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A Prayer and Fasting Devotional

In times of struggle, we long for the intervention of God. Our prayers to Him become heartfelt cries for rescue, and work to express our need for someone greater than ourselves to change our difficult circumstance. Pouring out our hearts with an honest representation of our plight is an important part of the prayer process, but misses the fuller picture if we end there.

The prayers of the Psalmist offer a helpful, more complete conversation model for what it looks like to hope in God in the midst of struggle. In many of the Psalmist's prayers, a pattern emerges in the way he speaks to the Lord about what has gone wrong. While honestly communicating the hardship, he also calls to mind the hope he has in God. The source of his hope is linked to the "steadfast love of the LORD." The phrase "steadfast love" is found in the Psalms 120 times. By infusing his prayers with this truth, the Psalmist is able to both accurately express the weightiness of his struggle and to give an opportunity for the remembrance of the steadfast love of God. The reflection on this hope reforms his thought process and offers change to his perspective on the situation.

For example, in Psalm 25, he is feeling lost and in need of the Lord's guidance. After recounting his struggle, he gives voice to the promise of God as it relates to his dilemma saying, "All the paths of the LORD are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep His covenant and His decrees" (v. 10). By recalling this promise, he finds hope for his struggle. Although his circumstance does not immediately change, his perspective is strengthened by the hope of God's unchanging character. The Lord's love has always been steadfast. The Lord's ways have always been faithful.

Likewise, in Psalm 69 he compares the intense personal distress he feels to being swept up in a flood of deep waters (v. 14, 15). He has waited so long for the Lord to change his situation that he says, "I am weary with crying...my eyes grow dim with waiting for my God" (v. 3). But his turmoil is not the end of his prayer. Instead, his voice is used to exercise the hope he has in God: "My prayer is to you, O LORD...In the abundance of your steadfast love, answer me. With your faithful help rescue me from sinking in the mire...Answer me, for your steadfast love is good" (v. 13-16).

Infusing our prayer language with the hope we have in God is more than just positive self-talk. Instead, God's promises reach the deepest parts of our belief systems and emotions; they work to change the core of how we think and feel during trying times. As we learn to better hope in God in the midst of struggle, may we claim this promise with the Psalmist:

Truly the eye of the LORD is on those who fear Him,
On those who hope in His steadfast love,
To deliver their soul from death and keep them alive in famine.
Our soul waits for the LORD;
He is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in Him, because we trust in His holy name.
Let your steadfast love, O LORD be upon us, even as we hope in you.
- Psalm 33:18-22

Lauren Ballard
Ministry Fellow at Yale