If you’re feeling run down or stressed this Christmas, it can be hard to pray. Here writer Christina Schuetz offers six Psalms that she prays, when she doesn’t have the words herself.
Christmas is a time when our relationships are put to the test. There are so many things to do and so many people to see. Plus the burden of rising costs and at times complex family relationships to navigate. Relationships are built on communication. Much of the turmoil in our world is the result of sinner-to-sinner communication breakdowns. Have you ever experienced the exhaustion from trying to talk to someone who doesn’t seem to understand you? While frustrating, it is an expected result of imperfect, sinful beings attempting to do life together.
Sometimes the strains of the imperfect relationships can spill over, and we can start feeling that way when talking to God. So what happens when our sinful selves grow weary and discouraged because we feel misunderstood, ignored, or even abandoned by the Almighty, perfect God?
In times of ongoing stress and struggling, we can feel our prayers have gone unheard or unanswered. We beg, we plead, yet nothing changes…and it hurts. Sometimes it just feels easier to stop talking. The silence begins as a defense mechanism. When we feel too vulnerable, we see it as risk mitigation. If I don’t talk to God, if I don’t ask him for anything, I won’t be hurt by him when he says no. The problem is this; the enemy will always see your attempts at self-preservation as an opportunity for self-destruction. He will turn the silence into hostility and the lack of communication into lack of faith. If we don’t fill the silence with truth, he will shout into the void with lies.
In times of ongoing stress and struggling, we can feel our prayers have gone unheard or unanswered.
One of the most dangerous lies the enemy can tell us is to be ashamed when we can’t pray. Silence begets shame and shame begets more silence. Eventually, what began as an attempt to protect our hearts from God becomes the hardening of our hearts to God. Praise God that he knows these hearts. He created us to have deep emotions and craves an intimate relationship with us in all our complexity.
When our words fail, his word prevails. The book of Psalms is filled with laments, petitions, and pleas. During a particularly difficult time in my life, when I could no longer form the words to pray on my own, I turned to this book to say what I needed to say to God. Here are six Psalms that I hope it will help you to pray if you feel it’s all getting too much this Christmas:
Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted - Psalm 25:15
Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. From the ends of the earth I call to you, I call as my heart grows faint; lead me to the rock that is higher than I. For you have been my refuge, a strong tower against the foe. - Psalm 61:1-3
I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. - Psalm 40:1-3
I am worn out from my groaning. All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes. Away from me, all you who do evil, for the Lord has heard my weeping. - Psalm 6:6-8
Listen to my prayer, O God, do not ignore my plea; hear me and answer me. My thoughts trouble me and I am distraught…As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. - Psalm 55: 1-2, 16-17
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One; you are the one Israel praises. - Psalm 22:1-3
Remember, despite what your hurt heart might tell you, you are always loved, seen, and heard by your heavenly Father. We should never be afraid to tell God exactly how we feel, and when our words fall short, we can use the ones he has already provided. He wants us. All of us.