Does despondency ever sabotage your happiness?
Does overwork ever leave you weary and listless?
Do you ever yearn to know why God allows you to suffer?
Is your view of the future ever tainted by hopelessness?
Do you feel discouraged about certain weaknesses that you see in yourself?
Have you ever asked God to search your heart and expose grievous ways?
If so, perhaps you’ll identify with one or more of the following prayers.
What follows are prayers that I’ve uttered to the Lord in recent years. Each was prompted by a strong felt need. Of course, the actual prayers were much longer than what you’ll read, but each capsule summary captures the essence of what I said to the Lord on that particular day. May my transparent utterances spur you to enter His presence and seek the strength to keep on living and serving strong!
Prayer During a Descent into Depression
Dear Loving Father, right now, despair envelops me. Hopelessness makes me think I’ll never smile or be happy again. It’s as if there is a high humidity in my heart that leaves me gasping for breath, sapping my energy, draining me of motivation for things I normally enjoy. I’m stumbling in the dark, afraid I’ll fall, without anything to light my path. I’d have to stand on tiptoe and reach way up just to touch bottom.
But I still believe in You, Father, or else I wouldn’t voice these feelings to You. Penetrate my darkness with Your light. Eclipse my weakness with Your strength. Replace my pessimism with joy and with a deeper trust in You that generates hope for the future. Keep reminding me of who You are, what You have done for me in the past, and what You have promised for my future. And somehow, please redeem this pain. Use it to wean me of self-sufficiency so I serve You in a way that can only be explained by the words, “God did it!” Let others see Your power working in, for, and through me so You, rather than I, get the credit for anything I might accomplish.
Father, I have nowhere to look but up, but show me why that is a great place to be. In Jesus’ name, amen.*
Prayer for When We Don’t Understand the Reason for Suffering
Father, in this life, I’ll never grasp why every instance of suffering happens. Yet even when pain shreds my heart and alters my life, instead of resentment toward You taking root in my heart, help me to throw myself into Your strong arms and experience the comfort of Your love, even when You never explain why. When I hurt, meet me as a person so that awareness of Your presence more than compensates for the lack of explanations. In the name of the One who was called “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3), amen.
Prayer When I’m Weary from Overwork
Heavenly Father, when I’m prone to accept too many responsibilities, when I’m driven to overwork and to neglect my Sabbath rest, remind me of two things. First, my drive to “produce” for You reveals a lack of faith in You. Subtly, I’m assuming that You can’t manage things without me—a preposterous idea! Remind me that You will exist after I die and that cemeteries are filled with indispensable people. Second, my drivenness indicates that I’m basing my identity and my sense of significance on what I do, not on what You did for me through Christ’s death. Help me to serve out of gratitude for what Your Son accomplished for me, not in an attempt to prove my value. In the name of Jesus, who, after His disciples returned from a ministry mission, said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31), amen.
Prayer When Asking God to Search My Heart
A prayer rooted in Psalm 139:23-24 “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
Oh Father, when I’m first prompted to ask You to search my heart, I feel a niggling discomfort—even a measure of resistance—deep down in my spirit. Why? Is it because I secretly enjoy certain sins too much and don’t really want to give them up? Do I fear the offensive that Satan will initiate in an effort to thwart Your transforming work? Am I too comfortable with the idols stashed in the dark corners of my heart, and I don’t like the idea of losing them? I’m admitting my hesitancy to You, yet please—for my ultimate good and Your glory in and through me— heed my plea to search and to cleanse my heart. I’ll be glad—very glad!—with the outcomes: greater intimacy with You and escalating fruitfulness for Your Kingdom. In the name of Your Son, the only person who ever lived who didn’t need to pray, “Search my heart,” amen.
A Prayer When Discouraged about Areas of Personal Weakness
Father, You want me to work on some areas of weakness, to pursue holiness aggressively (Hebrews 12:14) when a pattern of sin is involved. Yet other areas of weakness or inadequacy I must accept. Please give me the discernment to know the difference, so I don’t strive for perfectionism in an unhealthy manner, so I’ll treat myself as graciously as You treat me. Help me to see, day in and day out, that my weaknesses provide more reason to lean on You. In the name of Your Son, the only man in history who had it all together, amen.
A Prayer for When Hope Is In Short Supply
Holy Spirit, when hopelessness or pessimistic thinking envelops me, please counter it by reminding me of all that You, God the Father and God the Son have done for me. Stir up gratitude within me for my wife of 52 years; for my two grown sons; my daughter-in-law and grandson, and for the close friends who know me well—yet somehow still love me! Remind me that this aging body will someday stop aching and it will become imperishable (1 Corinthians 15:42-43). Turn my mind to the reality that despair won’t stalk me in the new heaven and the new earth. Tears, pain, mourning and death won’t siphon off joy there (Revelation 21:4). Oh, please, instill hope rooted in Your faithful promises. And on those days here and now, when my faith is in short supply, remind me that the Object of my faith is unlimited in strength and power. In the name of Jesus, whose sacrificial death on the cross and subsequent resurrection provide an objective, historical basis for my hope, amen.
With which prayer do you most identify?
What words should describe the prayers that we offer the Lord?
Why do you need to approach Him today? What will you say to Him?
What motivates me to pray is the invitation of Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”
*The prayer on a descent of depression was first published in the “Depression” section of Chronic Joy’s website. Chronic Joy Ministries has excellent material dealing with a variety of mental illnesses as well as physical pain and illness.