“Turn to me and be gracious to me,
or I am lonely and afflicted.
The troubles of my heart have multiplied;
Free me from my anguish.
Look upon my affliction and my distress
And take away all my sins.
See how my enemies have increased
And how fiercely they hate me!
Guard my life and rescue me;
Let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you (Psalm 25:14-20).
The Book of Psalms is primarily a collection of prayers. Dietrich Bonheoffer, who understood the journey of Lent very deeply, once suggested that we think of the Psalms as prayers of Jesus. After all, growing up as a first century Jew, Jesus would have used the Psalms as his prayer book in the synagogue and at home. It takes little imagination to envision him praying these words of Psalm 25 during his lonely journey toward the cross: “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted… The troubles of my heart have multiplied; free me from my anguish…”
One of the gifts the Book of Psalms give us is that they invite us to bring every human experience prayerfully to God. Praise and gratitude? Yes, they certainly belong in prayer. Discouragement and disillusionment? Yes, they can be brought prayerfully to God as well. Anger and resentment? Yes. Complaint? Yes, believe it or not there are plenty of complaints expressed to God in prayer in the Book of Psalms.
There is great wisdom in bringing all kinds of experience prayerfully before the throne. It exposes all of our experience to God, the healer. How shall we expect God’s liberating healing to touch us in our anger if we are afraid to bring our anger to God? The same might be said about discouragement, fear, loneliness… and the list goes on. There are some wounds that simply cannot heal unless they are exposed to the air. So it is with some of the ‘messy’ side of our lives. It cannot heal unless we bring it openly and without flinching to the author of life.
Prayer: “Lord, grant me the freedom that the Psalmists employed to bring all of myself and all of my experience to you.”