Psalm 5 is essentially a prayer of King David. There is a lot that we can learn about prayer from David.
How does King David define or describe prayer (his own prayer life!) for us in Psalm 5? Here are some of the different words that David uses to describe prayer in v.1-3:
Words, groaning/meditation (v.1), the voice of his cry (v.2), God hearing David’s voice (v.3).
So some prayer is audible, some prayer is not; some prayer is inarticulate or unintelligible (but not to God!). Some prayer is calm and measured, some prayer is literally crying out to God.
Prayer (even biblical prayer) comes in all shapes & sizes, just like our frame of heart & mind, which often changes, depending on our circumstances in life.
How did King David pray? He did three (3) things that we should take to heart & imitate:
First, David prayed. (It may sound redundant to start there, but how often do we simply fail to pray?) And he did so early in the morning (v.3) – as if he could not wait to pray! Do we start our days with prayer? (How different our days might be if we did!)
Second, David prepared. David’s phrase in v.3 is translated in various ways.
ESV: “in the morning I prepare [a sacrifice] for You” (v.3).
NASB: “in the morning I order [my prayer] to you” (v.3).
In the Hebrew text, David basically does not say specifically what he prepared. The word is often used in the context of preparing to offer a sacrifice, hence the ESV’s rendering. In this case I am convinced that the NASB’s rendering fits the context slightly better. He could be preparing to pray or preparing by praying (or both)!
Third, David watched. How do you know if you believe God will answer? You watch for His answer!”
Maybe this is why the Heidelberg Catechism tells us that prayer is “the most important part of the thankfulness that God requires of us” (Q.116). You can only give thanks if you are watching for and noticing God’s answer to prayer!