This week I’m going to talk about ways to encourage discouraged believers. The first and one of the best ways to encourage discouraged believers is to encourage them to pour out their hearts to the Lord. In my experience, prayer is one of the first causalities of discouragement. I’m not really sure why this is the case, but it does seem to be the case. I don’t mean that the discouraged person doesn’t pray, I mean that consistent time in prayer seems to fall by the wayside. Those who are discouraged rarely seem to make the time necessary to get alone with God and really just pour their hearts out to Him. I would almost say that this comes by Satan’s design because this time alone with God is something that is desperately needed in times of discouragement.
There are times in our lives when our prayers need to be carefully worded. When you pray with someone at the hospital, you want to sound hopeful because we are hopeful in God’s power. There are times in our lives when it’s good for our prayers to be systematic. When you pray through your prayer list, it helps to be organized so that you can pray about all the things you want to pray for. Then there are times when we need to fall on our faces before God and let the hurt, the despair, the fear and the needs just come out as they come to us. These are the times when we just pour out our hearts and souls to God.
In my mind, one of the best examples of this is King Hezekiah in Isaiah 37:14-20. A king from a much larger nation with a much larger army had determined he was going to attack and conquer Judah. The King of Assyria was so confident that he would conquer Judah that he told King Hezekiah that if they could find 2,000 horsemen he would give Hezekiah 2,000 horses for them to ride on.
The King of Assyria went so far as to tell Hezekiah not to let the God he was trusting deceive him. After all, Assyria had conquered plenty of other countries and their gods weren’t able to stop him. What made Hezekiah think that the God of Israel could do more than the gods of these other nations could do? The latter portion of the King of Assyria’s threat came in the form of a letter.
When Hezekiah received the letter, the Bible says that he “…spread it out before the Lord.” (verse 14). I love the picture of him spreading out the letter out before God paints in my mind. When you take that with what he prays, we see that Hezekiah was brutally honest about the situation. He went to the temple, unrolled the letter to show God what the King of Assyria had said.
This wasn’t the time for King Hezekiah to act spiritual and act like this wasn’t a really big problem. This wasn’t a time to act as though he could handle this problem but if God wanted to help that would be fine too. This was a time for him to lay the problem before the Lord and be brutally honest about the facts. The fact in this situation was that the King of Assyria had every intention of coming to Jerusalem and conquering it. The fact in this situation was that the King of Assyria had such a large and powerful army that this really wasn’t going to be a problem for him. If God didn’t intervene in this situation, Judah would be attacked and they would surely be conquered.
When we pour out our hearts out to God, we need to lay the facts of the situation out before Him as they are. This isn’t the time to say, “God you know about this problem I’ve got. Could you help me with it?” This is the time to say, “My marriage is falling apart and I can’t stop it.’ Or “My kids are destroying their lives and I can’t help them.” Or “I’m so depressed all I want to do is sleep and I can’t shake it.” Or “I’m so overwhelmed that I feel like from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed I am having one big panic attack.” Whatever the problem is there has to come a time when the discouraged believer pours out their hearts to God about the situation as it is.
It’s important to understand that pouring your heart out to God can’t be timed event. To truly pour out your heart to God you are going to have to be willing to spend as much time in prayer as you need. There is no exact, right amount of time. There is just the time you need. It may be an hour or it may be 15 minutes. What I’ve realized about pouring out my heart to God is that I know when I’m finished. When I’m finished, there is the peace that Paul talks about in Philippians.
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 (NKJV) I’ve also noticed that as a general rule, if there is no peace when I’m finished it’s because I didn’t take sufficient time to pour out my heart to God. I put God on my schedule and cut it short.
Our relationship to God gives us the freedom to come to Him and cast all of our worries on Him. We can do this because we have been assured that He cares for us (1 Pet 5:7). How many needless burdens do we struggle under because we don’t accept God’s invitation to cast our cares upon Him? Our relationship to God guarantees that we are invited to pour out our hearts to Him. We must encourage discouraged believers to pour their hearts out to God.
Is there something you need to pour out your heart to God about? If so, take the time today and do it. Do you know a discouraged believer than needs to pour their hearts out to God? If so, take the time today and encourage them to pour out their hearts to the Lord.