Psalm 142

You Are My Refuge
A Maskil of David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.

1With my voice I cry out to the Lord;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
2I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.

3When my spirit faints within me,
you know my way!
In the path where I walk
they have hidden a trap for me.
4Look to the right and see:
there is none who takes notice of me;
no refuge remains to me;
no one cares for my soul.

5I cry to you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
6Attend to my cry,
for I am brought very low!
Deliver me from my persecutors,
for they are too strong for me!
7Bring me out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name!
The righteous will surround me,
for you will deal bountifully with me.

Cry Out to God

“And so we must learn to pray. The child learns to speak because his father speaks to him. He learns the speech of his father. So we learn to speak to God because God has spoken to us and speaks to us. By means of the speech of the Father in heaven his children learn to speak with him. Repeating God’s own words after him, we begin to pray to him.” (p. 11)

These are the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in his little book, Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible.

If we want to learn to pray, the Psalms are the God-given guide to teach us.

Yet, as I read Psalm 142, I wonder…

With my voice I cry out to the Lord for mercy;
with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.
I pour out my complaint before him;
I tell my trouble before him.

These words don’t sound much like me. In fact, they don’t sound at all like something I would do.

I’m more apt to grin and bear it. I don’t cry out to the Lord or plead for mercy, but with well-tempered Lutheran stoicism I simply accept things as they are and go on with life. I don’t pour out my complaint to the Lord, I plan in my mind how I can resolve the problem.

As you can see, this Psalm speaks in a way I’m not accustomed to speaking. This Psalm cries out to the Lord in ways I do not.

Do you know what that means?

It means I’ve got a lot to learn about prayer, and the Psalms can teach me. When we pray Psalm 142 we learn that it’s not only okay to cry out to the Lord and pour out our complaints to Him, but that we ought to do so because our Father has taught us so to pray by His Word.

Psalm 142 teaches us that to be a Christian is not simply to grin and bear it, nor must we stoically accept things, but that God would have us cry out to Him.  Our Father wants to hear the cries of our hearts. When you are overwhelmed, when you feel attacked on all sides, the answer is not to toughen up, grit your teeth, and go on; the answer is to cry out to your Father in heaven!


Our Father,
You teach us to pray in Your Word. Through the words of the Psalms we learn how to pray and for what we should pray. Forgive us for those times when we have failed to cry out to You and pour our hearts out to You, whether because of our sinful pride, our false assumptions, or for any other reason. Help us to continue to learn to pray as You teach us in the Psalms, that our prayer lives would be full and our lives reflect that fullness by faith that leads to action.
We ask this in the name of Jesus who taught us His perfect prayer.