Summary: A look at a psalm and how we should pray during times that are hard in life
We’ve sung this song by Matt Redman called "Blessed Be Your Name." The first verse says,
Blessed Be Your Name, in the land that is plentiful, where Your streams of abundance flow. Blessed be Your name.
The 2nd verse starts out: Blessed be Your name, when the sun's shining down on me, when the world's 'all as it should be.' Blessed be Your name.
Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise!
But there are other lines in that song too – lines that deal with real life:
Blessed Be Your name when I'm found in the desert place, though I walk through the wilderness
Blessed be Your name on the road marked with suffering. Though there's pain in the offering,
Blessed be Your name
I like the honesty and validity of that song. When everything in life is as it should be, prayer is easy. It tends to be vague and general. It rolls out of our mouths, and it doesn’t even have to come from very deep inside. You know the prayer – the one you don’t really think about, but you’re supposed to pray out loud so you end up saying something like, “God, thank You for this day and thank You for everything.” Really? It’s like tossing a hand grenade. It’s so unspecific, you’re bound to hit something!
But then there are prayers like the one where you say, “God, whatever it takes to change my loved one’s life, do it.” There are prayers in the hard times. Those prayers are different.
Prayer in the hard times is more like an arrow shot straight for the mark. We tend to get very specific. We tend to speak more from our hearts. Once Carrie and I lost a baby boy mid-term, my prayers got a lot more specific the next time she was pregnant. And now that I’m going to be grandpa, and my daughter’s carrying twins, you can bet I’m praying some very specific prayers. Those specific prayers are like many of the Psalms that we read.
Psalm 6 is a prayer that David fired off that’s more like an arrow. It was obviously during a hard time in his life:
O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint; O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long? Turn, O LORD, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. No one remembers you when he is dead. Who praises you from the grave? I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.
At first glance, David may just sound like someone who’s going through a devastating hardship in life. “Well, forget Psalm 6! This isn’t a happy Psalm! I want something a little more upbeat – something that isn’t written in a minor key! Let’s read something David wrote when life was peachy!”
But I want us to see there’s something for us to do in regards to praying in the hard times of life – something besides just ignoring them. In other words, I want us to get more skilled at praying when it hurts. This Psalm can help us with that. First, it will help us to…
I. Get In Touch With the Reason for Sorrow
Why does David ask God to turn to him? (v4) Where has God gone? Why is David’s couch soaked with tears? Was he a Seahawks fan? No. Instead, look again at v.1: “O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath.” Rebuke…discipline. David recognized that part of the problem in his life was his own sin. The fact is much of the sorrow we’re faced with in life is our own doing.
(1. Our Own Sin)
Look at the faces of inmates down a row of prison cells and understand that our own wrong choices can bring us sorrow. It can bring us sorrow because we don’t like the consequences: We don’t like traffic tickets, stitches, or being grounded. Those things happen to us, we suffer through them, and if we’ll be honest with ourselves, they happen because we chose to do what was wrong.
If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.
That’s not the only reason our sin makes us sorry. There’s a very real form of suffering called guilt that David seems to speak of in this Psalm. Most of us are familiar with that.