Praying Psalm 63

As I’ve said before, the biblical psalms provide us with an inexhaustible resource for encouraging and guiding our prayer. In fact, though they’re fundamentally God’s word to us, one of their primary functions is to teach us how we, in turn, should speak to him. With that in mind, I’ve listed Psalm 63, along with a few ways it might shape our own prayers.


1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you;
my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you,
as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2 So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary,
beholding your power and glory.
3 Because your steadfast love is better than life,
my lips will praise you.
4 So I will bless you as long as I live;
in your name I will lift up my hands.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food,
and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
6 when I remember you upon my bed,
and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7 for you have been my help,
and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8 My soul clings to you;
your right hand upholds me.
9 But those who seek to destroy my life
shall go down into the depths of the earth;
10 they shall be given over to the power of the sword;
they shall be a portion for jackals.
11 But the king shall rejoice in God;
all who swear by him shall exult,
for the mouths of liars will be stopped.

As is always the case in reflections of this nature, the following list is suggestive, not exhaustive:

1. One thing that strikes me right away when I read this and many other psalms is the simple reality that I often don’t feel the same way as the psalmist does. In this case, I often don’t seek and long for God the way David did in this instance. As a result, I’m immediately given cause both to confess my lukewarm heart and ask that God would change it to desire him more and more.

2. Going further, I’m led to consider why David felt the way that he did. What is it about God that made him long for him so intensely? Often when a question like this arises, the answer is given in the surrounding verses of the Psalm. In this case, David says in v. 2 that he has beheld God’s power and glory. For a few moments then, I might reflect on all the ways in which he’s demonstrated these things. This easily flows into praising God for his magnificent work of creating and governing the universe or the many ways he has acted redemptively in history (defeating armies, parting the Red Sea, healing blind men, feeding thousands, raising Christ from the dead).

3. V. 3 is another heart check and cause for reflection: do I think of God’s steadfast love as better than life? Why is this true? Here, you and I may reflect on even more than David could have in answering this question. We’ve already seen that God is great and glorious. But this same God is the one who has condescended to become one of us, and further, to suffer and die, satisfying the penalty we so richly deserve. Without this love, I am eternally lost. Because of it, I have Christ—all I ultimately need. God’s love truly is better than life.

4. Especially in light of the above, I want to ask for grace in following David’s example in vv. 5-6. I want to be someone who remembers and meditates on who God really is, so that I can be satisfied in Christ, as “with fat and rich food” (v. 5).

5. In vv. 7-8, David states that, particularly in light of God’s previous faithfulness, he will cling to him. This spurs me to reflect on and thank God for all the ways he has provided for me in my life. It also reminds me that I’m to seek his help and enabling for the various circumstances in my own life. So I might take a few moments to ask him to help me with specific problems and responsibilities. I might also confess the ways in which I’ve trusted in other things or people rather than him.

6. Lastly, Psalm 63 both sobers and encourages me with the fact that God will be triumphant in the end. He will defeat those who oppose him and vindicate his people (see vv. 9-11). In this case, my prayer might consist of at least a couple of dimensions. First, I don’t want to be someone who opposes God! I want him to align my heart with him and his purposes. Secondly, I want him to feed my perseverance in following him with the hope and assurance of his ultimate victory. In the face of evil’s momentary triumphs, I want to remember that, one day, all who place their allegiance with the true God “shall exult.”

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