Tag: faith

Praying When You Hurt

Grief and Infant Loss

Have you ever hurt so bad inside that you can’t even speak? Have you ever hurt so badly that try as you might, you cannot corral all of your thoughts and emotions into a coherent sentence? If you have ever lost a close loved one, especially a child, then I’m certain we share this experience. Even if you haven’t suffered such a great tragedy, I would bet you have had times in your life when you were so grieved or upset that it was hard for you to put your thoughts into words.

Now, have you ever tried to pray when you felt this way? Have you ever tried to pray when you can’t even tell God what’s bothering you and you don’t know what to ask for other than to make it stop? In times like these, getting alone with God and laying all of your cares on Him are what you need most, but the barrier to talking with Him can seem insurmountable.

In the months after our son, Luke, died I had many of these occasions to varying degrees. I normally have my personal prayer time early in the morning before anyone else gets up. It’s just about the only time of day when there is enough serenity to be able to devote more than five minutes to something other than the chaos created by four small children. During the first two weeks, our schedule was so chaotic, I have to be honest and tell you that my prayer life suffered big time. I made time for small prayers to get me through the days, but I don’t recall being able to set aside any meaningful time to talk to God even though I desperately wanted and needed some alone time with Him.

After a couple weeks, the chaos and flurry of activity from funeral arrangements and family visits began to wind down. That’s when prayer really began to get hard. Suddenly, I had time to be alone with my thoughts and feelings, and it was utterly devastating. There were many mornings when I got up for my prayer time, got down onto my knees and leaned over the ottoman or couch and could find no words to say to my Comforter. The more I tried to spit something out, the more my tongue froze. Instead…I wept. As much as I wanted to talk to God, all I could do was cry, usually uncontrollably. Sometimes I was there so long it was difficult to straighten my knees back out to get up. Other times I could manage to groan out a few words crying out non-specifically for His help.

During one of these times, I had an amazing realization. When I could come up with nothing to say, I could hear my heart singing:

I need Thee every hour
Most gracious Lord
No tender voice like Thine
Can peace afford

I need Thee oh I need Thee
Every hour I need Thee
Oh bless me now my savior
I come to Thee

I need Thee every hour
In joy or pain
Come quickly and abide
Or life is vain

I need Thee oh I need Thee
Every hour I need Thee
Oh bless me now my Savior
I come to Thee

Immediately, Romans 8:26-27 came to mind:

“Likewise, the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is in the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God”

Despite my complete inability to communicate by putting my thoughts into words, God was hearing everything I didn’t say. In that moment of realization I had such great comfort and a glimmer of joy! It was so plain to see that I was never alone and not so far from Him. God was not only listening intently, He was saying the words that I couldn’t!

I knew this in my head, but in the midst of devastation it’s sometimes hard for the heart to catch up.  What a blessing we Christians are given when we experience tough times! Even when we don’t know what to say to God or can’t put our thoughts and feelings into words, God knows exactly what we need to tell Him. We may think that our inability to speak well or to speak at all is a hindrance to our prayer life and our ability to communicate with God, but nothing could be farther from the truth. I would go so far as to say these times can be the most effective prayer we have because there is no pride and selfishness getting in the way. There’s no masking of our heart to appear so holy and reverent before God. Everything is stripped away and we see ourselves as God sees us…broken. For once, we are on the exact same page as God.

How can this be?? The Bible tells us that the moment we called on Christ for salvation and got saved, He sent the Holy Spirit to dwell within us (John 14:16-17, 3:1-8; Titus 3:5). Oh Christian, let me encourage you. You are never alone when you have the Holy Spirit! You never have to wonder if God really knows and understands how you feel! When you need to pray but you can’t find the words or can’t speak through your tears, God hears you loud and clear.

When you’re hurting, the best thing you can do is to get on your knees before God and let Him comfort you as He promised He would (John 14:18). Rest assured that He knows exactly what you need in those moments.

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