The Ideal Prayer to God

Posted on July 24, 2020

9


By David Ettinger

A Struggle
Prayer is complicated for me. It doesn’t come easy, I don’t do it well, and I struggle with it.

I struggle with what to ask for myself, what to ask for others, and for that which will please God. Regarding this last category, I find myself asking God, “Lord, what would You like me to pray for? What words can I utter from my feeble lips which would give you joy? What is the ideal prayer I can offer You?”

Going to the Source
When asking questions of God, the best place to go for answers is the Bible – His inspired Word in which He has communicated to His creation what He wants and expects of us.

Regarding my prayer struggle, I went to this life-giving source of endless, ever-uplifting inspiration and, sure enough, found an answer. Located in the Book of Psalms is a passage which answers the question: “What is the ideal prayer to God?”

The passage is Psalm 71:17-18, and reads: “Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

psalm wood

Breaking it Down
Breaking down this passage, it is plain to see why it is the perfect prayer. These two verses express an acknowledgement of God’s goodness to us and our need for Him, offers Him sincere thanks for His generosity, and articulates our desire to put our gratitude into action.

In verse 17 we see both God’s goodness and our response. The Psalmist says, “Since my youth, God, you have taught me.” The Psalmist attests to God’s goodness to him by making Himself known to him.

In gratitude for God revealing Himself to him, the Psalmist responds in the most appropriate way, by wanting to “declare your marvelous deeds.” Telling others of the glories of God is not something we should feel obliged to do, but an overflowing of a thankful heart we should want to do.

In verse 18, the Psalmist, perhaps an elderly man, expresses his fear that increasing age may render him physically unable to go about his grateful work of declaring “your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

older man

As the Psalmist knows his days are dwindling, he is concerned that the next generation coming behind him will have no one to tell them about his wonderful God. It is as if the Psalmist is saying: “Lord, I know my days on earth are drawing nearer to an end, and that my aging body is beginning to fail me. Please don’t let this happen! So long as I have the breath of life in me, give me enough vigor to at least be able to tell the next generation about You!”

The Ideal Prayer
Let’s look at this passage again: “Since my youth, God, you have taught me, and to this day I declare your marvelous deeds. Even when I am old and gray, do not forsake me, my God, till I declare your power to the next generation, your mighty acts to all who are to come.”

Though the words “my,” “me,” and “I” appear six times, it is clear that this passage is totally God-centered. It is the cry of believers pleading with God to allow us to serve, worship, and glorify Him for the goodness He has bestowed upon us. It is believers petitioning God to give us the physical strength to do His bidding in this dark and dying world.

Psalm 71:17-18 is a plea of pining and God-glorifying desire, and it is, indeed, the ideal prayer to God!