Faith and feelings – praying my emotions (Prayer day 21)

Our emotions are neither our masters to whom we submit, nor our enemies whom we resist. Rather, our emotions are like warning lights that help us, drawing attention to our relation health.

For today’s devotional study and reflection, consider listening to this song from Casting Crowns.


Psalm 43:1-5

1 Vindicate me, O God, and defend my cause against an ungodly people, from the deceitful and unjust man deliver me!

2 For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?

3 Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me; let them bring me to your holy hill and to your dwelling!

4 Then I will go to the altar of God, to God my exceeding joy, and I will praise you with the lyre, O God, my God.

5 Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.

Observations and reflections

  1. Note all the emotion-laden words and phrases. How many of the psalmist’s emotions could you identify? What can you presently identify with most in this psalm?
  2. What do you read of the psalmist’s emotions in the two questions he asks God in verse 2?
  3. Could you identify the pivotal point in this psalm? Why would the psalmist’s prayer in verse 3 change his emotional state?
  4. It would seem as though the psalmist could be satisfied, and the prayer ended in verse 4. What significant lesson is learnt by the addition of verse 5?

Personal reflection and Application

We are emotional beings. Neither suppressing nor succumbing to our emotions is helpful. But our emotions are ques, prompting us to re-evaluate our relational health in God’s presence, asking for his “light and truth” – his perspective on our circumstances, which brings us love, hope and joy.

Let’s pray according to Psalm 43. To help you put words to feelings, make use of this emotion wheel.


  1. Prayerfully look at this emotion wheel, and name the most prominent positive emotion you can presently identify with. Who and what situation is related to this emotion? Tell God why do you feel this emotion. Find other emotions related to this situation to describe how you feel. What would you like God to do for you, and what does God want from you in this situation?
  2. Now, prayerfully name the most prominent negative emotion you can presently identify with. Who and what situation is related to this emotion? Tell God why do you feel this emotion, and what other emotions you also feel about this situation. Pray what you would like God to do for you, and what does God want from you in this situation?
  3. Pray with the psalmist for discernment of God’s presence and perspective: “Send out your light and your truth; let them lead me!”
  4. After meeting with God about this situation, how would you direct your emotions, as the psalmist did in verse 5? Speak to your own soul, and take charge of your emotions.

What is man 4 – Direct your soul

The aim of this devotional study is to learn from a Psalmist’s relationship to his soul.


Psalms 42:1-11

1  As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God.  My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

3  My tears have been my food day and night, While they continually say to me, “Where is your God?”  4  When I remember these things, I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go with the multitude; I went with them to the house of God, With the voice of joy and praise, With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.  5  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him For the help of His countenance.

6  O my God, my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan, And from the heights of Hermon, From the Hill Mizar. 7  Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls; All Your waves and billows have gone over me. 8  The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime, And in the night His song shall be with me– A prayer to the God of my life.

9  I will say to God my Rock, “Why have You forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” 10  As with a breaking of my bones, My enemies reproach me, While they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” 11  Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God.

Observation and reflection

  1. Read through this Psalm again and summarize the following sections:
    1. Verse 1-2
    2. Verses 3-5
    3. Verses 6-8
    4. Verses 9-11
  2. What do you learn about the Psalmist’s understanding of his soul?
    1. Verse 2 “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God”
    2. Verse 3 “I pour out my soul within me.”
    3. Verse 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me?
  3. Consider the Psalmist’ response to “a cast-down and disquieted soul”

Verse 5 Why are you cast down, O my soul?… Hope in God! For I shall praise Him…”

Verse 6 “my soul is cast down within me; Therefore I will remember You…”

  1. If the Psalmist was speaking to and directing the state of his soul, how does the Psalmist relate to his soul?
  2. Suggest other words for his “soul” in this text.

