Setting Our Compass: A Bible Study from Anne Graham Lotz

By Anne Graham Lotz | May 02, 2016

When I was a teenager, I went on a 14-mile hike with a friend. The path she had chosen was not marked, so we just kept to the highest points along the mountain range. We knew eventually we would come out to the trail that led to the top of Greybeard Mountain, which was our destination.

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About an hour from our goal, we got lost in a laurel thicket. While that may sound humorous, it wasn’t. Laurel bushes are low and thick, and they can cover the side of a mountain. It’s impossible to see out of them in any direction. So my friend pulled out a compass. She adjusted it so that the needle pointed north, then she motioned for me to follow her. As she kept her eye on the compass, we fought our way through the bushes. North was our center point. As long as we kept the needle on the compass pointed in that direction, we were able to hike to a place where we could get a better perspective of where we were and we subsequently found the trail we were looking for. Eventually, we made it successfully to the top of Greybeard.

Prayer is like our compass in life, and the needle that points north is the focus of our faith in the living God. He is the “north” on our “compass.” He is the centerpoint. Regardless of what life throws at us, whether it’s a long, hard climb to the top of our profession or career, or the steady trail of perseverance as we set out to achieve our goals, or the confusion and lost feeling that can envelope us when we find ourselves in a thicket of problems and pressures and pain—if our prayers are focused on the living God, they will make a difference. In us. In our circumstances. In others. In our church. In our nation. In our world. So … it’s time to set your compass.

READ PSALM 18:1-19


  • On whom is the psalmist focused as he begins his prayer? See Psalm 18:1.
    What phrase indicates the psalmist’s relationship with God was more than just a religion? See Psalm 18:1; Matthew 22:37-38.
  • List 10 different characteristics the psalmist attributes to God in Psalm 18:1-3.
  • Match each characteristic with one of the following verses: 1 Corinthians 1:25; Ephesians 1:19-21; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; 1 Peter 2:4-6; Psalm 59:16-17; 91:1-2; Psalm 40:17; 144:2; Deuteronomy 33:27; 2 Samuel 22:31; Genesis 15:1; Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 62:1; 118:21; Matthew 1:20-21; 2 Samuel 22:3; Psalm 27:1; Romans 10:9; Psalm 145:3; Revelation 4:11; Psalm 110:1.
  • Which attribute and/or verse is most meaningful to you? Why?
  • On what or whom are you focused when you pray? Would you center on who God is as you begin your prayer?


  • In what desperate situation did the psalmist find himself? Read Psalm 18:4-5.
  • What could be a more desperate situation than facing certain death?
  • What desperate situation are you facing?
  • What did the psalmist do that you and I need to do also? Read 2 Chronicles 32:20; Psalm 22:4-5; 107:4-6.
  • How did God respond? See Psalm 72:12-14.
  • Describe the desperate situations, and the outcomes, in the following passages: Deuteronomy 26:5-8; 
1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 6:8-23; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Matthew 14:22-33.
  • In your own words, describe a time when in desperation you cried out to God, and He answered.
  • What is your heart’s cry now? Would you voice it in prayer to God?


  • Give phrases from Psalm 18:7-15 that poetically describe the power of Heaven’s movement in response to the psalmist’s cry.
  • What phrase in Habakkuk’s cry in Habakkuk 3:2 also expressed confidence in God’s power?
    How was Heaven moved for both the psalmist and Habakkuk? Read Psalm 18:16-19; Habakkuk 3:3-6.
  • How does confident knowledge of God’s power give encouragement and strength to His people? Read Isaiah 40:21-31.

Would you set your compass when you pray by first centering down on God’s person, then cry out for His pity, being confident of His power? Try it now.  
©2016 Anne Graham Lotz

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.