Soul-Care Articles: Christ-centered, Spirit-led, Biblically-based, Clinically-sound, Truth-oriented

Posts tagged ‘Honesty before God’

An Intimate, Honest, Personal Conversation (With God)

SOURCE:  Randall Johnsonthimblefulloftheology

Ephesians 4:12-16 – Conversations with God

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.  Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming.  Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.  From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

Some people can be very protective of their place and position, making it difficult, if not impossible, for someone else to gain their knowledge or experience.  But not You, Lord Jesus.  You have purposely given Your church gifted individuals for the express goal of equipping us to be replicas of You.  Whereas some might see this as just another form of pride, we, Your followers, know it is the expression of Your deepest love for us.

Your heart is to build us up, to help us attain to the full stature of Your character because you know this is what makes us the most happy and fulfilled.  When we are loving like You love, when we are making a powerful contribution to the welfare of another like You do, we are operating at our “factory” best.

I want to be everything You are, Lord.  You want me to be everything You are.  There is nothing better to be.  So equip me, equip me, equip me.  Let me never tire of gaining more knowledge and skill to minister to my brothers and sisters in the body of Christ.  Help me maintain absolute unity in the faith with them.  Make me worthy of Your gifts.

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A Prayer When Feeling Spiritually Distressed

SOURCE:  Scotty Smith

O Lord, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. Jer. 20:7

Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow and spend my days in shame? Jer. 20:18

Gracious Father, this is some pretty raw praying by one of your beloved sons and prophets. Jeremiah’s lament makes me thankful today for the freedom you give us to bring our unfiltered and unfettered feelings to you. If we don’t bring our painful emotions to you, we will take them somewhere. Others will feel the brunt of our anguish and anger, our faith struggle and fear, our disconnect and distress. We’re also prone to medicate in ways which only make things worse.

But only you have the big enough heart and broad enough shoulders to walk with us through moments—even seasons of spiritual chaos and confusion. I praise you for the constancy of your welcome and the refuge of your heart. If you weren’t put off by Jeremiah’s struggle, surely you’ll take on ours.

It’s comforting to know the same prophet who assured others of your gracious promise and good plan—a plan for prosperity, not harm (Jer. 29:11); the same prophet who gave us a vision of the glory and the grace of the new covenant (Jer. 31:31-34); this same prophet, like us, experienced seasons in which he felt deceived, betrayed, and abandoned, even grieving the day he was born. We’re all weak and broken. We all need the gospel daily, no exceptions.

This gives me courage as I seek to steward my own feelings before you. But today it gives me compassion as I pray for a couple of friends who are echoing Jeremiah’s cry.

For the friend I chatted with yesterday who’s feeling set up, chewed up, and spit out by you, bring your centering presence to bear. He loves you, but feels abandoned by you. He knows better, but he’s becoming bitter. My instinct is to “fix” him, but the way of the gospel is to listen and love, not launch with a theological treatise. Give me patience and kindness for my friend.

For another friend whose spiritual melancholia seems to be heading to an even darker place, Father, give me wisdom to know what kind of care he really needs. What part of his struggle is simply a physical/medical issue? What’s to some degree demonic? What’s just plane ole’ pity party or the consequences of foolish choices? Bring the grace and truth of the gospel to bear in unmistakable ways.

Help me, Lord, and heal my friends. Meet each of us as you met Jeremiah. So very Amen I pray, in Jesus’ strong and loving name. Amen.

How to Talk to God When You Are Suffering

Asking God The Hard Questions In The Right Way

SOURCE:  Ed Welch

“Why is God doing this to me?”

These words signal a spiritual train wreck in process.

Any version of a “why” question, when it is directed to or about the God of the Bible, is terribly risky. Even if it begins as a simple question, it gradually accumulates other questions about God’s character and promises, while it generates false assumptions about ourselves.

“Why (God) would you do this to me? (when I haven’t done anything like this to you.)”

“Why would a good father allow this to happen to his children? (If I were God I wouldn’t allow such things to happen.)”

Questions like these will only lead us away from God.

It’s okay to question God, but how you go about it really matters. Here are two ways to avoid the God-ward accusations and self-righteousness that can so easily become part of the why questions.

Use his Personal Name

First, ask “Why, O Lord?”

When we use his less personal name (God) we can slip in a few complaints and feel okay about it, but speak tothe Lord and everything changes. He is your creator and rescuer. You belong to him. He is both your liege and the lover of your soul. Your response is praise, thanks and humble requests.

