“I’m not sure I really believe in prayer anymore,” I said straight to my friend’s face. “I still believe in God, of course. But prayer, I just don’t think it works.”
We spent the rest of the evening sharing how our faith had been shaken in different ways since we each had lost a parent. I could be honest with her because I knew she “got it”. We are both members of the “club”. It’s not the cool kids club or a book club. This is a club that NO ONE wants to be a part of, and you get initiated unwillingly, but everyone in this club immediately understands the emotions of everyone else.
“I just don’t see the point of praying for something if God is already going to allow his will for our life play out.” I couldn’t believe I was actually saying this out loud. A Christian, a solid believer in Christ, shouldn’t doubt so much or lose faith when things go wrong. Well, that’s what I used to believe.
After my dad passed away from cancer, I was “ok” for the first few months. I missed him terribly but knew he was in heaven and I was at peace with that. Then came the anger. I was not only angry that my dad was gone, but even more angry that life was moving on and angry at those enjoying their lives. It felt like nails down a chalkboard when I would see pictures of people on social media being #blessed, #brunching, #vacay-ing, and #livingthelife. Why aren’t they sad like me? They should be miserable because I’m miserable!!! (Enter months of counseling, learning about the grief process, and finding ways to still dance through the pain.)
Praise God, that part is past me for now. Unexpectedly, a deeper and darker season of grief entered. I guess you could call it depression. This is when a serious cloud of doubt covered my mind and heart. It was the beginning of me pulling away from prayer and the silencing of my praise and worship. My soul was so downcast and hurt. Daily conversations with God were replaced with the silent treatment. I had nothing to say to him, nothing to ask of him, and nothing to discuss with him. He gave me his answer to my pleading prayers for my father, and it was the wrong one.
My faith has always been a strong one. I knew how to pray and I believed in the power of my prayers; but when the most important prayer I had ever asked didn’t get answered the way I wanted, I wasn’t so confident in my praying abilities anymore.
August 9, 2016 – Paige’s Journal
“People say if you have strong enough faith, that God can answer your prayers. I don’t believe that anymore. The miracle isn’t in our faith, how much of it we have, or how strong it is. The miracle and power and change comes from God and his all-knowing will and plan. So what is the point in praying at all if God is going to do what he wants to do anyway? Praying gets our hopes up and then leads to disappointment. Sometimes prayers ARE answered. Is it really because of our asking or just coincidence? I don’t know.”
I don’t think you will find this printed on the back of the church bulletin to encourage its members. Oddly enough, I wonder how many church members and Christians have felt this exact way?
Knowing I was in a dark place, I reached out to others for inspiration. There was a battle waging between my head and my heart. I KNEW the truth, but couldn’t FEEL the truth.
Out of nowhere, I pounced this question on Michael (my husband) one night in bed.
“What is the purpose of prayer?” He answered:
- To be at one with yourself, your deep inner self, and God
- A chance to listen to God’s prompts
- Find clarity about life
- It gives you a sense of hope
- Closeness to God
“Why do you want to know?” he asked. “Because I need to be reminded. I don’t know if I believe in prayer anymore,” I told him. AWWWKWARD.
I did some digging on my own and found a wonderful article full of scripture that brought some sense to the subject. Please take some time to read this if you also are struggling with the same question. CLICK HERE
God reminded me about some beautiful reasons why I should pray, regardless if I am asking him a request. The following notes were written in my journal on the same day:
Purpose of Prayer
- God asks us to pray and praying follows his commands
- It pleases him and it’s a privilege to pray
- Brings us in communion with God and a closeness with him
- Prayer is a conversation, not a power play or a magic trick to see if we say it enough times that it will happen
- It’s a chance to share our heart and learn about God’s heart
- If I start to look at God more as my loving and caring Father and Friend, I will want to spend time with him in conversation (prayer) expressing my heart; instead of reciting a ritual of words in hopes to manipulate him to get what I want.
