Scripture passages like Jeremiah 17:9-10 describe our hearts as so deceitfully wicked that only the Lord can examine them to see their true motives. Proverbs 3:5-6 urges that leaning on our own human understandings or reasonings leads to distrust in God and a rather unpleasant path in life. Simply put, our thoughts and feelings are unreliable guides in knowing what is truly good for us.
We often know these truths and still face feelings that seem to control us. Sometimes we battle against a bad mood. Sometimes we face more long-lasting and intense sources of emotions: chronic illness, depression, disappointments in life, or relational devastation. Regardless of the cause of the “mood” at hand, these unwelcomed feelings can significantly impact our quiet time with the Lord. If we were to simply follow our hearts, we would likely not spend much time with God.
So, how do we respond when these bad moods present themselves during our quiet time?
A common phrase we Christians often use is: “we lay ourselves on the altar before God “. Did you know the Hebrew meaning of the word altar is “a place of slaughter and sacrifice”? We can say this phrase easily, but are we truly ready to kill our will, desires, and pet sins?
When I come before the Almighty, All-Powerful, Holy God, the only proper response is to allow anything in me that rebels against Jesus to be slaughtered. Not long ago I flippantly said a quick prayer to confess any sin in my life so I could move on with my day. Quickly I sensed the Lord gently say, ‘No, that prayer means nothing to you anymore. Your sins need to be slaughtered violently.’
If our feelings rebel against obeying Jesus by spending time in worship, praying, and Scripture, then our feelings need to be offered up to the slaughter.
Worship is a powerful tool to direct our hearts to Jesus. Often, when my mood is leading me far away from time with God, I’ll just turn on worship music loudly in my home. Before too long I find my previously distant heart becoming more tender and I begin to desire that time with Jesus. As my pastor’s wife and my close friend recently said to me, “Tiffany it’s okay to just minister to the Lord sometimes. Just worship Him.”
While praying, journaling, and reading the Word are all great things to discipline ourselves to do regularly, we must have a quiet time built on the foundation of grace. So, make it about Jesus and not about meeting your own expectations! On those days when your mood is fighting hard to control you, just turn your focus on the Lord and His magnificence and glory through worship. Pour your adoration out to Him! Guide your feelings to rejoice in Jesus.
Even our moods must become subordinate to Jesus. If I have submitted my desires, feelings, and sins on the altar, and I have worshiped my God, it becomes easier to hold my mood up to the Word and receive Christ's loving correction. If my mood is laziness, for example, I can find an abundance of verses that exhort me to persevere, work hard, and make the most of the time I’ve been given. (2 Timothy 3:16).
So, take your bad mood as an opportunity to weigh everything, even our feelings, against the authority of the Word.
Take it from someone who has had to learn literally everything the hard way. Do what’s right. Obey Jesus regardless of what you feel. Guide your feelings in the authority of the Word instead of being guided by them.
- Ask the Lord to show you areas in your life that may need to be laid down on the altar of slaughter. Don’t tiptoe around surrender. Do it quickly and completely.
- Create a playlist of your favorite worship songs and set aside some time to worship at the beginning of your quiet time. These two songs would be an excellent place to start:
- Listen to "Living Sacrifice" - Brandon Lake
- Listen to "On The Altar" - UPPERROOM Elyssa Smith
Lives in Alabama with her husband, Lex. She works at a local Credit Union and volunteers at her church, where she serves as a worship leader.