Emotions in Prayer – Continuing through Psalms

David is certainly an emotional man. He is called a great Warrior King. In fact, he is said to be the greatest of Israel’s warriors. A man who hid from Saul in a cave and then was convicted because he touched the robe of a king, he later snuck into Saul’s camp and stole his water jug, which he promptly returned. He was a man of passions, of feelings, and hope. He did not restrain this truth from God.

I would ask us as a church, “What part of our lives do we willingly reveal to the Lord?” Certainly he knows all and sees all, but what do we willingly present before him? Do we show him our emotions? Are we willing to admit when we are in need? I have always found it to be unsatisfying to have to pry a question, wish, or need from my children. As my two oldest have grown up they have shown a modesty in their material desires. Sure, they want things, and at times they even (Ok, Lewis on a fairly regular occasion) verbalize those desires to their mom and I. Yet, at times, they won’t tell us what they want. Whether they think the item is too costly, too absurd, or whatever other reason they might envision, they stubbornly refuse to admit their desire.

As a dad this can be very frustrating. Yes, they may not need the item, but I would rather they verbalize what they want and me be able to share why I don’t believe they need such an item. The older two are certainly cost-conscious (I really, really, hope the younger two learn – wow!) and they are hesitant to announce some of their desires for fear that mom and dad can’t afford to buy the item and then they will feel some embarrassment. As a dad, I want to know what my kids desire. How else can I communicate to them my position as their father?

There have been times as well when I have encouraged my kids to share their disappointment, frustration, or anger that they may have with me. Am I big enough as a dad to allow my children to express their frustration with me? I am not perfect, therefore I must make mistakes with my kids, and thus they would be fully entitled to frustration, disappointment, and anger.

I say all of this to question our willingness to pray, and share our needs, passions, desires, and frustrations with the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.  Last Wednesday, according to Twitter and Facebook, Jesus was sitting upon the Throne of Heaven. I wonder of the many people who made that statement if that was the first time Jesus had heard that statement from them? I wonder how often we think that our frustrations, desires, and needs are something that we can shield God from, or if we simply want to pretend as if he doesn’t already know our motives?

 I know with my kids that they can’t always count on me to understand. I know that at times their father will react angrily, harshly, or perhaps mockingly to their needs, wants, desires, and emotions. Unfortunately, I believe many of us limit our Heavenly Father to the same petty emotions and selfishness that we experience as parents or have experienced as children.

 If our God is not a great enough God to handle the truthfulness of our hearts, then he is a fabricated god. Scripture makes it very clear that our Heavenly Father desires to hear our prayers. David makes it very clear throughout the Psalms that such a God could be approached with his passions, emotions, needs, wants, and desires.


A Prayer of Faith in Time of Distress To the Chief Musician.

With stringed instruments. On an eight-stringed harp. A Psalm of David.

1 O LORD, do not rebuke me in Your anger, Nor chasten me in Your hot displeasure. 2 Have mercy on me, O LORD, for I am weak; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are troubled. 3 My soul also is greatly troubled; But You, O LORD—how long? 4 Return, O LORD, deliver me! Oh, save me for Your mercies’ sake! 5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks? 6 I am weary with my groaning; All night I make my bed swim; I drench my couch with my tears. 7 My eye wastes away because of grief; It grows old because of all my enemies. 8 Depart from me, all you workers of iniquity; For the LORD has heard the voice of my weeping. 9 The LORD has heard my supplication; The LORD will receive my prayer. 10 Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled; Let them turn back and be ashamed suddenly.

He asks for God’s mercy in that he is not corrected in anger.

He asserts his own weakness and his dependency on the Lord.

He willingly discloses the emotional turmoil that he is experiencing.

He begs for mercy, for mercy’s sake, not due to some personal righteousness.

His grief makes him to consider the possibility of death and his inability to praise the Lord from the grave

He expresses the wear that his grief has placed upon his physical body

He declares his belief that God has heard him.

He boldly declares that God will act on his behalf.

He rebukes his enemy with the assurance of God’s answer.



Paul tells us in Ephesians 6 that we don’t wrestle against a fleshly enemy but rather a spiritual enemy. James tells us in James 1 that we wrestle against our flesh and the desire to satisfy self. Peter warns us that the Devil looks about for those that he can destroy. Can we say with authority to these enemies that God has heard our prayer and that he will answer? If we can’t is it because we are still attempting to control the situation by what we do or do not tell our Heavenly Father? 


I don’t believe that we will have assurance that God has heard our prayer or that He has already answered, until we are honest about our current condition. David was certainly repentant in that he held nothing back before the Lord. The only reason we would have to hold things back would be the misguided idea that we could somehow change the situation on our own or that we could fool God.  

Published by Daniel M Harding

Husband, father, associate pastor.

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