To tell the truth, I don’t know how to respond to the shootings in Connecticut. I really don’t. Back in September, I preached on the art of praying. This sermon is called Sad Prayers. It’s based on Psalm 13.
It’s not fair. Why does this have to happen to me? Why am I going through this? Why did this have to happen? We ask these questions because we’re hurting. We’re sad. There have been many moments in our lives where we’ve been sad. We’ve had our hearts broken and we’ve been sad. It can feel like it’s been one thing after another sometimes. When it rains it pours. And there are other times where no matter what we go through, it’s just one more thing that happens. We can have good times. We can have great times. But then we also have bad times, sad times, times of struggle and not understanding. And there are times during these hard times, these sad times where God feels distant. Like he’s not there. And that makes it even harder.
This is what we’re looking at this morning. We’re looking at praying our tears, about praying when we’re sad, when things are hard, when we’re going through a valley in our lives. I’ve had seasons in my life where I’ve gone through this. Where I’ve gone through a season of my life where I was walking through a valley, during a time of pain and hurt. Is this something you’ve gone through before? Is it something you’re going through right now? Is God feeling distant to you right now? There are times where we just don’t get it. We just don’t understand what’s going on. Why it’s happening and why it’s happening to you in the first place. What is going on? How do we handle this? We can handle it by ignoring it. We can ignore what’s going on. We can ignore what’s happening or we can bring it to God in prayer.
We’re going through the series of the Art of Praying. Last week we looked at Bold prayers and how we can boldly approach the throne of God. In our tears we can do the same thing. When God feels distant, we can dot the same thing, we can boldly approach his throne in our tears, in our pain.
And so we pray sad prayers.
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart?”
I’m not looking for a response, but how many of you have felt like this before? How many of you are feeling this way now? This is a sad prayer. This is a prayer of someone feeling distant from God, feeling that God has hidden himself. That God is refusing to show himself. Have you felt that way before? Are you feeling that way now?
This is a sad prayer. And we are to pray sad prayers in our prayer life. It is part and parcel of prayer. To come honestly before God in prayer. To come honestly to him in what is on our hearts. And when we’re honest with God, we will pray sad prayers. Prayers aren’t just about being happy. Prayers aren’t just about saying the right things to God and making things sound hunky dory. No. We’re to pray sadly as well. We’re suppose to pray the pain in our hearts. The hurts in our souls. When all things are seeming like they’re falling apart, we are to pray sad prayers.
What are sad prayers? What do they do?
First, sad prayers help us express ourselves to God. When you go through the book of Psalms, you find a number of them are Psalms of lament. Sad prayers. Prayers and songs that reflect the pain and hurt of the writer.
“Answer me when I call on you, O my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayers.”
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am faint; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O Lord, How long?”
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?”
“Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught…my heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me.”
“Hear my prayers, O Lord; let my cry for help come to you. Do not hide your face from me when I am in distress. Turn your ear to me; when I call, answer me quickly.”
“Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, Hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy.”
These are just some of the laments and the cries for help, the sad prayers of the book of Psalms.
Each one of these is a cry out to God. Each one of these is also a cry for deliverance from the sadness from the pain that they are in. Each one is about coming to God and seeking him in the times of pain, n the times of sadness.
Sad prayers help us to be honest before God. Each one of these prayers is an honest plea to God. Each one is calling out to him and being honest about the pain that the author, David, is going through. David wrote the majority of these Psalms. He went through so much pain and grief. He was hunted down by a man he had originally trusted and looked up to. The King Saul was jealous of him and hunted him down trying to kill him. And then, later when David became king, his own son, Absalom, rebelled against him and tried to have him killed, eventually dying himself. And David is honest before God in Psalm 13. He feels away from God. David feels that God has hidden himself. That God has taken himself away from David. David feels alone and attacked by his enemies. Literally. He is going through a horrible time. Many commentators place this Psalm during the time when King Saul is hunting down David. They place it at a time where he felt distant from God. And David is honest to God about what he is going through.
Sad prayers also help us wrestle with our thoughts. This is what David is doing. He is in pain and he is wrestling with his own thoughts. Why is God hiding himself? Why is God not here? Why is he feeling so alone right now. And he is in pain, he is sad, he is distraught. Why is this happening. And he is expressing these things to God.
He is expressing his sadness, his anger.
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?”
He is wrestling with his thoughts and with his sorrow. He is wrestling with the problems that he is facing. And he expresses this to God by asking him questions, by coming before him and bringing his pain before God.
