[e-Devotionals] 2008-05-23 - Hard Prayers

Originally Published 2000-09-13

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV) Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6 (NIV) Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. 7 If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

These are two great passages, but do they work in the downpours of the storms of life? Can you really apply them to your daily walk with Christ? In the middle of despair or desperation, they seem utopian.

In times of troubles, my questions to God come fast and furious. Like Lieutenant Dan in the movie "Forest Gump," I shout and cry out to God when the storms hit. "What are You doing to me, God? Why me? Come on God, I really don't need a pop quiz on life right now. Where are You, God? Are You real? Do You care?" I am shouting out so much and feeling so sorry for myself that God is silent. Even if God tried to speak to me, I would not listen. When we are in the midst of difficult circumstances, we need to move from focusing on ourselves, toward focusing on God and His word, so His work can begin in a powerful way.

What has made the above passages become real to me in difficult circumstances? It's really simple. I have done what the passages told me to do. They instruct us to give thanks in all circumstances and don't worry. I thanked God for what I was going through. It was the most difficult prayer I have ever prayed. I thanked Him for all my problems, praying continually. The faith came back more quickly, and is stronger than ever. Along with faith came joy.

Unfortunately, some people misunderstand this. They believe God wants us to pretend all is well, when it is not. But God does not want us to deny reality; He wants to help us discover what is redemptive in it.

The Psalmist faces reality:

"My soul thirsts for You; my flesh yearns for You; In a dry and weary land where there is no water." (Psa. 63:1a)

But only three verses later, he is praising God: "So I will bless You as long as I live." (Psa. 63:4b)

What are some hard prayers that you need to pray today? Do you need to thank God for an illness, a family member who is troubled, or financial difficulties? Thank God for that friend, spouse or family member who has wronged you in the past, or for the disappointment of not being promoted at work. Thank God for caring so much for you that He places tests along the way, to mold you into all that He wants you to become.

My joy is back, but there are more storms out there. They will come toward me, and they will come to you. We need to be ready for them.

I hope you will join me in this prayer, or one along these lines: Father, I am so grateful to have a God like You. It is a blessing to be able to pour my heart out to You at anytime. It is great to have a patient and loving God Who understands my frustrations when life is not going like I want. You understand because You know the end from the beginning. Thank You for _____. Please open my eyes and heart to see what You are teaching me. I thank You especially for our Savior and Your Son, Christ. In His name. Amen.