Prayer: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly!

by Sandra Kay Chambers

I was recently deeply hurt by a long-time friend. In a particular situation, we saw things differently, and she refused to meet to talk about it. As the distance grew in our relationship, I experienced all kinds of emotions from sadness to anger to guilt. I tried to pray, but I couldn’t sort through my emotions to even put the words together. Finally, I cried out to God and let all my emotions—the good, the bad and the ugly—pour out as the tears flowed down my cheeks.

Have you ever not been able pray? Your heart was so heavy, the words just wouldn’t come? Maybe you weren’t sure God was even listening.

Sometimes prayer comes easily like the Lord’s Prayer we often pray in church or saying grace before a meal. We can quickly go through a list of requests for family members or friends or those who are in need.

But God also invites us to simply pour out our hearts, troubles, complaints and even doubts to God. Praying these kinds of prayers can be intimidating. While we know God sees everything about us, it’s hard to voice negative emotions. We’d rather hide them from ourselves than possibly offend God. We want our prayers to be strong, mature and full of faith. But that’s not the kind of relationship God wants with us. Intimacy with Him requires honesty and humility.

The Bible gives plenty of examples of this kind of prayer. The best-known example is David, the author of many of the Psalms. He freely expressed what was in his heart to God. And God listened! He even called David a man after His own heart.

God is not disturbed when we pray our doubts, complaints, or heartaches.  Read through the Psalms and you will find a wide variety of emotions—from joy to fear to doubt to utter despair!

I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.  Psalm 142:2-3 NLT

I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Psalm 69:3 NIV

I am overwhelmed with troubles . . . You have put me in the lowest pit, in the darkest depths. Psalm 88:1,6 NIV

God is our Father, and He wants us to come to Him with everything. He wants us to come to Him with the complete trust as a little child would, believing that He will meet us where we are —in the good, bad and ugly of our lives.

Lord, you invite us to come to you with everything that affects our lives. Help us never to fear to be real in our prayers.

This article brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Helping Christians develop a creative and joyful prayer life is Sandra’s passion. She has served as Prayer Coordinator at two churches, leads small group Bible studies, speaks on the topic of  prayer, and teaches an online class at https://BeADisciple.com based on her book, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet (How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life), available at Amazon athttps://a.co/iEkd8s0. You can follow Sandra on her author website at https://SandraKayChambers.com  and her prayer blog at https://PrayWaves.com.

Join the conversation: How would you characterize your prayer life?

Stuck in a Rut

by Sandra Kay Chambers

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Tired and emotionally drained, I decided to skip one of the afternoon sessions of the women’s retreat and go for a drive in the country. I needed a break, and I also wanted to take photos of the countryside with my new camera. The overcast sky and rain reflected both my emotional and spiritual state. Since my move ten months ago, I couldn’t sense God’s direction in my life or in my writing.

Proverbs 3:5-6 was one of my favorite Scripture verses. I could quote it by heart. But did I really believe it was true in my current situation? Sometimes we can believe something in our head, but it still needs to work its way down into our heart. That’s where I had been for the past several months–desiring to trust God, but stuck in a rut of emotional ups and downs.

I hoped my drive in the country would offer an escape from the turmoil I felt. As I rounded a curve in the road, I saw a picturesque farmhouse and quickly swerved the car off onto a grassy area. I grabbed my camera and stepped out of the car onto wet, muddy ground. After taking several shots, I tried to get my car back on the road, but my tires spun hopelessly in the mud. I put the car in reverse, rocking it back and forth, but the more I tried to free the car, the deeper the ruts became.

I had no idea where I was, and I had no cell phone service. I decided to walk to the nearby farmhouse, hoping to use their phone. As I approached the house, three men in coats and boots headed my way. “Saw you get stuck,” one man said. “Maybe we can help.”

The three men tried to free the car with several pushes, but nothing happened.  Then I looked down and noticed I had the emergency break still on! Feeling rather stupid, I released it and put the car in drive. With another push, the car surged forward back onto the road.

I offered to pay the men, but they refused, smiled and waved me off. As I looked back in the rearview mirror, I saw all three men wiping off the mud that had flung backwards onto their clothes. Tears welled up as I realized God had been standing behind me for the past ten months, allowing me to spin my spiritual tires, throwing the mud of my complaints and doubts at Him.

He patiently and lovingly waiting for me to take off the brake, so He could help me out of my rut. With tears now streaming down my face, I confessed my lack of trust in Him, thanked Him for lifting me out my spiritual rut, and asked Him to set my feet back on His path. No matter where or why we have gotten stuck in our spiritual lives, God has promised in His Word to make our paths straight, lead and guide us if we trust Him with our whole heart.

I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire, and set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.” Psalm 40:1-2 NIV

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Pray Often—Inspire Others—Create Beauty. Helping Christians develop a creative and joyful prayer life is Sandra’s passion. She has served as Prayer Coordinator at two churches, leads small group Bible studies, speaks on the topic of  prayer, and teaches an online class at Be a Disciple based on her book, Lord, It’s Boring in My Prayer Closet (How to Revitalize Your Prayer Life). You can follow Sandra on her author website and her prayer blog.

Join the conversation: Are you in a rut?