Secondly, sad prayers help us grow closer to God. There is something personal about this prayer. I mentioned this last week and this is important throughout this series. Whenever you see the word Lord in all capitals like this, God’s personal name is being used in the original Hebrew. Out of respect for God’s name, the translators have placed it as Lord in capitals instead. And this is to whom David is calling out to. He is calling out to the personal God. He is calling out to a God is who there for him, who has revealed himself to us through his name.
Sad prayers are personal prayers. You aren’t just coming to some great and mighty God, you are coming to a God who has not only called you by name but has given us his name. This is so important. This is so personal. We are able to Come to him and draw close to him in prayer. We are able to bear our souls to him and be personal with him. We are able to honestly open ourselves up to him.
“But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation.”
There is something personal here knowing that even though he feels far from God right now, because of their personal relationship, he knows God is close by. He knows that God is near to him.
In praying sad prayers, remember Christ is with you. Notice that he trusts in his unfailing love. This means that he’s experienced God’s unfailing love in the past. He knows of his salvation given to him by God. God has been with him in the past and God will be with him in this situation he’s in now. This is so important to us. When we’re struggling, when we’re in pain, we’re able to look back and see where God has been active in the past. We’re able to see how God is moving. Even when you’re in the situation you’re in now, you can look back and see how Christ’s walked with you in the past. And now, in the present, you can see how Christ is with you, walking with you through the valleys you’re in.
You might be in a tough spot right now. And you need to be honest about it. You need to know where you’re at. We go through mountains in our faith where things are great and wonderful but we also go through valleys where things are tough, where things are hard, where we feel the most distant from God.
On your notes, there’s a graph. Mark with a circle where you’re at right now in your faith. Are you in a spot where you feel close to God, are you in a spot where you are doing well, where things are good. Mark that in the upper parts. Are you in a time of pain, are you in a time of sadness, are you struggling right now, does God feel distant to you. Mark that with a circle in the lower parts. How much is up to you. Where you feel like is up to you. Know that Christ is with you. Know that he is walking with you now through this time. Use sad prayers to ask to see Christ with you, use sad prayers to remember that he is near by. Pray your tears and hold Christ’s hand. He’s here for you now.
Finally, sad prayers help us emotionally. We are people who are made to love the Lord our God with all of our heart, with all of our mind, with all of our strength and with all of our soul. We are made to be heart, mind, soul and strength. And when our heart hurts, when we’re in pain, when we’re struggling, that affects everything else. Sad prayers help us emotionally. They help us in our hearts. In sad prayers, we’re able to come to God bearing our hearts, bearing our souls to him, giving him our all. We’re able to approach the throne of God in our tears and let him know just how badly we hurt.
Now, I’m not saying God is a divine psychologist. He’s not a therapist. He is God. But in our prayers, in our sad prayers we’re able to approach his throne and let him know where it hurts, how it hurts, why we feel distant from him. We’re able to question him, tell him how it hurts that he feels far away.
One thing is true, sad prayers allow us to unashamedly unleash our feelings. One thing I’ve noticed is that we’re not good about sharing our feelings. We hold them inside. If someone gets us mad, we don’t always tell them. We hold it up inside. If someone hurts us, we don’t always tell it. Instead we hold it up inside. We don’t want others to know about it. It hurts but we are too ashamed sometimes to talk about it. We’re too embarrassed. What if they laugh at us. What if they don’t understand. What if they go and gossip about it. This is why we’re able to unashamedly unleash our emotions on God. He is big enough to take it and to hear it. And he won’t gossip about it. In prayer, we can come to him with our burdens, with our pain, with our tears. We can come to him and bring to him all that is on our hearts and souls.
How then do we pray sad prayers?
There is a time when we are to pray sad prayers. Just like last week when we learned about praying bold prayers. There are times in our lives, seasons in our lives where Sad prayers are the best prayers for us to pray. We pray sad prayers in a number of times and reasons.
First we pray sad prayers in times of pain. When things are paining. When things are hurting. When things are going every which way but loose. When things are tough. When family is hurting. When you’re struggling. When God seems distant. These are times when you come to God in Sad prayers.
When we’re in times of pain, we can come to God and speak to him plainly. We can come to him in our sadness and our pain.
V3 “Look on me and answer, Lord my God.”
He is calling God by his personal name. Look at me, look at the pain I’m in. I’m wrestling with my thoughts, I’m being attacked by enemies. I’m being hurt. I’m being hunted down. Things aren’t as I thought that they would be. What is going on? How Long will I have to put up with this. How long will I have to deal with this. This is what sad prayers are for. To pray these things to God.
We pray sad prayers when we’re in emotional pain. How Long O Lord.
V3 “Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death.”
