Anatomy of the Soul - Prayer and Our Loneliness

A Prayer Guide

1. Read psalm 142 Aloud

2. A Guide to Understanding Psalm 142

Psalm 142 is one of the loneliest prayers in all the bible. In it David prays, “No one cares about me” (v4). This might be the very worst feeling a person can have. With the support of friends and counselors we can find our way through anxiety, grief and depression. But when we feel alone, it feels like there’s no way out. In a time where many say we are seeing an “epidemic” of loneliness, God’s inspired prayerbook helps us see what God wants to do with our feelings of loneliness. The Psalm was written by David when he had to flee from King Saul and found himself with nowhere else to go and nowhere to turn (see 1 Sam 21 and 22). He took refuge in a cave and prayed this prayer.

God Hears the Lonely: The very fact that Psa 142 is a part of God’s inspired prayer book means He doesn’t just hear the prayers of those with strong faith - he hears and welcomes the prayers of those whose faith is weak and feel all alone. The first thing God wants us to do when we are lonely is to tell him about it. He wants us to know he hears us. Why? Being heard is the first step out of loneliness. By using the 3rd person in verses 1-2, David tells God that he’s praying  but still feels so distant from him. He tells God how people feel distant – he’s got no right-hand man, no one safe, no one who cares about him (v4). He tells God how trapped he feels in his loneliness. He says he can’t trust anyone (v3). It’s like he’s trapped in the emotional prison of loneliness(v7). In our loneliness, we need to know that even when God feels distant, people feel distant and we feel trapped, God hears us. He always hears the fragile prayers of the lonely.

God’s Gift to the Lonely– But the Psalm teaches that God does more than hear the lonely. God has a special gift he wants give to the lonely. It’s something God can only really give us us in our loneliness. What is it? The story behind the prayer points us to the answer. God answered David’s prayer in the cave very dramatically. He brought over 400 people to meet him, pledge their support to him and provide the community he longed for. But why did God allow David to have this Psalm 142 experience before he gave him the gift of human support and friendship? He had a greater gift for David in the cave. It was the gift of Himself. The gift of His perfect friendship, love and support. Verse 5 is the turning point in the Psalm. Here David takes a hold of God. He reaches out in faith to receive the gift, “You are my shelter. You are my portion.” He doesn’t ask God for the gifts of shelter or a portion in others. He receives God Himself as his shelter and only portion in life. Our loneliness can reveal to us ways we’ve been missing this gift.

God’s Promise to the Lonely - To all the lonely—reach out in faith and say to God, “You are my shelter, You are my portion”, Psa 142 has a promise. We will come out of the cave 1) knowing him better (“praising his name”) and 2) God will restore to us the gift of human community– “the righteous will gather around me because you deal generously with me” (v7).

In order for us to hear and to the hold the promise in this Psalm we need to see that this is not just David’s’ prayer in the cave for himself, this is Jesus’ prayer on the cross for us. On the cross, Jesus prayed the loneliest prayers of the Bible (ie, Psa 69 ---I waited for sympathy there was none, for comforters but found no one Instead they gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink; Psa 22 “My God, My God Why have you forsaken me?”) This is good news for the lonely. We can’t pray our way out of loneliness, but God gives us a way out when we hear and hold to His promise. On the cross, Jesus was forsaken by the Father, so that we would never be. Anything and everything that separates us from God was completely and forever removed - our sin, our shame, our guilt, our unbelief, and death itself. Jesus experienced the greatest loneliness possible so we could hear and hold to the promise - I will never leave nor forsake you (Heb 13:5).  When we hold on to this promise, we can gather back into community with people for the right reasons and with the right expectations. We gather with others to point them to God’s safety and sufficiency.  We receive the support and friendship we need without asking people to be God for us.

A Guide to Praying Psalm 142

REFLECT – How is Psalm 142 teaching you or how has God taught you one of these lessons of loneliness?

Loneliness can reveal how much of our faith is really personal and how much is putting on an act for others. Much of our conversation about faith and God happens in the 3rd person. We talk about God. We know things about him. So much of our God-talk is us trying to impress people, fit it or say what we think we are supposed to. But when it’s just us and God, and we have nowhere else to turn, we are given the chance to start to talk to God, to know him. It’s a chance to drop the religious act and develop a personal faith. If we don’t really have a personal prayer life – our loneliness gives us the opportunity to make our faith personal in honest and real conversation with God.

