Pouring Your Heart Out in Prayer

Another place to look in the bible for heartfelt prayers and laments is the book of Psalms. While David wrote  several of the psalms, there are many that we do not know who the author is. Whoever wrote Psalm 102 we can tell that he is going through a very difficult time as he offers a lament to God.

A lament can be defined as, ” a passionate expression of grief or sorrow.” Essentially it is when you pour your heart out to God.

Let’s examine Psalm 102:

1 Hear my prayer, Lord;
    let my cry for help come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
    when I am in distress.
Turn your ear to me;
    when I call, answer me quickly.

For my days vanish like smoke;
    my bones burn like glowing embers.
My heart is blighted and withered like grass;
    I forget to eat my food.
In my distress I groan aloud
    and am reduced to skin and bones.
I am like a desert owl,
    like an owl among the ruins.
I lie awake; I have become
    like a bird alone on a roof.
All day long my enemies taunt me;
    those who rail against me use my name as a curse.
For I eat ashes as my food
    and mingle my drink with tears
10 because of your great wrath,
    for you have taken me up and thrown me aside.
11 My days are like the evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.

12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;
    your renown endures through all generations.
13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
    for it is time to show favor to her;
    the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
    her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
    all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion
    and appear in his glory.
17 He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
    he will not despise their plea.

18 Let this be written for a future generation,
    that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
    from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
    and release those condemned to death.”
21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
    and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
    assemble to worship the Lord.

23 In the course of my life[b] he broke my strength;
    he cut short my days.
24 So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
    your years go on through all generations.
25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
    and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
    their descendants will be established before you.”

It is easy to feel the pain and anguish this psalmist feels. He is not shy about expressing the extent of his suffering. Notice what happens between verses 11 and 12.

11 My days are like the evening shadow;
    I wither away like grass.

12 But you, Lord, sit enthroned forever;
    your renown endures through all generations.

He doesn’t stay in sorrow and despair, instead he switches gears to praise God and remember His promises:

13 You will arise and have compassion on Zion,
    for it is time to show favor to her;
    the appointed time has come.
14 For her stones are dear to your servants;
    her very dust moves them to pity.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
    all the kings of the earth will revere your glory.
16 For the Lord will rebuild Zion
    and appear in his glory.

From this point, the focus has shifted off of himself and onto the faithfulness we claim through Christ. The next part of the Psalm shifts to how God’s glory will impact future generations:

He will respond to the prayer of the destitute;
    he will not despise their plea.

18 Let this be written for a future generation,
    that a people not yet created may praise the Lord:
19 “The Lord looked down from his sanctuary on high,
    from heaven he viewed the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners
    and release those condemned to death.”
21 So the name of the Lord will be declared in Zion
    and his praise in Jerusalem
22 when the peoples and the kingdoms
    assemble to worship the Lord.

There is something to be said when you can shift your focus off of yourself and your problems and pray for future generations to know the Lord. I love how this declaration  is not focused on the psalmist, but focused on others.

When we pour our heart out to God, He pours himself into us.

design-11

 

23 In the course of my life[b] he broke my strength;
    he cut short my days.
24 So I said:
“Do not take me away, my God, in the midst of my days;
    your years go on through all generations.
25 In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth,
    and the heavens are the work of your hands.
26 They will perish, but you remain;
    they will all wear out like a garment.
Like clothing you will change them
    and they will be discarded.
27 But you remain the same,
    and your years will never end.
28 The children of your servants will live in your presence;
    their descendants will be established before you.”

Focusing on God’s goodness and sovereignty when we are suffering gently reminds us that this life is not about ourselves. When we take the focus off of ourselves, we can truly see what matter in the eyes of God.

So next time you find yourself full of anguish and sorrow and in desperate prayer remember to not hide your emotions, praise God for who is he and focus on the greater impact that God can make (even if your situation requires temporary suffering) but we know that through Jesus this trouble will not last forever.

 

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Advertisements

One thought on “Pouring Your Heart Out in Prayer

  1. Stephanie, thank you for writing this powerful post. I love how you show, through the Psalm, that while emotional honesty in prayer is important, it’s not an end in itself. When we recognize the goodness and power of God, that he is for us not against us, we can move into praise, and intercede for others.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s