Welcome to the second in this short series on prayer.
This week, Premier Christian Radio invited me to give three short broadcasts on the topic of prayer, as they marked, with prayer, the transition from Ascension to Pentecost, supporting the Thy Kingdom Come prayer initiative. The first 3-4 minute segment was for Rick Easter’s The Worship Hour show, on ‘Why Pray?’ and the second segment was for the same show the next day, this time on ‘Praying When You Feel Empty.
I don’t know how long the episode recaps will be up, so if you haven’t listened yet, do check them out while you still have the chance.
Find my segment at 34 mins into the episode, and listen to my best 3 minutes on the topic, ‘Praying When You Feel Empty’
For those who find sound difficult, here’s a transcript:
I write a blog about the spirituality of suffering, which is really just a posh way of saying, how do you relate to God when times are hard and you’re really struggling. And the one thing I’ve discovered is that Christians almost never talk about anger at God during times of suffering. It’s like this great taboo that we have in our churches that it’s very hard to express anger at God – we disapprove of those who do.But I’ve been challenged by the honesty of those in the Bible who’ve suffered and been honest. In my book exploring the about biblical book of Ruth I fell in love with the character of Naomi, who stomped her way back to God after bereavement and loss. She’s really honest with God about her disappointments and bitterness, and God honours her anyway.So there’s room in our prayer for angry outbursts. And Job, who was the most righteous man and suffered, did it too – he got angry at God. I’m in touch with lots of people who are chronically ill or suffering, and often they can just be totally blocked in their prayer. and they’re stuck with the anger.It’s such a release to start off by being honest with God, and to just start off by admitting, ‘I am so angry about this suffering, and I am so angry with you, God, because you have the power to do something, and you’re not, and I don’t understand why.’ And to be able to start with those words.Usually that’s where the the wordless sobs come in: when we are being honest with God and talking to Him, rather than about Him, that’s where the release comes.
I’ve had loads of prayers that have been those kind of wordless, confused, angry yells and sobs – but it really comforts me that that is prayer, too. If you think about Romans 8, where it talks about the Spirit interceding for us with wordless groans – if it’s good enough for the Holy Spirit, it’s good enough for us! And we have that freedom to come to God, not with perfect language and not with perfect articulation but just as the people we are.And I think some of that is what prayer is: standing before God, saying, ‘here I am, and this is where I’m at today.’
Check out the whole series of the Premier Podcasts on Prayer – 1st broadcast (start 33 mins in); 2nd broadcast (start 34 mins in); 3rd broadcast (start 14 mins in).
- Over to you:
How would you answer the question, ‘How do you pray when you feel empty’?