Sometimes when you are angry or exhausted from life, you don’t know how to approach God. It has been said when times get hard, we should pray. But what should we do when we don’t know what to pray? Some sit in silence out of reverence for the Lord and wait patiently for him. (Most people are not good with that approach.) In the Black churches where I was raised, people would sometimes consider, “If I can’t say a word, then I’ll just wave my hands,” or “When you don’t have the words, simply moan or cry out to God with groans that cannot be uttered.” Later, I discovered that other people would simply shout or dance before the Lord like David did with all freedom until their legs burned and they could no longer hold themselves up. Only then would they collapse to rest in peace knowing that in spite of their current circumstance, God is God and he is at work in the midst of their situation.
David had many moments like that. We know because the book of Psalms records those crisis moments…David when he was crying, groaning, weeping, running from enemies who wanted to destroy him, abandoned by people who should have been loyal to him. In the Psalms, David wrote words that spoke to the hardship of his current situation and words that practically speak to the hardships of our lives.
Prior to his departure from earth, Jesus told his disciples, “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).” Jesus presents a concise reality of living in a fallen and sinful world—we will have trouble (to the Christian and non-Christian alike). Yet, Jesus gives us hope because he has overcome the devastation of the world. This truth grants us peace.
Likewise, the book of Psalms gives us peace in knowing God is, he hears, and he answers those faithful children of his who cry out to him in prayer. The Psalms remind us of who we are and who God is to us. For this reason, I spend many days reading and meditating on the Psalms. I pray the Psalms. Memorizing them is also a good practice.
Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stuart write, “[the] psalms are basically prayers and hymns, by their nature they are addressed to God or express truth about God in song…The psalms, therefore, are of great benefit to the believer who looks to the Bible for help in expressing joys and sorrows and failures, hopes, and regrets.”
I encourage you to use the Psalms to give you words to pray and worship God.
I will praise you, oh Lord, for counseling me; even at night, you instruct my heart. I have set your will always before me. Because you are my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore me heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will rest secure, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let me, your faithful one, see decay. You have made known to me the path of life, which is Jesus. You fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand (Psalm 16:7-11 NIV). Thank you Lord for reminding me of this blessed hope. I love you. In Jesus Name, Amen.
What is your favorite Psalm? Why?
© Natasha S. Robinson 2012