I just finished reading Psalm 17 this morning during my time of “coffee with the Lord.” Oh how I wish I were able to appeal to God to answer my prayers based upon my own righteous and sinlessness, as David seems to do in this Psalm! I can’t! I know how many times I’ve fallen – I’m deeply aware of the times I’ve failed!
In Psalm 17 David said, “Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit! … You have tried my heart, you have visited me by night, you have tested me, and you will find nothing… My steps have held fast to your paths my feet have not slipped.” (vss. 1, 3, 4-5)
Could you make that claim and use it as the basis for your appeal for God to answer your prayer? I can’t! In fact, I think (no, more than that – I know) that apart from the forgiveness and grace of God, neither could David! (If you doubt that you need to read Psalm 51 and II Samuel 11-12). It was David who said, “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. But truly God has listened: He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me!” (Psalm 66:18-20)
So my appeal to the Lord to answer my prayer must be based upon God’s forgiveness and grace, not my personal merit! I must come to the Heavenly Father in the Name and merits of Jesus, the Righteous One, my Savior! That being said, as a child of God, I can make David’s words in Psalm 17 my own (and I do!)…
“Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry! Give ear to my prayer… From Your presence let my vindication come! Let Your eyes behold the right! … I call upon You, for You will answer me, O God; incline Your ear to me; hear my words. Wondrously show Your steadfast love! … Keep me as the apple of Your eye; hide me in the shadow of Your wings… As for me, I shall behold Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with Your likeness.” (From Psalm 17 ESV)