Very often we find ourselves perplexed when it comes to prayer. We do not know what to pray for, and we may even find ourselves stumbling in our speech even when we do know what to pray for. God has not left us without help in prayer, however. First, the Lord has given us His Spirit to take our prayers and make them fully acceptable to God (Rom. 8:26–27). While we should strive to come before the Lord by praying with understanding and well-formed thoughts, we should nevertheless be confident that the Holy Spirit always perfects our prayers before they reach our Creator if we are in Christ.
In addition to the Holy Spirit, God has also provided model prayers such as the Lord’s Prayer and the book of Psalms to assist us when we come before His throne. Today’s passage, for example, is an ideal model for what we should say when we come before God.
Psalm 106:1–5 encourages us to offer thanksgiving to the Lord whenever we pray to Him. According to Romans 1:21, ingratitude is one of the two fundamental sins of humanity, so thanksgiving to God for all His blessings must characterize the prayers of the regenerate. It is perfectly appropriate to ask the Lord for particular things, of course, but as we grow in Christ we should expect to find ourselves spending an increasing amount of time thanking our Creator for His blessings and inherent goodness whenever we pray to Him (1 Thess. 5:18).
We should also remember God’s covenant when we pray to Him, including the covenant responsibilities that He has given to us. Remembering the Lord’s covenant involves first acknowledging His mighty acts of salvation, for by these deeds God has revealed Himself to His people and has established His covenantal bond with them (Ps. 106:2). For a faithful old covenant believer such as the writer of Psalm 106, this chiefly meant remembering the exodus from Egypt. But for new covenant believers such as ourselves, it means recalling not only the exodus but also the life and work of Jesus Christ, in whom we find the greatest revelation and acts of God. As a consequence of the Lord’s great salvation, we also remember the high calling the Lord has given us to walk in His ways (v. 3). Our covenant responsibility is to obey Him out of love and in gratitude for His salvation (John 14:15).
Only after thanking God and remembering His great acts of covenant faithfulness does the psalmist ask for divine help in the present (Ps. 106:4–5). The basis for His request is the Lord’s favor, that is, His grace. God owes us nothing; His blessings are entirely gracious.