Psalm 35: 11-18 [NLT]
11 Malicious witnesses testify against me.
They accuse me of crimes I know nothing about.
12 They repay me evil for good.
I am sick with despair.
13 Yet when they were ill, I grieved for them.
I denied myself by fasting for them,
but my prayers returned unanswered.
14 I was sad, as though they were my friends or family,
as if I were grieving for my own mother.
15 But they are glad now that I am in trouble;
they gleefully join together against me.
I am attacked by people I don’t even know;
they slander me constantly.
16 They mock me and call me names;
they snarl at me.
17 How long, O Lord, will you look on and do nothing?
Rescue me from their fierce attacks.
Protect my life from these lions!
18 Then I will thank you in front of the great assembly.
I will praise you before all the people.
When I read this psalm I can’t help but think, “I might have a bad day, but I doubt it will be that bad!” Truth is in life we’ve all been there, done that.
We’ve been beat up my others and we’ve beat others up.
We’ve cared for others, and others have cared for us.
We’ve prayed prayers to you that have never got answered.
And you’ve answered prayers we never prayed.
Forgive me when I fail to seek you
Forgive my self pity, teach me to trust you more
When life throws an inside pitch, teach me not to flinch
But if I do, when I step back into the batter’s box
I’ll step in praising you.
From Songs of Jesus by Timothy Keller
UNANSWERED PRAYER. What did David do when his prayers returned to him unanswered during his persecution (verse 13)? The delay caused him grief and he expressed it. He mourned and wept. There was no pietistic, forced cheerfulness such as “I’m fine, just trusting the Lord!” (verse 14). But his grieving was still being done before God; he didn’t stop praying. He cried out “How long, Lord, will you look on?” And remarkably, even in the midst of his grief and the continued intrigues of his opponents (see verses 19–28), he was confident that someday he would give thanks to God (verse 18). This is close to Paul’s exhortation: “In every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving [ahead of time], present your requests to God” (Philippians 4:6).
Prayer: Lord, it feels like you are just looking on passively. But I know that ultimately there is no unanswered prayer, that you hear the desires of my heart and respond to my needs in ways beyond my wisdom. So I wait for you in prayer, Lord. Amen.