I used to be a brave “pray-er.” I remember marching, like Joshua, around my high school the summer before my senior year as I prayed for God’s power to invade the whole campus. I was fearless in my faith.
Then I grew up a little. I saw some hard things. (Now keep in mind, I’d already seen my parents go through a pretty brutal divorce when I was just 12, so hardship doesn’t HAVE to equate to moderating your prayer requests.) I had asked for things in prayer that didn’t happen and I didn’t understand why. My prayers started looking wimpier after “stuff” happened. My weaker prayers resulted in a weaker ability to withstand the attacks of the devil. I struggled with bulimia in college. I battled alcohol in law school. I gave away pieces of myself. I spent too much money. I tried crawling back to the source of my faith but had so many questions. Why had my heart been broken? Why had my grandfather, a servant of Christ and pastor of 50 years, died of brain cancer? Why did my dad have an illness that impacted everyone? Why had my grandmother, the most Godly person I’ve ever encountered in my entire life, waste away with Alzheimer’s? Why were friends left at the aisle, diagnosed with disease, killed in accidents, laid off of jobs?
Despite the ups and downs of my faith, I came back strongly to the center of my relationship with Christ a few years after beginning my legal career. I realized there were questions that wouldn’t have answers, but I trusted that God was in the middle of my life and this world and I had to get back to bold prayers. I prayed those strong prayers in fervent language for years. Some had answers that I wouldn’t have chosen, but I trusted He was in control. Then I went through years in the dark valley of infertility. By the end, I literally could no longer even ask God to bless us with children. I was too scared. I had seen too many negative pregnancy tests. I wanted this one thing more than anything I had ever desired in my whole life and Bray did too. We wanted to be parents. Didn’t God know? Prayers were not answered. I was heartbroken. The month before I found out I was pregnant I had a huge group of bible study women laying hands on me and praying brave prayers. Prayers I was no longer capable of praying.
A few years later, I was asked to return the favor. My dear sweet friend Amy’s beautiful daughter had Stage 4 cancer. After a year, Sofia had gone through her last treatment. The night before they were set to get the results of the scans, I went to Amy’s house and prayed (and BELIEVED) brave prayers. I prayed there would not be one little iota that reflected there was ever an ounce of cancer in this sweet child. She writes about it here, in one of her daily devotionals about what the Bible says on fear (which I recommend). You can see, God answered differently. He answered our prayers, but not like we had asked.
It is scary to pray big brave prayers. Prayers for healing. Prayers for restoration. Prayers for salvation. Prayers for rehabilitation. Prayers for provision. They get ever more scary to pray as we grow up and feel God isn’t listening to us. That God no longer is in the business of answering prayers.
Dear one, He is listening to you. He answers prayers. He answers big prayers and little prayers. He answers them differently than we could design at times, but He is always at work on your prayer. If you are in a valley where you can’t pray, then ask a friend. I’ve had to do it. My sweet friend Amy had to do it. Find someone in your life willing to pray a brave prayer over you in the hard times. And if you no longer know what to ask for, the Bible has provision for that too – ask Jesus to intercede for you when you no longer have the words. I’d be more than willing to pray for you too. Don’t let fear stop you from asking.
Romans 8 – Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Hebrews 4 – Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.