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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

How to Pray when You Feel Devastated

Depressed on everystockphoto by skalettoDevastated

Let’s say you are devastated with sorrow and discouragement.

Maybe you lost your job, or a loved one.  Maybe your teenage son stormed out of the house, shouting cruel words.  Maybe you received bad news from the doctor.

If that’s what you are feeling, what can you do?

Learning from the Psalmist

In Psalm 119:25-32 the psalmist is overwhelmed with sorrow and discouragement.

You can see that in verse 25. where he says “my soul clings to the dust.”  We all know what it’s like to feel low.  But he was so low it was like his soul clung to the dust.

Then there is verse 28, where he says “my soul melts away for sorrow.”  Something tragic had happened that caused such sorrow that his soul, his heart, his energy was melting away.

So What Does He Do?

He prays.  

We know that, because Psalm 119:25-32 is the actual prayer he prays when he feels devastated.

Which means that we don’t need to wait until we are feeling more chipper before we pray.  We can, and should, pray when we are at our lowest.

So how should we pray?  Notice what he does in these eight verses —

He Tells God What’s Going on in His Heart

That’s where he starts, in verse 25 — “My soul clings to the dust.”

He does not act like everything is fine.  He does not put on any false piety.  He tells God the truth — Father, my soul is clinging to the dust.  I’m feeling low; deeply discouraged.

He Asks God to Give Him Life

That’s next, at the end of verse 25 — “Give me life according to your word!”

Because he just talked about his discouragement, give me life means change my heart; change the way I’m feeling.

And he says “give me life according to your word” because he knows God has promised in his word to change our hearts (see Psalm 19:7; Psalm 40:1-3; Psalm 43:2-4).

He Reminds God of God’s Past Faithfulness

That’s the beginning of verse 26 — “When I told you of my ways, you answered me.”

That means: In the past I have come to you and told you what was going on in my heart, and when I have done that you have always answered me, and brought me comfort, encouragement, and hope.

That reminder would strengthen his faith that God will meet him now.

He Asks God to Teach Him the Word

It’s through the word that the Spirit strengthens our faith and changes our hearts (Ephesians 6:17).

But the psalmist knows that his troubles are blinding him to who God is.  He is not seeing God clearly.

So he in verse 27 he prays — ” …teach me your statutes!  Make me understand the way of your precepts …”

He Commits to Meditating on God’s Wondrous Works

One of the most powerful ways to receive the heart-changing life of God is to meditate on God’s past wonderful works.

So next, in verse 28, the psalmist tells God — “… and I will meditate on your wondrous works.”

He Tells God More of What’s Going on in His Heart

He’s already told God that his soul clings to the dust (verse 25).  But even though he’s prayed, asked God for help, and meditated on God’s Word, he has not yet received God’s heart-changing life.

So he again tells God the truth of his heart — “my soul melts away for sorrow.”

Note: we often need to wait on the Lord in order to receive his heart-changing life.  So wait , pray, and meditate on God’s Word earnestly.  And while you  wait, be honest with God about the state of your soul.

He Asks God to Strengthen Him

He knows that God can so reveal himself through the Word that our mourning turns to dancing (Psalm 30:11).

So that’s what he asks God to do, at the end of verse 28 — “strengthen me according to your word.”

He Asks God to Keep the False Way from Him

Sorrow and discouragement make us vulnerable to the false ways of Satan’s lies.

So in verse 29 he asks God to keep these far from him — “Put false ways far from me.”

He Again Asks God to Teach Him the Word

That’s at the end of verse 29 — “graciously teach me your law.”

Why does he ask this again?  Maybe it’s because he’s praying, he’s got the Bible open in front of him, but his heart is still sorrowful and discouraged.

But he does not give up.  He knows that, in his perfect time, God will change his heart.  But he is not passive; he prays persistently (Luke 11:8).

He Asks God to Not Let Him Fall into Sin

That’s the point of verses 30-31 — “I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.  I cling to your testimonies, O LORD; let me not be put to shame!”

“Let me not be put to shame” probably means “don’t let me sin.”  He knows that sadness and discouragement make us sitting ducks for temptation.

So he appeals to God — By your grace I have chosen the way of faithfulness, set your rules before me, and cling to your testimonies.  I am here before you, fighting the fight of faith.  Father, don’t let me fall into sin!

He Tells God He Knows that God Will Answer

That’s verse 32 — “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart!”

He knows God promises that when we seek him, he will change our hearts.

So here he says — Father, I know you will be faithful.  You will enlarge my heart with love for you, trust in you, and worship of you.  And when that happens I will be running in the way of your commandments — not hobbling, crawling, or limping — but RUNNING.

Think of how that would encourage him as he waits on God.

So let this encourage you.  As you continue to bring your heart before the Lord, praying and meditating on God’s Word, God will enlarge your heart.

And you, too, will be running.

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(Picture is from everystockphoto by skaletto.)

