A Prayer for Every Day (Psalm 86:11)
Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. —Psalm 86:11
I love this Fighter Verse because it is really a prayer, one that I can pray every day. The older I get, the more I realize that I am not as good, as patient, as loving, as kind, as self-sacrificing—the list goes on—as I thought I was when I was in my 20s. I thought the process of sanctification would make me more conformed to the image of Christ the longer I walked with the Lord, and it has. But along with that has come a greater awareness of my inborn sin nature. Thus, the need to pray this prayer constantly.
Teach me your way, O LORD
I know my own sinful inclinations. So my constant prayer needs to be, “Teach me your way.” When treated rudely by a service person, “teach me your way” is a better response than my knee-jerk reaction. How often in life would we be well-served if, instead of reacting, we stop and whisper the prayer, “Teach me your way”? When someone cuts us off in traffic, when a hurtful word is said to us, when a friend has disappointed us, when frustrations with co-workers or even our own children pile up, when we experience a disappointment, when our schedules are interrupted one more time—“Teach me your way O Lord.” We need to be taught to love like Jesus, to forgive like Jesus, to be long-suffering like Jesus, to be taught God’s ways—not to know them, but to be taught them.
God is faithful to bring into our lives those circumstances and experiences that help us to learn His ways. Some of them are painful, others are eye-opening, some are the culmination of many daily moments of His gentle rebuke. One of God’s most poignant teaching moments in my life came when I was in my 20s. I was a table hostess at a free meal at an inner-city church. A man at my table was banging his fist on the table and rudely bellowing for his meal. Frankly, I wanted him to be the last to be served. But a retired missionary who was a server at the meal shuffled over to him, placed her hand on his shoulder, and said, “You must be very hungry. Let me get you a meal.” I was aghast at her kindness. But what was even more shocking was God’s revelation to me of my sinful heart. I saw the man’s rudeness, but this elderly saint saw a broken man in need of Christ’s love and extended it unreservedly. The man must have been touched by her kindness as well because when she came back with his meal, he passed it to someone else. He repeated this until every person at the table was served; only then did he take the last plate she brought him.
That I may walk in your truth
That happened more than 40 years ago, yet the Lord is still using that experience to teach me His ways. Why? So that I might walk in them. He doesn’t just want me to know His ways, He wants me to walk in them. It is a stark realization when you admit that your confessional theology—what you know—does not coincide with your applied theology—how you live. Our sinful hearts must be transformed daily to conform to the ways of Christ. The Christian life is a constant learning experience, an incremental transformation of the heart, a continual bending of the will, a never-ending battle to walk in God’s ways. It is learning God’s ways not only with our minds, but embracing it with our hearts, and acting on it with our wills.
Unite my heart to fear your name
To be transformed we need to have our hearts united to Christ so that we can be taught by Him. Today and every day, I need to pray, “Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name.”
Ask yourself, where are the gaps between what I know and how I walk?
What is one area where I need to ask God to teach me His way?
Is there any relationship I need to mend?
What growth can I thank God for this year?
Sally Michael is a co-founder of Truth78 and an author marked by a passion for creating God-centered resources for the spiritual development of children. She and her husband David started learning the Foundation Verses and then the Fighter Verses as a family when their daughters were five and three years old. In 1997 they introduced the Fighter Verses program to Bethlehem Baptist Church where Sally served as minister for children for 16 years, under the leadership of John Piper and her husband, David. The Michaels live in Indianapolis.