Reading through the Psalms can yield enlightening insights regarding what constitutes a godly prayer life. As we read these lines from God’s inspired Psalter we might expect lofty and refined theological ideas encased in polished and pietistic lyrics. Instead, we often encounter the raw emotions of frustrated saints and the unvarnished honesty of disgruntled followers of Yahweh. That is not only the pattern of their prayers; it is the exhortation regarding prayer from the Psalms. “Pour out your hearts before him; God is a refuge for us” David sings (Ps.62:8).
But lest you think this is permission to dump your negative thoughts on God and leave, or turn your prayer life into one gripe session after the next, you need to carefully notice how these raw emotions find their resolve within the prayers themselves. Psalm 73 is a classic example. The frustrations of Asaph are honest and bitter. After enviously observing the advancement of those who compromise and the promotion of those who arrogantly cheat, he exclaims “in vain have I kept my heart clean” (v.13). But note that it is in prayer that Asaph also finds perspective and the abolition of his “foolish” feelings (v.22). And after lingering in prayer he concludes: “it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge” (v.28).
So be honest with God. Pour out your heart to our compassionate King. But don’t leave quickly. Ponder his character, his truth and his promises. Linger in prayer and see how God can radically change your heart and mind.