At my most anxious, when I’m trying so hard to meet every spiritual requirement, my prayer life looks more like a repeated checklist than an honest plea. I pray for suffering people, organizations and missionaries, leaders, pastors, and everything except the things that creep into the back of my mind while I’m praying. And even though those other prayers are honest, it almost feels like I’m avoiding the persistent unanswered questions and unhealed wounds that I’m afraid to bring to God. What do I do with the whys and pleas for help that enter my mind?
The Psalmists bring them to God.
David, in Psalm 22, writes,
“My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far from my deliverance and from my words of groaning? My God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, by night, yet I have no rest. But you are holy…” -Psalm 22:1-3
In the middle of his lament, he remembers God’s holiness and all He’s done for his people. This psalm is one of deep sorrow, but it is also worship. In bringing this to God, he is already expressing dependence and acknowledging that God is powerful enough to sustain him through his pain.
God desires us to run to Him with both the things that bring us joy and the things that bring us pain. He wants us to sing praises to Him with a strong voice, and collapse at His feet when we are at our weakest. He knows every part of the human experience, so why do we hide away the deepest sorrows of our hearts? When we lament, He listens. When we repent, He is quick to forgive. He hears our prayers, and it is at our weakest that His strength is made even more apparent.
I will still pray through the things on the list in my mind: for leaders and pastors and friends. But when I feel like I have no strength left, when I can’t see God’s plan for the situation I am in, when I don’t understand why friends have to suffer, I will bring it to God and collapse at His feet. He is so much more powerful than I can even comprehend, but He still cares for his people and listens to their prayers. For that, I worship.