Loneliness can reveal how we’ve been looking to people to be for us what only God can be for us. Just when David thought he had no one to turn to, he realized that what he really needed could only be found in God.  In a sinful and broken world, people will betray us, disappoint us and misunderstand us. Only God can know us fully and love us completely. Much of our relationship disappointment comes from us trying to be God for others or expecting others to be God for us. The feeling of loneliness gives us the opportunity to bring our relational hurt/disappointment to God and say to him – You are my shelter and my portion.


Tell God about your feelings of loneliness (v1-4)

  • Does God feel distant? Do people feel distant? How do you feel trapped? Tell God how you have been feeling any or all these things. He hears these prayers.

Take a hold of God’s Gift to the Lonely (v5)

  • Confess any ways you have distanced yourself from God by accepting a “3rd person” relationship with him. Confess any ways you have used God to impress other people (by appearing spiritual, religious or good).

  • Receive the gift of God Himself by telling him

    • “You are my shelter” – Thank God that He knows you fully – all of your sin, brokenness and need – and he “lets” you in for refuge anyway. Thank God that he is always safe. Remember that he never turns us away.

    • You are my portion – Thank God that He is enough. If all you have in life is him, you have everything you need. Tell him He is all you need.

Hear and hold to God’s Promise to the Lonely (v6-7)

  • Rehearse and remember the gospel in prayer– Thank Jesus for how he descended into the deepest and darkest loneliness so you never will have to. Thank Jesus for how he was forsaken so you can hold to this promise from God, “I will never leave you nor forsake you”.

  • Praise God for all the ways he’s pursued, supported and provided for you. Tell him you want to praise him more for the ways he meets you in your loneliness.

  • Thank Him for his promise to gather you back into community. Ask him to shape you into the kind of person that gathers with others to point them to Jesus.

Anatomy of the Soul - Prayer and Our Homesickness

A Prayer Guide

1. Read psalm 84 Aloud

2. A Guide to Understanding Psalm 84

Psalm 84 is a prayer about how homesickness and happiness are bound together in the human soul. It shows us how the feeling of homesickness is actually the soul’s most reliable guide to finding true happiness. The three-fold repetition of the Hebrew word for true happiness (or blessedness), ashre, reveals how our homesickness leads us to true happiness. In praying our homesickness to God, we are reminded of where our true home is, we are given strength for the journey home and we are given glimpses of what home will be like. 

Happy are those… Who Know Where Home (Really) Is Psalm 84:4 says, “Happy are those who dwell in your house!” At the time this Psalm was written, this referred to the temple in Jerusalem. His house, his courts, his dwelling place all refer to the temple as the special place of God’s presence, protection and permanence. He says - that’s my true home – a place where God is in all his glory. The place where all my being is praising God continually! But he says, “I’m not there, so I’m not home!” Instead, he’s filled with intense longing and yearning for home. He feels spiritually and physically displaced. He’s homesick. The temple of the OT functioned as a reminder of where home really is for every person. Home is the place where God dwells with humanity in all his glory. In one sense, the whole biblical story is about where this home really is. Our home was Eden. Our home was lost because of sin. Our home came to earth in Jesus. Our home will one day be restored when Jesus makes all things new in the new creation.  Our homesickness is the memory of what we lost and a beacon of what awaits all those who trust in Jesus. 

Happy are those… Who Go on the Journey Home: Does this mean we are stuck in unhappiness until we get home to the new creation? No - besides those who are already home, there’s another group of people who discover true happiness. Verse 5 tells us who they are - “Happy are the people who hearts are set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84 is one of the “Psalms of Zion”. These Psalms are songs and prayers written for people who went on the actual pilgrimage to Jerusalem three times a year for the major feasts. Using the language of this actual pilgrimage the Psalmist is describing the spiritual journey – Happiness in this life is a matter of what our hearts are set on. Are they set on pilgrimage? Or on staying put and finding our home here and now?

Psalm 84 helps us makes sense of a paradox of the soul - the more our heart is set on happiness and home here, the less we will find them. The more our heart is set on the journey home to God, the more we will have true happiness on the journey. Everyone who wants to find their true home in God must go on this journey. This journey will pass through wilderness and tears (the Valley of Baca) but God promises to strengthen us and bring us all the way home (“each one will appear before God in Zion”).  

