“Thank you for praying for me.”
“Absolutely, it’s the least I can do. Are you sure I can’t do something more…helpful?”
I have heard it. I have said it. I have believed it. Praying is the least I can do. In a world that glorifies the big, the noticeable, the flashy, and the important, the simple and unseen nature of prayer can seem wholly inadequate to solve real problems. And in some ways it is true, prayer on its own is not enough:
Prayer is not powerful. God is powerful.
Our God promises that He answers every prayer. Not just the ones He chooses in some divine lottery or the ones we notice, but every single one.
I praise your name for your unfailing love and faithfulness;
for your promises are backed
by all the honor of your name.
As soon as I pray, you answer me;
you encourage me by giving me strength. – Psalm 138:2-3 NLT
Sometimes it is difficult to discern what we are supposed to pray, especially in the midst of suffering.
Yes we can and should pray for the obvious, healing. But there are other prayers equally pertinent to our spiritual health. Here are three prayers I am praying constantly in this season:
1. Prayer of Gratitude
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV
We tend to look at the words “give thanks” in two ways: either an ambiguous, abstract attitude of gratitude, or the articulation of the words “thank you” in proper social etiquette. Neither of these are God’s true intention. We must actually give thanks in all circumstances. Will you join me in praying this prayer:
Father God, thank you for the opportunity to come before Your throne today. I am so grateful for this life You have given me and the stories You are writing for me. Today I thank You for this suffering. Though I would not choose it for myself, I trust that Your ways are higher than my ways. Thank You for preparing me to endure this trial and strengthening me whenever I ask. Thank You for answering my every prayer and understanding my every groaning.
Thank You for the opportunity to share in the bodily suffering of Your Son. I will never comprehend the full extent of His pain because I will never have to endure separation from You. I know this is only possible because of His sacrifice for me. Lord thank You for allowing me to endure this pain, and for the empathy and compassion I am gaining for others who are suffering. Use this for Your purpose, for Your kingdom, for Your glory.
For more on this topic, I highly recommend Lay Aside the Weight of Thanklessness and this song:
“I’m thankful for this suffering, it has deepened every part of me.”
2. Prayer for Discernment
“The heart is deceitful above all things,
and desperately sick;
who can understand it?” – Jeremiah 17:9
We are created for dependence. While God’s morals are hidden in the heart of every person, sin has plagued our hearts and they can no longer be trusted. Prayer for discernment is not only reserved for “fork-in-the-road” moments. It is a daily ascent of aligning our perspective to God’s truth. My prayer for discernment in suffering:
Father, search my heart and know me. Unveil my eyes to Your truth and let me accept it without questioning. Quiet my heart that I may hear Your voice. How am I doing, Lord?
Show me the course marked out for me and let me run the race with perseverance. Guide my every step and light my path with Your word. Show me what to pray for. Make it clear when I should move and when I should be still. Guide my every decision as I dance to Your rhythm. Reveal Your mysteries to me as it pleases You.
3. Prayer for Contentment
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NLT
This Kingdom we serve is upside down when viewed from the earth. There is freedom in surrender and healing in pain. Power is made perfect in weakness and suffering is to be rejoiced in.
Lord, I cry out to You for contentment. I do not need all the answers to trust that Your ways are better. Your grace is enough for me. Show me how to seek You first, and remind me that You promise to provide for my every need. Let me taste the sweetness of godly contentment. You are more precious to me than health or success or prosperity. Shine Your light on all that I have and let the things of this world grow strangely dim.
Guard my heart and mind with Your peace, which surpasses all understanding.
These three prayers are never mutually exclusive. Thanksgiving leads to contentment, and contentment to discernment, and discernment to thanksgiving. What a glorious rhythm He has given us!
Do you have any prayers to add to this list? I would love to read them in the comments below.