A Prayer for Humility

September 11, 2014 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement | Tags: humility, knowledge, prayer, hope

Try This Prayer Request

In Psalm 39:4 David prays, “O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!” This would not be a normal “prayer request” at the end of a Bible study gathering. In fact, I don’t think I have ever prayed in my life, “Let me know how fleeting I am!” If we spend some time reflecting on this prayer, though, I believe we would see the wisdom of such a prayer.

1. This prayer is incredibly humbling. In this Psalm, David is reflecting on the consequences of his sin. He acknowledges that the Lord has disciplined him (v. 10-11). Under the discipline of the Lord, David sees more clearly his deficiencies, his shortcomings, his limitations. In this prayer he asks for more humility. Humility is not necessarily just thinking lowly of oneself, but it is thinking rightly of oneself, in relation to God and others. We should join David in praying for this right assessment of ourselves.

2. This prayer reveals that there is knowledge and then there is knowledge. We need God’s help to grow in both. Look at the last request: “Let me know how fleeting I am!” David must have some understanding of how fleeting he is already, or he would never pray such a thing. So this request is not seeking knowledge of something he has no knowledge of. What is he praying for then? A second knowledge? A deeper knowledge? Let’s call it an experiential knowledge, which impacts his heart and influences the choices he makes. The first knowledge we can call head knowledge.

Consider an example: The dentist may remind you every six months of the virtues of flossing your teeth on a regular basis. You may understand the health advantages for your gums that flossing provides. But if you never have had a habit of flossing, what will compel you to start this new habit? You know what’s good for you, but you need the experiential knowledge to influence your choice to floss. Perhaps it comes when the dentist warns you of gum disease, or you continue to develop cavities in between your teeth. The weight of the truth begins to shape your habits.

The same applies with knowing God and his ways. We need to grow in our “head” knowledge of God and we need the help of the Holy Spirit to have this truth massaged into our hearts and so be shaped by the truth. This is what David is praying for. We should join David in praying for God’s help to know the truth.

3. This prayer leads to hope. Think of hope as the safety net (or network) that we would lean on in the midst of trial. This prayer seeks to remove false hope in ourselves and leads our minds and hearts to focus on the one hope we have: God himself. Notice where David ends up in verse 7, even though he acknowledges that his afflictions are from the hand of God (v. 11): “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you.” The discipline of the Lord led David to see the futility of trusting in himself (I am fleeting!). He is left with the one true hope. We should join David in praying that God would remove the false hopes from our lives.

“O Lord, make us know our end and what is the measure of our days; let us know how fleeting we are!”


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