When Prayer Aches

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My heart aches as I remember people I’ve promised to pray for. Powerlessness stands hand in hand with weakness at the door of my soul. They taunt me and threaten me with paralysis.

I think of several friends sitting on the brink of financial ruin – not the kind of ruin that means eliminating a few luxury items, but ruin that puts them on the street. I’ve given money, encouragement and strategized ways to sidestep the inevitable. I pray. Nothing changes. Days and months pass by while their savings vanish and debt has reached the ceiling. They somehow continue on. I pray more.

For others, it’s the insidious snake of disease that has somehow slithered into their bodies without warning. How did it get past the gate of their faith? They seemed so healthy. I boldly pray for healing, while silently cursing the strength of the foe. I wrestle with my theology, reminding it what I believe. I quote scriptures, I cry. I pray for strength to pray again. I hurt for my friends. Powerlessness and weakness want to stake claim to my soul.

The softness of the ache is tempted to yield to a more comfortable place – to hardness, anger and defeat.

I promised to pray for a place for my friend to live. I promised to pray for a friend’s drug addicted child. I promised to pray for healing and restoration – for deliverance. Instead, I find myself focusing on my own wounded heart that yearns for quick fixes, solutions and the easier road.

I fail at my promises – I don’t dare accuse God of failing at his. I hurt.

Prayer is a mystery to me. There are times I drift into the safe harbor of God’s presence, thinking I’ll never return – and I don’t want to. Nothing seems impossible in those moments. I can taste his goodness and see his strength. So why wouldn’t I use those moments to advocate for my friends? Am I just too selfish? Do I easily forget about my friends?

Or do my own suggestions disintegrate in the light of his sovereignty.

I think the mystery is God himself, not prayer. Praying through our own heaviness of heart and for the needs of others is a gift, not a task. Prayer fulfills the two commandments he left for us – to love him and love others. Praying is the act of loving others by speaking their name and sharing their pain. Ultimately, prayer leads us to the mystery of God’s higher place – his better plans.

I should be free enough to welcome powerlessness and weakness when I pray. For they remind me of my own limitations. They point me to his vast and mysterious capability.

My heart aches when I forget who calls me to the privilege of prayer. When I forget who plans – who listens.

My soul soars when I remember that I’m not remembering alone.

(Please visit the COMMENT BOX and shore your thoughts with us too)

28 replies on “When Prayer Aches”

  1. This is beautiful. The whole thing.

    But this line particularly jumped out at me: “Prayer fulfills the two commandments he left for us – to love him and love others” Something I’d never considered but as soon as the words were read, I thought, “well, yes. of course!”

    I too, regularly fail to pray.Thank you for speaking to this reality with truth and freedom.

    1. Isn’t it crazy how hard we make the simplest things. I appreciate you chiming in, Leanne. I so value your input.

  2. There is nothing I don’t love about this… I agree with John, thank you for these very honest and relevant words today.

  3. I do forget to pray sometimes, but there is a verse in the Bible that says “Pray without ceasing” For me that means pray every time you feel like it wherever you are at at any time, that has helping lately to pray more and more, sometimes there are prayers that take years and years to be answer, I still Praise Him! He knows what is best for me, can’t read this and write without crying, thanks Pat, I know I will always count with you because if I fell, you will help me to get up. I lovr you!

    1. I love you too, Celeste. You’re right – the Holy Spirit knows how to pray through us when we don’t know what to say. And he always knows what the best plan is for our lives. I’m grateful for God’s faithfulness. Where would we be without him.

    1. Oh Rebekah – your situation is teaching me so much. I’m intrigued by the emotional wave carrying so many of us to pray. And I crave the call to deeper intercession. BLESS you and Jason for opening your lives right now. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  4. Thank you, Pat, for pulling back the curtain and giving us permission to acknowledge that sometimes prayers don’t give us the answer we most want…and our subsequent temptation toward hardness and cynicism. Reminds me of the quote (most often attributed) from C.S. Lewis: I don’t pray because it changes God. I pray because my need flows out of me every moment. I pray because it changes me.

    1. Great quote. Prayer must change us – but trying to see the changes is as futile as trying to watch a child grow. How do they add those inches right in front of our eyes anyway! It’s all about time spent, isn’t it? Thanks so much for sharing D’Arcy.

  5. “Or do my own suggestions disintegrate in the light of his sovereignty.” I find this to be true over and over again! Thank you! <3

  6. Loved your post Pat! I love to pray and see what God will do, BUT, when He doesn’t answer as quickly or like I’m expecting Him to, I have to fight the temptation of resentment. I want God to let me figure it out and then let me solve it “my way.” Then I repent and agree with Him that He is Lord and I am not!
    The Lord is a mystery for sure but we trust Him because He is our trusted friend and will ALWAYS work the situation out for our good! That is where I am at now….walking on water towards my Lord because He says “it is I, come.”

    1. He certainly is our trusted friend, Jeannie. I’ve appreciated watching you walk on water for many years – can you even imagine when we catch our first glimpse of his fullness – what a thought! And worth every single minute of our struggling.

    1. I’m honored you visited and touched by your comment, Deb. God bless you in your writing endeavors. Bless you!

  7. Dear Pat
    Wayne Jacobsen has written in his book, He Loves Me, something that will stay with me forever. He said that the prayer God always answers is, “Father, glorify your name”. As I suffer from bad Fm/CFS, I have often been tempted to complain about the “unfair” share that He has meted out for my life. But this opened my eyes and my heart. Instead of asking Him to relieve the pain, I ask Him to glorify His name and my perspective on my illness has changed completely! We don’t understand this broken lost world, dear one, but we do know that nothing will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus.
    Blessings XX
    PS You can download this this book for free from Mr Jacobsen’s website, Lifestream. It is an excellent read.

    1. Thanks so much for the book suggestion Mia, and for the insightful words on prayer. Another great book about suffering, prayer and God’s divine bigger plan is Joni Eareckson Tada’s book, A Place of Healing. Really well done. Bless you as you serve the Lord and write!

  8. I read your blog a month ago and was moved. I very often say to others, “I will prayer for you”, and now every time I say it what you have written comes to my mind to challenge, humble, and encourage. Thank you.

    1. Well that makes two of us, Peter. I’m challenged, humbled and encouraged by your words. Thank you for reading my musings and for commenting. It’s an honor to know you and walk this pilgrimage in partnership with you. Bless you my friend.

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