You have prayed for years. Sometimes, ceaselessly through long nights. It is the first request you lay at God’s feet when you talk to Him. It’s the first thing you think of when you lay in bed, awake.
You want your spouse to be cured of cancer.
You want so desperately for your wayward child/sibling/friend to find a place where they “belong”.
You want to know if there really is a God at all.
When is silence taken as God’s answer? When is enough, enough? When do you stop praying and give up?
Rich and I have been praying for rest for over two years now. During my pregnancy, due to illness, I hardly slept. Then our beautiful, little insomniac was born and we lost sight of all sleep as we knew it. At 18 months of age, we are still on our knees praying that she will sleep at night without waking several times, sometimes being awake for hours at a time. We have prayed over her before she goes to bed with hope. We have prayed over her after she has been awake for hours in the night in desperation. We have recruited family and friends, and even those we don’t know very well to pray for sleep. And yet, here we are, two years later, only sleeping through the night once a week- and that is because our parents have begun taking Ellie overnight on the weekends so we don’t die of exhaustion.
More times than not, I have wondered why God hasn’t answered. Won’t answer. Doesn’t the scripture say to pray without ceasing? Ask and it will be given to you? Whatever you ask for, you will receive in His name? When is silence taken as God’s answer? When is enough, enough? When do you stop praying and give up?
As believers, we know Christ is all. He’s it. He’s everything. Our only job is to know Him, to love Him, and lead others to Him. But things get so convoluted sometimes and our circumstances cloud His presence. We forget that He knows best and begin to believe that WE know what’s best for ourselves, which is when we begin to despair that He is not answering our prayers. Despair only occurs when we’ve made God too little and ourselves too big. If we held onto the deeper truths- that God is love, He is the best Father we could ever ask for, only He can provide, protect and support us-then we could never despair! Despair means there is no hope- and we always, always, always have hope!
God instructs us to pray; to ask. There is nothing too redundant, too selfish, too much to ask Him. He longs for us to commune with Him! I believe He places desires in our hearts for reasons- and if they have not dissipated or changed, then we are not to give them up simply because He has not answered in our time. However, we’re instructed to ask not because He gives us everything we want, but because it strengthens our dependence on Him- it reminds us of our standing as his kiddos. He promises He will answer- but we can’t make Him do it in our time. That wouldn’t be trusting Him at all. We have to know that He sees the bigger picture and that we, well, we just don’t.
When I am so discouraged and tired that I can’t muster up the energy to pray, I remember Jesus’s prayer before he gave his life for us. He asked God to take this cup from Him. He asked Him to find another way to save us. Another way that didn’t involve his brutal death. He was broken and lonely and hurt and frightened. I’m sure he hadn’t slept in days, either. He asked His Father his biggest request- and then he let it go. He said, your will be done. You know my heart. I’ve poured everything out. I trust you with it, with my life- whatever you have for me.
Pray without ceasing. Ask and it will be given to you. Do it. Do it when you don’t want to. When it feels like it’s fruitless. When it hurts. I’m going to continue to pray for sleep- we need it. I’m not giving it up. It’s a desire of my heart. And then I’m going to let it go.
It’s less about our circumstance and the thing we want than it is about drawing near to the heart of the Father.
He hears me. And you.
Hope that encourages you today. It certainly did me.