What Shall I say to Him?

“Teach us what we shall say to him…” Job 37:19

Do you ever struggle to know what to say to God?

I used to be a prison chaplain and I have been in many prison settings to talk with inmates—including death row. Not everyone shares this as a comfort zone. But…set me in a room full of toddlers and I am lost and nearly panic stricken. How can I communicate with them so they will understand and know I actually do care? Talking to the Father can be like this.

I just finished teaching a class about the Psalms. As others have said, I love the Psalms because they are not only a word from God to and for us, but they can be our words to Him. I recommend both regular reading of them and talking to God based upon them.

In Hebrew, Psalms is titled “Praises.” I love this broad view of life with God: no matter the circumstance, God invites us to praise to Him. Neither trouble nor triumph can take away our settled place of safety. Even negative Psalms can be turned into words of trust and requests for help. For example, Psalm 120 is a potentially depressing song. The psalmist is overwhelmed by the realities of his world: “In my distress, I called to the LORD and he answered me.” Where his prayer ends seems so unspiritual if we sanitize what it means to live in the world or how we can pray. He asks, “Deliver me, O LORD, from lying lips…Too long my soul had its dwelling with those who hate peace. I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war.” Read and pray Psalm 120 when you go into the world tomorrow and rejoice in God, who listens and understands.

Most of all, the Psalms speak to us about Messiah Jesus. The moans, joys, battles, dark days and victories of shepherd and King David are ours, too, and point to the Greater David, Jesus Christ. These two quotes are helpful. Bernhard Anderson writes, “As interpreted in the New Testament [e.g., Luke 24:44; Acts 4], the psalms not only anticipate the advent of the King who would inaugurate God’s kingdom, but portray the passion and struggle he would undergo in fulfilling his task as God’s anointed…” As Allen Ross said, “The constant use of the Psalms for devotion and worship familiarized the people with them [prophecies about Messiah]. Expectation was aroused and kept alive.” They still do!

We now pray to the throne of God knowing Jesus Christ is there, and He sympathizes with us in our daily joys and weaknesses (Hebrews 4:14-16). The “Praises” help us talk to the Father because Jesus understands and is right there speaking on our behalf.

So, what are some of the hard or happy things you want to talk with God about? Read the Psalms where you’ll find a song to sing that fits you just right.


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