Give ear to my prayer, O God;
And do not hide Yourself from my supplication.
Give heed to me and answer me;
I am restless in my complaint and am surely distracted
– Psalm 55:1-2 NASB
The psalmist is bold: Not, “If you please, Sir.” Not even, “Give ear to my prayer if it be thy will, O God.” No:
Do not hide Yourself!
How can the psalmist plead so strongly with the Lord? If these requests were coming from a superior in rank to an inferior, they would be commands, and not softened ones either! Not, “Would you mind…?” or “If you get a chance, could you…?”
Is the psalmist making some implicit threat that if the Lord does not do as he asks, he will seek help elsewhere?
On the contrary, it is only because he has no other backup plan that the psalmist pleads so strongly. A command, when given from an inferior in rank to a superior, becomes a prayer, and the psalmist, committed to looking for help in no one else but the Lord, now in his time of need pleads with unrestrained earnestness. His pleading gives testimony that his trust is only in God, that if God does not answer, he will be ruined. Far from leading him to mince words, to be silent, or to knock quietly, this trust gives him strength to almost violently importune heaven with his prayer — no supplication is too strong to bring to his Lord, because all his hope is in Him! He comes with boldness, AND a commitment to wait for the Lord.
And so should we. O let us learn to assault our Lord with the submissive violence of importunate prayers!
Husbands and wives
Of course this also has application to marriage. What is a husband but a shadow of the one true Husband? Will he, nil he, every husband is a lord. What then is the application for these earthly lords and their wives’ prayers to them?
At least three things:
1. When a woman makes a request of her lord, she must take care that she is not implicitly threatening to withdraw her allegiance from him based on an unfavorable answer. This is more complex than with our Lord, because under no circumstances may we ever seek help other than from Him, while with sinful man sometimes an appeal to another authority is necessary. But this provision of the Lord must be used for righteousness and not for unrighteousness. There must be a commitment to obedience.
2. With this commitment firmly in place, a woman must not hold back from importuning her lord with language that is as strong as her feelings on an issue. She is not sinning to plead with strong words–words that would be direct commands if she held superior rank. She honors God and her husband when she demonstrates her fidelity in this way, making her requests known to her lord.
3. A husband may neither bridle at nor ignore such immoderate requests. He must expect them and use the authority he’s been given to answer them. In the fear of God and with tenderness for his wife, let him be a man then, hear her prayers, and make decisions–some easy, some hard–for the good of his wife and family, and for the glory of God.
And the woman will sin when she forgets that her strong words are prayers and not commands and begins to try to cause her husband to obey her; to this end she will be tempted to implictly threaten to withdraw her allegiance.
And the man will sin when he forgets that his authority is not for himself but for his wife and family’s good, and when he bridles at his wife’s strong prayers, as if submission should mean weakness, or ignores them, as if our Lord pays no attention to the prayers of His bride.
And they will repent, with anger and tears and conversation and forgiveness; and there will be protection and honor, and fruitfulness, and faith, to the glory to God.