Chapter 5 - Pour Out Your Heart
Return to Main Page
out your heart
- The question is - - how does God want us to pray
so that He will listen to us?
- The Heidelberg catechism (1563AD) asks that same
question and includes the following response:
- First - we must from the
heart call upon the one true God only, who has
revealed Himself in His Word, for all that He has commanded us to pray.
Second, we must thoroughly know our need and misery, so that we may humble
ourselves before God. Third, we must rest on this firm foundation, that
although we do not deserve it, God will certainly hear
our prayer for the sake of Christ our Lord, as He has promised us in His
out your heart before him
- Psalm 62:8 - 8 Trust in him at
all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge.
- God tests his children with afflictions, but
they are taught to abide them with constancy and courage. And yet, we always
find that when the heart is pressed under a load of distress, there is no
freedom in prayer. Under these trying circumstances we must comfort ourselves
by reflecting that God will extend relief, provided we just freely roll our
burdens over upon him.
- Consider David:
- Psalm 25:17-18 - 17 The troubles of my heart
have multiplied; free me from my anguish. 18 Look upon my affliction and my
distress and take away all my sins.
- Although God, who from His very
nature is merciful, may withdraw Himself and cease for a time to manifest His
power, yet He cannot deny Himself. That is to say, He cannot divest Himself of
the feeling of mercy which is natural to Him and which can no more cease than
His eternal existence can. Although the goodness of God may sometimes be
hidden, it can never be extinguished.
- Calvin implores his readers to pour out their
hearts to God and follow the pattern of David:
- Psalm 22:1 - 1 My God, my God, why have you
forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my
- Psalm 22:19 - 19 But you, O LORD, be not far
off; O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
- David does not pray in a doubting manner, as he
hoped for the result he desired.
- Thomas Moore (1779-1852) wrote this - - Come to
the mercy seat; fervently kneel; Here bring your wounded hearts; here tell your
anguish; Earth has no sorrows that heaven cannot
- However, there is a psalm without a single note
of hope (Psalm 88)
- Psalm 88:13-15 - 13 But I cry to you for help, O
LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14 Why, O LORD, do you reject
me and hide your face from me? 15 From my youth I have been afflicted and close
to death; I have suffered your terrors and am in despair.
- Psalm 88 is a prayer - and
in a state of hopelessness, we should pray most fervently. The faithful
know in their heart of hearts that when things seem most hopeless, God's ears
are open to our cries.
- And David, when he was pursued by Saul, in his
lonely prayer vigil in the cave of Adullam, said the following:
- Psalm 142:1-4 - (A maskil of
David. When he was in the cave. A prayer.) 1 I cry aloud to the LORD; I lift up
my voice to the LORD for mercy. 2 I pour out my complaint before him; before
him I tell my trouble. 3 When my spirit grows faint within me, it is you who
know my way. In the path where I walk men have hidden a snare for me. 4 Look to
my right and see; no one is concerned for me. I have no refuge; no one cares
for my life.
- Calvin says regarding Psalm 142 -
Note that David did not pour out his self-pity to the
people around him, but passionately made known his complaint to God, with
submission and confidence in God's mercy.
- Lay your fear before God - - do not brood over
your anxieties inwardly to your own distress - - take them to God first and not
others.... and with confidence in God's mercy that He will hear your
- One may conclude - - God knows my problems
anyway - why take them to Him? and complaining will only make me feel worse - -
but David's prayers reveal that we should open our hearts before God, even
though God already knows what we are going through - consider Psalm
- Psalm 38:9-10 - 9 All my longings lie open
before you, O Lord; my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my
strength fails me; even the light has gone from my eyes.
- The reason most people don't
profit from complaining grievously in their sorrow is that they do not direct
their prayers and sighs to God.
- David is assured God will be His deliverer and
says that God has always been a witness to his sorrows and was well
acquainted with them. (and because of this - - we need to take them to Him
gate of prayer is always open
- Prayer doesn't change things - -
God changes things in answer to prayer
- And we pray because we know that God has heard
our complaints and requests in the past - - and has answered.
- We also pray because when we do, we have an
inner feeling of being in God's presence when we pray
- But the chief reason we pray and
know God has heard our prayer is the Holy Spirit's testimony in
- Psalm 34:15 - 15 The eyes of the LORD are on the
righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;
- Psalm 34:17 - 17 The righteous cry out, and the
LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
- Psalm 34:18 - 18 The LORD is close to the
brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
prayers of the saints
- The story of Hannah - -
- 1 Samuel 1:6 - 6 And because the LORD had closed
her womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her.
