Written by: Christie Love, LeadHer Founder
A few weeks ago, I was sitting at a local coffee shop when I overheard a pair of women at the table next to me talking. I couldn’t help but notice that they were talking about one of my favorite topics, prayer. One of them made a statement to the other that deeply impacted my heart. She announced passionately to her friend, “I just don’t want to be a person who prays emotional prayers!”
Oh sweet girl…. I longed to insert myself into your conversation and say to you so many things about the power and purpose of our emotions. I didn’t. I bit my tongue and adhered to social boundaries.
After a few more moments of talking the pair stood up to leave and I was left with my thoughts and a weight on my heart. Not just for this woman, but all the women that she represents. Women who have been trained to apologize for our feelings and have worked to try to hide them. Women who have been told that our “emotional nature” makes us less of an effective leader or a committed believer.
Women including myself.
For many years, I let stereotypes like these tell me that my emotional outlook was a weakness. However, God has given me freedom and healing from these restrictive thoughts. He has whispered this truth into my own heart; Emotions are not wrong. They are God-given and God designed. We are not to be people who are controlled by our emotions; however, we are to be aware of them and allow them to deepen our ability to connect with God and others around us.
I have been reminded of the power of emotions this week in my own life. The last few days have felt as though someone strapped me into a roller coaster of feelings. I have experienced the dips of; Hurt, Confusion, Anger, Abandonment, Loneliness, Sadness, Frustration, and Anxiousness. As well as the swells of; Joy, Relief, Excitement, Comfort, and Peace.
Many of my prayers over the last five days have been charged with emotion. As I have set with God and processed my feelings, I have thought so much about the young woman in the coffee shop who cried out, “I don’t want to pray emotional prayers!” Oh, if I could speak into her today… these are thoughts that I would share:
Prayer is not designed to be devoid of emotions but rather a conversation to confess and process emotions.
I don’t believe that God wants our prayers to be robotic repetitions to him but rather real discussions with him. Being real with him means that I can’t come into the presence of God and pretend to not feel… He gifted me with feelings and he knows them without me acknowledging them aloud. Yet when I whisper them or shout them he listens and rejoices. Rather, than try to ignore our emotions, we use them to fuel our prayers, direct our prayers, and draw us closer to the heart of God.
Emotions are what give my prayer life flavor without them my words are void and lack uniqueness or personality.
Strive to be an emotional prayer.
Seek to feel.
Fight against numbness and false facades.
Cry out to him in joy and run to him in sorrow.
Seek him in the hurt and glorify him in the pain.
Offer God prayers that are fresh, warm thoughts from the oven of emotions not cold and stale from the freezer of routine.
Emotional prayers are often our most raw and honest prayers.
All this year in LeadHer Local we are talking about the theme of PrayPare. We are examining prayers that are documented in scripture and gleaning from them lessons that we can apply to our own lives. As I continue to look throughout the pages of scripture at the many prayers that are recorded, one thing becomes clear: the Bible is full of emotional prayers!
Moses passionately interceding for the Children of Israel in Exodus 32.
Hannah praying for a son in 1 Samuel 1.
The wide range of emotions that David prayed through all throughout the Psalms.
King Hezekiah’s lament in 2 Kings 19.
Nehemiah’s burden for the city of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 1.
The raw, emotional processing documented throughout the book of Job.
The despair of Jeremiah in Jeremiah 20.
The response of a virgin who had been told by an angel she would bear the Son of Man in Luke 1.
The love that Jesus felt as he prayed for the disciples while in The Garden in John 17.
The affection and the burden that Paul felt all throughout his letters in the New Testament.
As we look throughout scripture we can learn that our emotional prayers are often our most effective prayers. They are often the truest reflection of our hearts and give God the most direct route to do a work in us and through us.
Don’t feel the need to whitewash your emotions for God.
Do not feel obligated to put on a mask to come to him in prayer.
He wants you as you are… emotions and all. Bring them to him as an offering of our humanity and ask for his help in sorting through them, processing them according to his truth- not our feelings, and then seek him for direction where to go from there.
Remember the words of King David in Psalm 51:16-17, “You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.” (NLT)
What emotions do you need to bring to God today and be willing to pray through with him?