How to Follow God Instead of Your Emotions
Not long ago, I sat across the table at a restaurant with a friend. She mentioned how she was feeling spiritually discouraged and as soon as she was open and honest with her feelings – I joined her. I said – me too! Specifically, I was so frustrated with how long I had been praying for some things. God seemed to be answering no – or wait. I could hardly stand it! My patience was thin and I wanted to see the power of God at work. My friend nodded in agreement – she was at the exact same place and we were both so discouraged.
Through out my lifetime, I have seen the power of God work mightily in so many men and women’s lives, that I know the prayers I am praying are possible. God can do it – I believe! And so I wonder why he’s not? Why do my prayers feel like they are hitting the ceiling and bouncing back? Am I not praying in God’s will? Is it me? Is it timing? Should I just stop the prayers?
It’s hard to share these feelings in black in white here with you all – because I don’t want to let people down. I want to be a strong woman of faith, who doesn’t doubt or waiver and who faithfully prays with perseverance – but I have to admit – sometimes I get discouraged.
And when I get discouraged – I tend to want to quit, which then leads to me asking God – why? And when I get to the why point and there’s no answers — I start to feel alone and like God might not even care. And when my emotions get low, they start to dominate my feelings — which can ruin my thought processes. And that leads to dangerous paths, that I do not want to be on. I do not want to be controlled by or led by my emotions – I want to be led by God.
Have you been there too?
Have you ever prayed and wondered if God’s on vacation because he doesn’t seem to be answering? I sent an email to someone last month and I received an automatic reply saying that the person was on vacation for the month of July. This meant I had to wait until August for an answer. I did not enjoy the wait.
But I want to assure you – God does not go on vacation and he DOES hear our prayers. That I confidently know.
Sometimes our feelings are liars.
We must not let our emotions dominate our lives.
But inner turmoil is real, even for strong believers. Sometimes we tell believers who are discouraged or who struggle with anxiety to just pray more. Believe more. Have more faith. But I can testify that sometimes you can being doing all of that and still be discouraged – it’s part of living in a fallen world.
David was a mighty king and godly warrior. He was a tough guy and yet all throughout Psalms, we see him crying out to God in distress. He was unbelievably open about his pain. But he was also unbelievably hopeful because the God he prayed to is a God of hope! And that’s our God too.
In Psalm 143, David cried out to God because he was feeling absolutely crushed. Here’s what he said:
Hear my prayer, O Lord;
give ear to my pleas for mercy!
In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness!
2 Enter not into judgment with your servant,
for no one living is righteous before you.
3 Qualities of David’s Prayer
1.) David begged God to hear his prayer and give him mercy.
2.) David appealed to God’s character for an answer. He called God faithful and righteous and he said – in your faithfulness and righteousness answer me!
3.) David was humble before God. He asked the Lord to not judge him because he knew that no one is righteous before the all righteous God.
3 For the enemy has pursued my soul;
he has crushed my life to the ground;
he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead.
4 Therefore my spirit faints within me;
my heart within me is appalled.
David’s Emotions Were Dominating His Life
1.) David was suffering from an inner attack. He says the enemy had pursued his soul. When David says soul – he is referring to his inner emotions. He was being attacked emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.
2.) David felt crushed to the ground. His inner turmoil had made him totally miserable.
3.) David was sitting in darkness. His thoughts were dark.
4.) David’s was overwhelmed and distressed.
David was not okay.
Have you been there? Have you been so on the edge of crying, that you barely stub your toe or the smallest thing happens and suddenly tears are flowing for no apparent reason or you come apart emotionally in a tirade?
This is where David is at – but let’s see what he does with all of those emotions…
5 I remember the days of old;
I meditate on all that you have done;
I ponder the work of your hands.
6 I stretch out my hands to you;
my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. Selah
(Psalm 143:5 -6)
3 Ways David Handled His Emotions
1.) David remembered the days of old. David is not thinking back on the “good ol’ days”. That can be discouraging. Instead he caused himself to remember the times when he cried out to God and God cared and was faithful to him.
2.) David meditated and pondered on all that God had done in the past. Are you discouraged? Think back and remember all that God has already done in your life! Your story is not done yet – he is still at work in a thousand different ways, even when you cannot see it. Let remembering – build your faith.
3.) He reached out to God as a parched land thirsts for rain. Sometimes when we are hurting, the last thing we want to do is open the Bible. But it’s the first thing David did and we should act like David when our soul is in turmoil. Because when we run from God rather than to him, our problems only grow and we open ourselves up to all sorts of lies from the enemy.
David stopped his emotions from dominating his thinking and instead refocused his thoughts to the faithfulness of God.
7 Answer me quickly, O Lord!
My spirit fails!
Hide not your face from me,
lest I be like those who go down to the pit.
