September 27, 2018

Prayer as Self-talk

Psalm 42

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God. . . .

—  Psalm 42:5

A news article reported the frightening experience a woman had as she spent a day with friends on a boat. She was tossed overboard when the boat hit a large wave. At first, she didn’t think this was dangerous. She thought the boat could easily circle back to pick her up.

But this occurred late in the day, as the sun was setting. The low-angle sunlight was reflected by every wave, making it nearly impossible for searchers to spot her. Then a stiff wind, combined with the sounds of other boats, muffled her cries for help.

As night quickly fell, she knew that her only hope was to swim to a nearby island, and she was eventually rescued from there. The article reported that as she swam, she did two things: she pleaded with Jesus to help her, and she told herself repeatedly that she was going to survive.

That sounds similar to what the writer is doing in Psalm 42. As he prays earnestly to God, he also tells himself to put his hope in God. Sometimes prayer includes this kind of self-talk. As we plead with God, we preach to ourselves.

When you pray, tell yourself to believe and trust in God! Sometimes we need to hear the gospel spoken to us by the sound of our own voice.

Lord, when I am struggling, reassure me that you are with me and will bring me through. Help me to remind myself that my hope is in you. Strengthen my faith and resolve, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

About the author — Peter Hoytema

Peter Hoytema has been a pastor for nearly 30 years and has served congregations in Ontario and New Jersey. He is currently the pastor of a congregation in Strathroy, Ontario. He is a graduate of Calvin Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. He and his wife, Grace, are the parents of four adult children.

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