Read Psalm 22:1-2 (NLT)
My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help? Every day I call to you, my God, but you do not answer. Every night I lift my voice, but I find no relief.
Why is it important to keep praying even when we don't sense God in our lives? In what ways can our emotions deceive us? What can help us to be patient?
In Psalm 22, David felt as if he had gotten a raw deal from God, and he wanted some answers: "Why have you abandoned me? Look at what has happened--I'm so miserable. Why all this cruelty? Why the silence?"
Even though David cried out again and again, God remained silent. His circumstances raise an important question that so many of us have pondered at different seasons of our lives: What should we do when God doesn't show up? What happens when the Lord doesn't seem to answer our prayers--when we beg for deliverance, when we suffer ... yet all we feel is silence? Should we stop praying altogether? Should we stop believing that prayer makes a difference? Answer: Absolutely NOT!
Even when life is caving in around us, we've got to be honest with God. We've got to cry out to Him, just as David did. (See Psalm 22.) If you think those words have a familiar ring, you're right. Jesus repeated some of those very words as He hung on the Cross, dying for our sins. But as we keep reading in Psalm 22 (verses 11-18), it's almost eerie how David's metaphorical description of his personal crisis fits the passion of Christ. And just as God was silent when Jesus cried out, the Lord was silent during David's anguish. But that didn't stop either of them. Psalm 22 offers us some suggestions about how to pray when we feel as if God just isn't showing up: Keep talking, disregard feelings, don't fake it ... and be patient.
Lord Jesus, help me to never stop praying. Help me to stay close to You and remember that You are always listening--even during times of silence. Amen.
Portions of this study were adapted from Michael Ross, Prayer (Uhrichsville.: Barbour, 2016). Pastor and writer Greg Asimakoupoulos contributed to this devotional entry.