By John Braland, President of IMF's Board of Directors
A few years ago I took our family to visit a cave south of Rapid city South Dakota while we were on vacation. Caves are fascinating places to visit and explore, but I wouldn’t want to live in one. I can’t imagine being chased deep into a cave like the one I was in, hiding for my life for hours or days without any light or direction. But that’s exactly what happened to King David.
Psalm 142 was written by King David when he was stuck in a cold, dark, spooky cave being chased by people who wanted him dead. It was a terrible time in David’s life that forced him to cry out to God like never before.
Are you alone, cornered in a cave right now fighting addiction, fighting for your marriage, fighting for your kids, fighting for your mental health, or something else? The enemy has pressed in on you hard and right now it’s just you and the darkness of the cave.
Caves are effective classrooms when it comes to teaching lessons on faith and prayer. The darkness of a cave presses in and reveals what’s in our heart and tests our faith. As a young man fighting for his life David had to learn how to pray and depend on God for a great outcome. While he was there he prayed like he had never prayed. He prayed with authenticity, transparency, and urgency.
Psalm 142 teaches us three lessons about how to pray when we feel trapped and alone in a proverbial cave.
“1 I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. 2 I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.”
Caves force us to get real with God. The Greek word here implies that David had troubled thoughts that he felt compelled to express to God. Desperate times demand transparency and authenticity.Don’t try to hide what’s in your heart from God. Let him see your fear, your insecurity, your fragility. Prayer is not just telling God about our troubles, it’s about trusting God to get you through them.
Caves can either alienate us from God or force us to get real and cry out to Him. Whatever your circumstances, if you have made the commitment to follow Christ as Lord, you’ve probably felt as David felt here: no escape, lonely, and no one who cares for you. What should you do when you’re there? Caves will either push our closer to God or close you off from Him.
Caves force us to seek real solutions.
“6 Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from those who pursue me, for they are too strong for me.” Psalm 142:6
One of the main reasons why we don’t cry out to God asking for real solutions with an authentic heart is because we think we can handle everything on our own. We don’t realize our own insufficiency. So God lets us get into situations where we are overwhelmed, trapped in the proverbial cave, so that we learn to depend on him alone. We need to pray with humility. God wants us to cry out to him in submission to Him.
Caves push pouting but God prefers praise.
“7 Set me free from my prison, that I may praise your name. Then the righteous will gather about me because of your goodness to me.” Psalm 142:7
Sitting all alone in a dark damp cave fearing for your life gives one plenty of time to reflect. David must have reflected on how God had promised him that he would be king. God wasn’t finished with David yet and David knew it. This must have led to powerful momentum shift. David moves from despair to victory. He knows that he is weak, but his God is stronger than any enemies. So by faith he looks ahead to the time when he will give thanks to God for rescuing him, surrounded by God’s people. David’s focus is not personal happiness, but the pursuit of God. He wants to praise His name. He longs to give God the credit. David wants to be delivered so that he can give all the glory to God.
Invite the presence of God into your cave, pray and praise. Trust him in the darkness, trust Him with the pain, hold tightly to your faith. He is with you.