- 1 Samuel 1:10 - 10 In bitterness of soul Hannah
wept much and prayed to the LORD.
- 1 Samuel 1:20 - 20 So in the course of time
Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying,
"Because I asked the LORD for him."
- The name Samuel means "heard by God"
and is a reminder that the Lord's ears are open to the cries of His
declaration of Jesus and the apostles
- Jesus encouraged his disciples to pray in one of
his final disclosures:
- John 14:13-14 - 13And I
will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the
Father. 14You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
- The author of I John:
- I John 5:13-14 - 13 I write
these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may
know that you have eternal life. 14This is the confidence we have in
approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears
- Ephesians 3:12 - 12 In Him and
through faith in Him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
- Romans 8:15 - 15 For you did not receive a
spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of
sonship, and by him we cry, "Abba, Father."
- Calvin - Calvin's desire is that the children of
God pray unceasingly and passionately that God may supply all their wants and
needs in accordance with God's will.
intercession of Christ
- Christ is our intercessor who represent us
- Hebrews 8:1; 7:24-25 - 1The point of what we are
saying is this: We do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand
of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, [Heb 7:24-25 - 24but because Jesus
lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. 25Therefore he is able to save
completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to
intercede for them.]
- Because of Christ's eternal and unchangeable
priesthood - 1 John 3:21-22 is true - - 21Dear friends,
if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God 22and receive
from him anything we ask, because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.
- Calvin says these 2 things are
connected - confidence and prayer - - and that none can really pray to God but
those with a pure heart fear and worship Him.
- Calvin is not saying the
faithful need a good conscience to approach God in prayer - - we rely on Christ
the mediator who gives us comfort in our pain and trouble because He
continually intercedes for us.
- When we pray to God, our prayers
must be sanctified and consecrated by the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ and we
may rest assured that God will not reject the sacrifice with which He is very
well content - and by which He has been reconciled to us and made one with us
intercession of the Holy Spirit
- We have many models of prayer in Scripture
including the Lord's Prayer (Matt 6:9-13)
- But we still don't know how to
pray - - Romans 8:26 - 26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.
We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for
us with groans that words cannot express.
- We are not only taught by the Spirit how to pray
and what to ask in our prayers but also, per Calvin, the
"Spirit has annexed prayers to the anxious desires of the faithful; for
God does not afflict them with miseries so that they may inwardly feed on
hidden grief, but that they may unburden themselves by prayer, and thus
exercise their faith."
- Calvin states
- - no one can of himself give birth to devout
and godly aspirations
- - the manner of praying must be suggested by
- - the Spirit intercedes by stirring up in our
hearts those desires which we ought to entertain
- - the Spirit affects our hearts in such a way
that those desires by their fervency penetrate into heaven itself
- Calvin says "we are
indeed bidden to knock; but no one can, of himself, say one syllable except
that by God by the secret impulse of his Spirit knocks at our door, and thus
opens for Himself our hearts."
- Romans 8:27 - 27And he who searches our hearts
knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in
accordance with God's will.
- This verse is a "remarkable
reason for strengthening our confidence" that we are heard by God when we
pray through the Spirit
God seems not to hear our prayers
- "It is natural for us to become impatient
and even discouraged if God's help is delayed - especially when we pray
earnestly and faithfully. But instead of abounding hope, we should remember
that God is faithful too. He may simply be trying our patience or calling us to
the discipline of prayer."
- Persistence in prayer is a mark
of one who is faithful.
- David expresses in Psalm 9:18 the subject of
hope , thereby encouraging us to pray. The reason why God seems to take no
notice of our afflictions us because he would have us to awaken him by means of
our prayers - and David reminds us that God may not respond immediately in
order that we may persevere in hoping well.:
- Psalm 9:18 - 18 But the needy will not always be
forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.