The prayer of verses 8-9 tell us how we can make it through the valleys. He doesn’t pray for himself – He prays for the king (the shield and anointed one of Israel). He knows that if the King is strong, the way home will be safe. He knows if the king has God’s favor, he’ll find God’s favor when he gets to the temple. The message of the gospel is that we have this kind of King. We have a king who makes a safe way for sinners to come home. We have a king who gives us his own favor with God. (John 14:1-6). When our hearts are set on following Him, we find a joy that is even deeper than the valleys.

Happy are those… Who Remember What Home Will Be Like– In verses 10-12, the Psalmist remembers nothing can even come close to comparing to his true home in God. Just one day there is better than 1,000 in his dream home here. Just a glimpse of home from the doorway is better than trying to find our true home anywhere apart from God. He’s remembering what home will be like to prevent him for putting his hope and happiness in anything less than God. Remembering who God is and where God is taking us strengthens us against idolizing our homes here. It prevents us from hoarding or hiding in our homes to be people who show others they way home. 

A Guide to Praying Psalm 84

Take time to reflect on your homesickness

  • In what ways do you identify a yearning and a longing for home in your own heart?

  • In what ways are you looking for happiness by finding and making your “dream” home here and now? How has this search for home left you disappointed or jaded?

Express your yearning and ache for home

  • Express your homesickness to God in prayer. Tell him how much you long, yearn and ache to be truly and finally home.

  • Praise and adore God for all the ways He is what we long for in a home.

    • Examples: You are our place of safety and acceptance. You are unchanging and permanent. You are everything I need to be content. 

Ask God for strength for the journey home

  • Confess ways your heart is set on building and finding your home and happiness in things other than God.

  • Describe any ways you feel like you are currently in a Valley of Baca (weeping). Cry out to God for strength to pass through this valley.

  • Consider and look to Jesus in prayer.

    • Thank Jesus for all the ways He is your perfect shield from anything that would keep you from making it home – from sin, self, death and evil.

    • Recount the truth that God’s face is turned toward us in favor and delight because of Jesus.

    • Read John 14:1-6 aloud and pray Jesus’ promises into your current struggles.

Remember What Home Will Be Like

  • Describe how much better heaven and the new creation will be than anything this world can offer us. Turn to Revelation 21-22 for imagery of the new creation.

  • Thank God he won’t withhold any (truly) good thing from those who trust in Him.

  • Ask God to help you use the home he’s given you here to offer others a taste of the better home to come.

  • Ask God to give you a heart to serve those who have no home here (homeless, refugee, widows/orphans).

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.

Anatomy of the Soul - Prayer and Our Anger

Read psalm 109 Aloud

A Guide to Understanding Psalm 109

(1) The Reality of Our Anger – The Psalms give us the full expression of human emotions. They take us into the sublime – to feelings of awe and joy. They also help us explore the parts of our soul we’d rather ignore; stuff like depression, anxiety, shame, and rage. A spirituality that didn’t help us deal with the hard parts of reality would be deficient. So the psalms speak to us. Here. Now. Right where we are. Not where we want to be or think we should be, but where we are. Many people will spend a lot of effort trying to make theological sense of why poems like this are in the Bible when the bigger theological problem is not that anger is in the Bible – it’s here among us, in our hearts.

(2) The Reason for Our Anger – Everyone is angry. Your anger may manifest in a variety of ways. For some, anger is like a nuclear bomb: hot, explosive, incinerating. For others, anger is a cold war. We withdraw, brood, nurse a critical attitude. It may be more aggressive or more passive. But it’s there. In all of us. A lot of the time. So what is anger? Anger could be described as a release of energy towards a perceived threat. It’s a destructive force. That might sound bad. But Scripture is full of passages that describe God’s anger. So how do we make sense of anger? Anger actually is a God-given capacity to humanity. Anger and getting angry is part of what it means to be made in God’s image. When God created Adam and Eve in Genesis, He made them with a sense of justice, right and wrong, good and evil. Anger is our capacity to get upset, to speak and act forcefully against problems, wrongs, and injustice. The problem is: rather than use our God-given ability to obliterate evil, Adam and Eve gave in to evil and so now our sense of justice is warped, skewed, and directed towards selfish purposes. So anger is rooted in God himself. We are made in God’s image with the capacity to release destructive energy to defend something good and destroy something evil. This might still make us uncomfortable but that probably says more about our social or economic position. The oppressed and the abused find the anger of God a comfort. Rather than a problem or theological conundrum, God’s anger makes him worthy of worship.

