Consistent, ongoing, deep, and rich prayer has always been a struggle for me. Reading God’s Word for hours seems to come more naturally and easy to me. I don’t know if it’s my undiagnosed ADD or what, but prayer seems to take more concentration and effort. As I’ve read books on the topic I have come to a couple of conclusions:
It’s not that I’m bad at it, it’s that I don’t do it often enough.
I only seem to bring the big problems/situations to God and not the small everyday things.
So what am I to do about this? As I continued to struggle with this discipline, my devotional time brought me to the book of Psalms. A lot of the psalms deal with prayer and it was through this study that I saw the repeated phrase (in some form) “cry out to the Lord”.
The Bible has a lot to say on the topic of crying out. There are over 330 verses that have something to say about it, 46 of those verses appear in the book of Psalms.
Psalm 107 uses the term 4 times, in 4 different situations, to show 4 different pictures of redemption. The first is found in verses 4 through 9, it is a picture of wandering. As the wanderer cries out to God out of isolation for deliverance. The wandering is a sign of judgment and the city to dwell in is grace as God retrieves the wanderer. The second picture, found in verses 10 through 16, speak about imprisonment. Redemption is found as the grace of God releases prisoners from the prison of sin. The third picture, in verses 17 through 22, discuss sickness and how God heals His people through salvation. The fourth is a picture of being overwhelmed by the seas, found in verses 22 through 32, and shows how God rescues His people from being storm tossed in this sinful world.
But what does all this mean? We all know what it is like to feel isolated and to wander. We all know what it is like to feel imprisoned by sin. We all know what it is like to feel deathly ill because of sin. We all know what it is like to feel storm tossed by life. But what else do we know? We know God! We know His ways. We know His covenant. We know He judges sin. We know He redeems the sinner. We know where to find hope. We know He will bring about restoration. We know He will return His people to the land of promise. We know He will rescue His people from evil. We know He will judge the oppressor. Even though we are suffering and under persecution, we know God will act on behalf of His people. And what should this lead us to? Worship. Why? Because the God of providence is leading and preparing His people for home. As His Word is read and preached and as He pours out His Spirit, revival will come.
So don’t lose hope. Keep struggling to grow in your understanding and experience of Him. Keep being thankful for the God of the universe who knows your name and desires to grow in relationship with you. Keep praising Him for the way He blesses and sustains you. Keep confessing. And keep crying out in the midst of your troubles. God hasn’t abandoned you and He will act. Be encouraged even in times of trials, He is never far and is always listening.