this journey through the Psalms. May God richly bless you as you meet with him today.


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