(3) The Resources in Our Anger – Psalm 109 gives us at least three resources in anger. First, it invites us to be angry. Paul actually commands Christians to “be angry” in Ephesians 4. Why? Because anger is rooted in God’s holiness. An absence of appropriate outrage in the face of evil is just as big of an ‘anger problem’ as expressing anger sinfully. Second, Psalm 109 calls us to pray angry. Look at v. 1. This is a prayer. David is not cursing his opponent to their face or insulting them in person. He’s talking to God. Praying your rage and your fury is an act of deep-seated trust. Third, Psalm 109 teaches us to limit our anger. In this psalm and in the historical record, David never takes vengeance into his own hands. We limit our anger by handing vengeance and retribution over to God.

(4) The Resolution to Our Anger – Psalm 109 offers a resolution to anger in the case of David. See first that the setting is a law court (vv. 6-7). It’s a public trial. The problem is that David’s accusers have committed a personal act of betrayal and are slandering David maliciously. He’s been betrayed by a close ally. But it’s not merely interpersonal, it’s also social. The betrayer has not shown kindness to the needy and suffering (v. 16). Note too that David is merely drawing on other parts of the Bible to inform his anger. Passages like Exodus 22:22-24 almost seem echoed here in Psalm 109. So how does David’s anger get resolved? Ultimately, David looks to the blessing of God in the face of human cursing (109:28). Where others’ condemn, God vindicates. In between Jesus’ ascension and the descent of the Holy Spirit, Psalm 109 was a passage the church gave deep consideration. It shows us that even in the worst betrayal and false accusations, Jesus chose to take a curse on himself for the sake of his enemies. He received the just condemnation and absorbed God’s curse, so we could gain free vindication and hear God’s blessing.


1.        What about the sermon most impacted you or left you with questions?

2.       Everyone is angry. How would you describe your experience with anger? Are you hot and explosive or cold and brooding? How has anger been modeled to you? How does Scripture help inform our anger?

3.        Anger happens when things go wrong. Describe what happens when things ‘go wrong’ for you? Maybe its someone else’s anger coming at you? What resources does Jesus give you?

4.       Anger is a destructive energy. How does it relate to our identity as image-bearers of a God who gets angry?

5.       Often times are anger goes wrong. Have you ever experienced anger going right? Describe what happened. What did you feel, think, or do? What was the outcome? What can constructive anger look like?

6.       Are there any “But-What-Abouts” rattling around in your thinking on anger? Share.

Anatomy of the Soul #2 - Prayer and Our Troubles

A Prayer Guide

1. Read psalm 77 Aloud

2. A Guide to Understanding Psalm 77

When Trouble Comes: Psalm 77 is a prayer for our times of trouble and stress in life. Verse 2 tells us the occasion for this prayer – “I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of trouble, I seek the Lord”. “Trouble” here can refer both to the outward cause of our trouble (challenging circumstances) and/or the inward experience of trouble (stress). This Psalm and many others show us that the day of trouble is also to be the day of prayer.  Many people struggle to speak their troubles aloud - instead choosing to keep it all inside. Psalm 77 teaches us our stress is not to be held inside and resisted; nor is it to relieved by distractions and pleasures – it is to be expressed to God aloud in prayers of lament. 

Lament goes beyond praying, “God! I’m in trouble! Get me out of this!” Lament is praying our troubles (or the troubles of others) to God. To lament is to describe the trouble we are facing and the feelings we have about our troubles to God. This is what the Psalmist does in verses 2-9. He speaks to God about his troubled soul, his struggle to pray and the questions that arise in his mind. Psalm 77 assures us God wants us to pray like this and he always hears the lament of those who seek Him in the day of trouble. 

When Prayer Brings More Trouble: There are many reasons we struggle with lament. One of the reasons is what happened here in this Psalm. When the Psalmist lamented aloud to God (just like he was taught to), what happened? He became more troubled. Prayer made things worse! He found no comfort (v2). He could only groan in weakness (v3). His troubles kept him awake at night and memories of better times brought more pain (v4-6).  When this happens, we think, “Prayer isn’t working! God isn’t listening!” But there’s an assumption we are making in our distress. It goes like this - if God doesn’t fix my circumstances or my troubled emotional state, He must not hear me. If God was listening, He would end my trouble! He’d end my stress!

