What do you think when you hear or read non-believers tell someone that their thoughts are with them? Do you think that does anyone any good? I don’t.
David in Psalm 17:1 calls out to God:
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry!
Give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit!
He goes on to say that he has walked in the way of the Lord, seeking and exalting Him. But what about those who reject God? As far as David was concerned, they were wicked; they were like lions searching for prey (Psalm 17:12).
Because David loved God, and his heart was toward him, the Lord enabled him to know His character. Not only that, but in Him he could seek shelter and protection, just as Psalm 18:1-3 declares:
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
and I am saved from my enemies.
God was not some distant, impersonal force to David. He was real, beside him in all that he did; the One upon whom he could call upon in times of trouble. In crying out to Yahweh, David knew that God would listen and act on his behalf.
Again, why was God so personal to David? Psalm 18:21 tells us:
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
and have not wickedly departed from my God.
David revered Yahweh and sought to do all that He desired in order for His servant, His child, to act in such a way that he would position himself to receive God’s blessings.
This is the contrast with those who have said in their heart that there is no God, or that He is not worthy to follow. Because of this attitude, this condition of their heart and soul, these people position themselves for a very different outcome. In their difficulties, perhaps they’ll consider God, or perhaps they won’t, but Psalm 18:41 describes His response:
They cried for help, but there was none to save;
they cried to the Lord, but he did not answer them.
God doesn’t answer. In fact, He ignores their prayers and their supplications. They can plead all they want; they can petition the heavens until the cows come home, but God turns the other way.
You may say, “That’s awfully harsh.”
No, these are people who have chosen their own path – one that is distant from God. They are not His people; they are not His children. Thus, when they say their prayers or their thoughts are with someone, what does that mean?
Nothing. These prayers and thoughts bounce off a brass ceiling. They return void because they are devoid of the power of God, as He is not in them. They speak empty and vain words. There is no other power or authority in the universe that will heed them. Think about Elijah’s confrontation with the prophets of Baal. Did Baal respond? Could he? What did Elijah do about the efforts of these prophets and the god they beseeched? He mocked them, and he scorned Baal. There was nothing there – no one – that would answer. Yet, when Elijah asked Yahweh to show Himself, there was no doubt that He was real, alive, and well.
Is there any prayer – any supplication – that God will heed from unbelievers? Yes, but just one. If they call upon the Name of the Lord and ask Him from the condition of a desperate heart, He hears and responds. The first and only prayer God listens to from such people is one of brokenness and need. Only when they have come to Him upon bended knee, repentant, and desirous of a personal relationship with Him, will He come to their aid.
For we who believe, we know as Psalm 18:28 declares:
For it is you who light my lamp;
the Lord my God lightens my darkness.
It is the Lord in whom we trust, and it is He who loves us and pours out His blessing upon His people. This response is available to all. He wants none to perish; He desires to be Lord of all people. We can bend our knee to Him now, or at the final judgment. All eternity is at stake.