Have you ever struggled with prayer?
I have. Honestly.
In-depth times of prayer have never been easy for me.
But after children came along, they became even harder. More often than not, when I sat or knelt for too long I ended up falling asleep. And the few times I was able to stay awake if my mind didn’t wander, then a child usually did. And somehow their wandering brought them into my room where they remembered at that moment that they needed something. And they needed it. Right. Now.
Added to that is the struggle that sometimes it feels like God isn’t even listening or doesn’t care what I have to say. It’s hard to make prayer a top priority when you’re not even sure anyone hears you isn’t it. After all, if God wanted to encourage me to pray wouldn’t He always respond so I could know my prayer did something!
In my head I have always believed wholeheartedly that prayer is important. But how to make myself spend time there, especially when God seemed silent, was a mystery to me.
Then Covid hit. Things changed and a desperation grew in my heart that I’ve never felt before. My quick little prayers started to grow longer. But it still wasn’t enough. I had an ache in my heart and a fire in my belly. I needed to talk to God! I needed to be heard! So eventually I decided to take a walk alone and just pray.
To be honest, not much changed. Not much happened, at first.
On my walks I would think, ponder, meditate and pray. I eventually found myself wrestling with God. I would throw temper tantrums, and acknowledge my anger and frustrations over the current situation. I was able to tell God exactly what I thought and how I felt. And I would beg God to move, to answer, to do something!
Rarely do I feel like God talked back during these wrestling bouts.
In fact, I usually came home with most of my questions still unanswered and my heart still not sure about what to say and what to do. And nothing outwardly changed.
But I couldn’t stop. I needed to be heard. So I kept walking, kept begging, kept wrestling. And eventually I realized: I had peace. After a prayer walk I stopped wrestling within myself and I actually let my questions and struggles go for a time. I was able to put down the weight of the world and just rest. Because even though most of my questions hadn’t been answered and the circumstances remained unchanged, I knew somehow that I had been heard by the Creator of the Universe.
I couldn’t tell you why or even prove it in a lab, but on these walks I know God has heard the cries of my heart.
C.S Lewis calls this “the highest condition of the Human Will… when, not seeing God, not seeming itself to grasp Him at all, it yet holds Him fast.”(1)
“not seeming … to grasp Him…, yet holds Him fast.”
I love that quote and the truth it contains. God is not always easy to see, to hear, or even to feel. In fact, be a believer long enough and you will go through periods when you wonder if God even remembers that you’re still around.
I know I have.
Maybe one of the most important parts of being a believer is grabbing hold of God and not letting go even when God seems unaware of what you’re going through. Holding fast to Him even when your soul feels utterly alone.
Because somehow you know you aren’t forgotten.
As I have continued to learn over the years, Silence from God does not equal blindness of God.
God always hears. God always knows. God always sees. Even when everything around me seems to be falling apart. Even when my heart is wondering and my mind is wandering. Even when the doubts feel bigger than my faith. God still cares.
And eventually, somehow He lets me know. And I am blessed.
Let me encourage you to wrestle with your God, believer. Be like Jacob. Refuse to let Him go until He blesses you. And he was blessed. Be like the Samaritan woman who was so desperate for healing for her daughter she accepted Jesus’ rebuke and begged Him for a crumb from His table. So Jesus gave it, and her daughter was healed.
Grab hold of your God and hold Him fast, no matter what. There is no higher calling for us, there is no greater blessing. Praying through the doubts. Praying even when God’s not listening.
- Quoted in Ward, Michael. 2010. Planet Narnia: The Seven Heavens in the Imagination of C.S. Lewis. Oxford University Press, Inc. 204.