8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
(Psalm 143: 7-8)
1.) David begs God to answer quickly. He says his spirit is failing because he can hardly wait another minute on God to answer his prayer. Have you been there – me too! Waiting on God is so very hard. I’m so thankful that David was honest about how painful waiting on God can be.
2.) David asked God to show his face lest he end up in a pit of despair. When God does not answer our prayers, it can feel like we’ve been abandoned by God and that can lead to even deeper despair.
3.) David needed to hear – early in the morning – of God’s love so that he would have the strength to make it through another day.
4.) David did not know what way to go. He needed God’s guidance and so he asked God to show him the way he should go.
Our emotions are powerful.
David was fighting for hope by lifting his soul – his emotions – up to God. He did not repress his feelings but rather he was honest about them in prayer. Our emotions are powerful but we must not let them dominate our lives or our life will be one big rollercoaster ride of dramatic ups and downs.
We need something more stable.
David prayed for deliverance:
9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord!
I have fled to you for refuge.
10 Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God!
Let your good Spirit lead me
on level ground!
11 For your name’s sake, O Lord, preserve my life!
In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble!
12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies,
and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul,
for I am your servant.
How to Follow God Instead of Your Emotions
1.) David prayed that God would teach him to do his will.
We can’t follow God’s will, when we are dominated by our emotions. Our emotions will lead us astray – so it’s an act of obedience to control ourselves and obey God even when we don’t feel like it.
When you don’t know what to do because your emotions have blinded you – pray and ask God to teach you his will.
2.) David Prayed that God’s Spirit would lead him to level ground.
David wanted God to lead him – NOT his emotions.
Are you tired of your emotions leading you?
God wants to lead you…
and onto level ground.
Get off the rollercoaster ride of emotions and go to God and say – I need you! Don’t be all religious and stiff with God. He loves you and he sent his son to die on the cross for your sins so you can have a relationship with him. We don’t have to pray “churchy” prayers to please him. Like David, we can cry out to him and tell him everything we honestly feel.
In verse 9, David said that God was his refuge.
Who or what is your refuge right now?
Is it a person? A form of entertainment? Social media? Netflix? Food? Money? Stuff? Fun times? Positive thinking?
These will only be a temporary fix and you will slip right back into the pit of despair. Determine to make God your refuge today. God’s word is true. You can trust in Him. Be like David and follow God instead of your emotions.
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Thank for adding clarity, so needed this ???? anxiety has taken a strong hold in our home and emotions are frequently running high, prayer can almost feel desperate some times and definitely adds to the stress when it feels like nothing is changing, so the reminder that even people like David felt this way is so empowering and reassuring ????
Yes I agree sister in Christ! As a single mom prayer is my life-line and thank God for Courtney’a blog! God bless you Rhona & Good Morning Girls!
Yes, this was A manna word for heaven. It’s amazing to know that everything we experience people in the Bible like David gives us hope. Amen.
This was an eye opener…
Thank you so much Courtney !!
I´ve been there and wanted out, not knowing how.
This really helped.
I literally woke up this morning crying out to God. Thank you for reminding me that He would rather hear my cries than my stiff churchy prayers.
Thank you for this reminder of who are refuge should be.Emotions are normal but we can not trust them. Tell them to God, He knows all about you anyway.
Excellent essay Courtney, thank you. At times my emotions rule, and when followed by a sarcastic tone it creates problems. God has helped me contain my tongue but I am still praying for and waiting for renewed relationships, despite my apologies. I feel that my sins have not yet been forgiven, not yet been moved from East to the west. But I pray and wait for His grace and mercy. It isn’t easy, but as you say, I think of the answered prayers of the past….the arrival of a wonderful husband…..the sale of a home I thought might never sell. Stay strong, as I know you are,; it gives me strength!
Dear Andie, I want to encourage you dear sister that God forgives your every sin when you ask Him for forgiveness. Sometimes though He does take us a little deeper when we allow Him to. Like, when I committed a sin this one time, I ask God to forgive me for this particular sin by name but I didn’t feel forgiven and therefore had trouble forgiving myself for even going there. And so I asked God if He had forgiven me of that sin like the word said He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin when we repent of it; then why didn’t I feel forgiven? And He showed me that in this particular situation I had known Him for a long time and then gone against His word and did what I wanted to do. He showed me that the root sin was rebellion. So you might ask Him what the root cause is in you not feeling forgiven of whatever it is. God is faithful and He will show you! God bless you and I hope this helps you. Love in Christ Jesus! Mary
This is my exact prayer today. Thank you for knowing what is on all of our hearts right now. Much needed.
Thank you for this encouragement! I just loved the way you broke and explained Psalm 143. Have a Wonderful, bless Friday!
