Stuck in the Waiting Room of Life – Psalm 143

Have you ever been stuck in a place where you really want to move on to the next thing but, for one reason or another, you just can’t make that step forward yet?

Something has shifted and a part of you looks back in longing at what once was, and another part of you is keenly aware that there is no going back there.

In those spaces, where you can’t go backward and you can’t yet seem to move forward, we end up feeling stuck. Spinning our wheels, trying, but just not succeeding.

Often, if this period is extended, we lose our focus and, with it, our ability to pray.

This is such a great psalm for those who are stuck, wounded or hurting. Our ancient friend puts many things into words that resonate with our soul and put language around this difficult space. May you find words here today that you can echo in prayer.

Set aside about 30 minutes. Grab your journal. Find a quiet spot to walk with me through this focus-shifting exercise.

W ~A ~ I ~ T Journal Exercise

Read Psalm 143:

New King James Version – Most Poetic

New Living Translation – Easier to Understand

New International Version – The one I most commonly use and refer to

The Message – Easiest to understand but also often the least poetic.


I have used the acronym WAIT to walk us through a prayer exercise for those times when you are struggling for the words to pray. When life has hit you hard and you are feeling low. This acronym can guide you through a prayer/journal time to gently redirect your hurting heart.
Grab a pen and paper, write the letters W A I T down the left side of your page leaving room to fill in some of your thoughts;

W – Why am I here?

“Lord, hear my prayer,
    listen to my cry for mercy;
in your faithfulness and righteousness
    come to my relief.

The writer begins his prayer with a clear reason why he is writing – he wants mercy, He wants relief. As you settle yourself to pray or meditate, ask yourself why are you here? What are you wanting from this time? What does your soul need? What is it searching for? Are you, like the psalmist, needing relief? Is there something you want from God?

Spend a few minutes getting clarity to know what you want, what you are doing , and why you are doing it. This can bring focus and purpose to your practice. The truth holds, if you don’t know what you’re looking for you probably wont find it.

A – Attune

“The enemy pursues me,
    he crushes me to the ground;
he makes me dwell in the darkness
    like those long dead.
So my spirit grows faint within me;
    my heart within me is dismayed.

In verses, 3 & 4, the writer takes an internal inventory of what is going on in his head, heart and soul. He does it with great eloquence using very descriptive

Pursued. Crushed. Dwelling in darkness. Growing faint. My heart is dismayed.

This feels a little dramatic doesn’t it? I believe, at least for myself, that we are guilty of only praying with our prefrontal cortex – our thinking brain. The part of us that edits and makes sense of things. It’s a powerful segment of our brain, but it is not all of us. Sometimes our thinking brain polishes things up and quickly says “It’s fine. All is good. Carry on.” Meanwhile our guts, hearts and tense shoulders are screaming something very different.

Take time to notice, What is spinning in your
head,? Take note of your thoughts.

Then notice your emotions. If emotions are messengers from your system, what are they telling you?

Then also check in on your body. Where is their tightness and tension? What has caused that tension? What is your body trying to communicate to you?

What are we bringing to this moment? Can you, like the psalmist, put words
around these things, separating out the parts of himself and precisely describing how each part is feeling? Can you take a few minutes to pay attention to your internal spaces?

“We have lost touch with the gut feelings designed to be our warning system. The body mounts a stress response, but the mind is unaware of the threat. We keep ourselves in physiologically stressful situations, with only a dim awareness of distress or no awareness at all….We no longer sense what is happening in our bodies and cannot therefore act in self-preserving ways. The physiology of stress eats away at our bodies not because it has outlived its usefulness but because we may no longer have the competence to recognize its signals.”

Gabor Mate, When the Body Says No

I – Intentional Focus

I remember the days of long ago;
    I meditate on all your works
    and consider what your hands have done.
I spread out my hands to you;
    I thirst for you like a parched land.[a]

A shift happens in vs. 5. The author has looked within and acknowledged what he is experiencing, now he actively readjusts his focus. He does 4 intentional things:

1. Remembers

2. Meditates

3. Considers

4. Prepares to receive.

I don’t believe this shift is a scolding himself for how he is feeling because he still acknowledges what is going on inside him – “my spirit fails.’ Instead, like a loving parent, he takes his hurting part by the hand and leads it to a different focus. Not a pointless distraction but some practices that help soothe the wounded parts.

