Introduction: Because of God’s anointing, David was frequently under attack. David’s prayer life provides examples for how to respond when you are under attack. Here, God reveals seven lessons on effective prayers for when you are attacked. Effective prayer requires: (1) faith, (2) dependence, (3) humility, (4) trust, (5) worship, (6) gratitude, and (7) a love for others in need.
First, in his hour of need, David cried out to God as his “rock.” He trusted in God’s promises, even when the evidence of God’s faithfulness could not be seen physically. For your prayers to be effective, you must also have faith in God’s promises. Second, instead of trusting in his own abilities to defeat his enemy, David cried out and placed his trust in God. For your prayers to be effective, it requires that you also depend upon God instead of yourself. Third, David pleaded with God to show him mercy in his time of need. For your prayers to be effective, you should also approach God with humility. Fourth, instead seeking vengeance against the evildoers who sought to kill him, David trusted in God to execute His justice. For your prayers to be effective, you must also place your trust in God and not take vengeance into your own hands. Fifth, before the battle began, David worshiped God and blessed His holy name. To be effective, your prayers should also include sincere worship. Sixth, also before the battle, David thanked God for hearing his prayers. For your prayers to be effective, they should also include sincere gratitude for God’s faithfulness. Finally, David’s prayer concluded with an intercessory prayer for the salvation of God’s people. Effective prayer requires love. Thus, your prayers should not be limited to your own needs. Out of love, your prayers should include requests for others in need.
1. Faith: Effective Prayer Requires Faith in God’s Promises. Ps. 28:1a.
David placed his faith in God to be his protection. In a moment of great need, David cried out for God to be his rock of protection: “A Psalm of David. “1 To You, Lord, I call; my rock,” (Ps. 28:1a). God’s rock of protection was not something that David could touch or physically stand on. But his faith made God’s rock of protection real to him.
God can also be your rock when you are in need. Like David, God wants to be your “rock” (Ps. 28:1). “And they remembered that God was their rock, and the Most High God their Redeemer.” (Ps. 78:35). Isaiah revealed that God is “an everlasting Rock”: “Trust in the LORD forever, for in GOD the LORD, we have an everlasting Rock.” (Is. 26:4). Jesus is your “rock” who provides for you (Jo. 4:14; 6:36; 7:37-38;1 Cor. 10:3-4; Matt. 6:30). He is also “the rock of our salvation” (Psa. 95:1; Dt. 32:3-4; Isa. 26:4). Likewise, He is your rock and shield when you take refuge in Him (Ps. 18:30; 2 Sam. 22:3, 31). When you are under attack, trust Jesus to be your strength and protection.
Have faith in God to be your source of strength and protection. David trusted in God’s strength, not his own: “The LORD of armies is with us; the God of Jacob is our stronghold. Selah” (Ps. 46:7). “The king is not saved by a mighty army; a warrior is not rescued by great strength. A horse is a false hope for victory; nor does it rescue anyone by its great strength.” (Ps. 33:16-17). “He watches over the feet of His godly ones, but the wicked ones are silenced in darkness; for not by might shall a person prevail.” (1 Sam. 2:9). “In any case, he is not to acquire many horses for himself, nor shall he make the people return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, ‘You shall never again return that way.” (Dt. 17:16; 20:1). If you feel you have the ability to confront a conflict on your own, you are telling God that His help is not needed.
Pray without doubt. God’s promise to be David’s “rock” was all the evidence that David needed for God’s promise: “Now faith is the certainty of things hoped for, a proof of things not seen.” (Heb. 11:1). “while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (2 Cor. 4:18). “for we walk by faith, not by sight—” (2 Cor. 5:7). If you pray with doubt, your prayers will not likely be answered: “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” (Jam. 1:6-8). Likewise, mindlessly invoking Jesus’ name in prayer will be meaningless to Him (Matt. 6:7). If you lack faith, you can build it by reading God’s Word: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.” (Ro. 10:17).
All things are possible with God when you have faith. There is no request that is beyond God’s power: “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?” (Gen. 18:14(a)). “Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?” (Jer. 32:27). “I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.” (Job 42:2). “‘With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”’ (Matt. 19:26(b); Mk. 10:27(b); Lk. 1:37; Ro. 8:31). With faith, God can deliver you from any evil.
2. Dependence: Effective Prayer Requires Your Dependence on God. Ps. 28:1b-2.
David depended upon God for his protection. Despite his many battlefield victories, David cried out to God alone to save him from destruction at the hands of his enemy: “do not be deaf to me, for if You are silent to me, I will become like those who go down to the pit. 2 Hear the sound of my pleadings when I cry to You for help, when I raise my hands toward Your holy sanctuary.” (Ps. 28:1b-2). We do not know the exact occasion for David’s prayer. But David believed that his dilemma was serious. Without God, he feared an imminent death and being sent “down to the pit” (Ps. 28:1).
