What to Pray When Life is Rocky

“He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.”

Psalm 18:33

All of God’s creation is meant to bring to life the teaching of God’s word. I like to think of this when I read portions of Scripture like the one found here. King David uses the deer’s feet as a demonstration of how God has molded him over the hard years of his life. This vivid imagery has encouraged me to pray along with David as I face rocky terrain.

What Does it Mean to Have the Feet of a Deer?

The land of Israel, especially the wilderness, was not all pleasant hills and smooth pastures. Much of the landscape was rocky, steep, and difficult to journey through. Although there were many hiding places, they required much skill and diligence to reach. The beauty of a deer’s feet is that they are agile, sure-footed, and able to gracefully scale rocky terrain. In fact, a hind (female) deer is able to place her back feet exactly in the same position as her leading two feet, without being even an inch off. This would make reaching high places, broad places, and safe pasture, fit for this kind of animal’s ability. Knowing this brings greater significance to David’s prayer, “He has made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.”

Words for the Weary

As I came to this section of my reading, His word gave me the language to use in prayer that I had been searching for. These past couple months have been very difficult, unplanned, and to keep with the topic…rocky. I have spent much time complaining and even more time telling others about my complaints. I have felt illiterate in my ability to pray according to God’s will for me. I have sought to pray my will for me but found it hard to pray according to His word. The beauty here is that it is God who made David’s feet like the deer. It wasn’t David, his friends, counselors, servants, or trusted advisors. It was his God. In every place God calls us we are being taught the agile skills that keep us from slipping as we follow our King into harsh conditions. We might feel like we are in enemy territory, and we may very well be, yet we have a prayer to pray as we seek to fight. “Make my feet like the deer and keep my feet from slipping as I move forward in trust.”

It may be that you don’t understand why you are in the place you are, forgetting this most important truth: God cares not so much about the condition of your circumstances as much as the condition of your heart as you walk amidst them. Perhaps, like myself, your response to the rocky terrain of your life has been poor and devoid of praise. We’ve been given another moment to let God’s word renew our minds and set our hope upon the strength he provides. We can respond better. We can praise louder. And we have a prayer to pray in confidence: “You are making my feet like the feet of a deer!”

“You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.”

Psalm 18:36

“Lord, we thank you for the imagery found in your word. I pray today for the one who needs to remember that your ever-present Spirit is developing in her the skills needed to scale this treacherous life with the ease of a deer, with secure-footing and immovable grace. You tend to us in every season and are working in our hearts a greater appreciation for your love and strength so that we might glory in you alone. Let our eyes be lifted from their downcast state and renew our confidence in your ability to bring us to a wide place of freedom and joy. We hold onto you as you work in us this talent of enduring, despite the climate of our lives. Thank you for giving us the words to pray in this season of hardship. You are with us always and this is the comfort we find to bring such peace to our souls.”