This kept the psalmists from going off the tracks.

Why, O LORD, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? (Psalm 10:1)

Not surprisingly, this psalmist ends with hope and confidence.

But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless. . . . The LORD is King for ever and ever; the nations will perish from his land. You hear, O LORD, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. (Psalm 10:14-18)

The Psalms encourage great freedom of expression. We are strongly encouraged by the Lord himself to speak openly from our hearts.

The one thing he asks is that we know whom we are speaking with, which is a normal requirement of any conversation. We don’t talk with a child in the same way we talk to an adult. With the knowledge of his mighty acts in mind, the why question can end well.

Ask in Hope

Second, for a change of pace, and as a way to stay in tune with the psalmists’ style, consider another question.

“How long, O Lord?”

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (Psalm 13:1)

This is the much more frequent question of psalmists, and for good reason. The true knowledge of God is clear and inescapable. He is the one who will deliver his people. There is no question that he hears and responds. The only question is when our eyes will be open enough to see his mighty hand in action. Hope is built into the question; an optimistic conclusion is guaranteed.

But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me. (Psalm 13:5-6)

“Why, O Lord?” This takes our why questions and adds humility.

“How long, O Lord?” This question considers our suffering and infuses it with hope.


Edward T. Welch, M.Div., Ph.D., is a counselor and faculty member at CCEF and holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with a neuro-psychology specialty from the University of Utah as well as a Master of Divinity degree from Biblical Theological Seminary.

How Can I Pray In The Midst of PAIN?

SOURCE:  Discipleship Journal/Stacey S. Padrick

1. “Save me, O God… I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched” (Ps. 69:1, 3).

When you are having difficulty formulating words to pray, read through the psalms and pray along with David and the other psalmists. I have found the following psalms especially helpful during times of pain and darkness: 6, 10, 13, 22, 30, 31, 40, 42, 55, 56, 69, 84, 88, 118, and 145.

2. “Pour out your hearts to him” (Ps. 62:8).

Be completely honest with God about your feelings, struggles, and pain.

3. Be assured that God’s purpose, even in times of testing, is “to do good for you in the end” (Dt. 8:16,NASB).

Surrender your suffering to God daily. Pray that His purposes would be accomplished and that He would be glorified through your suffering. Believe that He works all adversity both for His glory and our good as we accept all from His hand.

4. “The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul” (Ps. 19:7).

Ask God to guide you to specific promises in His Word that will speak to your pain and sustain you during this time.

5. “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mk. 9:24).

Confess areas in which you are doubting God and His promises. Ask for faith to believe His Word.

6. “The Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express” (Ro. 8:26).

When you are at a loss for words but heavy in heart, ask the Holy Spirit to pray for you in ways you are unable to pray.

7. “He always lives to intercede for them” (Heb. 7:25).

Take time to intercede for others as Jesus is doing for you.

8. “I am in pain and distress… I will praise God’s name in song” (Ps. 69:29–30).

Listen to and sing worship music that will remind you of God’s love and power, even in the midst of sadness and pain.

9. “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised” (Job 1:21).

Though you may have many unanswered questions about your suffering, begin praising the Lord for what you do know: that He is good (Ps. 119:68), that He is in control (1 Chron. 29:11), and that nothing can separate you from His love (Ro. 8:38–39).

A PRAYER OF WEARINESS

SOURCE:  Randy Alcorn

I AM WEARY, Lord… bone tired.

Weary to the point of tears, and past them.

Your Word says you never grow weary;

But I know you understand weariness

Because once you drug a heavy cross

up a long lonely hill.

Many times you had nowhere to lay your head—

And people who needed you pressed upon you

by day and by night.

My reservoir is depleted, almost dry.

For longer than I can remember I’ve been

Dredging from its sludgy underside

Giving myself and my loved ones the leftovers

Of a life occupied with endless tasks.

The elastic of my life is so stretched out of shape

that it doesn’t snap back anymore.

Just once I’d like to say “It is finished,” like you did.

But you said it just before you died.

I guess my job won’t be over till my life is

and that’s OK Lord,

if you’ll just give me strength to live it.

Deliver me from this limbo of half-life;

Not just surviving, but thriving.

You who know all, You who know me

Far better than I know myself—

Deposit to my account that as I spend myself

There may be always more to draw from.

Give me strength

To rest without guilt…

To run without frenzy…

To soar like an eagle

Over the broad breathless canyons of the life

you still have for me both here and beyond.

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