Dealing with guilt and shame (Prayer day 10)

As David discovered, it is often harder to deal with one’s own betrayal and failure, than forgiving another’s vindictiveness and treachery. A soul that is burdened by guilt and shame feels dirty, depressed, down and deserted by God. But God is forever ready to forgive and restore.


Psalms 51:1-19 A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet went to him, after he had sinned sexually with Bathsheba and orchestrated the death of her husband Uriah.

1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!

3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you may be justified in your words and blameless in your judgment. 5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me. 6 Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones that you have broken rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. 10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. 11 Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. 13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. 14 Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.

17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.


  1. Describe David’s emotional state in writing this Psalm. (v8-14)
  2. Look at verses 1-2.
  • What is David’s chief motive(s) for this prayer?
  • How does David know God to be, and on what basis does David approach God?
  1. What does David want from God? (v7-14)
  2. What does God want from David? (v17)
  3. Who was involved in this sin of David? (see the heading of the Psalm before verse 1). But against whom does David say he sinned? (v4) Why does he write that?
  1. What is the root cause of David’s sinful acts? (v5)
  2. What is the David’s hope to overcome his sinfulness? (v6)

Personal reflection and Prayer

David’s conscience constantly convicted him of his lust and betrayal of his marital vows to his wife, his leadership entrustment for Uriah, his kingship entrusted by God and his devotion to his Lord. In his guilt-ridden state he felt dirty, depressed, down and deserted by God. But he knew God to be “merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15) and humbled himself before God who hears.

  1. Try to imagine yourself before God after committing adultery and murder. Do you have the same confidence as David that God would show you mercy? Ask God reveal himself as the God of Mercy to you.
  2. In which way can you identify with David’s betrayal of his wife, his soldiers, his convictions and his God? Have you been there? Speak to God about that. Ask him for “a new spirit” and “truth in the inward parts.”
  3. Can you presently identify with David’s feeling of guilt and shame before God or others? Follow the pattern of this psalm and pray your own words to God, confessing your sin and asking for forgiveness and a new nature. Pray until you feel the burden of guilt lift.

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!

Dealing with fear and insecurity (Prayer day 7)

We are emotional beings, who at times experience powerful, negative emotions such as fear.  Religious people tend to suppress these thoughts and deny that they are in us.  More secular people would encourage us to simply let these emotions out as if it would solve the problem.  But the Psalmists show us how to deal with these emotions in a helpful way.


Psalm 3:1-8 – A prayer of David, when he fled from Absalom his son

1  O LORD, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;

2  many are saying of my soul, there is no salvation for him in God.

3  But you, O LORD, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head.

4  I cried aloud to the LORD, and he answered me from his holy hill.

5  I lay down and slept; I woke again, for the LORD sustained me.

6  I will not be afraid of many thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

7  Arise, O LORD! Save me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.

8  Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!

Observation and Reflection

Context: Absalom, David’s 3rd son, imbittered by his father’s passivity at the rape of his sister Tamar, raised an army and political support at Hebron, wanting to overthrow his father’s kingship and rule in his place. (The history is recorded in 2 Samuel 15)

  1. What is the emotional state of David at the outset of this Psalm? [hint: verses 1-2, and 7]
  2. What are the two sources of David’s fear mentioned in verses 1-2? [hint: one has to do with his life the other with his identity]
  3. The mood changes in verse 3. Why and how?  [hint: where does he look in v1-2, and then v3]?
  4. Considering David’s emotional state, how does it help him during this rebellion that God is his (a) shield, (b) glory, and (c) the lifter of his head?
  5. Considering Psalm 3 as a model prayer on dealing with feelings of fear, anxiety, and being overwhelmed, try to identify how David prayed to God:

Verses 1-2 : eg. David told God of his problem and how he feels

Verse 3 :

Verse 4-6 :

Verse 7-8 :

Personal Reflections and Application

David felt afraid, angry, betrayed and overwhelmed by the revolt against him, lead by his own son Absalom and close friend, Ahithophel his trusted adviser. But more than these enemies, David had to battle the fear that God had abandoned him, like King Saul, because of his sins.  The external crisis gave rise to shame and doubt of the legitimacy of his kingship.  To deny or suppress these emotions are not helpful, and to submit to feelings and “let it out” are as unhelpful.  We need to process them in prayer with God, who has the power to heal our souls and to deliver us from these scary situations.

