Psalm 33: A Prayer for Anxious Hearts
Have you ever been anxious? That question is like asking whether water is wet or the sky is blue. The answer is obvious. To exist in this fallen world is to live in a place characterized by uncertainty and fear-inducing realities. Anxiety knocks on the door of every person’s heart. That is why Paul’s instruction in Philippians 4:6 seems unreasonable: “Do not be anxious about anything.” How can one live in this fallen world and not be plagued by anxiety?
Thankfully, the apostle continued in that verse to offer a combative strategy against anxiety: prayer. He continues in Philippians 4:6, “But in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.” Worry and anxiety ought to be the signal for prayer. Every time the alarm bell of worry dings, the heart should hear an emergency alarm for prayer.
What Philippians 4:6 does not teach us, is how to pray. This is where Psalm 33 becomes instructive. Although Psalm 33 at first blush might appear to be focused on praise, the psalm’s conclusion indicates a context filled with uncertainty and anxiety. The psalmist speaks for Israel with a collective certainty in God’s protection in verse 20. Despite the fear-inducing scenario that caused the psalmist to pen this psalm, he was confident that God would protect.
As we read this psalm, we should understand it in light of its context - a context of uncertainty. Rather than focus on the problem, the psalmist focused on his God. He rejoiced in what he knew to be true (see vv. 1-12). He reminded himself of the weakness of the greatest armies (vv. 13-17) so that he would be exhausted of his own resources resulting in his trusting in the one who loves His people (vv. 18-19). This attitude leads to certainty in the midst of uncertainty.
As you face the anxieties of life and the worry bell dings, follow the pattern of Psalm 33 as you pray.