This may sound a little strange, but when I was a teenager, I always felt like I needed to be on my best behavior when I prayed.
Even though God already knew what was in my mind or heart, I always felt like I had to hold back. I felt I had to keep God from seeing the reality of my emotions. I didn’t think that I could show God my anger by yelling during my prayer time. It didn’t seem appropriate to come to God with a runny nose and tears streaming down my face.
The result of this was that I felt very lonely, like God didn’t care about what was really going on in my life. I saw God as this far away person who kept an eye on things but didn’t really get involved.
Some of us feel like we shouldn’t burden others with our emotions, especially God. God watches over the whole world so He must be pretty busy–He doesn’t really have time to listen to me cry over a bad day, hear about things that scare me, or sit patiently while I yell about things that make me angry. Right?
God created our emotions. He understands them better than we do. He already knows how we really feel and God wants to be there for us. Let’s look at a few examples of emotional people in the Bible.
- King David – Not sure if David was emotional? Read a Psalm.
- Hannah, mother of Samuel – “Then Elkanah her husband said to her, ‘Hannah, why do you weep and why do you not eat and why is your heart sad’…She greatly distressed, prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly” (1 Samuel 1:8-10). Hannah was in great despair, so she took it to God not caring who saw her.
- Jeremiah, the prophet – There’s a whole book detailing Jeremiah’s depression, Lamentations. “In dark places He has made me dwell, like those who have long been dead” (Lam. 3:6). Jeremiah took his depression and laid it out for God to see.
- Jesus – He deals with fear and anxiety. This is possibly my favorite Scripture. “And being in agony He [Jesus] was praying very fervently; and His sweat became like drops of blood, falling down upon the ground” (Luke 22:44).
- Moses – Let’s talk about frustration and anger. Moses was with the Israelites in the desert and all they did was complain. Check out what happens when Moses takes out his frustration on a rock instead of taking it to God directly in Numbers 20. Moses does not get to enter the Promised Land.
Our emotions are not a burden to God. What we learn from Moses’ example, however, is that trying to keep our emotions from God and taking them out in other ways can result in consequences that we never intended. When you’re emotional, take it to God. He’s strong, He can handle it.
Are you honest with God about how you feel?
As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice (Psalm 55:16-17).