Praying Our Guilt

The Psalms give us a unique way to deal with our emotions and feelings. It’s unique because, on the one hand, in religious circles, amongst religious people, there is a fear of admitting and facing our feelings. In secular circles, there’s the opposite mistake, which is there’s a tendency to simply see expression of feelings and discovery of feelings as a good in itself, and once you’ve found what those feelings are, that’s who you really are. The Psalms say it is very bad and dangerous to either deny your feelings or vent your feelings — to either stuff your feelings or bow down to your feelings.

The Psalms tell us we’re supposed to pray our feelings. Not just pray about our feelings, but to actually take them before God and pour them out in a pre-reflective way and process them in the presence of God, in the light of who he is and who we are, in the light of the realities that come to us, that bear down on us, as we’re in his presence. 

Today we look at a psalm about guilt and shame — having your heart broken under a sense of failure, liability, and general unworthiness. In these eight verses, we actually see guilt and shame likened to 1. a hole, to something we’ve sunk down in, and 2. we’re shown a rope you throw a person, that’s available for a person who’s in that hole of guilt and shame, and 3. we see a little bit about the process of how you climb out with that rope.

This sermon was preached by Rev. Timothy Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church on March 12, 2000. Series “Psalms – The Songs of Jesus”. Scripture: Psalm 130:1-8.

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