“O Lord, be gracious to us; we long for You. Be our strength every morning, our salvation in time of distress.”
- Isaiah 33:2 NIV
Isaiah 33:2 is a prayer that I have prayed every day since I discovered it in the Scriptures many years ago. I especially like to pray it in the morning, because that’s often when I seem to need it most. As I spoke it to the Lord this very morning, He challenged me to study it out, and to plumb the depths of its meaning.
“O Lord, be gracious to us.” When we ask God to “be gracious,” we are asking Him to show us His compassion and mercy, especially when we are hurting. We are petitioning Him to be kind and generous to us when we have a need. And we are requesting that He bestow His divine favor upon us. Isaiah reveals in another passage: “Yet the Lord longs to be gracious to you; He rises to show you compassion…You will weep no more. How gracious He will be when you cry for help! As soon as He hears, He will answer you.” (Isaiah 30:18,19 NIV) The truth is that God is eager to “be gracious” to us--to show us His merciful compassion by hearing and answering our pleas for assistance and relief. So we can pray, “O Lord, be gracious to us,” with boldness and confidence, believing that He will act on our behalf.
“We long for You.” When we say that we are “longing” for God, it means that we are waiting for Him, counting on Him, and expecting Him to keep His promises to us. The author of Psalm 130 says it this way: “I am counting on the Lord; yes, I am counting on Him. I have put my hope in His Word. I long for the Lord more than sentries long for the dawn, yes, more than sentries long for the dawn.” (Psalm 130:5-6 NLT) God loves to hear us say that we long for His presence and His help. When we confess these things with sincerity, He will not delay in answering us in unexpected and astounding ways.
“Be our strength every morning.” We need the Lord’s strength and power every moment of every day. But since we are often at our weakest and most vulnerable when we first open our eyes in the morning, it’s critical that we pray for the Lord’s strength early in the day. What we have to remember is that our mindset when we first wake up can chart the course for our entire day. So allowing negative thoughts and emotions to linger can rob us of the victories and blessings that God has for us that day. Scripture says: “I can do everything with the help of Christ who gives me the strength I need.” (Philippians 4:13 NLT) By asking for--and depending upon--the Lord’s strength each morning, we will receive all the divine help we need to think right and to do right, for the glory of God.
“[Be] our salvation in time of distress.” When we ask the Lord to be our “salvation,” we are asking Him to come to our aid. Psalm 118:21 (AMP) says: “I will confess, praise, and give thanks to You, for You have heard and answered me; and You have become my Salvation and Deliverer.” “Be our salvation,” can mean, “Hear and answer my cries for help. Deliver and rescue me!”
Each time we pray Isaiah 33:2, we are praying the will of God. And the Bible says that when we pray according to His will, we can confidently expect an answer. (1 John 5:14-15) Could the Lord be waiting for you to begin reaping the rewards of this prayer today?
Prayer: Lord, grant me Your compassion and mercy whenever I am hurting or in need. Teach me how to wait expectantly for Your intervention, and to continually look to You for help. Lead me to rely on Your strength, especially in the morning when my day begins. Thank You for revealing Yourself to me in every situation as my divine Deliverer!
- J. M. Farro