What to Do With an Imprisoned Soul

by Andy Wood on November 15, 2013

in Ability, Five LV Laws, Life Currency, LV Cycle, Principle of Freedom, Protecting Your Investment

PrisonIt’s one thing to feel a little distressed or stuck.  Jordan was way past that.  Jordan’s soul was imprisoned, and he saw no way out.  His winsome smile and kind eyes belied the addictive behavior that Jordan was powerless to control.

Haley had a soul prison of her own. Her chains bore the marks of a woman who felt completely alone and desperate for connection – any connection.  Her life zigged and zagged from trying too hard to living as a virtual recluse.

For Joni, the imprisoned soul took the form of simply assuming that her life would always be this way.  Her dreams long dead, Joni spends her days going through the motions of a life stuck in mindless ruts from which there is no escape.

How about you?  How free are you to dream, to feel, to choose? Do you have the power to choose joy, love, or paths to fulfillment? Do you still believe, with conviction, that it’s possible to live the live you have imagined, not just the hand you’ve been dealt?  If the answers to those questions are, well, questionable, maybe you, too, have an imprisoned soul.

Signs of the Imprisoned Soul

I want you to know you’re in some pretty good company, biblically speaking.  In one of his desperate seasons, David made this request to God:

“Bring my soul out of prison,

So that I may give thanks to Your name” (Psalm 142:7).

Whatever was going on in this psalm, it’s a pretty good indication that David felt as though he had no way out.  He may have looked to the rest of the world that he was free to think, feel and choose, but the sweet psalmist of Israel knew better.  He was ruthlessly trapped and utterly desperate for a change that only God could provide.

Does that describe you?  Here are four ways you can tell:

1.  An overwhelmed spirit

When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,

You knew my path (v. 3).

David felt internally defenseless and powerless.  Life looked bigger than he was. Phrases like “How much more of this can I take?” had become routine.


Imprisoned souls feel small against circumstances or situations that loom large.  In contrast, a liberated soul may acknowledge that things look large, but they have the confidence that with God’s help at least, they’re up to the challenge.

2.  An ensnared path.

In the way where I walk

They have hidden a trap for me (v. 3).

David believed there was nowhere he could go that he wasn’t trapped.  This is one of the surest signs of a soul in prison.  You know you shouldn’t carry bitterness – but you’re trapped by the bitterness.  You know you shouldn’t make those unhealthy life choices – yet you seem to go into automatic pilot and make them anyway.  You think you can avoid the traps and temptations next time – and next time, as always, you’re suckered by the same old snares.

3.  An abandoned connection.

Look to the right and see;

For there is no one who regards me….

No one cares for my soul (v. 4).

David believed he was completely alone and forgotten.  That may have been factually true or not, but either way, his soul felt alone.  He felt disregard. Unnoticed.  Ignored.  As if he mattered to no one.

People may completely surrounded imprisoned souls, but the soul in exile doesn’t feel connected to them.  They feel lonely and loveless.  The telltale expression:  “No one cares if I live or die.”  Now that may or may not be accurate! What matters to the soul in prison is not accuracy, but feelings of reality.

4.  An impossible forecast

There is no escape for me(v. 4).

There you have it.  David believed he had no escape.  “Where I is is where I is.”  When you reach the point where you believe that you’re stuck forever in a situation that’s hopeless to change, you have an imprisoned soul.

All of these things were matters of David’s mind, will, and emotions.  They may have been based on fact (probably were), or they may have been based on his fear or imagination. At this point it didn’t matter, because his soul was in prison, whether his body was or not.

The same goes for you.  You circumstances are one thing; what you believe about those circumstances is a reflection of how free your soul is.

What David Did with His Imprisoned Soul

Something else formed a significant part of David’s belief system.  He may have had limiting beliefs about his situation, but he had liberating beliefs about his God.  And even in a situation where he was powerless and alone, his soul was set free.  Yours can be, too.  This is summarized in verse 1 of Psalm 142, then given a voice in that last part of the psalm.

1.  He cried aloud with his voice to God.

I cried out to You, O Lord; I said, ‘You are my refuge, My portion in the land of the living’” (v. 5).

It’s important that all of these things are recognized. He cried. Aloud. With his voice. To God.  He didn’t imagine a prayer or think about things. He used his literal, physical voice. I don’t know why that is important, but it is.  The invisible God needs to hear your audible voice, and so do you.

2.  He made supplication.

This is reflected in verse 6, where he prays, “Give heed to my cry, For I am brought very low.”

“Supplication” is a rich word.  In this case it means that David presented himself as someone in need, with nothing to commend him to God but God’s own mercy and kindness.  Turns out that’s all the Lord is looking for in the first place.  When you, like David, come to God with nothing but your nothingness, you are setting yourself in a position to receive from His amazing “somethingness.”

A liberated soul isn’t the result of a do-it-yourself project. It’s the fruit of a choice you make that says, “God, I have nothing, and I don’t deserve your help… but I’m asking anyway.”

3.  He poured out his complaint (v. 2).

This is reflected in verse 6, where he prays, “Deliver me from my persecutors, For they are too strong for me.”

David detailed the very things that defined his imprisoned soul.  This is the “whine” part of the prayer, and make no mistake about it – David could whine with the best of them. And I think that’s the secret of his intimacy with God. This man could go into the presence of God with anything on his mind and be confident that God heard him.

You want a liberated soul? Stop second-guessing or hedging on what you’re willing to talk to the Father about. If all you have to offer is a complaint, then pour out your complaint with conviction and passion.  Make sure you recognize, however, Who it is you’re complaining to! It’s not your boss or friend or spouse.  It’s God.

4.  He declared his trouble.

This is the situational part of the prayer that focused on what his need was. Reflected in verse 7, David says,

“Bring my soul out of prison, So that I may give thanks to Your name; The righteous will surround me, For You will deal bountifully with me.”

I don’t know what his eyes were seeing in detail.  But whatever the form the trouble took, David took the trouble to God.

5.  He declared his faith.

One other thing is clear – David declared his expectation that three things would happen:  He would give thanks to God’s name, the righteous would surround him, and God would deal bountifully with him. The language suggests that God’s bountiful dealing would come first, then he would give thanks and the righteous would surround him.

Now… was he out of trouble yet? Not that we can see.  The circumstances appear to be the same.  What has changed is David’s confidence, which is now in God.


So what do you do with your imprisoned soul?  You call the Gatekeeper.  Out loud.  And declare, out loud, that “He can do exceedingly abundantly above all you can ever ask or think.” And in faith and surrender, you offer yourself to the only One who can actually set you free.

That’s the hope of the imprisoned soul.

That’s the testimony of the soul set free.

Martha Orlando November 15, 2013 at 5:33 pm

As I read this, Andy, I thought how the Psalms of David truly teach us about what it means to pray with our whole hearts to our God. I love how, through all his trials and troubles, David turns to the Lord first, trusting in His mercy and grace.
Blessings, my friend!
Martha Orlando´s last blog post ..Time of Uncertainty

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