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Prayer, Plain and Simple

But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life. (Psalm 42:8 NLT)

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Have you ever tried to praise your way out of the doldrums? It’s not an easy task. But did you know that the highest praise comes from those who sing from the lowest valley? It’s like receiving a gift from a really poor person; knowing the sacrifice that person made makes the gift all that much more valuable.

The Psalmist was deeply discouraged when he wrote this Scripture. Twice he tries to talk to himself out of his depression:

Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God! (Psalm 42:5 and 11)

When our lives aren’t going as planned, when we hit obstacles, road blocks, and dead ends, instead of giving up, throwing in the towel, and complaining to everyone who will listen, try to do what this Psalm-writer did: try a little self-talk.

His self-talk consisted of some difficult but helpful methods. As we often do when we are depressed, he talked about the good ol’ days when life was hunky dory. But he doesn’t stay focused there; he shifts his focus from the bygone days to the future through eyes of hope. He realizes that at some future point, he won’t feel this way anymore, and he will have things to rejoice about once again.

First, he realizes that what he is really thirsty for is not so much breakthrough as it is for God Himself. He is longing for intimacy with his God. Currently, the drink of choice is his own tears, but ultimately he knows he is desperate to drink in the presence of God.

He also realizes that while he doesn’t necessarily feel God’s love surrounding him, it is real nonetheless. And even when he isn’t aware of it, God’s love is being poured over him every single day, and every single night God’s songs are ringing in his ears.

Depression is real. This writer’s emotions are real. He sings an honest song, a desperate song to His God, asking real questions like, “Where are You?” But laced in his honest reflections, he speaks truth, that God loves him still, and He will never stop.

Are you downcast? Are you bearing the weight of some heavy situations in your life? Then pray this simple prayer with our friend the Psalmist. When we praise God in spite of our depression, we offer Him a sacrifice of praise more valuable to Him than anything else, and praise can be the key to joy once again.

As the deer longs for streams of water,
so I long for you, O God.
I thirst for God, the living God.
When can I go and stand before him?
Day and night I have only tears for food,
while my enemies continually taunt me, saying,
“Where is this God of yours?”
My heart is breaking
as I remember how it used to be:
I walked among the crowds of worshipers,
leading a great procession to the house of God,
singing for joy and giving thanks
amid the sound of a great celebration!
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!
Now I am deeply discouraged,
but I will remember you…
I hear the tumult of the raging seas
as your waves and surging tides sweep over me.
But each day the Lord pours his unfailing love upon me,
and through each night I sing his songs,
praying to God who gives me life. “O God my rock,” I cry,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I wander around in grief,
oppressed by my enemies?”
Their taunts break my bones.
They scoff, “Where is this God of yours?”
Why am I discouraged?
Why is my heart so sad?
I will put my hope in God!
I will praise him again—
my Savior and my God!

Photo credit: Foter.com

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