Category: Help with Prayer

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5 Responses

  1. Richard S says:

    Steve.
      I so much need your help and prayers. I have a family of 2 sons and 2 daughters and a wife. We have been evicted 4 times since 2007 and even though I have a good job Im the only person out 4 adults that works. I cant stand pay day around here because everyone has their hand out. When you suggest jobs what a fight on my hands I have then. Steve, lots of bad things have happened to this family and alot is self inflicted. I pray alot to our lord but I feel I haven’t been answered because I dont have the one on one relationship I use to have with my best friend The Lord. At the beginning of the year I shut down and I have been sick. I haven’t been able to work and we have been living on our tax money. I have been getting closer to God again because I think He is inspiring me and knows I’m lost. I love the Lord more than anything else in this world and I know I can’t do anything without him. I have faith but yet something keeps me going back to being scared and that I stand alone in  in this big world. I feel like everything is going to come crashing down on me like no job, no money, and that will be homeless again. I pray everyday and I try to stay positive but lately I find myself asking God to take me Home and when I ask that of him I feel all the pressure and anxiety just fall right off me. I have lost everything I had in this world except my Job and my family and now I feel they both will be gone soon to. I’m scared Steve and lonely and I’ve been at my job for 34 years And it’s everything to me and the only thing I know how to do and I only need 5 more years to retire with full bennies. When I pray I have thoughts that with my new acquaintance with the Lord that with everything I have read that I understand what and where He wants me to go now. Buuuut my fears take over and tell me this is the end of the line which scares me so much that I get crazy and physically ill. It stinks steve i’m so depressed and ashmed of myself. Please Steve if you could please pray for me because I also know that this world can be joyful and fun and beautiful and I  so much want to feel that again with Jesus and God and the Holy spirt filling me up with so much glory I  Could burst! Steve,I love the Lord so much I  can’t get enough of him and I truly believe the lord has been testing me or trying to get me back to the way I was with him in the old days, MY BEST FRIEND!!!! PRAY FOR ME Steve it always helps when someone else prays for you. May God always bless you,and your family and keep them happy and healthy.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Richard S,

      Thank you for sharing your story with us. I will certainly pray for you right now.

      And are you part of a church, where you can find some godly, loving men who could pray with and for you? That would be so helpful at a time like this.

      And definitely keep fighting the fight of faith. You can turn to Jesus Christ just as you are, trusting him to forgive anything that needs forgiving, and to strengthen your faith, and to satisfy your heart. He will be faithful to you.

      Keep us posted on how you are doing.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  2. QingXiao Cui says:

    I feel so discouraged at times… But I have to remember to trust, to not give the devil a foothold. I pray that God gives me conviction of His Spirit’s Presence, love, forgiveness, glory, and holiness in my heart. I see God has guided (and is guiding- He doesn’t change, unlike His flawed creation) both of us. I thank Him for what He’s done, and will keep praying… God bless!

  3. Ourgain Thompsom says:

    Thank you I so needed this, I’ve lost my way and I’m feeling so sad and lonely, I lost my faith. I do know how too hear from God anymore, I need so desperately to feel Him again.

  4. gina sword says:

    To Robert s
    I would like to encourage you by sharing some of the obstacles that I faced as a single mom.throughout the time I was raising my son I can’t tell you how many times we we’re evicted from alts for lack of funds. I worked hard. But never was able to get full employment.when are I did it was never enough to pay for overhead expenses.by the time my son was old enough to help he became very rebellious and sadly left home.I was devastated. then I was free falling into despair.lost my employment.my car my home.found myself having to live in the woods. It wasn’t for a week or two.it was for a year.finally found employment bought a TRAILER for 300 dollars.when I got it moved the people who were supposed to be professional broke it in two.then I lost my job again and the bucket of bolts I was driving broke down .I went to Wal-Mart got my some otc pills came home and decided to commit suicide. At the very moment I started to to take my first pill a friend of mine showed up.he didn’t fix my problem not could he support me emotionally .but I Will tell you who was with me .Jesus.he knows the thoughts and feelings you have. The fears you have.I was afraid of the dark .the snakes.the homelessness.but through all of this he taught me to be an overcomer.you may have to repeat some of the lessons of preserverance.but what is GOD’S goal here is for you to learn that when you are weak He is strong. There were maney lessons I learned from God’s boot camp.this all happens 15yrs ago.today I am somewhat promoted in some of my areas.as I am still learning to really trust him.I can say this I am much more stronger at facing adversity than I was back then.trust is one of the strongest bond you will need if you want to do GOD’S will.he is still on the throne and there is NO ONE that can take His place.read psalms again. All of them .look at how many times David said and yet my trust is in you o Lord.every time David submitted to trusting God something happened that build up David’s character.God is not deserting you.he’s building you up for a bigger plan.if a deaf person can live in the woods you can too.as for my promotion …. I now own my own home .it not the mansion.I’m saving that for when I go home to the Lord.and in a few Mrs years my car and land will be paid in full.peace and blessings my friend.

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