Here’s What I Believe
- I do believe he can change things.
- God has every detail of our lives planned from beginning to end.
- He wants us to desire HIM and HIS WILL (to love him, follow him, and love others)
- When we pray, we get a chance to hear HIS heart and be a part of what he has already planned.
- If we stay close enough to him (through prayer) our hearts will line up with his heart and we will desire his will. We then begin to want the things he wants for us and what he has already planned.
What Does God Desire?
- Love him
- Accept Jesus
- Be transformed to be like Jesus
- Lead others to Christ
- Love Mercy
- Seek Justice
- Walk Humbly
- Serve and give to others
- Think more highly of others than ourselves
God’s will and desire isn’t to give us a long life on earth where we are so happy and comfortable that we don’t desire Heaven as our home.
Finally, a breakthrough occurred. Am I healed from all doubt? No, but I’m ready to move forward. I’ve decided to give this prayer thing another shot, but this time it’s about simply talking to my Father instead of eloquently speaking things into existence in the name of Jesus. You have to start back somewhere, and at least I’m starting.
If you are on Facebook, maybe you follow my page Paige Ewing Blog. I posted a question last night and received some amazing feedback that I am certain someone else needs to read today.
Here is an honest post: Have you ever been discouraged…truly let down…in your prayer life? Did you ever pray for something that you were certain the Lord would answer in your favor, but he didn’t? How did you get past the roadblock of discouragement to a place where you could pray honestly again and really HOPE that God would hear you? Asking for a friend…Let me hear your answers!
The responses encouraged me tremendously:
“You know the verse in the song “Ten Thousand Reasons” that says (to the Lord) “You’re heart is kind.”? I really couldn’t sing that verse for over a year… maybe even longer. I’d prayed for a young friend to be healed of cancer, but within three weeks of his diagnosis, he was already gone. It was fast and it was heart breaking. Gut wrenching. Soul shattering. I will be honest and say I felt like I wasn’t sure I could trust God’s sovereignty anymore… like, I knew He was sovereign, but I was more fearful in that rather than comforted by that. I feel like time helped (as cliche as that is). I also believe honestly praying and confessing my unbelief and praying that He would restore my belief ultimately is what got me to feel His goodness again. ❤️ This life has beautiful moments, but it is also so so hard. I’m thankful we worship a God who understands our pain and struggles. I hope this helps.”
“By acknowledging that He is all knowing, all powerful, and sovereign. His ways are better than my ways. Isaiah 55:8-9
And by beginning to pray for His Will in my life, not mine. We have desired a child for years. Prayed for a child. I am at a place where I’m at peace with the Lords plans in my life. I want to pray that I align myself with Him. That my thoughts, desires, and motives become more like his.
And sharing my story helps. I started my own “blog” to talk about my struggles and to talk about how the Lord has worked in my life. Talking about Him keeps me focused on Him.”
“I’ve absolutely been there. In the darkest days, James Chapter 1 became my daily prayer. I wear a bracelet with “Consider it pure joy” on my wrist every day as a consistent reminder. It required a shift in my thinking that definitely didn’t happen over night, but I love that God promises us that when our faith is tested, endurance grows.”
“I don’t have any verses or wise answers, but with every round of bad news lately, I’ve literally thrown my hands up and yelled “WHY”?!?! I quickly feel guilt as I’m reminded of all the many many blessings we’ve been given!! I then ask “WHY NOT ME”?!?! I then found myself humbled, counting all my blessings and feeling guilty for even questioning his plan!!”
“I have to remind myself of what God has already done in my life. That He keeps His promises. That He is Good and He is Love. It sometimes helps my heart catch up to my head.”
Being honest and transparent, unafraid to share your doubts and fears, will allow you to step into the light and see the truth. It’s always there, but darkness and storms will cloud your view of the SON. Reach out to trusted sources and reach up to God for wisdom and understanding. He never fails and his timing is perfect. Sometimes the heart needs to be reminded of what the head has known all along.