Psalm 86 ERV
:11 Lord, teach me your ways,
And I will live and obey your truths.
Help me make worshiping your name
The most important thing in my life.
Throughout the Easy-To-Read (ERV) version of Psalm 86 there’s a … demanding and expectant tone: “I am poor, I am your follower, I put my life in your hands,” so you should “be kind to me, make me happy.” The whole Psalm is 17 verses long, and literally, the word “I” (or “My Lord, I”) is first in verses 1-4,6-7, followed by a strongly-worded ‘request,’ which came across to me as more of an order – as if to a genie. “Listen to me, answer my prayer, protect me.” (Note: there are a couple of ‘pleases’.)
This tone gradually shifts as the Psalm continues. In verses 5, 8-13, 15, 17, “You, Lord, or My Lord God” is the subject of each verse: “You are good and merciful, There is no God like you, You and you alone are God.” It’s as if the Psalmist realizes halfway through writing that expecting to be rewarded because of ‘what I do’ is not the best way to ask.
Prayers are not answered because of anything we do, but rather because God is who He is.
Verse 11 is the hinge, if you will, of the writer’s change of attitude: the request is first to know God and His ways, so that God can become “the most important thing in my life,” and, then, prayers will be answered.