The news took my breath away. With one quick phone call, our lives changed.
A family member was in trouble, and it was the kind where no one could help. As I looked out the window and listened to my Dad on the other end of the phone with tears streaming down my face, I knew God had taken the situation out of our hands.
All of our attempts to control and prevent a worst-case-scenario had come to this, and it was as if He was saying, “It’s in my hands now.”
After hanging up the phone, I sat in the recliner for over twenty minutes and tried to pray. But every time I attempted to utter words, I was paralyzed. My mind circled endless what-if scenarios, and my fear of the unknown kept me mute.
Frustrated, I got up and took a hot shower, hoping to clear my head. As I was toweling off, I recalled the following verse.
Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 ESV
I often look at scripture like this and think, “Yeah right. How is that even possible?”
But on a day when my world seemed to be crumbling around me, I thought, “What if every time my mind went to worry, I prayed instead?”
Hard? Yes. Possible. Very much so, if we persevere.
Friends, we have any enemy who loves nothing more to exploit our weaknesses during times of trouble. If we’re prone to worry, he’ll use a troublesome situation to fill our mind with every worst-case-scenario possible.
But you know what? He doesn’t control our minds. We do. And we can choose to believe the lies the father of them suggests or we can fill our minds with truth. We can pray. We can bring all of our anxiousness and pain to the one who knows the end of the story.
There is a reason I felt so paralyzed when I tried to pray. Prayer is a powerful weapon, and our enemy would rather us not use it.
But what if you don’t know what to pray? If you’re stumbling around, looking for a starting point, here are three truths to remember and guide your prayers:
1. God is sovereign.
Regardless of whether or not it appears so, God is in control. He has a plan. It may seem as though everything is falling apart, but he is aware of the situation and is working through your prayers.
2. God is a Redeemer.
It may take years. It may take a lifetime. But God can redeem this story. He can use this mess and make it a testimony of his grace and goodness. If there are other people involved, it will take a willing heart on their part, but God loves to take the ashes of our lives and turn them into something beautiful.
3. God loves you and the people involved.
Many of us heard this as kids. We know John 3:16 and learned the song “Jesus Loves Me” when we were little. But when trouble comes, we doubt. We wonder where He is and why these things are happening. We live in a fallen, painful and often chaotic world and while God’s hand may not always seem evident, his love is still steady and constant.
When storms come, our natural instinct is control. We want to fix it. We want things to change and go according to plan. But often the situation is taken out of our hands and we’re left clenching our fists.
You know what? We can still do something. And it’s the most beautiful, powerful step we can take.
Even when we don’t know what to pray, his Spirit will intervene. He’ll guide us and fill in the empty spaces where we’re empty and hurting.
Our strongest weapon against the darkness is the one we use on our knees.