Prayer. What comes to mind?
When I’ve felt hope, peace, and rest, it’s often the result of praying to God, offering up my feelings of struggle and wrestling. I may reach out to God, begging him to change others or situations, and find he’s changing me instead.
Something I’ve grown to appreciate is what happens when I honestly come into the presence of the God of truth. Like a friend, God invites us to be real with him, and he is real with us, showing us his kind, powerful, and just nature. He graciously reveals, as the light of the world, the false stories we are telling ourselves, and the tough truths we’re unwilling to swallow.
Prayer may be hard sometimes, but it can be so, so good.
I have learned only recently how much I try to dismiss my negative emotions, and how much that actually cripples me.
A few years ago, I experienced a period of constantly feeling defeated. I would begin each year with high hopes, confidence that I had surely learned from and atoned for my faults, and then as my hopeful January turns into sullen February, and then a still-too-cold March, success would seem to evade me yet again.
Ugly emotions, I’ve since learned, are best treated as warning lights that tell us to run toward Jesus. How else can we possibly find healing? I’m talking here about grief, helplessness, anger, fear, and hurt.
One rhythm that helped was writing out all of the significant events I faced, and the feelings associated with them, and then taking an honest look at where I was. As I slowly began to understand the source of my ugly feelings, I finally had the freedom to choose how to respond to the way I felt! My feelings were no longer in charge.
I’ve been learning firsthand that reality–especially God’s reality–is my friend. Minimizing, rationalizing, ignoring the hurt that I feel is just rarely helpful. And God cares about my hurt, even when self-inflicted or deserved. I can go to him in prayer, no matter how I’m doing, and find comfort.
Prayer can simply look like sharing our true feelings with God. When I tell God about my frustrations and the things I can’t change or fix, I feel his comfort, even though my circumstances may not change. Acknowledging the dissonance I feel between my experience and the changed world I long for makes me look forward all the more to the day when God’s kingdom, healing, and his restoration will come.
What might prayer look like for you?
Maybe you need to remember that God is present even when he is silent.
Maybe it is helpful to reflect on a picture of Jesus mourning with those who mourned, or being betrayed, dismissed, and misunderstood.
Maybe you want to be assured that God is comfortable with your pain and difficulty, that he won’t abandon you when you hand him the problems that are too big for you to handle.
We’ve developed a series of reflection and prayer guides that can help you process your feelings as you draw close to God in prayer. You can find the complete list on our Spiritual Rhythms resource page, but we’ve shared four here below.
"*" indicates required fields
About the Author
Currently, she works part-time with P2C-Students at the University of Alberta with her husband Brett. She enjoys taking advantage of neighbourhood play groups and helping others see how God is at work in their lives.