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I call upon you; answer me, O God. Turn your ear to me; hear my speech. Psalm 17:6

When was the last time you contemplated the importance of prayer? Almost everyone has an opinion on times, places, and frequency concerning personal prayer.  But have you taken the time to understand just how important prayer is to your spiritual life?

Psalm 17 is a prayer of King David, written down for our benefit.  His opening petition is instructive: “Hear, Lord, my plea for justice; pay heed to my cry.”  I think we can all connect to this idea – that God will hear and answer our cries.  We expect God to hear us and to answer us.

Since that is the case, what should our attitude concerning prayer be? I see at least three principles in this Psalm that if employed consistently will yield much fruit in our lives. I encourage you to study Psalm 17 on your own, to not only see these three principles but to see what else God might show you.

Here are the three principles: (1) Stay alert – don’t let your mind drift. How many of you will admit that you start off your prayer time with good intentions but before you know it you’re thinking about items on your “must do” list. David’s prayer is focused.  Keep in mind the Apostle Paul’s admonition to the Colossian believers to “persevere in prayer, being watchful in it” (Col. 4:2).

(2) Be specific with your petitions. When you go to a restaurant you don’t ask the waiter to “bring me food.” You specially request what you would like – “sirloin steak, medium rare.” Prayers that are nothing more than generalizations or meaningless catch-phrases ask for nothing and will receive the same in return.

Finally, (3) Expect to receive. If you pray simply from habit expecting to receive nothing from God, then you are really wasting your time. James the brother of Jesus said that when we pray we should pray “in faith, not doubting.” The whole point of prayer is that we are making our petitions known to God who will answer us according to His goodness and kindness.

Friends, prayer can change our lives when we approach it with a right understanding of its place and power.

This is a transforming truth.