A Prayer for the Discouraged
Are you a “glass is half-empty” or a “glass is half-full” kind of person? I often tease that my glass hardly ever has ANYTHING in it. Truly I am melancholy to the core. My serious nature is so acute that recently a stranger walked over to me, thinking I was discouraged, laid hands on me, and prayed against my demeanor in a heavenly language I did not understand. I welcomed the gesture because, with my pensive disposition, downheartedness shows up regularly.
Before my feet hit the ground in the morning, my thoughts bring me all sorts of negativity. Often, my mind swings open the door and rolls out the red carpet, welcoming all my past failings, current inabilities, and possibilities that will surely never materialize so that my glass of hope is turned upside down without hardly a drop remaining.
Other times, my discouragement springs from realities, just like yours. You and I can be bombarded with problems we can’t solve and relationships that will not heal. Some disappointments throw us back sixteen steps after we have only taken two forward.
Recently we visited with a pastor and his wife who are planting a new church in an unchurched area. Starting from nothing is challenging by itself, but all progress in the last couple of years has been lost due to a host of issues they cannot control. It feels like, in many ways, they are starting over. Again.
So often, discouragement can reign in our lives. But what I have learned (and continue to experience) is how very faithful God is to bring me out of those times, teaching me what to do when discouragement seeks to prevail.
Insights from a Discouraged Follower
The Psalms are replete with help for almost every human situation or emotion. When it comes to what ails my heart and mind, Psalm 42 meets me in my need.
My soul is cast down within me;
therefore I remember you
from the land of Jordan and of Hermon,
from Mount Mizar.
7Deep calls to deep
at the roar of your waterfalls;
all your breakers and your waves
have gone over me.
8By day the LORD commands his steadfast love,
and at night his song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life.
9I say to God, my rock:
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning
because of the oppression of the enemy?”
10As with a deadly wound in my bones,
my adversaries taunt me,
while they say to me all the day long,
“Where is your God?”
11Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:6-11
The Battle Against Discouragement
The author is distressed. He may be melancholy in personality, but he offers strong reasons he is in the dumps. Something bad has happened. Maybe a series of badness has found its way into his present. He feels as if God has gone silent and nearly vanished, and people are chiding him for it.
This writer does something in his torment you and I should do. He stops listening to himself and begins talking to himself.
Things are bad. He, too, has almost lost every drop of hope he possesses. But instead of listening to his own destructive thoughts, replaying memories of failures, unsuccessful attempts, previous defeats, and a host of inabilities, he stops the noise by talking to himself in truth.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. Psalm 42:6-11
Winning the Battle Against Discouragement
When it comes to winning the battle against discouragement, preaching Truth to ourselves is our best offensive weapon. This is exactly what we observe from the Psalmist.
Why are you in the dumps? Don’t do that. It’s not going to help. HOPE IN GOD. I know you don’t feel like praising God — but you will. God will deliver you and give you the hope you need to rejoice, again.
Martin Lloyd-Jones, a renowned preacher of the 20th century wrote an entire book on this one Psalm called Spiritual Depression: It’s Causes and Cures, (Find it through the link provided. I highly recommend it.) He writes:
You must turn on yourself, upbraid yourself, condemn yourself, exhort yourself, and say to yourself: ‘Hope in God,’–instead of muttering in this depressed, unhappy way. And then you must go on to remind yourself of God, Who God is, and what God is and what God has done, and what God has pledged Himself to do. Having done that, end on this great note: defy yourself, and defy other people, and defy the devil and the whole world, and say with this man, ‘I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance, who is also the health of my countenance and my God.‘
This soul is not out of the woods, yet. But he is making a way–believing God by preaching to himself what he is not currently experiencing and is struggling to believe is true. That, my friend, is the glorious help found in the trenches of Psalm 42.
To give you support in your battle against discouragement, allow me to pray this prayer over you.
A Prayer When You are Discouraged
Time after time, You have shown yourself faithful. You are gracious in giving your Word through the Bible and through other godly people who rely on the Bible to guide us to wholeness. I am asking that you be true to Your character, doing this great work in the life of my friend, today.
I do not know what burdens she bears, but I ask that you help her become aware of her own tendencies. Help her to stop listening to the negativity, the bad news, and the destructive thoughts that ruminate through her mind. Equip her with truth so that she can defy herself, her environment, and the devil, himself, preaching the glorious realities of Who you are to her inner being until she can yet praise You, again.
In the glorious and unmatched name of Jesus.
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