I loved this devo as in the past 3 months I have learned to cry out and wait on the Lord. The first circumstance was buying our 1st home – I had to wait and wait and pray and wait some more. And the God blessed us with a beautiful brand new home. And now that we have moved changing schools – our old charter school dropped us and I have been panicking and wondering what was I going to do now!! I walk in the mornings and I would pour out my heart to the Lord. Yet my feelings would take over once I got home from my walk and I would be in panic mode search for schools and curriculum. 21 days later my old charter school called me and they are keeping us on roster!! Praise the LORD. But my lesson learned is continue to obey – don’t let the emotions allow you to become unstable. I needed to remember the days of old! He has done so much for me!! Thank you for this devo Courtney and God Bless you!!
This couldn’t have come at a better time! I clicked on a video on a friend’s FB page, the video came with no warning. It graphically showed child abuse and I’ve struggled with infertility issues for many, many years. I reported the video and I had a breakdown right there and did exactly as you’re describing – cried out to God. I was scared and praying for the children, upset that this woman got these beautiful children and I haven’t gotten any – why? How could He let this happen? In one small instant, everything in me was being challenged by my emotions. I spent the day yesterday in deep sadness for these kids and self pity for my own infertility struggles. I finally turned on some Christian music while cooking dinner and that comforted me…music always does.
Then the next day I pull this post up – God really does hear us! I am still waiting, and praying to be able to become pregnant and deliver a healthy child, and he or she will for sure get so much love and devotion. My husband and I sought out infertility treatments, which began 8 years ago…we’re down to our last 2 frozen embryos. We’re getting ready for our last cycle to bring these two home, and I am in the full-on wait for God to say yes and breathe life into them and allow them to survive. I think about all the women in the bible who had to wait for their children too, for God to say yes. Let’s just say I can’t thank you enough for this post! It came when my heart was hurting and I needed an extra dose of hope 🙂
LouAnn your in my prayers Sister???? May the Lord give you your hearts desires ????
I love the understanding you have brought to Psalms 143. It’s okay to feel hopeless and despair when we come to God and to be honest with God about our feelings. But we are not to leave prayer feeling the same way- I need to ask God to lead me in His Will!
Thank you so much for this important message for me. I have been praying, and my prayer warriors praying, for months now to find a house to rent. I need to move from the one i am renting now to another city or state. I have been packed and ready to move since December and each month gets harder and harder to not let depression set in. I’m living among boxes everywhere! this house is small and not air conditioned and I am so miserable. I do an hour of devotions each morning, including reading my Bible. I thank God always for my blessings, both seen and unseen. I don’t understand where I am to look or what I am to do. Thank you so much, you have been a true blessing for me in so many of your down-to-earth messages.
Oh this devotional has blessed me as well and it spoke volumes to me As I too want to move need to move actually but I don’t know if God wants me where I’m at or another state. And I cannot let the emotions run amuck. Thank you for writing this beautiful message.
Debbie, I can totally relate to your situation! I need and new job and a new home among other needs. I will keep you in prayer????
So true. We have to wait and know that God is doing what is right for us. Not waiting means a lack of trust. Thanks for breaking down the Psalms for us Courtney. This is such a blessing. Psalm 27:14 – Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!
What a wonderful and encouraging post and one I needed to hear right now as well. It is so incredibly hard to be patient, questioning basically everything with emotions snowballing. I know in my heart God is with me, and I will continue to lean on him and continue praying.
Your transparency and practical teaching from God’s Word are so helpful to me. I so need this now. Thank you Courtney. God Bless.
Just what I needed to hear when I needed it! Thank you for your in depth breakdown of this Psalm.
I loved this message. We live in a world of instant gratification, taught that receiving in a timely manner is something we are entitled to as part of customer service or proper business etiquette. God, the maker of man, does not play by our rules. Instead, he asks us to walk by faith. Sometimes our biggest action of faith is to wait on the Lord. This doesn’t mean to sit idle, but to be strong in the Lord, depending on his Spirit to lead in the waiting. I’m a firm believer that there is mighty work that God can do in our hearts as we wait, to prepare us for his divine answer. I pray for patience and the heart of God, so my desires will match that of my maker!
Today was a very emotional day for me, I thought I would have to lock ???? myself in my prayer closet ???? for many, many years to get over this day. God has taught me enough to not act on my feeling’s but today was rough.
To my surprise when I opened up my email and saw the topic, well that was it God is so incredibly Loving and understanding and good. I so badly needed this I needed to be reminded and retaught how to Follow God and not my Emotions. I Love God so much and have had a lot of breakthroughs recently that I only want God’s will in my life!!! I can’t thank you enough this was all God’s doing and it brings me to tears and it just blows my mind how He can provide you with what you need just when you need it. I’m so touched!!!