“But I pray to you, Lord, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation. Rescue me from the mire, do not let me sink; deliver me from those who hate me, from the deep waters. Do not let the floodwaters engulf me or the depths swallow me up or the pit close its mouth over me.” Psalm 69: 13-15
This psalm describes the common human experience of suffering and feeling overwhelmed. Even Jesus – our Savior, and God himself – experienced suffering and overwhelm while He was living on earth. But this psalm also identifies exactly what we need to do during a season of suffering. We need to do the same thing Jesus did. We need to pray and draw close to God.
We see in verses 6-12 that the psalmist is experiencing suffering at least in part due to his faithful obedience to God. This certainly was an experience well-known to Jesus, who knew that the world hated him without reason (Psalm 69:4 // John 15:25). Throughout this psalm, the author raises his lament to God and asks God to help him, to save him. “But I pray to you, Lord” the psalmist promises. He asks God to “come near and rescue me” (verse 16) and closes the psalm with great praise and worship to God.
Prayer leads to praise
How can the psalmist close such a lengthy lament and desperation with praise? He can praise God because He knows that God has heard his prayers. “The Lord hears the needy and does not despite his captive people” (verse 33) the psalmist confirms in the midst of his final stanza of praise and worship. The Lord hears his people. Even during Jesus’ darkest hour of prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, He handles the experience of being “overwhelmed with sorrow even to the point of death” by spending the night in prayer (Matthew 26). God does not fulfill Jesus’s request of removing the cup of wrath from him, but Luke 22 tells us that He sent angels to comfort and encourage him. God will not answer every prayer in the way that we think we want him too. God will answer every prayer by providing exactly what we need to endure the suffering, to move through and past the overwhelm, and to remain close to Him.
The power of prayer
Prayer acknowledges who God is, his character and his worth. It acknowledges who we are, sinners desperate for his grace. And it draws us close to God, the source of our comfort, our strength, and our peace. If you are suffering today, go to God in prayer. He is listening, and He hears his people.
You may find it helpful to take some time reflecting on the following Scriptures about praying during times of suffering:
Hebrews 5: 1-10
Matthew 5: 1-12