How do we pray when life is not going well? Sometimes it feels like we are doing everything right but life just keeps falling apart. In his book Meditations of the Heart, Howard Thurman begins a poetic prayer like this, “At times when the strain is heaviest upon us, and our tired nerves cry out in many-tongued pain/because the flow of love is choked far below the deep recesses of the heart…” We wait for God but the pain does not dissipate. We cry out for comfort and wisdom but the silence seems deafening.
Our Bible contains 150 Psalms, which are the prayers/songs/worship book of the people of God. These prayers were written over a period of 500 years and prayed by God’s people for thousands of years. And they refuse to sugarcoat the reality of pain that God’s people often endure. Sixty percent of the Psalms are “psalms of lament.” That means they are essentially written complaints to God. They capture the angst, fear, worry, devastating blows, heartbreak, rage and sorrow of God’s people.
I am weary with crying; my throat is parched. My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. (Psalm 69:3)
The best prayer is the most honest prayer. And sometimes the best we can do is offer God our raw emotion and trust that God is big enough to handle it. It is ok to tell God that we are weary with waiting for life to get better. Whether it is a global crisis or a personal heartbreak that weighs us down, God can sit with us in the pain. As the prophet Isaiah says, “but those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.” (Is 40:31)
Grace and peace,