Psalm 17:1, When You Pray

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A prayer of David. Lord, hear a just cause; pay attention to my cry; listen to my prayer— from lips free of deceit.
-Psalm 17:1

When you pray, be honest.

Don't lie when you talk to God.

Tell the Lord the truth.

Don't be deceptive.

Be sincere, genuine, real, and true.

Be without guile when you pray.

Present your honest story of injustice to God.

Tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth.

God is listening.

The court is open.

Ask for justice.

Be completely honest.

The judge is listening.

Get your hearing, plead your case, now.

Stop defending yourself, in your own mind.

Stop worrying that God doesn't hear you.

You will never be turned away by the righteous judge.

Are you a believer?

You have standing in the righteousness of Jesus Christ.

Your cry to God is the prayer of Christ.

God hears the voice of Jesus.

Peter Craigie's notes on Psalm 17:

Psalm 17 is:

  • A prayer
  • An individual lament
  • An innocent person's prayer for protection
  • A royal prayer
  • Depicts an innocent person under extreme pressure
  • A morning prayer (night testing, v. 3; awakening, v.15)

Charles Spurgeon wrote these notes on Psalm 17:1:

"Attend unto my cry." This shows the vehemence and earnestness of the petitioner; he is no mere talker, he weeps and laments.


Synonyms for vehemence

Synonyms for earnest

Spurgeon continues:

Who can resist a cry? A real hearty, bitter, piteous cry, might almost melt a rock, there can be no fear of its prevalence with our heavenly Father.
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A cry is our earliest utterance, and in many ways the most natural of human sounds; if our prayer should like the infant's cry be more natural than intelligent, and more earnest than elegant, it will be none the less eloquent with God. There is a mighty power in a child's cry to prevail with a parent's heart.

Hear the right, O Lord, attend unto my cry, give ear unto my prayer, that goeth not out of feigned lips.
-Psalm 17:1


"Give ear unto my prayer." Some repetitions are not vain. The reduplication here used is neither superstition nor tautology, but is like the repeated blow of a hammer hitting the same nail on the head to fix it the more effectually, or the continued knocking of a beggar at the gate who cannot be denied an alms.

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"That goeth not out of feigned lips." Sincerity is a sine qu non (essential element) in prayer. Lips of deceit are detestable to man and much more to God. In intercourse so hallowed as that of prayer, hypocrisy even in the remotest degree is as fatal as it is foolish. Hypocritical piety is double iniquity. He who would feign and flatter had better try his craft with a fool like himself, for to deceive the all-seeing One is as impossible as to take the moon in a net, or to lead the sun into a snare. He who would deceive God is himself already most grossly deceived. Our sincerity in prayer has no merit in it, any more than the earnestness of a mendicant in the street; but at the same time the Lord has regard to it, through Jesus, and will not long refuse his ear to an honest and fervent petitioner.

A prayer of David.
Lord, hear a just cause;
pay attention to my cry;
listen to my prayer—
from lips free of deceit.
-Psalm 17:1

The call to prayer is often a calling to pray for yourself.

This is not inherently selfish but relational.

We come to God, as we are, perhaps purely selfish, and God relates to us.

The sign "Start Here", means right now, where you are.

God wants to hear from us.

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Believers are God's children and children talk to their mom's and dad's.

We have been adopted and are being cared for by God.

We might have been babies at first, who could only cry and sleep.

We might have been small children who were afraid.

Maybe we might feel like older children who were adopted and are learning to be loved.

Sooner for some and later for others, we start talking to God.

And it is easy, because God is the best listener and shows loving attention towards us.

There are a lot of other voices and "Sirens" in the world that want our attention.

But God is always the "true north" magnetic pull on our hearts.

No matter what your situation or no matter how long it's been going on or how hopeless it seems; God wants to hear about it and wants us to ask for help

You might ask, why doesn't God just fix it, without my having to go through it, suffering, waiting, and asking; maybe over and over?

I don't know.

This thing, God allowed.

What we have to settle, in our minds, is that God is good.

But God allows suffering.

This is humbling.


Saying and believing that God is bad, cursing God, is a severe error and makes things worse.

Wrestling with your circumstances, before God; is the right thing to do.

We can say, "this circumstance and your goodness do not add up, and I am confused!"

We can say, "I am hurt and angry", or, "I am sad and losing hope".

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A prayer of David.
Lord, hear a just cause; pay attention to my cry; listen to my prayer— from lips free of deceit.
-Psalm 17:1

  • When you pray
  • God is listening
  • Tell your story
  • Be raw, unedited
  • Treat God with respect, but as a real person
  • Cut loose, don't hold back
  • Be unfiltered, completely honest

Peter Craige, Psalms 1-50
Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David