Tuesday, January 22, 2013
"The Hard Prayers"
Some things are hard to pray about because they are hard to think about.
"My soul is weary of my life; I will leave my complaint upon myself; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul" (Job 10:1).
Job speaks for us all regarding the fleshly temptation to either internalize our troubles - "I will leave my complaint upon myself " - or, if we do express ourselves, we "speak in the bitterness of my soul." Neither pathway leads to peace, but rather to further troubling of heart and mind. Scripture therefore calls us to the sacrifice of praying the hard prayers, and offering them in faith rather than bitterness.
"As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where is thy God? When I remember these things, I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holy day" (Psalm 42:1-4).
Note David's determination: "I pour out my soul in me" (meaning, of course, to God). Consider also David's attitude of prayer: "with the voice of joy and praise." The Psalmist realized his need to express himself to the Lord regarding those things that elicited tears, regardless of how difficult it might be to speak to even God about them. He also knew that communication with God begins with joyful praise, even concerning matters that wound us deeply. That is, we make the choice to rejoice in our Lord whether we feel happy feelings or not. "Rejoice in the Lord alway, and again I say, rejoice" (Philippians 4:4). Moreover, we praise God for who He is, and for the wonder of His loving willingness whereby He calls us to Himself for comfort. "When my soul fainted within me I remembered the LORD: and my prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple" (Jonah 2:7).
Hard prayers, by definition, are hard to pray. They are absolutely necessary, however, if we are to experience the comfort and strengthening only God can provide. Are there things about which we really haven't fully communicated with our Heavenly Father? Like Job, have we left some complaints upon ourselves, failing to decisively cast, as the Apostle Peter commanded, all our care upon Him? (I Peter 5:7). Or have we prayed in bitterness of soul rather than faith of the spirit? If so, may the sun not set on this day before we have approached our Heavenly Father with the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, and with the determination that we will pray about the issues that most require God's grace and our faith. Much encouragement awaits us in His loving presence, and much enabling to experience the Christ whose brightest illuminations seem to shine in the darkest nights. Yes, let us pray the hard prayers.
"In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and He heard me."