I am reading a great book called “Praying the Psalms” by Walter Brueggemann. It is a book challenging us to get honest with God and express our feelings to Him. The Bible book of Psalms includes great truths of God, but it is also a book to show us how to interact with God, a kind of template for prayer.
Most people gravitate to the familiar, easier to grasp psalms:
Psalm 23:1-3 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. 3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.1 Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
Yet, there are difficult Psalms that we tend to either read over quickly or skip all together:
Psalm 88:14-16 14 O LORD, why do You cast my soul away? Why do You hide your face from me? 15 Afflicted and close to death from my youth up, I suffer Your terrors; I am helpless. 1 16 Your wrath has swept over me; Your dreadful assaults destroy me.
It’s uncomfortable and seems a bit harsh or we think we should not talk to God that way or we should just quit our complaining and put on a happy face and move on. So the Psalms are awkward, unnerving, and a bit scary. Scary in that it deals with our feelings and our world has taught us to suppress, ignore, cover, numb or vent in an inappropriate way. Brueggeman put it this way (page 8)…
For most of us, liturgical or devotional entry into the Psalms requires a real change of pace. It asks us to depart from the closely managed world of public survival, to move into the open, frightening, healing world of speech with the Holy One.
See, the Psalms were given to us to not only reveal God, but to instruct us in how to gain from the frightening good of being honest with God with our feelings. Not being disrespectful, but walking through our frustrations, disappointments, anger, hurt, guilt, shame…
Psalm 10:1 Why, O LORD, do you stand afar off? Why do You hide Yourself in times of trouble?
Psalm 11:6 Let Him rain coals on the wicked; fire and sulfur and a scorching wind shall be the portion of their cup.
Psalm 94:1-2 O LORD, God of vengeance, O God of vengeance, shine forth! 2 Rise up, O judge of the earth; repay to the proud what they deserve!
Psalm 10:15 15 Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer; call his wickedness to account till You find none.
Psalm 51:3-4 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You may be justified in Your words and blameless in Your judgment.
Wow, those are some honest, intense words! And as Psalms encourages, we are to be honest with God and take time to NOT quash or candy coat our feelings with God, but get honest and sit down with Him and cry out to Him.
Psalm 13:1-2 How long, O LORD? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? 2 How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Brueggeman put it this way (page 9)…
The Psalter knows that life is dislocated. No cover-up is necessary. The Psalter is a collection over a long period of time of the eloquent, passionate songs and prayers of people who are at the desperate edge of their lives.
For when we take the opportunity to have these intense internal interactions with God, His Holy Spirit begins to do His miraculous work in us providing healing, help, hope and even spiritual growth as our view of The Lord is expanded and our faith and trust are empowered.
Psalm 13:5-6 5 But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.
And as we pray, expressing our feeling to the Lord…
Philippians 4:7 the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
See, there is a frightening good in being honest with God…so why not try? Don’t expect immediate results (though it may happen) but over time God will do His work and you will grow.
Psalm 13:5-6 5 But I have trusted in Your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 6 I will sing to the LORD, because He has dealt bountifully with me.
Seeking that frightening experience of getting honest with God with you,
PS At each of our Campuses; Cypress and Los Al we are starting a new summer series entitled, “Wrestling with God in Prayer: Intense Internal Interactions with God’s Holy Spirit about Life,” and we would love for you to join us. The series will mostly be walking through different Psalm as we contend with life’s ups and downs. If you would like to join us please see links to direction or check out our website for more information: www.cypresschurch.net