You’ve been there, I know. Times like my morning a few days ago, when I tucked my feet beside me on the back porch, cup of tea in hand–mind splintered, floating in a deluge of concerns. I’d curled up to pray, but prayers kept colliding with the flotsam in my mind. I felt adrift; perhaps even a bit unmoored. Pretty sure I was just staring for a good portion of the time.
The psalmist’s words in Psalm 42 and 43 bubbled to the surface: Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed in me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him.
Somehow I’m thankful that the writer took the time to know his soul well, but also took the initiative to tow it towards shore.
Author Pete Scazzero wisely writes of his “Daily Office,” or quiet time, that he takes time to acknowledge where he’s at emotionally before God: “When we do not process before God the very feelings that make us human, such as fear or sadness or anger, we leak. Our churches are filled with ‘leaking’ Christians who have not treated their emotions as a discipleship issue.”
There in the choppy waters of my mind, I needed time to simply recognize where my heart was. Because that “one plea” is there: that God both bids me to come—and so much so that He bled for it, unabashedly acknowledging the severity of my condition. I don’t need to “leak” emotion and an unacknowledged spiritual state, slapping on the ol’ coat of whitewash—but can also come honestly before God: Just as I am.
In that, I also needed to truly come to God, preaching to myself, not simply listening. I needed critical truth louder than what the rest of me was shouting. I come. I come.
I tend to flop like a fish between two extremes: dwelling in my emotional funk or confusion or grief—or sailing over them, heart untouched in my blind, heedless determination.
Don’t get me wrong; we’re to fix our eyes on Jesus. Peter started sinking when he didn’t. And yet … I’m embarrassed at how often I can snap at my children immediately after time in prayer. I’m bewildered that I can feel like crying minutes after time with God, but that the issues somehow that didn’t come up in my most intimate conversations of the day; that I didn’t even detect my need for refuge—my need to come, just as I am—in the motions of my devotion. I didn’t present Him with what my heart was carrying.
I take heart in Tim Keller’s timeless quote that all true prayer “pursued far enough, becomes praise.” It may take a long time or a lifetime, but all prayer that engages God and the world as they truly are will eventually end in praise.
I find that in my time with God, I need to fully turn over to Him the state of my soul, in all its chaos and wondering. This week, may you, too find a secure anchor for your soul, a tether of truth as deep as the waters of your mind.