God wants you to cry out to Him. As our example, David regularly cried out to God when he was attacked: “1 Why do You stand far away, Lord? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?” (Ps. 10:1). “Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; enlighten my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,” (Ps. 13:3). “Do not be far from me, for trouble is near; for there is no one to help.” (Ps. 22:11). “Hear, LORD, and be gracious to me; LORD, be my helper.” (Ps. 30:10). “Hear, Lord, when I cry with my voice, . . answer me.” (Ps. 27:7). “You have seen it, LORD, do not keep silent; Lord, do not be far from me.” (Ps. 35:22). “God, do not be far from me; My God, hurry to my aid!” (Ps. 71:12). Some might view David’s cries as lacking in faith. But his ability to pour out his heart to God the way a child cries to his or her parents showed his true faith.
God will answer you when you cry out to Him. God promises to deliver you when you cry out to Him: “Call upon Me on the day of trouble; I will rescue you, and you will honor Me.” (Ps. 50:15). “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.” (Ps. 18:6). “I was crying out to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah” (Ps. 3:4). “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the mud; and He set my feet on a rock, making my footsteps firm.” (Ps. 40:2). God, however, answers your prayers in His timing and according to His will. Thus, you should continue to pray, even if God’s response does not come immediately.
Jesus urges you to petition God for your daily needs. As a sign of your faith, Jesus also requests that you petition God for your needs: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). God knows what you need. Yet, He wants you to demonstrate your faith by asking Him.
God speaks to those who diligently seek His truth. David’s faith was evidenced through his prayer life. Moses promised: “But from there you will seek the LORD your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul.” (Dt. 4:29). Knowing the Word without prayer can sometimes cause you to rely upon your own understanding instead of God. If you diligently seek His truth, you will also find Him, and His truth will guide you and set you free: ‘“and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free. . . So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.”’ (Jo. 8:32, 36). “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (Jer. 29:13). “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (Matt. 7:7-8). “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” (Ro. 8:2). Are you diligently seeking Jesus’ truth to guide you?
Depend upon God alone for your protection. The Bible repeatedly warns against placing your trust in others for your deliverance: “Oh give us help against the enemy, for rescue by man is worthless.” (Ps. 60:11). “Do not trust in noblemen, in mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” (Ps. 146:3). Jesus is the only one with the power to deliver you: “The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.” (Ps. 110:5; Rev. 6:17). “When he falls, he will not be hurled down, because the LORD is the One who holds his hand.” (Ps. 37:24). “Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken.” (Ps. 55:22). “Commit your works to the LORD, and your plans will be established.” (Prov. 16:3; 17:6).
3. Humility: Effective Prayer Requires Humility Before God. Ps. 28:3.
David prayed for God to show mercy towards him. Because he was a sinner, David prayed that God would not use his enemies as God’s instrument of justice against him: “3 Do not drag me away with the wicked and with those who practice injustice, who speak peace with their neighbors, while evil is in their hearts.” (Ps. 28:3). David’s flesh might have at first demanded that God honor His Covenant with him (2 Sam. 7:12-16). But David knew that God hears the humble: “LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will make Your ear attentive” (Ps. 10:17).
God answers prayers out of grace. David approached God with humility. Because he was a sinner, he repeatedly pleaded for God to show him mercy (Ps. 28:3). “Do not take my soul away along with sinners, nor my life with men of bloodshed,” (Ps. 26:9). “Do not hide Your face from me, do not turn Your servant away in anger;” (Ps. 27:9). “Save me from all my wrongdoings; do not make me an object of reproach for the foolish.” (Ps. 39:8). “Hide Your face from my sins and wipe out all my guilty deeds. . . Save me from the guilt of bloodshed . . .” (Ps. 51:9,14a). Believers should always repent of their sins before they approach God in prayer (Matt. 4:17; Acts 8:22). Unrepentant sin can hinder your prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). You can then approach God in prayer with confidence (1 Jo. 5:14; Matt. 21:22). Is there any rebellion in your walk with God?
Sin can “hinder” your prayers to God. Jesus repeated His warnings about sin in the New Testament (Jo. 9:31). Peter also warns that unrepentant sin can still “hinder” a believer’s prayers (1 Pet. 3:7). Yet, Jesus can forgive any sin (1 Jo. 1:9). Is there a sin you need to repent of? If so, repent so that your prayers will not be hindered before Jesus.
Repent of your sins each day, and Jesus will forgive you. On many other occasions, David also freely and repeatedly confessed his sins to God: “I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not hide my guilt; I said, ‘I will confess my wrongdoings to the LORD’; and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah” (Ps. 32:5). “For I admit my guilt; I am full of anxiety because of my sin.” (Ps. 38:18). “Wash me thoroughly from my guilt and cleanse me from my sin.” (Ps. 51:2). When you confess your sins, Jesus will forgive you: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous, so that He will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 Jo. 1:9). Every person has sins to confess. And most people sin each day. Are you confessing your sins daily to Jesus?
