Category Archives: Prayer

The articles in this category are about communicating with God through prayer, crying out to God, lamenting and praise..

Nuclear Prayers

“Where is God when I need Him?” This is a question many of us think, but we do not often ask God for fear of sounding disrespectful.

A friend of mine who has had a significantly rough life journey was asking this question. Over the past several years she has been walking closer with God, working on healing from the scars caused by her own negative thinking, words and actions; and from traumas delivered by others.

She has acknowledged negative actions, words and attitudes that she has been responsible for, and has sought professional help in working through the toxic actions and words of others. These are all important steps in the healing process.

She has sought answers not only in counseling but also in truths in God’s word, in prayer and in her relationship with God.  In viewing this from a “Christian” perspective one might say she is a Jesus girl seeking a deeper more genuine walk with God. Yet, she feels her prayers are unanswered and wonders why she does not feel God’s support. Maybe she needs to ask God this very question, “Where are you, Father?”

God Welcomes Laments!
Sometimes praying what we think are standard, acceptable, safe prayers may not be enough. Such “standard” prayers may indicate that we need to get down deeper in trusting God.

Perhaps we need to follow the example of the prophets and psalmists of old and pray risky prayers. Maybe, we need to risk sounding brazen and disrespectful. Sometimes we need to “dump it” on God, lament and moan to God from the depths of our heart. Such prayers may sound scandalous. They may sound disrespectful to God, but in truth such prayers show absolute trust in the love and goodness of God.

Lamenting to God is a true pouring out of your heart, and shows an authentic engagement with God.

The Israelites knew how to lament to God. In fact when the Israelites began moving away from God, breaking their covenant with Him, God literally asks, “Hey, why aren’t you guys trusting me, lamenting to me and asking me where I am?”

Jeremiah 2: 1-8 reveals that God accuses His people of not trusting Him enough to lament. This is apparent in verses 6 and 8.

 5 This is what the Lord says: “What fault did your ancestors find in me, that they strayed so far from me? They followed worthless idols   and became worthless themselves. They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,  who brought us up out of Egypt and led us through the barren wilderness,  through a land of deserts and ravines, a land of drought and utter darkness, a land where no one travels and no one lives?’7 I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land and made my inheritance detestable. The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’

Dumping It!
True faith is childlike and just dumps it out. Lamenting is pouring out our heart to God. It is risking sounding like a spoiled child or an offended wife in order to seek God’s help. Shallow “religious” faith bottles it all up. In a sense, it is hypocritical because we are in our minds saying, “Well, God, you are the sovereign God and it is your fault that these things are happening.”

The prophets and the psalmists in their lamenting reveal a true faith in God, a real dependence on His love, faithfulness and power.

David, a man after God’s heart, often lamented to God. David cried out to God in desperation and in faith. Psalm 142:1-2 carries the tone of a lament.
“I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy.  I pour out before him my complaint; before him I tell my trouble.”

Laments Recorded by God
Below are examples of prayers of lament found in the scriptures. As you read them you may feel uncomfortable with the raw openness of these prayers, but listen for the faith. What are they really saying?

Blaming God for their Sinful State

  • Why, Lord, do you make us wander from your ways and harden our hearts so we do not revere you? Return for the sake of your servants, the tribes that are your inheritance. Isaiah 63:17

Charging God with Forgetting, Rejecting; Neglecting…

  • Wake up, O Lord! Why are You sleeping? Arise! Do not reject us forever. Why do You hide Your face and forget our misery and oppression? For our soul has sunk to the dust; our bodies cling to the earth. Psalm 44:24-25 (BSB)
  • Do not hide your face from me,do not turn your servant away in anger;you have been my helper. Do not reject me or forsake me, God my Savior. Psalm 27:9
  • 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? Psalm 13:1-2
  • “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again?Has his unfailing love vanished forever? Has his promise failed for all time?Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9

Charging God with Anger and Abandonment

  • Why, Lord, do you reject me and hide your face from me?15 From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 16 Your wrath has swept over me; your terrors have destroyed me.17 All day long they surround me like a flood; they have completely engulfed me.18 You have taken from me friend and neighbor—  darkness is my closest friend. Psalm 88:14-18

Nuclear Faith
Laments are like nuclear prayers that express radical faith. They are not the tantrums of a child, but rather cries coming from hearts that know God. Laments are the vulnerable, desperate outpouring of our need to God. When we lament we are grieving about our life, we are proclaiming our trust in a God who is faithful; compassionate; involved and powerful.

