rebelling against low expectations

Praying Through Poetry: When Simple Words Don’t Cut It


I went through a time in my life when praying felt empty, my devotions felt like a task, and my heart hurt so much I didn’t feel like my prayers were saying enough. I would often just put down my pencil and cry because I didn’t know what to say.

I came to the point that I stopped praying any more than just, “Jesus, Jesus.” And weeping. But I didn’t stop reading my Bible, and something drew me to the Psalms. There was something about the pain, joy, confusion, and hope in David’s words. There was something about the poetry.

It was then that a love for poetry was birthed in my cracked and bleeding heart. And it was through poetry that I was able to pray again.

Poems in Darkness

When I first discovered this tiny life inside, it was a way to voice the darkness I felt trapped in, when nothing else could accurately describe it.

Lost. Alone.
Wandering so far from home.
Do You see me there?
My hope drowning in my despair,
The weight too heavy for me to bear.
Do You see me there?
Heavy. Hollow.
Trapped with no hope for tomorrow.
Do You see me here?
I am surrounded by fear,
And nothing seems clear.
Do You see me here?
Desperate. Pained.
Broken as sorrow reigns.
Do You see me now?
As I go under and drown,
Empty and left wondering how.
Do You see me now?

I felt guilty sometimes, wondering if I was allowed to think this way, feel this way, talk to God this way. Did I really have the right to ask my Heavenly Father if He saw me – really saw me? And if He did see, why did He leave me in such a state as I was? Wasn’t I just supposed to have faith and wait on God? Then I remembered David, the one who had led me to poetry:

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God;
light up my eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death,
lest my enemy say, “I have prevailed over him,”
lest my foes rejoice because I am shaken.” (Psalm 13)

It's okay if your words are dark. Why? Because God wants all of us. Even our honesty because that is how we grow closer to Him. Feel uncomfortable feelings. Cry ugly tears. Write pain filled stanzas. God listens with loving ears. Click To Tweet

David’s words were just as dark and hopeless as mine. Why? Because God wants us. All of us. Even our honesty because it is in that honesty that we grow closer to Him.

So, I pushed aside my fear and wrote what I felt, because ignoring my feelings had gotten me in this mess in the first place, by shoving every negative feeling down because I thought they were wrong. I didn’t want to deal with them; they made me uncomfortable. That habit overflowed me and created an ocean for me to drown in.

So, I felt the uncomfortable feelings. I cried the ugly tears. I wrote the pain filled stanzas. And God listened with loving ears.

Poems At Dawn

Slowly my poetry began to change, as the ocean in my heart leaked out in my words. The light began to shine through again.

Calling from the mud.
No longer looking for purpose,
Only longing for the pain to end.
I hear You whisper through my blindness,
You remind me of Your promise:
“Your resurrection is coming.
I will bring the light,
You will rise again.
Like the sun after the longest night,
You will rise again.
I will roll the stone,
You are not alone.
I promise, you will rise.”
As tears fall from my eyes.
This won’t last forever,
We’ll get through this together.
I will wait through the winter.
Your hand is on me in the night,
I will wait for the light.

My poems began to twinkle with dawn. Why? I made room in my heart for hope again. I allowed God to make me new, and He drew me from the ocean I was drowning in, an ocean of sorrow, anxiety, and pain. Just like David:

“In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.
From His temple He heard my voice,
and my cry to Him reached His ears…
He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters…
You have given me the shield of Your salvation,
and Your right hand supported me,
and Your gentleness made me great.
You gave a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.” (Psalm 18:6,16,35 & 36)

God slowly worked on me through my poetry, showing me that I could tell Him anything, talk to Him no matter how I felt, and always ask Him for help.

God wants us to know that we can tell Him anything, talk to Him no matter how we feel, and always ask Him for help. Click To Tweet

Cast Your Cares

I am telling you what it took me so long to learn: Never hold your feelings in. Each held back tear will become a drop in a dark ocean.

God wants every piece of you. He already knows everything about you, so there really is no point in hiding anything from Him anyway. He knows about every feeling and the reason behind each one of them, so talk to Him about them. It might feel uncomfortable or maybe even wrong at first, but I can promise you, it’s worth it.

Talk to Him any way you can. You can pray through poetry like me or use simple words; write your prayers down; draw your prayers; or pray through scripture. But no matter what, don’t stop just because they are all starting to sound the same, or because you cry every time, or because you think God doesn’t want to hear it, or even when you think you are doing something wrong.

God has broad shoulders. He can handle your anger, your grief, your fear, and your confusion a whole lot better than you can on your own. Always be honest with God. Click To Tweet

God has broad shoulders. He can handle your anger, your grief, your fear, and your confusion a whole lot better than you can on your own. David says this in Psalm 55:22, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.”

Always be honest with God.

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About the author

Abbi Langille

is a young writer and editor here on the Reb from Nova Scotia, Canada. She enjoys writing both fiction and non-fiction, taking every spare moment to jot down an idea on her laptop or a handy scrap of paper. She has an addiction to story, whether that means getting lost in someone else’s or creating her own. She has a passion for shedding the light of hope in the darkest nights of those struggling with anxiety, depression, and grief. Abbi is currently studying at Kingswood University in order to acquire a Bachelor's degree in Theology, so that she can make theology available to young people through her writing.


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rebelling against low expectations

The Rebelution is a teenage rebellion against low expectations—a worldwide campaign to reject apathy, embrace responsibility, and do hard things. Learn More →