This is a prayer for God to come to us in our pain. In our emotional pain. What is emotional pain. It’s that pain we feel when things are going every which way but loose. It’s pain we feel when we’re not getting along with a father or a daughter or a mother or a son. It’s when we’re not getting along with our spouse or with our loved ones or with our friends. It’s the pain we feel when someone says something that deeply hurts us or wrongs us. It is that pain that hurts, that sadness, that we open up to God and pray to him.
In times of pain we’re able to grow closer to the God that heals. Christ is the great physician. He is the one who heals. And as we come to him, we find his grace. His love. We find forgiveness. We find rest for our souls.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:28
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
Come to Jesus and you will find healing. Come to Jesus and you will find rest. In your pain, come to him in prayer. Know that he is always with you. Even in the tough hard times. He is walking with you through the valleys. He is with you now. And he wants you to come close to him so that you might find that rest, find that healing in your soul.
Secondly, we pray sad prayers when we don’t understand. That question of “How long?” Has so much behind it. David doesn’t understand what’s going on. He doesn’t understand why he has to go through what he’s going through. He doesn’t understand the reasons behind it. And there are so many times where we don’t fully understand what we’re going through. We don’t fully understand why we are going through what we are. And I wish I had an easy answer for you. But I don’t.
This is why we come to God in prayer in sad prayers. Because we don’t understand. I like to compare these to storms. Now we haven’t had many storms this past summer, but I know that since I’ve been here, we’ve had some strong storms pick up. Even when we were in the black hills this summer, we had a strong storm pick up. These storms are tough, they are frightening. They are ones that come up and hit. Such as it is in our lives as well. We have storms. We have problems that just hit. We have things that come up on us that we weren’t expecting. And it’s tough. It’s hard.
Here’s the thing: We don’t know how long the storm will last, but we know that God is with us. After all his questions, after all his tears. David says these words
“But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”
He doesn’t know exactly how long it will be. He doesn’t know what he has to still go through. He’s going to go through a lot. And so are we. If you’re going through a storm right now in your life, you’re going to go through a lot. It’s going to be tough.
But remember your God is with you. Christ is with you and he’ll never leave you nor forsake you. He is always with you walking beside you in the storm. Don’t tell God how big your storms are, tell the storm how big your God is. Don’t let the storms get in the way of your prayers. Pray. Pray hard. Pray your tears. Even when you don’t’ fully understand, pray. And he is with you always.
Finally, pray sad prayers when you don’t know what else to do. Pray them because you don’t know what else should happen. Sometimes we get in the middle of storms of this life and we can’t see our way out of it. We don’t see the end to the storms. We just see the rain and the lightening and hear the thunder. When you don’t know what else to do, pray. Pray sad prayers. Pray your tears. Come to God and ask for his help during the storm and he hears you and answers you.
Remember this, prayer isn’t the last result, it is the only option. When you don’t know what else to do, pray. When you’re going through tough times. Pray. When you’re struggling, pray. It is the best and only option you have. Express your pain to God in prayer. Express how it hurts. Express to him that you’re wrestling with your thoughts, that you’re heart is full of sorrow. Express to him how things are tough right now. Come to him and allow yourself to cry before him. Allow yourself to draw close to him. He says draw close to me and I will draw close to you. I will be found by you when you seek me with your whole heart. God isn’t aloof, we are able to seek him in prayer, seek him in our tears. And prayer is the only option we have in starting that. Prayer is how we seek him, how we come to him in our pain.
What are you struggling with right now? Are you in a time right now of pain? Are you in a time right now where things are hard? Then remember your spiritual landmarks of how God’s been faithful in the past. I use landmarks when I drive to Sioux Falls to know just how close I am to it. On the 90 you have that buffalo farm and that weird bull head there. Those are my landmarks letting me know I’m close by. We have spiritual landmarks that remind us that God is close by. What are they. Where has God been faithful in the past to you. Take a moment and use a line on the graph to mark where he’s been faithful to you in the past. Now write that down. Where has he been faithful to you. Where has he shown himself to you. Write that down. Now remember that. Keep that. Know that he has been faithful in the past and because of that we know he’ll be faithful in the future.
We are to pray sad prayers. When things are tough, we are to pray sad prayers. We are to pray our tears. We are to come to God seeking him. Express yourself to him, let him know what is on your heart, let him know how you are feeling, how things hurt. Come to him, draw close to him, for he’ll draw close to you. And do so with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, give God your all when you come to him with sad prayers. Know that he hears you and he answers you. He is present with you in your prayers. Know that in your tears, your God is with you, holding you close. Amen.