When Life Hurts Too Much To Pray, Where Is God?

by | Feb 12, 2024 | Depression and Faith

Have you been so depressed that you knew you needed to pray, yet your mind was too confused and your heart so heavy that you couldn’t find the words to say? As if a dark spirit muzzled your capacity to think or to speak?

Were you unexpectedly downsized by your company, occurring at a time when your family most needed a steady stream of income? Or did a physician give you an out-of-the-blue diagnosis of cancer?  Or your spouse’s disclosure of an affair traumatized you, shaking and cracking the foundation of what you thought was a good marriage?

As a Christ-follow, perhaps you ran to Him to pour out your heart, but panic and hurt stymied the capacity to say what you felt inside.

Or worse yet, you received news of a loved one’s sudden death. You sprawled on the carpet, tears spilling down your cheeks and pooling on the floor, but when you cried out to God, all that came out were groans or whimpers. Stupefied by the shock, you didn’t know how to pray or what to ask for.

There’s a biblical perspective that has sustained me when I’ve tried to pray through pain, but couldn’t find the words. This truth doesn’t erase the inevitable mourning or glibly offer a quick resolution to the suffering. There aren’t any shortcuts to handling grief in a fallen world.

But there is a truth that can buoy up your weight of sorrow and keep you from drowning.

When life hurts too much to pray, where is God?

Paul addresses that question in Romans 8:26-27.


Intercessor Extraordinaire

After discussing how we as God’s people groan inwardly as we wait for an end to suffering and the final redemption of our physical bodies, Paul wrote, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.”

The Holy Spirit who indwells every believer knows how to pray and what to say when we don’t. He makes our inarticulate moans and utterances understandable to the Father. He knows our hearts as well as the Father’s will. He says for us what we cannot express clearly, and asks God for that which we don’t know we need.

If you don’t know the will of God in a painful situation, and you don’t know what or how you should pray, don’t beat yourself up or lose heart. It’s okay not to know because the Holy Spirit knows and communicates for you! God’s work for you and in you isn’t limited to what you can understand and express with words, In the context of these verses in Romans 8, Paul is trying to encourage us and help us endure the suffering and futility and decay that marks life in this world.


An Enduring Presence

When life hurts too much to pray, where is God?

If you’ve put your faith in Christ, He’s inside you in the form of the Holy Spirit. Whether you feel His presence is in one sense irrelevant. It’s as sure as Christ’s promise, given to assuage the fear of His followers concerning His impending bodily departure: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever” (John 14:16).

In you!

That’s where God is! How comforting to know that The Holy Spirit understands and interprets what you can’t express in words.

And rest assured that God the Father will hear and heed the prayers of His Spirit.


Your Response

The next time you hurt too much to express the right words through prayer, will you remember this reassuring truth? Depositing Romans 8:26-27 into your memory bank will enable you to make a withdrawal right when you most need it.

Do you know anyone else who could benefit from this truth? If so, send them this post.

Please note: comments are closed after two weeks. You are welcome to contact me directly after that time if you would like to share your thoughts.



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