Anatomy of the Soul - Prayer and Our Restlessness

A Prayer Guide

1. Read psalm 62 Aloud

2. A Guide to Understanding Psalm 62

Psalm 62:1 is the thesis of the entire Psalm. It can be translated either “For God alone my soul waits in silence” (ESV) or “I am at rest in God alone” (CSB).  Using both translations we can summarize the message of the Psalm to the restless and anxious heart like this: “You can live from an inner calm, quiet and confidence in God no matter what is happening around you”. How is this possible?  

Where Rest is Found: Psalm 62 is a one of the Psalms of trust. These prayers of trust were written for times of restlessness; times when our faith feels shaky, faint and unstable. They ground us back onto the reality of what is. Remembering “what is” is so important during times of restlessness because underneath most of our restlessness and anxiety is the question – “What if…?” What if this happens? What if this doesn’t happen? What if people don’t like me? What if I fail? What if I lose my job? What if I underperform? To silence all the what if’s we need the Psalms of trust to remind us of what is.

Psalm 62 tells us, “Here is what is: Rest can be found. It’s found in God alone”. God is a rock – if your life is built on Him, you won’t be moved. He is a stronghold – if your life is lived in Him, nothing can get to you. He is salvation – if your life is in trouble, He can rescue you out of anything. If God is really these three things and we really believed them – we would always be at rest.

When Rest is Lost: Even though David believed at some level what he said about God in verses 1-2, in verses 3-4, he wasn’t experiencing the rest that should come from believing it. He lost it. He couldn’t silence all the “What if’s?” in his life. His security was being attacked and threatened. What if he wasn’t secure? His status (“position”) was being threatened, too. What if he lost his position as king? His strength was failing. He was a “leaning wall”, “a tottering fence”. What if he couldn’t hold up under the pressure? This is where David turned to prayer. But it was just any prayer – it was a pouring out of all his restlessness to God. He went into God (took refuge) and – even though his circumstances didn’t change – everything changed inside. He wrote Psalm 62 to help others find this rest.

How Rest is Recovered– David shares two key lessons he learned from his restlessness.

1.        When our faith is misplaced, we lose our rest (verses 9-10). David didn’t’ deny or fight through his restlessness on his own. Instead he admitted it and poured it all out to God. In prayer David realized human status and significance (whether “common” or “important”) is a vapor. Human strength is a false hope – it only leads to oppression and robbery to maintain control. If we set our hearts on wealth, it will never be enough. In bringing his restlessness to God in prayer, he saw clearly – none of these things could be trusted to give him rest. 

2.       When our faith is mixed, we lose our rest (verses 5-7) – David returns to what he said in verses 1-2. He preaches it to himself, “It’s in God alone that my soul is at rest!”. He had to tell himself (again) not to trust in anything but God. When the "What If's" became loud, he had to remember the “mathematics” of rest = Faith in God + nothing = rest; Faith in God + anything = restlessness. Whatever we add to God is what we are really looking to for rest. When we add to God, we are saying God isn’t enough. He’s not a stable enough rock, a strong enough fortress or powerful enough savior for us. David recovered his rest by trusting in God alone.

How Rest is Guarded – David concludes his prayer with a final emphatic reminder. He essentially says, “God had to tell me what He’s already told me so many times. It’s what I need to hear over and over again to guard against a restless heart.” It’s what God is shouting to us—power (strength) comes only from Him. Unfailing love (grace) comes only from Him. The power and grace of God come together at the cross. The cross is God shouting to us, “You can rest! My strength is for you (not against you!), my gracious love will never forsake you! You can trust me!”   

A Guide to Praying Psalm 62

Take time to silently listen to restlessness – Ask God to open, search, examine your heart. Listen to your restlessness and anxiety.

  • Pray: “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns.” (Psalm 139:23

  • St. Augustine wrote, “You have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.” Take time to reflect on where you are restless. What “what if’s” are noisy and loud in your heart? If you are in a group share these with the group.

Pour out your restlessness to God (verses 3-4, 8)

  • Describe in detail the “what if’s” that are causing you to be restless and anxious. (Verses 3-4)

  • If alone, write these things down in a journal.

Repent of misplaced and mixed faith (verses 9-10)

  • Ask God to show you where you are looking for security, status, significance and strength. As you become aware, tell him where you are looking for these things.

  • In prayer, remind yourself that no amount of approval, control or wealth can ever give you rest.

  • Remind yourself of the fleeting and temporary nature of the rest these things can give.

Rest in God alone – (verses 5-8, 11)

  • In prayer, place your faith in God alone. Use the descriptions of God in the Psalm to praise God for who He is in your specific situation:

o    Rock – Nothing can move Him. If He’s “my” rock, nothing can shake me.

o    Stronghold – Nothing can get through Him.  If He is “my” stronghold nothing can get to me that He doesn’t allow for his purposes.

o    Salvation – Nothing can stop Him from rescuing those who trust in Him. If He’s “my” salvation, there is no trouble he can’t get me through.

  • Preach the gospel to your own soul (and to the souls of those in your group). Allow the gospel to shout to you in your restlessness and anxiety.

o    Ask God to help your unbelief, rehearse with gratitude these gospel realities:

  1. My Security is in Jesus – Nothing can separate you from his love.

  2. My Significance is in Jesus – You are just as loved, delighted in, righteous and glorious to God as Jesus, simply by faith alone.

  3. My Strength is in Jesus – The power of Jesus is FOR you and is working all things for your good.