Laments come out of faith and lead us to greater faith. They remind us who God is and how much we need Him. With humility and out of your deep need for God, begin a journal of your own authentic laments to God.

Intimacy and Asking

Intimacy and Asking by Lory Demshar
God has invited us into a very personal relationship with Him. In truth He not only invited us, but planned and prepared how I can have this deeply intimate fellowship with Him. The atoning sacrifice of Jesus is the foundation of this invitation and our faith in Him is our R.S.V.P to God’s invitation.

In a previous blog we looked at some Psalms to learn what intimacy sounds like.

We read words that describe intimacy such as longing for; yearning; hungering and thirsting for and being consumed with God.

In this blog I want to look at questions, deep personal questions that reveal the agony of the soul and a vulnerable intimacy that we dare to have with God.

Questions Reveal Intimacy
As we read through the Psalms we see that the psalmists asked some, what I would call, “gutsy” questions. Yet these questions reveal an understanding of a personal relationship with God. Such questions show vulnerability, an ability to pour out our weakness, our fear, our confusion and our pain to God.

Such questions spring from a faith in God, a trust in His openness to us; His care and concern for us, and His involvement in each one of our lives.

These questions are so emotionally revealing that at times they sound more like a demand for an answer, and infact sometimes are just that. To me these questions imply that only someone who knows God deeply can risk being that intimate.

Urgent Intimate Questions
Look at some of the questions that the psalmist felt at ease asking God.

In Psalm 13:1-2, David, in his agonizing, asks these questions of God.
“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?  How long will my enemy triumph over me?

In two relatively short verses David puts forth 5 questions that reveal the very personal, intimate relationship he has with God.

David is asking God –Yahweh, the great almighty eternal God who is the source of all life and who has all power, “How long is this difficult situation going to go on? How long will You, God let this happen?” This is intimate, gutsy.

David is so vulnerable that in the next question he tells God, “I feel like you have forgotten me. You have gone off and left me in this difficulty alone. Where are You my God, my Friend, my Helper?”

David gets gut level open and asks God, “Are You hiding Your face from me? Have You turned Your back on me? Do you not want to be in a relationship with me?”

David is ratcheting up in his vulnerable faith and is telling God that this difficulty is too heavy for him to bear alone. It is on his mind day and night. He is sick with sorrow about this. He is wrestling about what to do and why it is happening. Perhaps David is sleepless and restless and pacing and calling out to God, being vulnerable and asking question after question demanding an answer.

The questions David asks God in Psalm 13 are an example of intimacy with God.

Other Questions
As we read through the Psalms we see many examples of such intimacy revealed in questions. Read and reflect on the intimacy with God that these questions imply.

  • “Why, Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?” Psalm 10:1
  • “Will the Lord reject forever? Will he never show his favor again? Has his unfailing love vanished forever?  Has his promise failed for all time?  Has God forgotten to be merciful? Has he in anger withheld his compassion?” Psalm 77:7-9
  • “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?” Psalm 22:1-2 (A Messianic saying, yet a question David asked).
  • “… save me because of your unfailing love.  Among the dead no one proclaims your name. Who praises you from the grave?” Psalm 6:4b-5

What do you ask God?
As I read through these psalms and look at the events in the psalmist’s life I am drawn to the intimacy that the psalmist had with God.

Do I trust God enough to ask my own very vulnerable questions? Do I dare to be that personal with God? It seems to me that God is calling us to this very intimacy.

I encourage you to read through the Psalms and look at the questions the psalmists asked. Begin to become more personal with God, ask Him the questions you have on your heart.

 

 

Are You Intimate with God?

A Language of Intimacy
Although the term “intimacy with God” has become a buzz word in many religious circles, it is a true and real experience that God has opened to us. Jesus references this intimacy several times in passages such as,  John 14:23 and Rev. 3:20.

  • “Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. Then my Father will love him, and We will go to him and make our home within him.”  John 14:23 ISV
  • “Listen! I am standing at the door and knocking! If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come into his home and share a meal with him, and he with Me.” Rev. 3:20 NET

What can be more intimate than God making His home in us; or God having dinner time fellowship with us? Intimacy implies a relationship so close, so personal, and so vulnerable that the two people are as one. It is like a “melding into God;” or like “lodging” within God.

The expression “intimacy” when applied to God and us seems too personal, too private, well, almost too intimate to believe. Yet that is exactly what God calls us into. I marvel at the thought of having a personal relationship with God, the God who creates and sustains all life.

