“Our Only Prayer” (Psalm 51: 12, ESV) by Carley Evans

David sings a request to God. He asks God, “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation.” When does David misplace this joy? David has committed adultery with Bathsheba, and he is keenly aware of his transgressions, saying, “And my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51: 3) David is weighed down with wrongdoing. “Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight.” (Psalm 51: 4)

If only we felt this as keenly as David. If our sins against others became sins against God, and God only; then we might turn from them quickly and back to Him even faster.

David says, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51: 5)
David finds no escape from sin. He knows that God is “justified in [His] words and blameless in [His] judgment.” (Psalm 51: 4)

The only answer for David is to ask God: “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” (Psalm 51: 7)

He begs, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” (Psalm 51: 10)

How is it that we think we are different from David? What makes us believe that we are capable of creating clean hearts of our filthy ones or that we are able to renew our distorted spirits under our own power?

God requires of us “a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, [He] will not despise.” (Psalm 51: 17)
Notice that David asks God, “Uphold me with a willing spirit.” Even our willingness comes from God’s hand. (Psalm 51: 12)

Finally, our only prayer is: “Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your steadfast love; according to Your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.” (Psalm 51: 1)

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