Why pray?

“But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”- David, 2Samuel 12:23

There aren’t many things more tragic than the death of a child.

We had adopted BabyGirl into our hearts. We prayed for this infant barely a day old and according to her Mom’s physicians, doomed to die upon her entrance into the world. She didn’t die right away, and this gave many reason to hope for a glimpse of the miraculous. We prayed boldly. Her parents- not necessarily believers grabbed hold of a prayer quilt that you (people of HoPE) gave to them, braced themselves and hoped against hope.

Ruth brought to us BabyGirl’s story when she asked us to pray for her coworker. This mom’s vast grief might abate over time, but we guess that for now must be made more intense because ,as Ruth shared, there were two other women at the office who were pregnant at the same time as she was. They each now hold in their arms a healthy baby girl with a big bow strapped to their bald head. Ruth showed me pictures of herself holding each one.

Snapshots of exuberant joy over new life in the backdrop of indescribable loss make us very aware of how fragile and mysterious life is.

How do we pray for a life to be spared in the backdrop of our mortality?

While David’s circumstances differ from this particular situation, the story of his loss in 2Samuel 12:14-31 does give us an insight about prayer itself: it humbles us, inviting us to follow God in the dark.

The fact that David washed his face, had dinner, went to console his wife and had sex with her, had more children is not a primer on how to grieve or not grieve . While we are not given much in regards to his interior life’s struggle at that moment of deep loss, David’s actions show his going on with his life, conveying acceptance with the way things turned out despite his most fervent prayers.

Why pray as a community of believers when there is no guarantee that we will always see the miracle we seek with our own eyes,right away? Why learn about prayer?

Becoming good at praying doesn’t prepare us for how to get yes answers from the Lord. Becoming good at praying prepares us to answer “yes,Lord”-no matter what, even when things don’t turn out the way we had wished. Prayer prepares us to “see” God,even beyond our tears.

“Oh, that my words were recorded, that they were written on a scroll,
that they were inscribed with an iron tool on lead,or engraved in rock forever! I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand on the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed,yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!” -Job,Book of Job 19:22-25.

My God, Why Have You Abandoned Me?

April 28, 2010

The prayer of Jesus was a question: “Where are you God?” No, He didn’t actually say this. Matthew 27:46 records His words, asking God why He was leaving Him? His cry describes His pain while on the cross. It is a prayer that describes His feelings of alienation from a Holy God because of the effect of sin.

Aren’t there times when our prayers explode into a big question mark? Even as Believers? Haven’t we felt God’s distance or at least His silence or been through a “dark night of the soul”?

A parent confided in me that he came at the threshold of the House of Prayer and couldn’t go further. He was mad at God. He’s been asking God to bring his young adult daughter back. He couldn’t bare to hear how God was answering other people’s prayers while he and his wife cried themselves to sleep because of their “little girl”. “God, why have you abandoned me?” He wondered in anger and grief. He turned around and went home.

Even in His pain, Jesus turned to God and He even used God’s Word. His cry was a quote from Psalm 22:1. The book of Psalms are full of prayers of praise and awe. They also say things that are violent and , well, not very reverent. The Psalms are poems and songs and most importantly, prayers from the heart, and sometimes the heart goes through turbulent emotions and grief.

There is room for joy at the House of Prayer. And there is room for your lament at the House of Prayer.

I heard a story that I never forgot: It was about a Mother who had lost her only son. That mother said that she shook her fist at God when he died, and gave Him a piece of her mind and cried a sea of tears. When she came across this dark spiritual valley and looked back, she realized that she had never severed her connection with God. She prayed, even through her anger.

Remember that father I mentioned here earlier? He and his wife have since returned to the H.o.P.E. They wait in expectation and find strength in the prayers of those around them.

God can handle our disappointments, and our doubts won’t change His opinion of us. Leave these to God, too. Don’t stop turning to Him. God hears your prayers in whatever shape they come.

I would have lost heart, unless I had believed
That I would see the goodness of the LORD
In the land of the living.

Wait on the LORD;
Be of good courage,
And He shall strengthen your heart;
Wait, I say, on the LORD! (Psalm 27: 13-14)

Praying for our joy…and hope for the journey,
-Pastor Sabine