I’ve struggled a long time with prayer; not because I think prayer is a bad idea; not because I don’t believe prayers get answered; not because I just don’t know how. I’ve struggled because a part of me feels like praying is more a ritual than sincere communication with God.
The thing with prayer is when things are going good it’s easy just to thank God; to offer up a nice curtsy to The Man Upstairs to remind Him that you still believe, and thanks for the way your life has been turning out; out of necessity, you pray for something you overheard at church—the couple losing their home or the woman who has cancer—and they are sincere … don’t get me wrong. But sometimes it seems like something is lacking.
But then tragedy hits your own life—tragedy in the form of many things; the Apostle Paul called it the thorn in his flesh in 2 Corinthians 12. In this chapter, God tells Paul that, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It doesn’t say what Paul’s struggle was, and it doesn’t matter. The key in this chapter is: Suddenly prayer gets real.
I believe to experience true prayer, you have to experience true loss.
Lately prayer has been real for me; more real than it’s been in a long time. Nothing dramatic has happened in my life, but I feel for the first time in quite some time that I have something to really pray for. The economic turn of events in recent months has made me question just about everything—but most importantly my career path.
Reality has began to sink in that things will not be better with this country for quite some time. For me this means finding a good job (heck, even a not-good job) as a public librarian is next to impossible. That leaves me questioning what a person with over ten years public library experience is supposed to do with their life.
I don’t have answers. But I have a lot of prayers.
My communications with God is about the only thing that I find hope in—and it is here that prayer gets real. When everyone lets you down, you turn to prayer and find that there is someone still watching over you, and that’s the only comfort you can have—but it’s enough.
When things are going well and you pray, you have confidence. When things are going not so well and you pray, you are overcome with weakness and helplessness—in short: you are humbled and broken. In this state, you truly know prayer.
There aren’t a lot of things left to be excited about in this country right now. Loss and hurt seems to be the only stories on the news. But there is hope. The hope is there are a lot of people out there on bended knees offering helpless prayers.
In weakness, we realize how much we need God. Like no other time in recent history, broken—weak—humbled—prayers are being offered, and God hears all of them.
God has a way of bringing good out of bad situation. I don’t blame God for anything that’s happened in my life—I rejoice that because of it, I am able to be closer to Him.
In desperate times, it’s hard to find things to rejoice in. I rejoice in all those helpless prayers. There are a lot of people who are in the same boat as me—some are even sinking faster and are finding themselves in more desperate shape—and I rejoice at any Christian in this state, because I believe that in spite of everything, they are finding renewal with God, and in the end will be made stronger.