  1. Become still and consider your emotional state.
    • Identify your greatest fears that have an external source – i.e. job security, safety of kids, your health, etc.
    • Identify your greatest insecurity (where you feel unqualified in a position or relationship).
  2. Now patiently pray through the model of Psalm 3:
    • State your troubles to God who cares.
    • Declare your faith in who God is to you, in this situation.
    • Cry out to God to save you from the situations and the doubts.
    • Thank God for how you see his hand in your life.
    • Ask God for help (grace) for today.

You don’t have to bear it all (Prayer day 6)

Our secular world prides itself in independence, and this has conditioned us to believe that we should handle all our needs and troubles by ourselves.  But we are invited to pray because we need God, and God delights in helping us, his children.


Psalm 86:1-10, 14-15A model prayer of David.

1  Incline your ear, O LORD, and answer me, for I am poor and needy.

2  Preserve my life, for I am godly; save your servant, who trusts in you—you are my God.

3  Be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all the day.

4  Gladden the soul of your servant, for to you, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.

5  For you, O Lord, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call upon you.

6  Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; listen to my plea for grace.

7  In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me.

8  There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.

9  All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.

10  For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.

14  O God, insolent men have risen up against me; a band of ruthless men seeks my life, and they do not set you before them.

15  But you, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness.

Note: Although only a portion of the psalm is used in this devotional study, Psalm 86 as a whole is a great model prayer.

Observation and Reflection

Notice how David motivates his requests to God (the lessons to the hearer/ reader).

  1. Why does David pray to God? What are the needs he brings before God?
  2. Why is David confident that God will hear him? What does he say about
    • his relationship to God? and
    • God’s nature and character?
  3. Think of how and why it helps one to pray in times of need, knowing that God is
    • Not merely “a god”, or “the God”, but “my God” whom you are devoted to?
    • Kind-hearted and generous (good and gracious);
    • Forgiving and merciful;
    • Patient (slow to anger);
    • Faithful (steadfast);
    • The powerful Creator of all.

Personal Reflections and Application

Psalm 86 is a helpful lesson on prayer: the psalmist comforts us to know that in times of urgent need we can and should bring our request before God who is merciful and kind, and all-powerful Lord of the universe.  We are never called on to live independently or carry burdens too big for ourselves – we were created to live in dependence on the all-powerful, loving Father.

  1. James wrote “you have not, because you ask not.” Consider your needs. Write it down.
  2. Before you bring your needs to God, remind yourself in prayer who God is – tell him who you believe Him to be – and what He is like. (Hint: you can start with Psalm 89 above; it was recorded by David for this purpose!)
  3. Now bring your needs to God in prayer, in all urgency and earnestness; he has your attention!





Delight and desires (Prayer day 5)

Prayer is a means by which we both delight ourselves in God, and receive the desires of our heart.




To better understand this verse, let’s first ask some interrogative questions and secondly do one comparison in the Scripture.

  1. Interrogative questions:
    1. What is the promise in this verse?
    2. What is the premise (or condition) to the promise in this verse?
    3. What does it mean to “delight yourself in the Lord”? Say it in other words.
    4. What does it mean that “God will give you the desires of your heart”? Say it in other words.
    5. Why is it necessary to delight in the Lord before we get what we desire? (think relationally, like spouses )
    6. Why is it necessary to receive the desires of our heart from God? (think relationally)
  2. To understand HOW TO DELIGHT, consider Isaiah 62:4-5

“But you [Israel] will be called Hephzibah [meaning ‘delight(ful)’]
…for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.”

  1. Who delights in who in these verses?
  2. What metaphors explains HOW God delights in his people?
  3. How does a bridegroom delight in his bride?


Personal Reflections and Application

God delights in us, and he invites us to enjoy him too.  Prayer is the means by which we enjoy communion with God and also by which we receive the desires of our hearts.  But the Old Testament stands as record to warn us that when the gifts of God are more delightful to us that the God who gives, our relationship with him and one another go wrong.

  1. In communion with God today, tell him
    1. What in his creation you love most.
    2. What of his miracles recorded in Scripture is most awesome to you.
    3. What of his character visible in Jesus his son you admire most.
    4. What of the promises in Scripture you hold on to most.
    5. What personal experience with him you cherish most.
    6. What of his gifts to you, you are most thankful for.
  2. Be bold and tell God plainly what you desire, and ask him to give it to you – in Jesus Name.




Asking in Jesus’ name (Prayer day 4)

Being aware of our flaws and failures can diminish our confidence in prayer.  But Jesus said we should confidently approach God for anything, knowing that the Father treats all those who are Jesus’ disciples on Christ’s merits.




