Real, Raw, and Relevant Prayer

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Picture of a man in desperate prayer

Psalm 88 in today’s Bible reading* gives us a picture of someone being real and raw in prayer before God while struggling with depression (Psalm 88:18) and desperation. (Psalm 88:1-2) It demonstrates that God’s Word is relevant. It meets us in the real world.

In Psalm 88:1, Korah’s sons use the word cry out. This word is a call for help. This prayer for help isn’t just a one-time simple request of God. It is a continual, 24/7 desperate plea for God to come through.

In Psalm 88:2, they use the word prayer to convey a request to God. The word typically means a formal prayer that’s prayed. However, one linguist suggested that the verb this noun is derived from has to do with falling or prostrating oneself. Given the context of Psalm 88:3, it appears that the Psalmists are conveying more than merely voicing a formal prayer.

Korah’s sons also ask God to hear their cry (Psalm 88:2). This word is different from the one in verse 1. This word means a ringing cry and conveys a shout of joy.


So why would these men link a shout of joy with the desperation of their lament? It’s because they knew that God is sovereign. He’s in control. He knows what’s going on. He isn’t caught off guard by their situation. And they’re confident that God will hear their desperate prayer and do something about it.

Have you ever felt like Korah’s sons? Have you felt that you lacked a way to express your concerns and even grief/depression to God? The author of the Letter to the Hebrews answers that question. He says that because Jesus is like we are, yet without sin, we are able to confidently approach God’s throne of grace that we may find mercy and grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16) God is only a prayer away.

I’ve mentioned before that the Psalms can be great models for prayer, worship, praise, and thanksgiving. Psalm 88 is one of those models.

* Chapters covered in today’s reading:
Psalms 81
Psalms 88
Psalms 92
Psalms 93

This devotional was originally published on April 23, 2021.

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