This introduction serves as an invitation to join in an on-going journey of discovery. You will not need to buy tickets nor make travel plans. All that's required is your Bible and a quiet place to read and meditate. Together we'll explore the Book of Psalms, Israel’s hymnal and longest collection of poetry.  

Psalm 86:1-7

Why Pray?

TRANSLATION
(H) A prayer of David. (1) Incline your ear, Yahweh, and answer me, for I (am) afflicted and needy. (2) Keep watch over my soul, for I (am) devoted (to you). You (are) my God. Deliver your servant who trusts in you. (3) Be gracious to me, Lord, for to you I call all day long. (4) Cause the soul of your servant to rejoice, for to you, Lord, I lift up my soul, (5) for you, Lord, (are) good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call to you. (6) Hear my prayer, Yahweh. Give attention to the voice of my supplications. (7) In the day of trouble I call upon you, for you will answer me.

OBSERVATIONS
The earnestness of David’s prayer is conveyed by the eight imperatival verb forms he uses to address God in five of these seven verses: “incline” and “answer” (vs. 1), “keep watch” and “deliver” (vs. 2), “be gracious” (vs. 3), “cause to rejoice” (vs. 4), “hear” and “give attention” (vs. 6). He repeatedly invokes the name of God: “Yahweh” twice (vss. 1 & 6), “God” once (vs. 2), and “Lord” three times (vss. 3, 4, & 5). Three times he uses “soul” to refer to his inner being (vs. 2 and twice in vs. 4). Twice he refers to himself as “your servant” (vss. 2 & 4). Three times he employs the verb “to call” (vss. 3, 5, & 7).

OUTLINE
I.  Calling on Yahweh for deliverance in the time of need  (1-4)
II.  Confidence that Yahweh will hear and answer when I call to him  (5-7)

IDEA STATEMENT
When in need, I persist in crying out to Yahweh because I know that he will graciously hear and answer me.

APPLICATION
Twice in this earnest prayer David asks God to hear and answer him, first in verse 1 and then in verses 6 & 7. If we know that God is omnipresent (in every place) and omniscient (knowing everything), why would we ever need to waste his time and ours by asking him to do something he already knows we need or want? In this regard, keep in mind another of David's statements found in a later psalm: “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord” (Ps. 139:4).

This kind of question goes to the very heart of why we pray. Our purpose in praying should never be to inform an all-knowing God about that which he already knows. Nor should we be attempting to persuade an all-loving God to do something he has already pledged to do for our good. We pray rather because God has commanded us to do this in order that we might grow in our relationship with him. George McDonald, a noted British author, penned a series of questions and then a conclusion to help us grasp the importance and purpose of prayer:
QUESTIONS:
- What if God knows prayer to be the thing we need first and foremost? 
- What if the main object in God’s idea of prayer be the supplying of our greatest need, the need of himself?
- What if the good of all our smaller and lower needs lies in this, that they help drive us to God? 
CONCLUSION:
Communion with God is the one need of our souls beyond all other needs, and prayer is the means by which we enter into that communion.

So, if prayer is not for obtaining what we want or persuading God to grant our desires but rather for spiritual growth and enriching our relationship with our heavenly Father, why are we not praying more frequently and more consistently?

Psalm 86:8-17

Psalm 85:8-13