When we find ourselves low, the last thing we need is to reprimand an already depleted system. Instead, like a loving parent, notice how hurt you are and, with absolute kindness, gently take these hurting parts by the hand and lead them to a different focus.”.

Trish White

4 Attitude Adjusting Tools

in shifting his focus, the writer uses 4 very distinctive tools:

  1. Remember – What has God done before in your history? What has happened in the past that gives you hope? A God who has acted before can act again. Strength you once had, you can have again. What have you forgotten that needs to be brought to the forefront of your mind right now?
  2. Meditate – Meditation Is simply choosing what your mind will focus on. Instead of running wild like an uncontrolled puppy, you put it on a leash by giving it specific things to focus on. A verse or quote that means something to you. A song to sing. When it starts to whirl around, give it a task. What will you choose to meditate on? Be specific. Write down the quote or the song.
  3. Consider – This is similar to meditating but the connotation seems a bit different. It implies taking into account what you may be minimizing or downgrading. What are some aspects of your situation that you need to consider? For example, we often are adept at imagining a worst case scenario, what if you considered a best case scenario instead?
  4. Assume a Receiving Posture – The writer says he spreads out his hands. The tight clenched fists are gone. He softens and opens his hands. What are you hanging on to that can be let go so your hands are open to receiving? The author references thirst – a sign of openness to take something in. In my opening sequence I have a picture of a wilted plant with water being poured on the hard ground it is rooted in. How can you soften and open up your mind, your hands, your body, adopting a posture of needing outside input to heal your internal spaces.?

Take a moment and write a sentence or two on each of these points.

Intentional Focus (continued)

With his posture open, our writer now asks God to:

Answer me

Show me

Rescue me

Teach me

Lead me

Preserve me

There is a similarity to how we started the journal time – with an acknowledgement of our need. But hopefully there has been an internal shift and you find yourself thirsting for these things in a healthy way.

The writer states, “I am your servant.” This expresses the idea that although his situation probably hasn’t changed, his internal spaces have. He submits himself to be taught, shown, rescued, led and preserved as God sees fit.

“I am not my own God in control of every area of my life. I am a servant of something greater. I want that greater being to fulfill His purpose in and through my life.”

Trish White
Psalm 143


I wrap up the acronym WAIT with thanksgiving.

But please note: This is very important! The author in Psalm 143 doesn’t actually get to thanksgiving in his prayer! He just leaves it as is. I love this because, although we know we “should”, I believe, the writer gives us permission to not glibly throw out thanksgiving when our soul isn’t feeling it.

I end with Thanksgiving because there is a plethora of precedence in the Psalms and in clinical studies on gratitude that clearly shows it is a beneficial practice. Being grateful is good for the human heart and soul. But including extra words , if your heart isn’t in it, is pointless. You have my permission to end here if you want.

But if you can, open your focus to the good things around you and write a few of them down. Perhaps, here, our thankfulness can extend to those parts of us that are showing us through tension and discomfort what needs to be adjusted in our life. We are complex beings and can simultaneously lead our parts in thankfulness while holding our internal pain and discomfort. So often we want to leave our pain behind instead of holding it in gratitude for helping us correct and
adjust our thoughts and action.

Take a few moments and record some of what you are thankful for.



Before you leave your prayer place. Notice. Has anything changed. How are those parts of your body feeling? What more do you need to do today to attend to

Thank you for spending this time with me. Now go take on your day!

Author: Trish White

Counselling Kamloops

Trish White is a counsellor in Kamloops, BC. She works in-person and online wherever your internet takes you.

Click here for more information on her counselling practice:

Trellis Coaching & Counselling – Supporting Your Growth

Disclaimer: Trish White is not acting as a professional counsellor in this space. The purpose of this article is to supplement mental health practices. If you need a professional, please be sure to find one.

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