Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is what to do with emotions in our prayer lives. Understanding how prayer and our emotions work together has been tricky for me - how do you identify the difference between blathering on in self-pity and being honest? Or being strong in the Lord and being stoic?
I recently heard the thought that we should be praying through our emotions. The idea, as I understood it, is that while our emotions don’t control us, we don’t ignore them either. We acknowledge them before God and talk through them.
Often, instead of really talking through my emotions, I’ve focused on asking God to fix whatever was causing the bad emotion. Then it would just be gone, right? However, I’ve realized this isn’t the pattern we see in the Bible. For example, in Psalm 22, David spends 18 verses protesting his situation! After this, he spends three verses asking God for deliverance and the last ten praising God. We can see the ratio for ourselves – most of David’s prayer was a protest, a full acknowledgment of his emotions. Then, he gives a short petition to God for deliverance and, finally, praises him. Somehow, praying through his emotions ultimately led to praising God.
I’m really interested in seeing what everything thinks. Here are three questions to help catalyze discussion:
- How do you understand the phrase “praying through emotions?”
- How have your thoughts about praying and emotions changed over time?
- How does knowing that God wants to hear about our grief change how we think of him?