  1. What is the main message in these lines of Jesus’ conversation with his disciples? (hint: look or the repeated word)
  2. Unpack Jesus’ instruction by answering the following questions:
    • What will the Father give?
    • What is the condition for giving it?
    • What is the result of receiving it?
  3. According to these verses, what is the Father’s heart towards Jesus and his disciples?

Personal Reflections and Application

We could easily feel shy to ask God for something because we are aware of our flaws and failures, fearing it will disqualify us from getting anything from God.  But Jesus said that we SHOULD ASK the Father for ANYTHING, and not fear rejection, because we approach the Father IN JESUS NAME’, not in our own merits but based on his perfection.

It is similar to being invited to watch the World Cup Final from the presidential box at Green Point Stadium and enjoy all the benefits for free, as long as you say “I’m with the president’s son”.  But praying in Jesus’ name to God we are not merely treated as Jesus’ friends; rather, our presence and prayers are as favorably received as Jesus’ own presence and prayers.

  1. As you close your eyes and pray, take note of your image of God. How do you see God?  Where is he in relation to you? What is his attitude towards you?  How does he respond to your requests?
  2. Now deliberately evaluate and realign your image of God based on this invitation of Jesus.
    • How will God the Father respond to Jesus’ presence and prayer?
    • As you begin to pray again, picture yourself walking in with Jesus, and picture Jesus introducing your presence and request to the Father. Picture the Father approving Jesus’ invitation and waiting for your request.
    • Now talk to the Father, share all your heart, bring all your requests, knowing you have his approval and attention.
    • Reflect on how this attitude and approach in prayer gives you confidence before God our Father.




Petition with thanks (Prayer day 3)

Prayer is the means by which we recognize that we cannot and should not be concerned about things outside of our grasp, and therefore we petition God.  But if prayer is mostly about asking God for things, and less about recognizing his presence, provision and protection in our lives, our relationship with God will be poor and pitiful, leaving us anxious and tired.



Observation and reflection

Note: ‘Supplication’ means asking God for things.

  1. Analyze Paul’s instruction about prayer.
    • What should we NOT EVER do?
    • And what should we ALWAYS do?
    • What is the PROMISE in these verses?
    • What is the PREMISE to the PROMISE in this these verses?
  2. Note the words ANYTHING, EVERYTHING and ALL. How does this influence the instruction to not worry but pray?

Personal Reflections and Application

We tend to worry about things that might go wrong, and this causes anxiety in us – which is unhealthy and unhelpful.  Paul’s antidote to anxiety is simple: before we ask God for things, give thanks to God for his work in our lives.  In this way I remind myself that God is actively involved in my life everyday life.  Thanking makes us aware of God’s presence, provision and protection – reminding me that God is with me; I am not alone!  Thanksgiving stirs my faith, my joy and my hope as it lifts my eyes from the problems to my Provider.

  1. Consider the typical prayer you pray. How much of your conversation is asking God for things, and how much is recognizing God’s gracious activity in your life?
  2. Before we pray:
    • Make a list of the things that cause you anxiety – your concerns and needs. Convert those to petitions to God for help.
    • Make a list of ten things where you can clearly recognize God’s involvement in your life recently.
  3. Pray in this way:
    • First take your time to thank God for the areas where you can see his presence, provision and protection (areas of involvement) in your life. Try standing up and lift your hands when you do this!
    • Now bring your petitions to God, knowing that he is near and involved in every aspect of your life.
  4. Reflect on how you feel. Do you feel the peace of “heart and mind” that Paul promises in these verses?

Talking to your Friend (Prayer day 2)

Our relationship with God can easily be reduced to whispering wishes to a well, or taking orders from a general, or making requests to the master of dispensary for provisions.  But when one studies the Bible one has to conclude that the best description for God’s relationship with the characters in the Bible is that of friend and companion.



Observation and reflection

  1. Considering these verses,
    • How does Jesus NOT want to relate to us?
    • How DOES Jesus want to relate to us?
    • Why?
    • Who initiates this friendship? (hint: who chose who?)
  2. Try to distinguish between a master-servant relationship and a mutual friendship relationship. How would such typical conversations differ? Flesh out these relationships:
    • What would a servant want to discuss with his/her master?
    • What would a master want to discuss with his servant?
    • What would a friend want to discuss with his/her friend?
  3. So, what does Jesus want from a relationship with you?