Personal reflection and Application and Prayer

  1. Some would say this Psalmist was challenged with depression (cast-down) and anxiety (disquieted). What state emotional states are you more frequently challenged with?
  2. Follow the example for the Psalmist above and
    1. Confess your need for and dependence on God
    2. Confess your emotional state to God (that you are most frequently challenged with)
    3. Direct your soul / emotional state by
      1. taking charge of your emotions and thoughts (verbally)
      2. reminding yourself of God’s power, proximity, promises and personal care for you
      3. reminding yourself of what God has done for you in the past
      4. a resolute decision to praise God
  1. Search and record one or two Scriptures that counters the emotional state you are more frequently challenged with; keep it handy.

What is man 3 – Body, Soul and Spirit

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the body, soul and spirit of man in the light of God’s ongoing work in us.


1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.

Hebrews 4:9-13

9  So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10  for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. 11  Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience [as the Hebrews who died in the desert before entering the Promised Land]. 12  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13  And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Observation and reflection

Context: Remember that Hebrews were written to believers who considered walking away from faith in Jesus due to severe Roman persecution.

  1. Considering the context of the first readers, answer the following verses pertaining to Hebrews 4:12-13
    1. What would this verse mean for them?
    2. What is meant with “word”, “soul”, “spirit” and “division” in the verse above?
    3. Can you see the irony in the metaphor of “word of God” as a “double-edged sword”? [hint: what are the readers afraid of…?] What then is emphasized by the use of this metaphor?
    4. How does the Word active in “discerning the thoughts and intents of the heart”?
    5. How does “thoughts and intents of the heart” relate to “soul and spirit” in this context?
  2. From 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, what do you learn about the Lord’s work of salvation in a believer? [don’t rush your answer]

Personal reflection and prayer

  1. Sin results in destruction and death. Consider any particular destructive sin such as sexual perversion or substance abuse.  In which way can you observe persistent sinful behavior affecting
    1. The body;
    2. The soul;
    3. The spirit? [hint: relationships are inherently spiritual]
  2. Now prayerfully consider your life in the light of the Lord’s ongoing work of restoration; how are you still in need of the Lord’s work of sanctification in
    1. Your body;
    2. Your soul;
    3. Your spirit?
  3. Personalize Paul’s prayer in 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24, thanking the Lord that He is faithful and ask Him to restore and sanctify your body, soul and spirit as you have particular needs, and also ask him to preserve you wholly.
  4. What is your particular weakness or area where you are most frequently tempted? Confess it to the Lord, and ask Him to bring his Word to “pierce to the division of soul and of spirit… and discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart” that you may know and desire what is His will.

Discipline of Rest – identity and trust

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on our soul’s need for rest.


Deuteronomy 5:12-15

12  “‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the LORD your God commanded you.  13  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 14  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.

15  You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.

Observation and reflection

Context: After their 40 year wandering in Egypt, just before they were about to enter the Promised Land, Moses reminds this new generation of Israelites of the Laws God had given them at Mount Sinai.

  1. Summarize the fourth of the Ten Commands quoted above in your own words.
  2. To whom was this command given?
  3. What are the two things that the Sabbath day was a perpetual reminder and celebration of?
  4. From this command one can see that the identity of the Israelite was closely linked to the Sabbath day. What did the Sabbath day observance inform every Jew about who they were (and who they were not)? [don’t rush this answer]
  5. Respond to this statement: “The Israelites were no longer slaves of Egypt or slaves to their own work; in their Sabbath rest-day they declared that they trust God would provide for their needs.”

Personal reflection and Application

Note that the New Testament believer is not bound by this Law (Colossians 2:16-17) as Jesus said, “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

  1. Based on your observations above,
    1. Why do you need rest?
    2. From what do you need rest?
    3. What does rest do for your identity?
    4. What does rest do for your cares?
  2. How can you adapt your schedule for time every week for this type of rest?
  3. When will you rest in this way?


Thank God that you are not a slave to make a living, but a child of God who is in the care of God.  Reaffirm your identity as beloved child of God and declare your trust in God’s provision. Commit time to rest, asking that God will deliver you from sin of hurriedness and self-dependence.