How Should I Pray, Week 5, Day 6
1 KINGS 19:11-16
He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He answered, “I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away.” Then the Lord said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus; when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael as king over Aram. Also you shall anoint Jehu son of Nimshi as king over Israel; and you shall anoint Elisha son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah as prophet in your place.
Our emotions impact our prayer life. I am very grateful that the Psalms, the prayerbook of the scripture, express such a range of emotion. Scripture licenses us, and encourages us, to express all our true emotions in prayer, including our negative ones like anger or confusion or frustration or depression. Elijah had defeated the prophets of Baal, confronted King Ahab and Queen Jezebel and been zealous for the name and standing of Yahweh amid Israel’s pagan confusion. Now on the run from the angry royals, he gave in to depression and exhaustion.
God meets him on Mt. Horeb, not in the hurricane level wind that split rocks, not in the earthquake that shocked the area, not in the fire. God spoke in the quiet amid the “sound of sheer silence” to his dispirited servant. Elijah was not reticent about complaining and yet rather than upbraid him, he gives him permission to share the prophetic burden with a partner Elisha, and to anoint new kings, Nimshi and Hazael. Better a rough, raw, honest prayer than an elegant deception. God knows our hearts and how to bring us peace amid the maelstrom of our own emotions.
Are you honest in your prayer expressions?
Have you learned to pray the psalms, as holy vehicles of true emotion?