Moor Street , Hereford… and no way through. Image credit: Jaggery, Geograph

Where do we turn first?

When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord; He brought me into a spacious place. Psalm 118:5 NIV

Q. Does God care? Is He there for me?

A. There’s an old saying, which probably originated in Yorkshire, along the lines of: “If you don’t ask, you’ll never get owt”…

Read on
…The so-called Lord’s Prayer, actually the model for disciples to pray, has that kind of “tell it like it is” Yorkshire flavour, mixing declarations, “Thy kingdom come…” with some pretty direct asking in “Give us this day our daily bread“. Luke’s version of the prayer1 looks like a prayer you pray as it is: “When you pray, say….” while Matthew’s2 looks more like an outline of headings for our own expressions of prayer. Either way, it assumes a robust relationship with the One addressed with familiarity as “Father”.

This challenges the person who says (and who hasn’t, at some time), “I don’t pray because God never listens to me – He doesn’t answer.”

In our logic, those two statements are joined into one. 

And answers seldom come, as it were, by return post, and we discount what doesn’t exactly fit with what we asked.

Yet we allow this in the rest of life. Politicians who have come under attack by journalists at the recent televised briefings commonly give a the answer they want to give, or at least a more nuanced response, to the questioner seeking to score points and get an angle for the story. We may not like the refusal to be drawn into a black and white argument but we accept that there is a bigger picture and that reality has many shades and soft edges.

The point behind the psalmist’s verse is about the first response to difficulty, the “what” that follows the “when”.

Our version would be more like: “When I was hard pressed, I did everything I knew to fix it. And when I couldn’t, I cried to the Lord.”

That puts more faith on our ability, and not very much faith or expectation on God as a “might as well” direction to try. How would you respond to such an approach.

Fortunately God, whose character in a word is merciful, is not too put off off by our behaviour (following the Yorkshire theme) being “daft”.

But He does expect us to come to Him out of some kind of relationship, prepared to trust and poised to expect. And when hard pressed, to let Him know all about it — first.

PRAYER

Lord, forgive me to placing more reliance on myself than on You. Forgive me for blaming You when I didn’t recognise what you were doing in a situation — or see the bigger picture of the spiritual battle, and where the discouragement was coming from.

Father, I turn to You again, and rely on You first. You may show me what I must do to be part of the answer to my prayer, but I share with You how I am being squeezed and how it feels to be hemmed in, this ‘no through road’ with nowhere I can see to get through or to turn. 

You have the bigger picture and I say again “Your kingdom come”. You can and will bring me into that more spacious place. I trust You for that — and thank You in Jesus for hearing me again. Amen. 


  1. Luke 11:2-4 []
  2. Matthew 6:9-13 []
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