Awhile back I was watching a television show on the history of country music, and I noticed how a number of country songs have the most interesting titles. Here are a few examples: “She got the Goldmine (I Got the Shaft)”; “How Come Your Dog Don’t Bite Nobody but Me?”; and “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.”
In the Old Testament, the psalmist had his own country song, so to speak. He wrote, “Wake up, O Lord! Why do you sleep? Get up! Do not reject us forever. Why do you look the other way? Why do you ignore our suffering and oppression? . . . Rise up! Help us!” (Psalm 44:23–24, 26 NLT).
The psalmist was being honest with God and essentially saying, “Lord, it seems like You’re asleep right now. It seems as though You’re not paying attention. Wake up, Lord! Hear our cry!”
It isn’t always a bad thing to complain to God and bring Him your concerns, questions, pain, and sadness.
Even Jesus, as He hung on the cross, cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Mark 15:34 NKJV). Some would suggest that Jesus was having a crisis of faith. Actually, it was the opposite.
It was the moment when He was dying for the sins of the world, and He was describing what was happening: God the Father turned His holy face away and poured the sins of all humanity on His son, who had never committed a single sin. So Jesus cried out in anguish. He was forsaken so that we might be forgiven.
A Lesson for Our Prayers
Notice that Jesus said, “My God, My God,” which means that He was crying out to the Father. We can do the same when we’re in pain. When we’re hurting, we should pray. We should pray when we’re happy, when we’re sad, and when we’re confused. We should pray when we have complaints.
The Bible tells us, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing psalms” (James 5:13 NKJV). So what do you do when you’re experiencing heartache? What do you do when you have pain? What you do with your grief?
You commit it to God. You pray about it.
Are you in an impossible situation with no way out, or have you ever desperately needed—or even wanted something—but it seemed as though you never would have it? Have you ever thought there was no future for you, that it was just too late for you?
If so, you need to know more about the power of God and what can take place through prayer. One thing that certainly stands out in the pages of Scripture is that prayer can dramatically change situations, people, and, on occasion, even the course of nature itself. But the thing prayer changes the most is us.
God will allow hardship and difficulty in our lives so He can reveal Himself and put His power and glory on display. When we pray, we’re acknowledging our weakness and our need for God’s help. Maybe that’s why we don’t pray as much as we ought to. Prayer is an admission of weakness on our part, and some of us don’t like to admit that we have a need.
Jesus’ Example of Prayer
Yet we’re foolish at times if we think we don’t need God. After all, who was the strongest man who ever lived? You might be thinking of a superhero’s name, but the real answer is Jesus Christ. He was the strongest individual who ever lived, and we read repeatedly in the Gospels that He prayed—and He prayed a lot.
He would spend the night in prayer. He would rise up early while the disciples were still sleeping and pray. And as the crucifixion approached, He turned to the Father in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39 NLT).
If you have put your faith in Jesus Christ, you have a relationship with God. You’re His daughter. You’re His son. And if you want to know what the Father in Heaven is like, just look at Jesus, who said, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father!” (John 14:9 NLT).
So what was Jesus like? Well, He was approachable. Little children were drawn to Him, and He blessed them. He wept at the grave of His friend Lazarus. He got down on His hands and knees and washed the disciples’ feet (including Judas Iscariot’s) in the Upper Room.
Jesus gave us a picture of God the Father in the story of the prodigal son, where He presents Him as a dad who missed his wayward son and longed for his return. And when the boy made his way back home, the father couldn’t wait to see him. He ran to his son and threw his arms around him, showing deep affection for him.
That is your Father in Heaven, a father who will always be there, a father who listens, and a father who loves you. And He wants to hear from you and spend time with you.
‘Tell God What You Need’
The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Philippi, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done” (Philippians 4:6 NLT).
Maybe you’re thinking, “But the problem is that Heaven is so far away! I need someone here on Earth.”
God is omnipresent, which means that He’s present everywhere. But really, is Heaven that far away? We look at the sky and the solar system and think it is. And maybe in a sense that’s true. But in another sense, Heaven is closer than we realize. Heaven is another dimension. It’s a supernatural realm.
So for the Father in Heaven to step into your world is nothing to Him. God is deeply involved and deeply concerned about what you’re facing right now. If it concerns you, it concerns Him. So bring it to Him. Pray. Cry out to God in your sorrow and pain. Call on Him for his provision, protection, and guidance, and give thanks to Him for your joys. You have complete and total access to the Creator of the universe through prayer.
Used with permission from Greg Laurie.