Tag: Robert Duvall

Lynn Anderson

Psalms teach us how to talk back to God

Chances are, you’ve read, sung, and memorized psalms before now. Perhaps you already know how powerful these ancient words can be in our lives today. Maybe you have never really sunk your teeth into a single psalm. In any case, let me point out that in learning to talk back to God, we exercise our faith, we grow spiritually.

When we learn to talk back to God, we also discover there is so much more to encountering God than petitioning him for what we want. Our voice changes. We move past prayer techniques, beyond religious formation to transformation into the image of God, the very likeness of Jesus Christ. God’s desire is to transform us into his likeness, his image. So learning to talk back to God moves us toward the desire of God’s heart.

A friend of mine, Mark Abshier, told me about the tragic death of a high school student in his community. He was murdered during a petty robbery. At the funeral, high school students and faculty needed a voice to express what was unspeakable. Mark opened Psalm 29 to them that day. He said this psalm begins with worship that we’d expect in places like church. But the psalmist does not let us stay in church. We go out into the world and experience storms so devastatingly strong that mountains fall and nations tremble. But God is in the storm.

Sometimes our inner struggles are too painful or too frightening or too threatening to face. As we move through the Psalms, however, some of them take us into that unthinkable emotional geography we might otherwise avoid. They lead us to process painful feelings we might otherwise stuff down inside. This processing releases healing into our souls.

Robert Duvall plays a tent evangelist in the movie, “The Apostle.” One scene depicts a great example of talking back to God. Duvall, the preacher, is raging in an upstairs room at his mother’s house. He had just discovered that his wife was having an affair with the youth minister.

He shouts his prayers to God, but his eyes are open and blazing. He shakes his fist toward the ceiling. “They stole my church, stole my wife! If you won’t give me back my wife, give me peace!” he shouts. As he paces the floor and flails his arms, he presses God further. “Give it to me, give it to me, give it to me! Give me peace!” But he doesn’t stop there. Duvall’s Apostle gets downright angry at God and doesn’t hold back.

“I’m confused, I’m mad. I love you, Lord, but I’m mad at you! I know I’m a sinner, once in a while—womanizer—but I’m your servant. What do you want me to do? Should I lay hands on myself? What do you want me to do?”

The scene is intense and full of humanity. Yet it also portrays a profoundly rich theology of prayer. The Psalms give us permission to let God know when we feel abandoned or mistreated.


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Talking Back to God, by Lynn Anderson, 2010

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March 16, 2011 | 0 Comments More