Recently, I was asked to write a guest post about prayer for the blog of a friend’s church in South Louisiana. After the events that we have faced over the last 12-18 months, I was not sure that prayer was the best thing for me to write about. After all, we had prayed about several things that had not turned out the way we had hoped. How could I write about prayer when it seemed that the only answers we had been receiving were “no” and “wait”? Don’t most articles on prayer focus on how we can get anything and everything we pray for if we just believe that God can and will do it? How could I encourage people about prayer when we were still waiting for answers ourselves? As I reflected over our most recent journey, I began to think about all of the people who have told us that we are in their prayers. As Christians, we know that God knows best and that, in the end, His way in perfect; but sometimes that knowledge is clouded by the daily struggles and unanswered questions we face. Our aching hearts cry out to Him, “Why, Lord?” When we are hurting, there is no greater encouragement than the whisper of a friend who says, “I am praying for you.” In the darkest moments of life, those few words can help a struggling brother or sister find the strength to face another day. We have heard those words many times throughout this last year, usually just when we needed them. It was as if the Lord was saying, “I know you don’t understand. I know you are having to wait, but, while you are waiting, I will send comfort through the thoughts, words, and deeds of faithful friends.” Thank you, Lord, for giving us Christian brothers and sisters who will pray for us in our time of need! What follows is the article I wrote after much thought about prayer and those who are hurting!
Let’s face it: there are times that life just hurts! Job loss, death, broken relationships, sickness, financial struggles – even the most dedicated Christians may face these at some point in this life. Those who are saved and surrendered to following God have the hope that He can make something good out of the worst of life’s circumstances (Romans 8:28). Often, however, the reality of that hope can be lost when struggling with the unanswered questions of day-to-day life. Those going through trials and testing need specific prayer directed to three areas.
- Physical sustenance
Are they dealing with sickness? Ask God to give wisdom about treatments and, ultimately, to bring complete healing. Have they suffered the loss of a job or another significant financial setback? Ask God to give them favor with potential employers and to provide for their needs (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) while they are in the “waiting time.” Have they lost a loved one? Ask God to give them physical strength and rest when they are overwhelmed by the tasks of making final arrangements, sorting through memorabilia, or facing the lonely days ahead.
- Emotional healing
Perhaps they are suffering from a failed marriage or some other broken relationship. Pray for God to help them forgive even the deepest, most personal hurts. Pray that they will not allow a seed of bitterness to take root in their hearts and defile those around them (Hebrews 12:15). Pray that they will follow Christ’s example (Colossians 3:13) and love even their enemies (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27).
- Spiritual victory
Pray for them to have discernment (spiritual understanding) regarding God’s purpose for the trial (Colossians 1:9), whether it be purging or purifying. Pray that they will not lose faith (Luke 22:32), but that they will have peace in the midst of their storm. (Peace is often mistakenly defined as “the absence of conflict.” Real peace, however, is having a sense of rest and stability in spite of the presence of conflict.) Pray that they, like the Apostle Paul, will trust in God’s sufficient grace (II Corinthians 12:9) to carry them through when they feel that they can no longer go on.
As brothers and sisters in Christ, it is our duty to help bear each other’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). One of the best ways we can do this is by lifting one another up in prayer. We cannot cure diseases, but we know the Lord who heals (Exodus 15:26). We may not be able to give financial support, but we know the Lord who provides (Genesis 22:14). We cannot give security, but we know the Lord who gives peace (Judges 6:24). We cannot show the next step in the path, but we know the Lord who guides (Psalm 23:1). Today, pray for God to give physical sustenance, emotional healing, and spiritual victory to someone you know that is hurting!