How to Pray When You’re Angry

frustrated woman, prayers for anger

How to Pray When You’re Angry

I wish I could say that anger was not a common emotion, but if you’re human you’ve experienced a form of anger already. Anger can be felt within a multitude of situations with differing people, including anger towards ourselves.

I’ve found that the closer I am to the person the stronger my feelings can become. What’s that old saying, “You hurt the ones you love the most?” You may find a freedom in expressing this anger towards them more than you would a stranger because you know, in the end, they’ll still love you. But I often remind myself that those I love always deserve my best.

While I am not a theologian or counselor, I look at anger as a temptation that sits at a crossroads between sinning or forgiving. What we do when we are angry is imperative to our mission as a Christian in this fallen world. If I am being really honest here, I will confess to even feeling angry towards God. I am not proud of this and I have repented, but I have been angry at God for things He has seemingly allowed to happen, or not to happen, in my life.

The odd thing about being angry towards our Savior is that He is the only one that can actually heal us. When I need direction, love, and forgiveness, He is the one I turn to no matter what. He is the only safe place where these fiery flames of feelings can be cooled off in my heart, mind, and soul.

So how do we reach out and pray to our Lord when we are in the midst of turmoil, bitterness, and anger? What if we are tempted to sin as a result of our anger? It can happen in a split second if we are not diligent with guarding our minds and will. Let’s walk through together on how we can pray while we are angry.

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frustrated woman looking at phone, is anger a sin?

1. Understand Anger Is Not Uncommon

The first thing I really want to drive home is that anger is not uncommon. I think if we pretend that being angry is rare that will just heap a ton of shame on us all and probably make some of us even angrier.

To be honest, Jesus got angry. When it was noticed that people were buying and selling in the temple, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money-changers and the benches of those selling doves.” Jesus wanted to protect the sanctity of the temple and it made Him angry to see the disrespect in His Father’s House. 

When we are honest with each other about what angers us inside it brings a sense of vulnerability to the plate. While we are to love and bring peace to others, being angry over an injustice, disrespect, or sin that has damaged many lives, I believe, can be justified. It’s what we do with that anger that is the breaking point.

Do we use the momentum to act on the issue to bring resolution, peace, or justice? Are we using our emotions as a litmus test on how to engage in the world for change or are we using anger as fuel to create destruction, inflict pain, or make issues worse? We have to be honest with ourselves here to know the difference. Satan would like nothing more than for us to sin through our anger. We have to be diligent and follow these suggestions from Paul in Ephesians 4:26-27, "'In your anger do not sin': Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, and do not give the devil a foothold."

In a world like ours, it’s not hard to feel anger amidst sorrow, sickness, and loss. When we are inundated with negativity, letting Him into the space where anger can build up has kept me humble. We can be angry at the world, or at ourselves, but we also need to be honest that we don’t fall into arrogance and self-centeredness.

Hurt people, hurt people. Coming to that understanding can often soften my anger towards another into concern or at least a prayerful countenance towards them. I am reminded, and humbled, by this verse in Ephesians 4:31-32 when I need to remember my own faults, “Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 

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2. Ask God to Help You

2. Ask God to Help You

When we are angry at someone, something, or even God, we can be quick to push prayer to the side. I can use my anger as a crutch to make me feel like I have control. That isn’t the posture we are to take when we are praying.

When you pray you want to lift up your cares and concerns into the only one that can save and protect you. When I let my guard down and God in through prayer time, I feel a sense of peace and calm just as it is described here in 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God."

What if you can’t think of the words to pray in your anger? What if all you can muster is, “Help!” I believe He knows what we need when our soul and heart is postured towards Him regardless of the words we choose, “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken” (Psalms 34:17-20).

We have to be diligent to think in a gestalt, or big picture, mindset. We need to remember the kingdom is at hand so love others and ourselves, guarding our hearts from callousing, and being slow to let our emotions get the best of us is imperative for prayer to truly be free-flowing.

I love this reminder: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:19-20).

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3. Learn by Jesus' Example

We can learn how to pray when we are angry by looking at how Jesus prayed during His time here on Earth. He would oftentimes get away from other people to go be with God by himself and commune with Him just as it is expressed in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”

When I get angry or upset, I have found it is best if I take a step back and get by myself to process and calm down. This does not mean giving the silent treatment to someone, but it can be a preserver and extra guard of my words so that later regrets aren’t necessary. Being in isolation with God in prayer can help us to center our thoughts and keep distractions at bay. 

When thinking of the prime example of prayer, I am taken back to Matthew 6:9-13 for the Lord’s Prayer: “This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’”

So we see that praise comes first, then asking for God’s will, thanking God for our blessings, asking Him to forgive us our sins and for help in forgiving others (where anger can begin to leave our bodies), and finally asking Him to guide us away from temptation so that we don’t fall into sin. When I pray, I may feel anger at first but thankfulness, humility, discernment, and finally, a countenance of peace is left within my soul.  

Some of you might be saying, “That’s great, Mandy, but I’m still going to have to deal with the circumstance that upset me to start with or what if the person that upset me does it again the next day?” I hear you, brother and sister in Christ. The world, as we know it, is full of trouble and we are not promised to walk through it unscathed.

But we are promised to walk through it with Jesus if we take the hand He offers us. I pray that as you move throughout your days ahead, you can become more mindful and in more control of your thoughts and responses that might lead to anger, and instead, focus on hope, patience, love and faith.

I pray that both you and I can be "...joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer" (Romans 12:12).

Related Resource: Listen to our FREE podcast, Teach Us to Pray with Christina Patterson. You can find all the episodes on LifeAudio.com. Listen to our episode on desperate prayers right now:

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Mandy SmithMandy Smith is a joyful 30-something single living in GA. She is a full-time Speech-Language Pathologist. Her loves include Jesus, her family and friends, creativity, playing guitar and singing, coffee, laughing, and of course, writing! You can read more of her writing on  her website www.myjoyousheart.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.