Praying through difficult times can be virtually impossible sometimes. Praying at times where you are barely making it through each day is just a reality in many situations. Every new year, my mother and I choose a different name and attribute of God that we want God to manifest in our lives.
The characters we choose from are:
- NAME OF GOD: Elohim – MEANING: The strong, Creator God
- NAME OF GOD: Adonai – MEANING: Master Over All
- NAME OF GOD: El Rai – MEANING: God Seest Me
- NAME OF GOD: El Shaddai – MEANING: Almighty God
- NAME OF GOD: Jehovah El Elohim – MEANING: The LORD God of gods, the LORD, mighty, powerful, strong One over all
- NAME OF GOD: Sar Shalom – MEANING: Prince of Peace
- NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Jireh – MEANING: The LORD Will Provide
- NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Nissi – MEANING: The LORD My Banner
- NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Rophe – MEANING: The LORD (our) Healer
- NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Roi – MEANING: The LORD My Shepherd
- NAME OF GOD: Jehovah Shammah – MEANING: The LORD Is There
Last year I chose Jehovah Nissi and Jehovah Jireh because I needed God to fight my battles and also provide resources especially during this time. The year before last I chose Jehovah Nissi because I was still in need of God to fight my battles. During both years, I prayed that God will manifest his attribute and his name over my situation. The first time, I didn’t essentially allow God to fight my battle… fearfully I felt like I should be the one to step in and do what I could in order to set things right in my life… since I felt like I was “supposed” to do what I could “humanly” do and believed that God would do the rest… but that’s not how it’s supposed to go. True, faith without works is dead, BUT we are supposed to let go and let God… meaning, I should have entirely given over my situation to God, praying that he does manifest himself in all manners of his infinite wisdom and power and move when He says move… and do what he says do… and work in His strength and not rely on my own when it comes to God moving and working in my life. God most often doesn’t work right in front of our faces. He works mostly behind the scenes… he changes the hearts and minds of people, he closes doors that were previously wide open, and opens doors when they seem to be made out of brick walls sealed shut with gorilla glue. We don’t know or can even fathom how God does what he does, but we do know that he works in mysterious ways.
So let’s get back to praying through the pain… How? Why? For how long?
When something devastating happens, is your normal response to pray? Most of us pray because we want something to stop, turn around, or get better… Do we ever thank God for our devastating news or situation? Not really… in all honesty… why? Because it’s uncomfortable and goes against our human feelings… we want pain to stop, we want immediate alleviation, we want a healing, good news, and favor. We often think that God is distant and not hearing our cries. I recently had my mother tell me that she lost her job. That’s devastating news! I was speechless. I never expected that to happen because she was great at her job. Everyone had nothing but great things to say, and people helped her with everything to make her job easier. To hear in my mother’s voice a tremble as if she was holding back tears, that was hard to swallow. My mother is a very resiliant woman, but she seemed shaken. Shocked. Upset. Disappointed. Devastated. Although she may have said she was “fine” I knew she wasn’t. I knew she felt insecurities creeping up. I knew she felt some sort of self-doubt… that morning she said she prayed to God to direct her steps that day, “and that’s where he lead me”, she said… “right into being laid off.” I instantly wanted to make things better for her, and I tried to share words of encouragement and remind her of God’s promises… especially the names of God that she chose this year, and how He is moving in our lives, essentially because we prayed for Him to do so.
Most times when we pray for something, we have to get ready because God will move in our lives. When God moves it’s most often a very uncomfortable thing… because in pain we grow…in agony we learn… in devastation we become resiliant… in trials we develop patience and endurance. God is definitely moving, but initially it feels horrible and uncomfortable, but we grow. We learn. We move on. We become resiliant. We develop endurance to outlast trivial upsets… and then we share with others going through things we’ve went through in the past.
When doors close, we have to be prepared to pray through those trying times. We have to find our strength in God because only he can give us what we need to get through. When we branch out to other outlets we tend to have disarray and chaos and we make life much more terrible than it should be. God is the first and only one who can fix our problems, so why shouldn’t we rely on him only to make things better for us in his own time? We should pray for insight, for some wisdom, for some emotional stability, for understanding, for opportunities to share our heartache with another so that someone else can be encouraged and believe that if they just trust God, their situation will eventually turn around.
So let me share something with someone who may be feeling the pain, suffering, devastation, or disappointments in their life:
WHEN GOD FEELS DISTANT
Does God feel distant? Floyd McClung writes: “You wake up one morning and all your ‘spiritual feelings’ are gone. You pray, but nothing happens. You rebuke the devil, but it doesn’t change anything. You go through spiritual exercises, you have your friends pray for you, confess every sin you can imagine, then go around asking for forgiveness of everyone you know. You fast; still nothing. You begin to wonder how long this spiritual gloom will last. It feels like your prayers bounce off the ceiling. In utter frustration you cry out: ‘What’s the matter with me?’ This is a normal part of the testing and maturing of your friendship with God. We all go through it. It’s painful, but it’s absolutely vital to developing your faith. You see, God is always present, even when you are unaware of Him. His presence is too profound to be measured by intellect or emotion. He’s more conceded that you trust Him than that you feel Him. Faith, not feelings, is what pleases God” (Hebrews 11:6). You ask, “So what can I do?” Isaiah answers, “The Lord has hidden himself… but I trust Him.” Focus on God’s unchanging love and faithfulness. Cling to His promises. During times of spiritual dryness, rest on his Word, not your feelings. Realize that He’s taking you to a deeper level of maturity. Any friendship based strictly on emotion is shallow indeed. So don’t be troubled by trouble – God’s grace is still in full force! He’s with you even when you don’t feel Him. His word to you today is, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).
So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. You love him even though you have never seen him. Though you do not see him now, you trust him; and you rejoice with a glorious, inexpressible joy. The reward for trusting him will be the salvation of your souls. (I Peter 1: 6-9)