Personal Reflections

Jesus expressed God’s heart when he plainly said: “I CHOSE YOU, and I want to relate to you as MY FRIEND, not my servant.  I don’t only want blind obedience, but companionship!  I desire to share my heart, my life with YOU!”

  1. If someone would observe your conversations with God, how would he or she describe your relationship? Think of your typical prayers:
    • What do you picture God to look like? What does your face and posture look like when you pray?
    • What do you talk about mostly? And what do you hear God talk to you about?
    • How much of your feelings and thoughts, dreams and fears, experiences and expectations do you share with God?
    • Is your prayer time more about asking God for stuff, or more about being with him?
  2. How could your prayers change if your prayer time is considered as an appointment with your FRIEND?


Take time now and share your heart with God, and ask God to share his heart with you too. Talk about your passions, pleasures, plans and problems.  Then talk to God about his passions, pleasures, plans and problems.  Tell God what you love about him, and ask him what he loves about you.  Thank God for the reality of his partnership: that he is always with you.  Assure God of your partnership with him – that you will always walking with him too.




A platform for communion (Prayer day 1)

Too often prayer is viewed as a task to be done or a means of getting stuff from God only.  This Biblical reflection aims to re-frame prayer as life-giving communion with Christ our source.




  1. Note the repeated phrase “remain in me”. Suggest synonyms to flesh out the meaning of our active communion with Christ.
  2. Jesus likens our relationship with him as vine and branches. In your own words explain (a) what the inherent promise of remaining in communion with him, and (b) what is the consequence of not remaining in him. Why?
  3. What promise does Christ make to those who remain in communion with him?

Personal Reflections

Christ likens his relationship with us, his disciples, to that of a vine and branches: our very life is dependent on our communion with him.  If any godliness, faith and virtue is to come from us, it would flow naturally from our communion with him.  If, however, we neglect our communion with him, we become dry, lifeless, and fruitless.  Christ makes another promise to those who remain in communion with him: that of answered prayers.

  1. Honestly reflect on your own communion with Christ. Is it living, life-giving?
  2. Any relationship requires a platform; without a regular time and place to meet the relationship will not grow in depth and meaning. How and where do you enjoy communion with Christ?
  3. What “life” do you desire from your communion in Christ?


Over the next 40 days we aim to establish a richer, truer and more rewarding communion with Christ.  Take this moment now to tell Christ what you admire of his character and life, and what you desire for your times of communion. Also ask the Lord to tell you what he would like in and from your times of communion.  Do you have any other desires and needs?  Ask, and the Lord will give as we remain in him.

We look forward to the next six weeks of growing together in communion with our Lord!




How leaders can grow to facilitate sincere and passionate prayer

Christian leaders should not only lead people into the purposes of God, but more importantly lead people into a deeper relationship with God. For this they should grow in the skill of facilitating communion with God, from a rich, personal relationship with God.

In this inspiration video session Danelle Esterhuizen shares practically how a leader can grow in personal times of prayer, and how to facilitate meaningful communion with God in small groups.


Matthew 6:9-13

9  Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10  Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11  Give us this day our daily bread, 12  and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Observations and Prayer

Follow Jesus model prayer and pray in your own words – line by line – as he taught the principles of prayer to his disciples.

  1. Person: Pray to God the Father, with sincerity and confidence, knowing He is your Dad
    1. Start by praising Him for Who He is. Take some time giving thanks and remind yourself how big, and powerful, yet personal and loving God is.
  2. Purpose: pray for God’s Kingdom to come, his will to be done.
    1. Start by submitting your will and your day to him – invite Him to reign in every area of your life.
    2. Pray for your family, workplace and neighborhood, and pray for God’s Kingdom of “righteousness, peace and joy” (Romans 14:17) to manifest in it.
  3. Provision: Ask God for all your needs
    1. Thanks God for all the blessings he richly gives to you.
    2. Then bring your needs to God with faith and confidence.
  4. Pardon: Ask the Lord “to search me and know me” (Psalm 139:23), to reveal any sin and unforgiveness in your heart.
    1. Confess your sins and shortcomings to the Lord, asking and thanking him for forgiveness.
    2. Forgive those who have wronged you “form your heart” (Matthew 18:35), and bless them.
  5. Protection: Pray God’s protection over you, your family and your city today.
    1. Acknowledge your vulnerability and fallibility to God and ask Him for grace to keep you from giving in to temptation and deception.


  1. At your next fellowship or prayer meeting lead the small group to pray in this manner.