4. Trust: Effective Prayer Requires That You Place Your Trust in God. Ps. 28:4-5.
David trusted God to judge evil instead of taking matters in his hands. David’s enemies were not following God’s will. But rather than seeking to become a vigilante for God, David placed his trust in God to judge evil: “4 Give back to them according to their work and according to the evil of their practices; give back to them according to the work of their hands; repay them what is due them. 5 Because they do not regard the works of the Lord nor the deeds of His hands, He will tear them down and not build them up.” (Ps. 28:4-5). It is not wrong for believers to cry out to God when evil is prevalent. But believers should trust God to repay evil instead of responding to evil with vengeance.
In His timing, God rewards people according to their deeds. God is just and fair. He will ultimately reward what He calls good and punish what He calls evil: “And faithfulness is Yours, Lord, for You reward a person according to his work.” (Ps. 62:12). “And will He not repay a person according to his work?” (Prov. 24:12b). “You will repay them, LORD, in accordance with the work of their hands.” (Lam. 3:64). “For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and will then repay every person according to his deeds.” (Matt. 16:27). “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to reward each one as his work deserves.” (Rev. 22:12). Believers must, however, trust in God’s timing. Just because evil may temporarily prevail does not mean that God has abandoned you. His greater plan may include temporary setbacks and defeats if that causes you or others to turn to Him and place their faith in Him (Ro. 8:28).
Jesus has authority over the nations. Jesus will one day reign with full authority over the nations: “Then the seventh angel sounded; and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” (Rev. 11:15). “The one who overcomes, and the one who keeps My deeds until the end, I will give him authority over the nations;” (Rev. 2:26). The ruler of this world’s temporary authority will soon come to an end (Jo. 12:31). The Bible is also filled with warnings against people who rebel against Him: “9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.” (Ps. 2:9). “The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.” (Ps. 110:5). Samuel also foretold of God’s judgment upon the nations (1 Sam. 2:10). God the Father has further given Jesus full authority to judge evil: “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son.” (Jo. 5:22; Rev. 2:27; 19:15).
Jesus will also reign with justice and righteousness. Jesus will also rule as the Prince of Peace with justice and righteousness: “For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.” (Is. 9:6-7; 16:5). ‘“Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land.”’ (Jer. 23:5; Is. 24:15; 42:4; Zech. 9:9-10). The end to all injustice and evil is another reason to praise and worship Him.
5. Worship: Effective Prayer Should Include Sincere Worship. Ps. 28:6.
David blessed God for His faithfulness in hearing his prayers. Before the battle began, David worshiped God and blessed Him for hearing his prayers: “6 Blessed be the Lord, because He has heard the sound of my pleading.” (Ps. 28:6). There is no record of a direct response to David’s prayer. How then did David know that God had heard his prayer? The answer is that David had faith and trusted God. Even if David had lost the battle, he knew that God had heard his prayers and would still be faithful to him.
Praise God for His faithfulness. On many other occasions, the psalms also recorded David’s praises for God’s faithfulness and deliverance: “I was crying out to the LORD with my voice, and He answered me from His holy mountain. Selah” (Ps. 3:4). “But know that the LORD has set apart the godly person for Himself; the LORD hears when I call to Him.” (Ps. 4:3). “Leave me, all you who practice injustice, for the LORD has heard the sound of my weeping. The Lord has heard my pleading, the Lord receives my prayer.” (Ps. 6:8-9). “In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God for help; He heard my voice from His temple, and my cry for help before Him came into His ears.” (Ps. 18:6). “Blessed be the LORD, because He has heard the sound of my pleading.” (Ps. 28:6). Whenever God hears your prayers and delivers you, God also deserves your praise. This will boost your faith. It will also encourage others to turn to God for deliverance during their times of trials or pain.
Praise God for whatever blessings you receive. In Moses’ final song of praise before his death, he praised God for God’s abundant provision: “He had him ride on the high places of the earth, and he ate the produce of the field; and He had him suck honey from the rock, and oil from the flinty rock, curds of the herd, and milk of the flock, with fat of lambs and rams, the breed of Bashan, and of goats, with the best of the wheat; and you drank wine of the blood of grapes.” (Dt. 32:13-14). The psalmist also prayed that he never forget to praise God for His blessings: “May my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy.” (Ps. 137:6). You should always find a reason to praise God: “19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your hearts to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to our God and Father;” (Eph. 5:19-20). Are you praising God for His many blessings?
