Praying through pain and frustration (Prayer day 8)

Doubt, frustration, anger and hopelessness –  these are the backdrop of many of the Psalms.  In these model prayers we find that our negative emotions are not the enemy of peace and faith, rather, they are often the vehicle through which we approach God to find him and restore our peace and faith in God.


Psalm 13:1-6 – A prayer of David.

1  How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?

2  How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?

3  Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,

4  lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,” lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.

5  But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.

6  I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me.

Observation and Reflection

  1. Notice the repeated phrase “How long?” How would you describe David’s emotional state in this prayer?  Use five to ten descriptive words to summarise David’s emotion in verse 1-2.
  2. David gives a few reasons why God should answer his prayer – what are those reasons?
  3. Compare and describe David’s emotional state in verses 1 and 6.
  4. Look at the turning point in verses 5-6.
    1. Does it seem as though David’s eternal situation have changed? Why would you say that?
    2. What did David experience that caused the change in emotions? (verse 5)
    3. What does the text suggest David has done that triggered the change in his emotions? (verse 6: “he has dealt bountifully…”)
  5. Considering Psalm 13 as a model prayer on dealing with sorrow and grief, try to identify how David prayed to God:

Verses 1-2 : eg. David bluntly told God how he felt about his current situation.

Verse 3-4 :

Verse 5-6 :

Personal Reflections and Application

David’s honesty might be offensive to “refined” Christians, but Scripture shows us that God loves honesty – and, as seen in the writings of the Prophets, He Himself is that unpretentious in his conversations with his people.  Psalm 13 invites us to be raw and direct in expressing our feelings to God, but at the same time to discern God’s activity through his presence, provision and protection within a painful situation.  Seeing the sovereign, saving hand of God in the midst of our suffering is the source of our hope and joy that carries one through.  God does not abandon his children!

  1. Become still and identify your area of greatest frustration and sorrow. (it could be your frustration and sorrows, or that of a situation that lays heavy on your heart).
    1. Bluntly express your feelings about the situation to God.
    2. Tell God what would happen if he does not come through (use Psalm 13 as guide).
    3. See if you can identify signs of God’s love and preservation within this situation. Ask the Holy Spirit to show God’s presence, providence and preservation within this situation. If you see it, thank God for his “steadfast love” and see how hope stirs in our heart.
    4. Declare your trust in God’s victory over this situation.

Note: to discern God’s presence within a painful situation might be difficult.  You might want to discuss that with a mature believer.  But take hope – you will see that God never abandons his children!

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