Jesus – Came from Intimacy
Jesus is the perfect example of an intimate relationship with God. John 1:18 tells us that Jesus dwelt in the “bosom of the Father.”  

  • “No one has ever yet seen God. The only begotten God, the One being in the bosom of the Father, He has made Him” John 1:18 (BSB)

“Bosom” is a term of intimacy. Being “in the bosom” is up close and personal, so close it is like being melded with another. It is being lodged next to and held close to the heart. Jesus lived in the bosom of the Father, the place where deep love and intimate truths are exchanged.

This thought of “bosom intimacy” is revealed in other words of Jesus.

  • “I and the Father are one.” John 10:30
  • “Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me?” John 14:9b-10a
  • “…that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in Me and I am in You. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent Me.” John 17:21

Jesus’ intimacy, His “bosom” relationship with God made Him able to reveal God’s will and character to us. His “bosom” closeness made Him able to trust the Father, as well as surrender to and become obedient to the will of the Father.

Intimacy Sounds Like . . . 
A good place to learn about this intimate relationship is in the Psalms. King David is described in the scriptures as a man after God’s own heart, a good example of a “bosom” friendship.  The Psalms, those of David and others, open a portal for us to view intimacy with God. We will hear words like: longing, yearning, fainting, languishing, gazing, hungering, thirsting, panting and more.

Intimate “Speak”
One thing that is striking and revealing in David’s writings is the language he uses to express his feelings for God. Let’s look at some these expressions.

Longing
I remember the days of old; I meditate on all Your doings; I muse on the work of Your hands. I stretch out my hands to You; My soul longs for You, as a parched land. Answer me quickly, O Lord, my spirit fails; do not hide Your face from me, or I will become like those who go down to the pit. Ps. 143:5-7 (NASB)

David speaks intimately to God, boldly declaring his longing for God, and almost demanding that God pay attention to him.

The word for “long” in this passage is “ayeph.” It means “to long for.” This is not just an emotional “hankering” for God, but rather it is a deep internal soul yearning that involves mind, heart and body. The definition implies a physical longing that is akin to fainting with exhaustion; languishing from the toil of earnestly seeking for the closeness of God; a longing for God to insert Himself in David’s life; a longing to hear from God and see Him act in his life.

This longing is so physical that it involves “stretching his hands out” for God, perhaps like a child reaching up to be held close, comforted and  loved. Also, David longs so intensely that his “spirit fails” if God does not respond.

In Psalm 84:2 David expresses this same type of longing: “My soul longs yes, faints for the courts of the Lord; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.”

Even though the word “long” in this verse comes from a different Hebrew word it implies a longing that is a pining after the presence of God, and it includes a physical effect such as turning pale from the effort of longing. Being in a bosom relationship with God produces a physical response of the heart and flesh singing.

Thirsting and Panting
David’s words in Psalm 42:1-2 describe what intimacy with God sounds like and looks like.

  •  As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”

Here, we see that intimacy pants and thirsts for God. The term pant (arag) is rich with meaning. It expresses a strong desire; a bent, or intent to be with God as a deer would search out water. Also, it is defined as a breathe or a deep sigh, perhaps like a deer bleating or crying out after water. I have to ask myself: Do I cry out for more closeness with God? Do I eagerly anticipate being in His presence? Do I practice His presence daily, hourly in my life?

In studying about this, I found that deer never roam far from a water source, even if it is but a puddle on the ground. It is interesting that David uses this imagery to describe his connection to God. In other words even though he has a relationship with God and is close with Him, David desires and seeks to be connected to God more and more deeply.

Consumed in God
There are numerous expressions of intimacy in the Psalms. Intimacy with God cannot just be a buzz word or a hot topic in our “spiritual” conversations. It is our actual living relationship with God that involves our whole life not just our “practice” of religion, or our academic study of the Bible.

Take time to read through the psalms and look for the consuming passion of the psalmist’s intimacy with God. Here are a few:

  • “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” Psalm 73:25 NIV (Asaph)
  • One thing I ask from the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord  all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek him in his temple.” Ps. 27:4 NIV
  • “For better is one day in Your courts than a thousand elsewhere. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Ps. 84:10
  • “Lord, I love the house where you live, the place where your glory dwells.” Ps. 26:8

Reflect on Your Intimacy
As I study about the intimacy revealed in the Psalms, I cannot help but reflect on my relationship with God. Am I living in my relationship with God, “supping” with Him, or merely practicing a nice little religion that makes me feel spiritually secure?

