I find that there are often more reasons compelling me not to pray then there are to pray: A busy day; A hard day; A good day; Distance from God; The lack of “feeling it.” Some moments are more extreme than others - I can feel both burdened to pray and tangible pressure to not pray at the same time.
I’m going to take an educated guess that this is very common. And I’ll guess that this is true no matter what you believe about God, how long you’ve believed in God, or how much you believe about Him in the first place. Because at the end of the day, even the most devout believers end up with moments in their life where it’s just really tough to think God is there. And even if He is there, does He care?
This, in effect, is doubt…and everyone has doubts about God. And not just His existence, but also His character.
Can this change? How do we work with this doubt? What does one do when feeling the tension of doubt and need of God?
Everyone’s story and situation is different. So I’ll offer just a few thoughts from my experience that may be useful:
Know that it’s ok to doubt or feel like it’s hard to pray.
I’ve implied this so far. But consider that Mother Teresa had doubts. Consider Jesus’s question as he hung on the cross, asking the Father “Why have you forsaken me?" If that is not doubt, it is at least a deep longing from the disconnection he felt in that moment with God the Father. It’s ok. When in doubt, ask for faith.
Pray through the emotions. Be honest with God.
Sometimes our emotions are part of the blockage in our minds that prevent us to pray. Maybe it’s depressing thoughts, hurt, anger, or confusing longings or loneliness. If those things seem to be in the way, know that God wants you to tell Him: all your pain and frustration and doubt and confusion. He already knows it. And He’s extremely gentle. Especially when we knock at His door to choose to talk to him about it. If you need to yell…go for it. You got hard words for Him, He can take it. Need to express pain, He’ll feel it with you.
Just pray anyways.
Sometimes, even when I don’t “feel” it and pray, I get surprised. Maybe not in the moment, but later those prayers that once felt so disconnected with my faith have often become builders of my trust in what He was and is doing. And sometimes those prayers are the shortest…”Help me!”
So if you are finding yourself thinking it’s hard to pray right now. I feel ya. Many have. Know that He’s never far. He can take your heart and mind as it is. He loves to hear from you no matter how long it’s been or what state you’re in.
Pray in the tension.
Join us this Sunday, September 15th, 2019, for worship at Veasey Memorial Park in Groveland, MA at 5:30pm where we’ll be learning about Jesus’s prayers for us in John 17.