Can I be candid with you, friend? Allow me, kindly, to relate a small battle I have been (still am) engaged in. I have, very recently, been struggling with prayer. My prayer life has hit a snag and it feels as though I cannot get through; as if I keep repeating the same monotonous cry upward to God. It tempts me to give up completely; to finally cave in to my assailing anxieties. Some particular areas I have been really struggling with are these: how do I reconcile God’s sovereignty with my true desires? How can I truly and sincerely say, “Lord, may Your Sovereign will be done”, and at the same time trust in my heart that my desires, those dearest to my heart, have been well received by that same Lord Who we pray to? What if I never see the expected answer to my prayers? Are my supplications and petitions being offered in vain, then? Should I then just trust God in passivity, seeing that His will must be done, though mine does not actualize, even with my offering of prayer to Him?
These are some of the questions I find myself fighting with and struggling to understand, especially during certain periods of my life. For now, my passion for the things I used to desire has fallen to almost zero level, except for one new great passion introduced to me a few weeks ago. Life is not making it simpler — except for a certain amazing demonstration of grace that God has shown me, recently. I feel like I have reached a dead end; a wall of despair stands in my way, and I wonder whether my shouts of help can be heard on the other side. Do not get me wrong: I have not stopped having faith in God, nor do I question His benevolence. I am fully aware that the status I am in right now is all of grace: I deserve no breathe in my lungs, no extra heartbeat after I pen this, no inherent right to walk and talk and reason and see and hear and taste and touch and feel and say and write — yet, the Lord daily gives me such privileges without malice or stinginess! May the Lord be praised for His goodness and faithfulness. Amen! All these are things that we have been so used to that we, many times, ungratefully expect and implicitly demand them of God — O, may we never grow used to God’s grace and mercy. None deserves these things and more that the Lord freely gives — no one can call these things “rights” in the presence of the thrice-holy God. Hence, dear reader, do not confuse my questions for apathy in theology or a deliberate effort to deny the goodness of God’s grace in our lives. Yes! I am fully aware that God is good and gracious to us, every single passing day! Yet, I find myself asking these questions numerously; becoming anxious for these matters. I do not say this to excuse myself, but because it has to be stated — I am a burdened man because I am simply a man.
Prayer is a holy privilege where the Almighty One has opened the door of His holy ears to receive our unworthy praise and to graciously consider our cries directed to Him — and He answers our prayers; that fact I cannot, in the least bit, deny. The Lord Himself taught us how to pray, how not to pray, and to patiently expect our heavenly Father to answer our prayers willingly, even joyfully. He commanded us not to be anxious for anything, and showed us by His own example that prayers offered to God are to be done in faith, and that we are to be content with His answer, knowing it is for His glory and our benefit. He assures us that our Heavenly Father is not indifferent towards even our basic needs that are necessary for life, seeing that He provides all things providentially for all creation. Prayer does bring assurance to the life of a believer, and it increases reliance on God’s ability and willingness to bless His creation and to align our desires according to His will. On our part it is a discipline that ought to be done delightfully, considering the One to Whom we pray and His glorious nature. This does not mean we cannot ask some of these questions, yet we should be quite careful about what we ask and how we ask it — always consider that the Lord is holy and gracious; always consider that we are undeserving of His goodness and what we deserve has not been fully meted on us. We should strive to seek God’s will by returning to His revelation, found only in His holy word; the holy Scriptures. Herein we find written solace for our wondering minds and our questioning hearts — and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is strengthened and our fears quelled. It is from this source of peace that a very dear soul, seeking to alleviate my worries, reminded me of David’s written words, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” The “why” is so appropriately answered by the “hope”; that we are ever to trust in God! My prayer is that this assurance which is found in hope, through prayer to Him Who hears the deep inexpressible groanings of our heart, would be fulfilled in me, leading me to praise Him Who died that His Church might live. I pray, as well, that it might be fulfilled in any other believer who is struggling with anxiety today. May the Lord Jesus Christ, our great Mediator Who ever lives to make intercession for us, be praised for His goodness, and for giving the undeserving, like me, the privilege to state our desires to Him, ask our questions with liberty, and to thank Him for His righteousness and His grace. Soli Deo Gloria!