Psalm 62:8: A Model for Prayer

Thomas Brooks, in his work The Secret Key to Heaven, gives a brief but wonderful insight into the nature of true prayer. He writes,

God looks not at the elegancy of your prayers, to see how neat they are; nor yet at the geometry of your prayers to see how long they are; nor yet at the arithmetic of your prayers, to see how many they are; nor yet at the music of your prayers, nor yet at the sweetness of your voice, nor yet at the logic of your prayers; but at the sincerity of your prayers, how hearty they are. There is no prayer acknowledged, approved, accepted, recorded, or rewarded by God, but that wherein the heart is sincerely and wholly. The true mother would not have the child divided. As God loves a broken and contrite heart, so he loathes a divided heart.[1]  

In Psalm 62:8, David exemplifies just what Brooks describes.  David writes, “Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us” (Psalm 62:8). In this short verse David instructs God’s people on prayer with an undivided heart, the kind of prayer God rewards.

First, this kind of prayer begins with a call to total trust in God, a trust which is “at all times.” The emphasis is not upon the level of trust, but rather the constancy of trust and the worthiness of the Person trusted in. A trust which is able to endure at all times can only be a trust focused and founded on the God of salvation. This is why in the verse before David exclaims that “He only is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. On God rests my salvation and my glory; my mighty rock, my refuge is God.” God’s solidity leads to David’s constancy in trust.  David trusts the reliable God and constantly rests on his strength.

And this leads to the second point about godly prayer.  It is not only constant, it is also honest.  That is, it is a prayer offered in integrity of heart.  David instructs God’s people in verse 8 to, “pour out your heart before him”.  The consequence of fixing your heart to trust in God is to pour out your heart in prayer. For David, trusting in God is praying to God. And it is not just any old kind of prayer but a prayer which comes from deep within the heart. This is why Brooks can say that God looks at the sincerity and heartiness of prayer. Who can read Psalm 34 and not hear the sincerity of David’s heart when he says that he “cried and the Lord heard him... Oh taste and see that the Lord is good!” Or in Psalm 16 when he opens his heart before the Lord and proclaims “that my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices!” For David, true prayer requires the whole heart to be engaged.

Not only does he instruct the godly to constantly pour out their whole heart in prayer, but specifically, to do so “before him”. This is a prayer that is firmly trusting in God, pouring out the heart to God, and aware of being in God’s presence. This brings to mind the scene in Isaiah 6. Isaiah is brought before the LORD in his temple and throne-room. And the effect of this drives Isaiah, in humility, to be focused completely upon God. The thrice holy, majestic, and terrifying Lord demands complete attention.  And it is this kind of focus to which  David points his readers.  Godly prayer is a constant and honest opening of the heart before God himself.  Or as Brooks would put it, “a humbled and contrite heart and undivided in its focus.”

But David doesn’t end there. He shows us lastly that his prayer before God recognizes God as a refuge.  God is a saving God. David goes from the terrifying presence of God to the comforting mercy and grace of God; a God who loves to save and sustain in protective refuge. Earlier in the Psalm David wrote that God “is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be greatly shaken.” And he returns to this comforting truth.  It is finally in the awareness of God’s tender mercy and sovereign protection that true prayer begins to fly. As a young son flies to his Father in the midst of hurt or fear, so too do the sons of God fly to a Sovereign Father who promises to work out all things for those who love Him.

Psalm 62:8 gives believers a beautiful picture of prayer. It is prayer which stems from continual trust in a trustworthy God. It is prayer which pours out the whole heart before God. And it is prayer which knows God as Savior, and which rests in the refuge of his mercies.

[1] Thomas Brooks, The Secret Key to Heaven

Stephen Unthank serves at Trinity Community Church in Bowie, MD, just outside of Washington, DC.  He lives in Bowie with his wife, Maricel and their son, Ambrose.


Stephen Unthank