Sep 292013 5 Responses

How to Pray When Life’s Not Okay (Sermon Summary)

Prayer is an essential characteristic of a life of faith. It is a natural aspect of a relationship with God.

Yet how do we pray when life is not okay? How do we talk to God in the midst of confusion, doubt, and pain?

One guarantee of life is that times will come in which life will not be okay.

If your life has never been turned upside down, just wait. It will be.

It’s in these moments in which the true nature of our faith is revealed.

 

There are two primary ways to dishonor God when life is not okay:

1. Some, doubting God’s power, stop praying. This is the way of the agnostic or atheist. Overwhelmed by life’s heartaches, they stop talking to God. They might complain to friends or sulk in their pain, but they turn their back on God. Their hurt is evident in their words:

  • “What’s the use of praying?”
  • “God doesn’t exist.”
  • “I don’t see the point.”

My encouragement to the person who has stopped praying because of a deep hurt is not to turn their back on God. Keep an open mind even in the midst of doubt.

2. Some, doubting God’s love, stop being honest. This is the way of the religionist. They deny their hurts and questions, and boldly proclaim their faith. They put on a strong front for all the onlookers and never reveal their confusion over God’s plan. It appears holy, but it’s actually cowardly. Their words of denial are clothed in religious language:

  • “I don’t care what the doctor says, I’m not believing it.”
  • “No matter what the test says, I’m already healed.” (For more on healing: Click Here)
  • “I’ve got too much faith to doubt.”

My encouragement to the person who has stopped being honest in their prayers is to be honest with God. No one believes at every moment; no one trusts without any doubt; no one fully understands God’s plan. God is big enough to be able to deal with your honest questions.

In Job 3 we are given an example of how the faithful pray when life is not okay. It’s a shocking chapter:

  • Job curses the day he was born.
  • He says it would be better if he wasn’t alive.
  • Six times he asked the question “why.”

It doesn’t seem like a faithful prayer, but it is a prayer which God honors.

I think God honors this prayer for two reasons:

1. It is a prayer directed at God. Job didn’t turn his back on God, but continued to communicate with him.

2. It is a prayer overflowing with honesty. Job didn’t sugar-coat anything. He didn’t pretend to feel something he didn’t feel.

This is how we pray when life is not okay—to God and with a raw, transparency.

Because of this, the question “why” can be the most God honoring question when it is asked to God and not just about God.

Read Job 3 and see if you have the faith to be as transparent before God as Job was.

For more from Job, see:

 A Subtle Difference in the Midst of Suffering

No One Made Me Do It

God Controls Our Darkest Days

 

5 Responses to How to Pray When Life’s Not Okay (Sermon Summary)
  1. Diane Fagan Reply

    You are a phenomenal teacher. Thank you, Kevin.

  2. Judy Cagle Reply

    Wonderful !!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. […] questions asked in Job, Psalms, from the minor prophets, and throughout all of Scripture. (See: How ... kevinathompson.com/why
  4. […] Life will not go as you expect. It will be full of heartbreak and disappointments. Even the most cha... kevinathompson.com/map
  5. […] One of my favorite things about the Psalms is the presence of Psalms of lament. Many of the psalms a... kevinathompson.com/better-day

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