Do the words longing, yearning, hungering, thirsting, or languishing for, describe my relationship with God? Do I seek to take time to “gaze” on the beauty of the Lord? Do I seek His face? Am I consumed in Him or am I too preoccupied with my own identity and too involved in my own pursuits and “standing” among men? What words describe my intimacy with God?

God: A Personal Friend-Part 2

While God is Almighty, all powerful, and the sovereign Lord, He does extend Himself to us as our intimate friend.

In Psalm 25:14 the scripture describes the God who creates and sustains all life as wanting to confide in us.

”The LORD confides in those who fear Him, He makes His covenant known to them.”
Ps. 25:14 (NIV)

In the previous entry, “God: Our Personal Friend,” we saw that this expression confides was translated from a Hebrew word having a primitive root meaning “couch.” This has the inference of a place where two people lean into each other and share intimate, personal conversations. Where they can open up their heart and share their inmost thoughts and feelings. God is welcoming us to do that.

It seems unbelievable, but it is true! If you are in any form a believer in God this is an astounding truth. I, for one, desire such a relationship with God. I want to go beyond the religious exterior of performance and be in close friendship with God.

God, the Initiator
God has been reaching out to man to have a very personal relationship since before creation. Eph. 1:4 states: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

God initiated setting us up to be able to have this close relationship with Him even before He created the world. This close relationship was always God’s intention, will and desire.

Let’s look at a few of these types of encounters with God.

More Snapshots on the Couch with God
As we flip through the album of God’s friends as written in the scriptures I see God’s overtures to man to indicate that God truly does welcome such closeness.

A Bold Conference with God
In Genesis 18, the LORD visits with Abraham to confirm the promise of a son. As the Lord is leaving He considers Sodom and Gomorrah and looks in the direction of those cities. He plans to destroy them for their wickedness and harm to others. His intent to have a close relationship, one in which includes Him revealing His heart and mind to man, is indicated in these words:

“When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. Then the Lord said, Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” Gen. 18:16-17

After this comes a dialogue between Abraham and God in which God reveals to Abraham what He is about to do, and Abraham intercedes back and forth with God about this what God plans to do.

Abraham asks God in a series of dialogues if God would destroy these cities even if Abraham found 50 righteous people. God says, “No.” Abraham intercedes back and forth through 40, 30, 20 and 10 righteous people. (Genesis 18:16-33)

This is a true to life example of sitting on the couch with God.

Vulnerable Outpouring on the Couch
Have you ever been so frustrated and hurt by a situation or a person that you just had to sit down with your best friend and have a good cry, pouring all the hurt and confusion out? This is what we see in the next picture of Hannah and God.

In 1 Samuel 1:3-17, we see Hannah in a frenzied state talking to God. In verses 6 and 7 we read the background of Hannah’s soul talk with God. We see Hannah has been being harassed by her rival, Peninnah, the second wife of Elkanah.

We read hard words: provoked, irritated and rival. Some translations use the words provoke grievously and taunt severely to describe how Peninnah interacted with Hannah.

The scriptures relate that Hannah was in “deep anguish” when she confided in God, 1 Sam.1:10. The term “deep anguish” is translated as: in bitterness, anger, or discontent.  One older translation says in bitterness of soul she prayed to God.”

We might say Hannah was more than discouraged. This was not some simpering, prayer full of clichés and platitudes. She was frustrated and angry. She was honest and vulnerable before God. She prayed in such a distraught fashion that the priest who watched her as she spoke to God took her to be drunk, 1 Sam. 1:12-14.

What did God do? Ignore her? Recoil? No! God did not chastise her. He did not turn away from her. He listened to her and responded. He understood and answered her prayer. Infact, God had a mission for the son she would bear as a result of this talk with God.

You and God: Heart to Heart
God wants to have heart to heart talks with you also. In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says,

“Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.” (NLT)

Jesus is talking to believing disciples in this passage. He is not speaking to non-believers; He has another invitation for them in His Gospel. He is addressing the church in Laodicea.

He is reminding these disciples that He wants a deep personal friendship with them. The imagery in this passage is of sitting down and sharing a meal and conversation with Jesus. It is a picture of a personal friendship.

God wants to have a heart to heart talk with me, every day. Do I want to have this with God? Do I trust Him and His love for me?

God made it possible to be close with Him. He set this up through the death of His Son. Do I come in openness, humility, and a willingness to be vulnerable with God? Am I sitting on the couch, leaning into Him? Am I sharing a meal with Him, or participating in a routine or a religious process.

Think about it. What is it like between you and God?

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“As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?”
Psalm 42:1-2