When Prayer Feels Not Enough
Some seasons it feels like the prayer requests keep coming. One after the other, the hurt of those around me seems to be multiplying.
A sudden relapse of a friend’s diagnosis. A friend navigating an adoption-states away. A family member halfway around the world met with new health concerns. Tensions around the globe play out at home as a friend’s son gets ridiculed for the color of his skin. Floodwaters rising in an unprecedented natural disaster.
Each one sits on my heart like a weight. A weight of sorrow. A weight of worry. A weight of fear.
How can I help? My mind searches for answers. For many reasons, be it location or circumstances- sometimes I come up empty.
“I guess I’ll just pray” I say to myself.
And with that, I’ve made prayer the consolation prize. It’s the last straw to fall back on. If I’m honest, sometimes I feel guilty to be only praying– as if I’d be a better friend by doing more than that.
All of a sudden I start to resemble Namaan from 2 Kings 5. Overcome with leprosy, he receives instruction from Elisha to wash in the Jordan River to be cleansed. Instead of following the orders, he complains in anger that the way of healing wasn’t important enough for him. Aren’t the other rivers better than the Jordan? Shouldn’t the man of God have come to me and waved his hand all over to cure me?
Namaan finally got over his anger, washed, and came out clean. His first response was to return to Elisha and tell him, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel…” Namaan had a problem with pride. He has not submitted to God’s authority yet. He needed to be humbled and realize his place before the Almighty God. Just like me.
When we start to view prayer reluctantly, we don’t have the right view of God’s authority. Underneath it all, we have a pride problem. We are grasping for the control we think we should have, but don’t. And so, the weight of the burdens get tied on tighter, as we are unable to loosen them on our own.
We are grasping for the control we think we should have, and so, the weight of the burdens get tied on tighter and tighter.
Instead, when we come humbly, seeing God with the true authority he has- we approach prayer so differently. It no longer is a “last resort.” It becomes a place to acknowledge our own inabilities and our Father’s power. It becomes the first place we want to go to intercede fervently to the King of Kings on behalf of our brothers and sisters. It becomes a refuge to lay our weights down one by one as God reminds us of the truth of who He is.
Phil 4:6-7 says
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
God desires us to present our requests to him. He longs to hear our needs and show us how he is able. Will it work out like we want it to every time? Will we no longer feel sadness? No.
But he promises to give us something better. Somehow in the crushing pain of this fallen world, God lifts those weights, and he replaces them with peace. A peace that goes even beyond the limits of our understanding. It’s a peace amidst the sorrow- that is rooted in the strength of who God is. A peace that continues to protect our hearts and our minds and reminds us of what is true. This is where our hope lies. Not in our feeble attempts to control, but in the humble awe of the faithful, good, and powerful God who does.
Are you growing weary by the burdens around you? Let’s throw off our pride, and run to lay them at the feet of our God. Let’s remind ourselves who it is that we are actually speaking to. Once we do that, I think we will realize it is anything but a consolation prize.