A Prayer for Deliverance: Psalm 17


The Deliverance of St. Peter by Hendrick Terbrugghen

1. the act of delivering
2. salvation
3. liberation

I love Psalm 17!  I can not begin to tell you exactly how many times in 3 decades of youth ministry I have prayed this blessed Psalm!  Maybe you have prayed it a few times too?  If you haven’t yet, there will most likely be a day for this Psalm in your future.

I do not mean this as a threat or as a place to wallow in the doom and gloom of the worst parts about our common craft of Youthwork.  Reality check: if you are in ministry, a day will come for you to pray of this Psalm.

This Psalm can help to prepare you for that day, a day which might feel like Good Friday, yet it is a day to go through on the way to Easter Sunday and resurrection.

As Youthworkers, out thoughts, words, and activities should line up with what God is about in the world.  The Psalmist asks God to “try my heart” in verse 3.  In the Psalmist’s day, decision were made with the heart and emotions came from the bowels.  Your thoughts matter to God.  What are your thoughtful decisions in ministry?  Do they line up with God’s mission?  Also in verse 3, the Psalmist says that “my mouth does not transgress”.  What words have you spoken?  Do they break boundaries of holy conversation?  Do they transgress?  In verse 5, the Psalmist says that “My steps have held fast to your paths…”.  Do you follow in God’s footsteps?  Are you activities Holy as God is Holy?  Do the activities you choose for youth group build the Kingdom?

Something about our thoughts, words, and activities conspire for or against us when we need deliverance.  Let me confess to you now that so many times when I prayed the prayer of Psalm 17, I did so even though my thoughts, words,and activities had not lined up with God.  But God stuck with me.  I have often experienced the grace of God through forgiving church folks.  In those moments, God delivered me from myself, from my own arrogance and inability to admit that I had made mistakes causing my own suffering and pain (as well as causing others to suffer).  One way or another, God will deliver each of us.

Have you ever been in a place that you needed to pray Psalm 17?  I can think of so many heroes of the faith who must of prayed this Psalm.

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