Consider My Sighing
Have you ever started a prayer with a sigh? You know, the kind of sigh that prepares your mind to speak your heart. Or the kind of sigh interspersed with words to flesh out your true emotion. I have. Many times. The three-word phrase “consider my sighing” in the opening words of David’s prayer in Psalm 5 caught my attention. Listen to my words, Lord; consider my sighing. Pay attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for I pray to you (v1-2).
I sense an urgency as David approaches the Lord begging for guidance. Maybe he was exhausted, maybe he was desperate. Regardless, no one else could understand him like his God. No one else could know the depth of his need like his Lord, and no one else could answer his prayer like his King. Upon reading those pleading words, I had to wonder if I were any different than David. I have been known to approach God at times requesting that he pay attention to my cries. I have lain my requests before Him believing that He would hear my cries and my sighs.
Prayers expressed through intangible means are not an uncommon approach. Groanings and tears are mentioned in the Bible. I think of God, and I moan, overwhelmed with longing for his help (Psalm 77:3). I should think a sigh would also qualify. When a sigh becomes part of a prayer, I believe it adds an element of vulnerability, depth, and transparency. After all, the expression of our innermost feelings may be difficult or even unable to be put into words. If the Bible addresses sighing, it must be significant and worthy of our attention, right?
Definition, Differences, and Reasons
The simple definition of sighing is an act of audibly exhaling, whether in a sharp or slow manner. A sigh replenishes the oxygen our body needs when we are weakened or stressed. As I thought about the act of sighing, I realized there were a variety of reasons as to why we sigh. Let’s take a look at some of those reasons:
- Fatigue and frustration. These two “f’s” are perhaps the biggest reasons for sighing. The physical and emotional response of fatigue and frustration may have well been the intent behind David’s prayer. He had a lot of enemies and he did a lot of running from them. Fatigue and frustration can be brought on by the busy lives we lead riddled with constant demands upon our time and energy. Pressures are heaped upon us for more, more, more, so we let out a deep sigh of exasperation while praying for rest and for help to make it through the day. I can hear the deep sigh now. I’m tired, Lord.
- Pain and suffering. Sighs related to pain and suffering, especially in chronic situations may stem from struggle, exertion, and perseverance. We pray for the Lord’s comforting Hand to lift us out of our affliction, to demonstrate His abiding presence, and to bring peace into our corner of the world. Nothing like pain and suffering tests our resilience and ability to retain a joyful perspective. Help me, Lord. Big sigh.
- Sorrow and despair. Death, tragedy, and loss. All result in sorrow and despair. Tears often accompany these elongated sighs. Words may be few but lots of sighs may be heard when praying for comfort and relief from the loss of a loved one. No one but Jesus can know the depth of grief interwoven throughout these prayers. Life is harder to live now. Society is harder to face. Make Yourself known, Lord. Be near to my broken heart.
- Relief and contentment. These sighs point towards a more positive, gratuitous outlook. Visualize sitting in a hot tub in the cool, crisp evening air after a long, hard day. Eyes are closed. Ahhhh. We are more prone to offer thanksgiving to God in moments of relief and contentment rather than to dispense with our petitions and list of requests. Thank you, Lord.
- Praise and exaltation. My favorite sigh. One of intense worship. Don’t confuse this sigh with a gasp. A gasp is inhaled while a sigh is exhaled. Gasps have a surprise element while sighs of praise and exaltation have a wonder element. Sighs of praise and exaltation give adoration and recognition to the Almighty Father. We are at a loss for words due to the holiness, the majesty, or the power and glory of our Maker. These sighs sing with praise in our hearts. Praise you, O Lord.
Consider my sighs, O God. All of them.