Psalm 71:12–14 (ESV) “O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt. But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.”
In his commentary on the Psalms, Walter Brueggeman writes concerning Psalm 71, “The psalm is clear that there is trouble in life and that trouble is pressing, but the context of the petition is still hope and faith, crafted over a long life and including at its center an honest dialogue strikingly absent from most contemporary modes of worship.”
So true, eh? In this life, there is pressing tribulations and troubles but in the troubles there is still hope and faith in God’s goodness. Bruggemann’s summary of Psalm 71 reminds me of John 16:33 where Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” However, what I love most about his comment is his observation that at the center of an enduring hope and faith in God’s goodness is honest dialogue with God.
There are many things that I cherish about the Psalms but the one thing that resonates so deeply in my soul is the honest dialogue that freely flows throughout all the prayers and songs to God. The Psalms are filled with real life, honest dialogue that’s overflowing with unfiltered emotions and unfettered fears. And yet, in all of the gut wrenching discourses with God, the psalmist is not being driven away from the Lord but rather he’s being drawn closer and closer to Him. I love it.
However, it’s the last few words of Bruggemann’s commentary that I appreciate the most. He simply writes that this honest dialogue with God is “strikingly absent from most contemporary modes of worship (and prayer)”. I totally agree with him and it causes me to ask myself, “Self, why is that true? Why are the emotionally raw and unfiltered prayers of the Psalms strikingly absent from my prayers to the Lord? Could my prayers be emotionally flat because I don’t truly believe that God is listening to me? Could the lack of real and honest dialogue be an indicator that I’m NOT trusting God with anything significant in my life? Could it be because I'm even in touch with what's going on inside of me?”
I believe that I’m the only one that can answer those questions and so it is with you. I urge you to pray through the Psalms and take in the honest dialogue and listen to the raw emotions within the prayers. They are prayers of authentic believers and so when you pray them they teach you what to pray for and how to pray. And if you struggle to relate to the Psalms honest dialogue, ask the Spirit to reveal to you why that is. I am confident that he will give you insight into your heart for he desires to draw near to you.