What does it mean to pour out your soul to God?
In his autobiography, Frederick Douglass writes of such a pouring out when he considered his enslavement.
I have often, in the deep stillness of a summer’s Sabbath, stood all alone upon the lofty banks of that noble [Chesapeake] bay, and traced, with saddened heart and tearful eye, the countless number of sails moving off to the mighty ocean. The sight of these always affected me powerfully. My thoughts would compel utterance; and there, with no audience but the Almighty, I would pour out my soul’s complaint, in my rude way, with an apostrophe to the moving multitude of ships:– “You are loosed from your moorings, and are free; I am fast in my chains, and am a slave! You move merrily before the gentle gale, and I sadly before the bloody whip! You are freedom’s swift-winged angels, that fly round the world; I am confined in bands of iron! O that I were free! O, that I were on one of your gallant decks, and under your protecting wing! Alas! betwixt me and you, the turbid waters roll. Go on, go on. O that I could also go! Could I but swim! If I could fly! O, why was I born a man, of whom to make a brute! The glad ship is gone; she hides in the dim distance. I am left in the hottest hell of unending slavery. O God, save me! God, deliver me! Let me be free! Is there any God? Why am I a slave? I will run away. I will not stand it. Get caught, or get clear, I’ll try it. I had as well die with ague as the fever. I have only one life to lose. I had as well be killed running as die standing. Only think of it; one hundred miles straight north, and I am free! Try it? Yes! God helping me, I will.” (Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Chapter 10)
It is a moving prayer, and, if you read much of his writing and know of his influence, you are not surprised by the imagery and gut-wrenching pouring out such a powerful prayer.
I don’t have Douglass’s eloquence in prayer, but I do have two comforts. First, God hears my words however sideways they come out. I don’t have to get everything cleaned up before I pray. And second, God knows I don’t always have the right words, so he has supplied a guide to help me pray. The psalms are that guide, to help me know how to pray in the highs and lows of life. They are your guide, too.