Bless God’s Holy name. David also praised God’s holy name: “6 Blessed be the Lord,” (Ps. 28:6). “that Your name may be magnified forever,” (2 Sam. 7:26). “And blessed be His glorious name forever; and may the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen, and Amen.” (Ps. 72:19). “Ascribe to the LORD the glory of His name; bring an offering and come into His courts.” (Ps. 96:8). “Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to Your name give glory because of Your lovingkindness, because of Your truth.” (Ps. 115:1). Under Nehemiah’s leadership, the Levites also blessed God’s holy name: “bless the Lord your God forever and ever! May Your glorious name be blessed and exalted above all blessing and praise!” (Neh. 9:5). Jesus also began the Lord’s prayer by declaring God’s name to be holy (Matt. 6:9) Do your prayers also include praises for God’s holy name?
6. Gratitude: Effective Prayer Should Include Sincere Gratitude. Ps. 28:7.
David thanked God for His faithfulness. As an important part of his worship, David regularly thanked God for His faithfulness and for strengthening him and protecting him: “7 The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped; therefore my heart triumphs, and with my song I shall thank Him.” (Ps. 28:7). Gratitude is an important part of worship. Without it you may take God for granted. Or, you may fail to give Him the honor He deserves when He does answer your prayers.
David thanked God for protecting him during his darkest hour. God was faithful to show David mercy and grace and protect him from his enemies (Ps. 3:3). David always responded with gratitude: “9 Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell securely.” (Ps. 16:9). “For our heart rejoices in Him, because we trust in His holy name.” (Ps. 33:21). Do you regularly thank God for His faithfulness?
7. Love: Out of Love, Effective Prayer Should Include Others’ Needs. Ps. 28:8-9.
David concluded with a prayer seeking the salvation of God’s people. Because David was also burdened for God’s people, he prayed out of love for them: “8 The Lord is their strength, and He is a refuge of salvation to His anointed. 9 Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; be their shepherd also, and carry them forever.” (Ps. 28:8-9). Also, your prayer life should not be limited to your own needs. Motivated by love, your prayers should also include petitions for the needs of others around you. Jesus the Good Shepherd will hear your prayers (Ps. 28:9). “This is the blessing given to the heart that trusts God; God becomes their strength. He doesn’t merely give strength; He is their strength, and the refuge of His anointed. The word anointed (mashiach) reminds us of the ultimate Anointed One, Jesus the Messiah. His anointed ones are secure in the Messiah, and therefore strong and safe.” (David Guzik on Psalm 28) (emphasis original).4
Show love towards others in your prayer life. Your faith should always be expressed through God’s love: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love.” (Gal. 5:6). Love is the greatest gift and the most powerful expression of your faith: “But now faith, hope, and love remain, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Cor. 13:13). Thus, in your prayer life and in every other aspect of your life, you should be motivated out of love for the plight of others: “I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another; just as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” (Jo. 13:34).
David frequently prayed as an intercessor. Because David loved God’s people as a good shepherd, he prayed for God’s will to help those in need: “12 Arise, Lord; God, lift up Your hand. Do not forget the humble. 13 Why has the wicked treated God disrespectfully? He has said to himself, ‘You will not require an account.’” (Ps. 10:12-13). “He does not forget the cry of the needy.” (Ps. 9:12b). Out of love for God’s people, David also prayed as an intercessor for God to spare the Jews after 70,000 men across all of Israel died in a plague that came about because of David’s sins (2 Sam. 24:17). When you encounter suffering, the Psalms remind you to cry out as an intercessor for God’s deliverance (Ps. 74:12; 140:8).
Plead as an intercessor for God to help others. Another man of great faith, Abraham, also used his faith to plead with God as an intercessor to spare the innocent in Sodom and Gomorra (Gen. 18:23). God also spared the Jewish nation in response to Moses’ faithful prayers after they made the golden calf (Ex. 32:11-14). He again spared the Jews in response to Moses’ prayers after they rebelled at the edge of the Promised Land (Nu. 14:18-22). God again spared the Jews in response to the prayers of Moses and Aaron after Korah, 250 men of renown, and then the 14,700 rebelled (Nu. 16:21-24). As an intercessor, Samuel promised to continue to pray for the people’s sins (1 Sam. 12:23). Elijah also cried out to God in faith for God to raise a widow’s son from the dead (1 Kgs. 17:21-22.) Jonah also made a plea as an intercessor when his disobedience caused the men in his boat to suffer (Jo. 1:12). The apostles also continually prayed for others (2 Tim. 1:3; Col. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 3:10). You are part of Jesus’ holy priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6). As His appointed priest, you too have the power of intercessory prayer. Are you praying as an intercessor for those whose faith has failed them?
Out of gratitude to God, respond to His love by helping others. Merely praying for others is not enough. If a believer sees another in need and closes his or heart to that person, the Bible asks: “how does the love of God remain in him?” (1 Jo. 3:17; Jam. 2:16; Dt. 15:7). Are you showing your appreciation for God’s love by helping another person in need?