Praying in the Dark – Part 1 — Morning Devotions – Hope 103.2

Praying in the Dark – Part 1 — Morning Devotions

There are occasions prayer seems like a monologue. God feels distant and doesn’t seem to hear. We feel abandoned, overwhelmed by crisis.

Listen: Chris Witts presents Morning Devotions.

By Chris WittsWednesday 31 Mar 2021Morning Devotions with Chris WittsDevotionsReading Time: 4 minutes

I wonder if you’ve ever been in a situation of desperation and grief, and you ask a friend, What do you do when you have prayed and prayed, and it doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference?

There are times when prayer flows naturally, and God seems so close. But on many other occasions prayer seems like a monologue. God feels distant and doesn’t seem to hear.

George Buttrick once described it as “beating on heaven’s door with bruised knuckles in the dark.” We feel like we are praying in the dark. And that’s the theme for this talk with you, praying in the dark.

When God Feels Distant

What is it Like?

We feel lonely. We feel we are the only person who has ever known this kind of pain or grief. People try to offer kind words, but they really cannot understand our darkness.

We feel abandoned. God seems to have left us or seems indifferent to what is happening. The Psalmist cried out in Psalm 10:1, “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself?” Elsewhere he cried out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalm 13:1 – NIV).

We feel overwhelmed by crisis. Nothing makes any sense. We feel like victims in a cruel cosmic game, discouraged and helpless. We echo the words of Jesus during his terrible time of personal suffering in Gethsemane: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38 – NIV).

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We feel overwhelmed by crisis. Nothing makes any sense.

Where do we turn and find comfort as well as the energy to keep on praying when the darkness seems so thick, and our efforts appear fruitless? I feel there are three valuable truths that can bring comfort and encouragement.

You’re Not Alone in the Dark

I recall hearing of a minister who went to visit a young woman in hospital undergoing chemotherapy for abdominal cancer. Ten years earlier she had beaten brain cancer but now, once again, she was battling for her life. She pointed to her Bible and asked, What can you say to me at a time like this? The minister knew that a trite reply about God’s providence would sound empty and uncaring. So, he said, I don’t have easy words of comfort. You can read through the Bible, and you won’t find answers to this absurdity you are going through. But you will find your questions in that book. Others have walked a similar path. You are not alone. You are in godly company.

There are some examples in the Bible of good people praying in the dark. David prayed in the dark. Esther fasted and prayed in the dark. Daniel prayed in the dark. Jonah prayed in the dark, quite literally!

A Sunday School teacher was trying to get a class of 6-year-old boys to imagine what it must have been like for Jonah, so he asked them what they would do if they found themselves trapped in the belly of a large fish. One said, I would build a fire and burn a hole and crawl out. Another offered, I’d stomp on his tongue until he spits me out. A third said, I’d cry out real loud till my Daddy comes to get me.

Jesus prayed in the dark on the cross crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

That last reply captures the essence of what praying in the dark is all about. The Apostle Paul prayed in the dark about his ‘thorn in the flesh’. Jesus prayed in the dark on the cross crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He felt alone and abandoned, yet he kept on praying.

Sue Monk Kidd, in her book When the Heart Waits, points out that in Gethsemane Jesus asked his disciples to sit and wait up while he prayed. He didn’t ask them to pray for him, to plead his case, but to sit and watch while he prayed.

Is that what Jesus asks us to do when we face the crisis and darkness overwhelm us? Is it to sit and watch while he prays? Maybe this is what Paul talks about in Romans 8:26 (CEV) when he says, “…the Spirit prays for us in ways that can’t be put into words”.

(To be continued in Praying in the Dark – Part 2)