Honest Prayer (Psalms 22 and 31)
Aug 09, 2010 by Howard Baker | 0 Comments
John Calvin’s observation that “the Psalms are an anatomy of all the parts of the soul” gives a sense of permission to pray honestly. There is no emotion that is not brought to prayer in the Psalms, including those that we often consider as negative or even sinful such as anger, hate, fear, or bitterness. In the safety and security of intimacy with God any feeling can be expressed, even to the extreme of accusing God of abandoning us. Jesus, the author and perfector of our faith, did just this on the cross as He prayed Psalm 22, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Later He was able to pray Psalm 31, “Father, into thy hands I commit my spirit.” At no time did Jesus pretend in prayer. He prayed His deep despair, confusion, and pain. In the crucible of honest prayer incredible transformation occurs. Mourning is turned into dancing, doubt becomes confidence, despair blossoms into hope, and pain becomes the vehicle for God’s grace.
When I am honest to God with my “whys,” just as Jesus was at His moment of greatest need, I will be given grace to pray with faith, the prayer of surrender, “Into thy hands I commit my spirit.” During one long “desert” season I felt the sting of the words of Psalm 31 as I prayed them, “I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind, I am like a broken vessel.”(v.12) Yet I found hope from the same Psalm as I continued to pray, “my times are in Thy hand”(v.15) and “How great is Thy goodness”(v.19), thus realizing that I am safe “in the secret place of Thy presence”(v.20).