Prayer: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

I was recently deeply hurt by a long-time friend. In a particular situation, we saw things differently, and she refused to meet to talk about it. As the distance grew in our relationship, I experienced all kinds of emotions from sadness to anger to guilt. I tried to pray, but I couldn’t sort through my emotions to even put the words together. Finally, I cried out to God and let all my emotions—the good, the bad and the ugly—pour out as the tears flowed down my cheeks.

Have you ever not been able pray? Your heart was so heavy, the words just wouldn’t come? Maybe you weren’t sure God was even listening.

Sometimes prayer comes easily like the Lord’s Prayer we often pray in church or saying grace before a meal. We can quickly go through a list of requests for family members or friends or those who are in need.

But God also invites us to simply pour out our hearts, troubles, complaints and even doubts to God. Praying these kinds of prayers can be intimidating. While we know God sees everything about us, it’s hard to voice negative emotions. We’d rather hide them from ourselves than possibly offend God. We want our prayers to be strong, mature and full of faith. But that’s not the kind of relationship God wants with us. Intimacy with Him requires honesty and humility.

The Bible gives plenty of examples of this kind of prayer. The best-known example is David, the author of many of the Psalms. He freely expressed what was in his heart to God. And God listened! He even called David a man after His own heart.

God is not disturbed when we pray our doubts, complaints, or heartaches. Read through the Psalms and you will find a wide variety of emotions—from joy to fear to doubt to utter despair!

“I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” Psalm 142:2-3 NLT

“I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God.” Psalm 69:3 NIV

“I am overwhelmed with troubles . . . You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths.” Psalm 88:1,6 NIV”

God is our Father, and He wants us to come to Him with everything. He wants us to come to Him with the complete trust as a little child would, believing that He will meet us where we are —in the good, bad and ugly of our lives.

Lord, you invite us to come to you with everything that affects our lives. Help us never to fear to be real in our prayers.

This article appeared in Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA) on Nov. 3, 2021.

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