Have you ever reached a place in your emotional life where all there was left to do was to cry? It seems to happen most often when you least expect it. Can you remember the last time that you shed honest tears? Maybe it was over the pain of losing someone you love. Or maybe it was in response to a hurting loved one who was beyond your help. Perhaps someone wounded you with a nasty insult and made you feel “less than.” Whatever the case we have all experienced this phenomenon of crying. Tears are just a part of being a human. They are our soul’s acknowledgement of our own brokenness and its sincere attempt to reach towards some kind of solution. As Christ followers we know the solution is found in God alone. For this reason weeping ought to be an integral part of our prayer lives.
The benefits of this are insurmountable. By way of tears, our emotions find a healthy outlet and our hearts are freed from any lingering grief that can quickly turn into poison if left undealt with. Not only this, but by not weeping we actually cut ourselves off from a large segment of our fellowship with God. Human beings are made in the image of God and we were made to fellowship with Him. Scripture is riddled with indicators that Yahweh, though mighty and strong, is also extremely empathetic and sensitive to the brokenness of humanity to the point of grief (Gen. 6:6) and weeping (Jn. 11:35). As image bearers of the Father and disciples of Jesus we have been given the great gift of tears to commune with this weeping God. The New Testament concludes that “we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses,” (Heb. 4:15), and we are able to cast all of our cares on Christ (1 Pet. 5:7) who was like us in every way. We do this most profoundly and authentically when we allow ourselves to weep before Him and with Him in prayer. As Pete Scazzero says in his best selling book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality…
“Ignoring our emotions is turning our back on reality. Listening to our emotions ushers us into reality. And reality is where we meet God. . . . Emotions are the language of the soul. They are the cry that gives the heart a voice. . .”
Weeping is not only beneficial to us, but in the place of intercession, it becomes a gift to the world. One of my all-time favorite stories is of a man named David Wilkerson, who in 1958, was a skinny preacher pastoring a small country church in Pennsylvania. One day, he felt the strong conviction that he was spending too much time watching television and not enough time praying. He made the “radical” decision to sell his television and began spending his routine lounging time in worship and intercession. On the 19th day of this prayer-filled season he found himself suddenly weeping at the sight of a picture found in Life magazine. The picture showed seven teenage boys on trial for the murder of Michael Farmer, a young polio victim who was brutally beaten to death by members of a teenage gang in New York City.
It wasn’t just the murder itself which drew David to tears, though. It was the faces of the young men in the photograph. He described them as portraying a deep loneliness and anger that he never knew existed. It was in this moment of weeping that he heard the Holy Spirit speaking to his heart, “Go and help those boys.” Within the next week he found himself unable to avoid this growing conviction to go to New York City and try to help these spiritually lost young men. And so he went.
As a result of David Wilkerson’s obedience, a global movement of Christ-centered recovery centers quickly spread from New York City to other cities in America, eventually spreading to thousands of other locations throughout the nations of the earth. I, myself, have been helped through this ministry along with Andrew Chalmers, the founder of Take the City. Indeed, it is immeasurable the amount of ministers that have been raised up from the vacuum of street life and drug addiction as a result of this ministry— all because of one man receiving God’s gift of tears in the place of prayer.
Finally, and most importantly, our tears are actually gifts we give back to God. Psalms 56:8 reads as follows—
You keep track of all my sorrows.
You have collected all my tears in your bottle.
You have recorded each one in your book.
So many of us view God as a slightly irritated father coming home after a long day’s work who would prefer not to hear his kids crying when he walks in the door. This is simply unbiblical. Not only can God handle our weakness and our tears, but He cherishes them according to the passage above.
I remember when I first encountered the love of Christ. All I could do was weep in His presence. It wasn’t out of sorrow or sadness, but out of gratitude that a God so holy could love a sinner like me. I knew I didn’t deserve it. What could I possibly give back to Him? It seemed some deep part of my soul instinctively knew the answer was tears… and oh, how they flowed!
It reminds me of Mary of Bethany. This was a woman who caused a scene in front of the disciples and the Pharisees by barging into a dinner scene and breaking open a box of perfume that was worth a year’s wages and pouring it over the head of Jesus. But that isn’t all she did to show her gratitude. According to the Bible she washed and wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears. We see Jesus rebuking those in the room who scoffed at her, saying, “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (Mark 14:6). He received her tears not begrudgingly, but delightedly as something beautiful— a gift.
The amazing thing about the kingdom of God is that when we sow in tears we reap in sheaves of joy (Ps. 126:6). We cannot outgive God. When we weep in the place of prayer He receives it as a gift. In return, we are nourished with spiritual health, we reap in joy, and the world is reached with the love of Christ. These things are our Biblical promise.
When was the last time you’ve wept before the Lord in prayer? Ask the Lord to soften your heart by allowing you to receive the beautiful gift of tears. Then… let em’ flow.
-Brandon McKenzie, Harvest House of Prayer Coordinator
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you would enjoy being a part of our prayer room at Take the City!
I have been serving in some way with Take the city since October 2013. I spent a lot of time on the prayer team in the beginning and encountered God’s heart for the city in a life changing way. When the teams came back and shared testimonies, it was always fun to see that our prayers coincided with some of their testimonies in special ways. More recently I have had the privilege of leading a team to a nursing home where I used to be an employee. I used to pray over the facility every day, and it was such a miracle to see an old friend who lives there give his life to Jesus on one of our outreaches a year later. God sure has a way of answering prayers. And Take the City is an answer to so many prayers that have gone up here.