- Luke 18:1-5 - The Parable of the Persistent
Widow - 1Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should
always pray and not give up. 2He said: "In a certain town there was a
judge who neither feared God nor cared about men. 3And there was a widow in
that town who kept coming to him with the plea, 'Grant me justice against my
adversary.' 4"For some time he refused. But finally he said to himself,
'Even though I don't fear God or care about men, 5yet because this widow keeps
bothering me, I will see that she gets justice, so that she won't eventually
wear me out with her coming!' "
- Contrast that judge with the judge of heaven -
Psalm 86:5 - "5 You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to
all who call to you. " Calvin comments that God is bountiful and
inclined to compassion - - - His mercy is so great to
render it impossible for Him to reject any who implores His aid - - the
Psalmist says "all" may be encouraged confidently to take himself to
the mercy and goodness of God.
- Our prayers for relief from suffering may be
answered, not according to our petitions but in some other way that seems best
to God - consider Paul and his 3 prayers for relief from the thorn in the
- II Corinthians 12:7-10 - 7To keep me from
becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was
given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8Three times
I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9But He said to me, "My
grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that
Christ's power may rest on me. 10That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in
weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For
when I am weak, then I am strong.
- We ask in simple terms for
things for which we have an express promise (ie hallowing God's name, remission
of our sins, etc) - - and we ask confidently - - but it does not belong to us
to prescribe the means..
- Calvin said "If, with
minds framed to obedience, we allow ourselves to be governed by the laws of
divine providence, we will easily learn to persevere in
Faith is indispensable
- Throughout Scripture, faith is the foundation of
- Psalm 34:6 - 6 This poor man called, and the
LORD heard him; He saved him out of all his troubles.
- When we pray in times of trouble, God does not
regard our goodness or kindness or generous treatment of others - he looks,
rather ,upon His Son, our Intercessor, in whom we trust.
- Before we can approach God acceptably in prayer,
it is necessary that His promises should be known to us, without which we can
have no access to Him. (Ephesians 3:12 - - 12In him and through faith in him we
may approach God with freedom and confidence. )
then should we pray?
Persevere in prayer
- 1 Thes 5:17 - 17pray continually;
- Perseverance in prayer is a mark
of David's life of devotion:
- Psalm 55:4-5 - 4 My heart is in anguish within
me; the terrors of death assail me. 5 Fear and trembling have beset me; horror
has overwhelmed me.
- Psalm 55:17 -17 Evening, morning and noon I cry
out in distress, and he hears my voice.
- Romans 12:2,12 - 2Do not conform any longer to
the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will ishis good,
pleasing and perfect will; 12Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful
- Calvin says joy and patience are far above our
strength, so we must be diligent in prayer, continually calling on God.
- Paul expressly requires perseverance in prayer
for we have continued warfare - as new conflicts arise daily. Even the
strongest are not able to sustain the battle unless they frequently gather new
Pray with a humble spirit
- When men are sorely oppressed by adversity is
when they are made to feel nothingness (in their own minds) in the sight of
- Psalm 131 is a pattern - Psalm 131 A song of
ascents. Of David. 1 My heart is not proud, O LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I
do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. 2 But
I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother, like a
weaned child is my soul within me. 3 O Israel, put your hope in the LORD both
now and forevermore.
- If we are ruled in life by a
humble and quiet spirit, our daily prayers and our cries for help in times of
trouble will be framed in the same spirit.
Pray in accordance with God's will
- We cannot know God's secret will for our lives,
except as God has revealed it to us in Christ and in Scripture
- Romans 8:26 - 26In the same way, the Spirit
helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the
Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.
- Proper prayer is grounded upon
the Word of God
- 1 John 5:14 - 14 This is the confidence we have
in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears
- God teaches us by His Word what He would have us
ask in prayer, and He also sets over us His Spirit as our Guide and Ruler, to
restrain our feelings.
- Psalm 25:4-5 - 4 Show me your ways, O LORD,
teach me your paths; 5 guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my
Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.
Pray in hope
- If we pray with sincere and confident trust in
God's unfailing goodness, we will be rewarded with hope that does not
- Romans 5:5 - 5And hope does not
disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy
Spirit, whom he has given us.
- Psalm 25:20 - 20 Guard my life and rescue me;
let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
- We should ask God - - to
increase our hope when it is small, awaken it when it is dormant, confirm it
when it is wavering, strengthen it when it is weak and raise it up when it is
Pray with thanksgiving
- The Heidelberg Catechism says -
prayer is the most important part of the thankfulness which God requires of
- God will give His grace and the Holy Spirit only
to those who constantly and with heartfelt longing ask Him for these gifts and
thank Him for them.
- Philippians 4:6 - 6Do not be anxious about
anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present
your requests to God.
Return to Main Page