Psalm 77 challenges this assumption. It shows us that before God deals with our troubles, He often wants to deal first with us. He doesn’t just want to bring us out of trouble; He wants to teach us in our trouble. This was true for Jesus: In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:7,8). There are some things we can only learn through lament. We learn God doesn’t exist to obey us; we exist to obey Him. We learn reverence for God and his will. He can be trusted even in our troubles.

How Prayer Brings Us Through Trouble – For a time, prayer brought more grief and trouble, but the Psalmist didn’t stay there. There is a dramatic shift in this prayer that begins in verse 10. The prayer moves from a meditation inward to a meditation outward. In verses 2-9, the first person (inward) meditation dominates (my trouble, my hand, my soul, my eyelids, my song I used to sing, my heart, my spirit, etc). This is the hard but important work of lamentation. But it’s not enough. We need to get outside of ourselves and our troubling circumstances and emotions. This happens when we make the shift to outward meditation on who God and what he has done.

In verses 11-12, the Psalmist says, I will remember the Lord’s works, yes I will remember your wonders of old, I will ponder all your work and meditate on your mighty works.” He turns his mental, emotional and spiritual energy to God and his redemptive actions in history. This takes him to the greatest act of redemption in the OT – the exodus. He “prays himself there” – seeing God’s power deliver his people. In meditation on God’ act of redemption, these things became real to him:

  • God is more powerful than my troubles and feelings. (He is above the storm v16-17)

  • God makes a path through my troubles. (Your way went through the sea v19)

  • God is present with me in my troubles, even when we can’t see him (your footprints were unseen v19)

The Exodus was the greatest act of redemption the Psalmist knew of but we know of an even greater act of redemption – the redeeming work of Jesus. The gospel is the definitive place for us to look to remember who God is and what he does. Here’s what redemptive/gospel meditation might look like:

  • Jesus came into the world of trouble. He bore all the troubles of humanity and our greatest trouble on the cross (our sin and separation from God). God is present with me in my troubles.

  • The tomb is empty. If all the sin, the curse, the forces of evil and death cannot stop God’s redeeming power, nothing can stop his loving purpose for me. God is more powerful than my troubles and feelings

  • The worst day in human history became the best day in human history. The day of darkness and evil became the day of deliverance and life. God made a way through the most impossible situation, the worst trouble of all! He turned the tables on sin and evil!  God will make a path through my troubles.

In prayer, God brings us out of our troubles through meditation on the gospel. Gospel meditation is “praying ourselves there” - into the story of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. We fix our hearts, minds and souls on the solid truth of all of who Jesus is and all he did for our redemption. Even in our hardest day of trouble, these things will never change.

A Guide to Praying Psalm 77

1. Opening Prayers – Ask God to open, search, examine your heart. Ask God to help you see and speak your troubles aloud to Him.

  • “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my concerns. See if there is any offensive way in me; lead me in the everlasting way” (Psalm 139:23, 24) “Help me see what’s happening in my own heart. Help me be honest about what’s there.”

2. Inward Meditation – Lament (verses 2-9)

  • Begin with an affirmation of trust – “We cry to you God because you hear us.” (v1)

  • Describe your troubling circumstances to God. Use detail and imagery. Don’t worry that “God already knows.” Tell him all about it.

  • Describe your troubling emotions to God. Use detail, use imagery, tell God what you are feeling and don’t hold back - be real and reverent at the same time.

  • Articulate the tensions you feel between God’s character and promises and your situation. Use verses 7-9 as a sample.

3. Outward Meditation – Gospel Mediation (verses 10-20)

  • Affirm the holiness and greatness of God. Worship him that He is above you, greater than you and far above your understanding.

  • Pray yourself into the story of Jesus. Open up one of the gospels, if needed. Meditate aloud on his coming, his life, the cross, the resurrection and the ascension.

  • Pray the truth of the gospel into your troubles (examples):

    • Since you experienced suffering even from birth, Jesus, you know my troubles!

    • On the cross, you felt what’s it’s like to be alone in the dark. You took on the stress of sin and the trouble of the world! I cast my trouble to you!

    • Jesus, You overcame the world. You broke the power of sin and death. One day you will end all troubles. Break the hold of my trouble over me! Give me hope to endure.

    • ALSO – Through the lens of the gospel, we can look back at the Exodus or other moments in Scripture of God acting to redeem and rescue his people. Praying ourselves into these mighty acts of God take on even greater significance as we see them fulfilled in the gospel.