When Prayer Seems Pointless

“I’m not sure I really believe in prayer anymore,” I said straight to my friend’s face.  “I still believe in God, of course.  But prayer, I just don’t think it works.”

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We spent the rest of the evening sharing how our faith had been shaken in different ways since we each had lost a parent.  I could be honest with her because I knew she “got it”.  We are both members of the “club”.  It’s not the cool kids club or a book club.  This is a club that NO ONE wants to be a part of, and you get initiated unwillingly, but everyone in this club immediately understands the emotions of everyone else.

“I just don’t see the point of praying for something if God is already going to allow his will for our life play out.”  I couldn’t believe I was actually saying this out loud.  A Christian, a solid believer in Christ, shouldn’t doubt so much or lose faith when things go wrong.  Well, that’s what I used to believe.

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After my dad passed away from cancer, I was “ok” for the first few months.  I missed him terribly but knew he was in heaven and I was at peace with that.  Then came the anger.  I was not only angry that my dad was gone, but even more angry that life was moving on and angry at those enjoying their lives.  It felt like nails down a chalkboard when I would see pictures of people on social media being #blessed, #brunching, #vacay-ing, and #livingthelife.  Why aren’t they sad like me? They should be miserable because I’m miserable!!! (Enter months of counseling, learning about the grief process, and finding ways to still dance through the pain.)

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Praise God, that part is past me for now.  Unexpectedly, a deeper and darker season of grief entered.  I guess you could call it depression.  This is when a serious cloud of doubt covered my mind and heart.  It was the beginning of me pulling away from prayer and the silencing of my praise and worship.  My soul was so downcast and hurt.  Daily conversations with God were replaced with the silent treatment.  I had nothing to say to him, nothing to ask of him, and nothing to discuss with him.  He gave me his answer to my pleading prayers for my father, and it was the wrong one.

My faith has always been a strong one.  I knew how to pray and I believed in the power of my prayers; but when the most important prayer I had ever asked didn’t get answered the way I wanted,  I wasn’t so confident in my praying abilities anymore.

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August 9, 2016 – Paige’s Journal

“People say if you have strong enough faith, that God can answer your prayers.  I don’t believe that anymore.  The miracle isn’t in our faith, how much of it we have, or how strong it is.  The miracle and power and change comes from God and his all-knowing will and plan.  So what is the point in praying at all if God is going to do what he wants to do anyway?  Praying gets our hopes up and then leads to disappointment.  Sometimes prayers ARE answered.  Is it really because of our asking or just coincidence?  I don’t know.”

I don’t think you will find this printed on the back of the church bulletin to encourage its members.  Oddly enough, I wonder how many church members and Christians have felt this exact way?

Knowing I was in a dark place, I reached out to others for inspiration.  There was a battle waging between my head and my heart.  I KNEW the truth, but couldn’t FEEL the truth.

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Out of nowhere, I pounced this question on Michael (my husband) one night in bed.

“What is the purpose of prayer?”  He answered:

  • To be at one with yourself, your deep inner self, and God
  • A chance to listen to God’s prompts
  • Find clarity about life
  • It gives you a sense of hope
  • Closeness to God

“Why do you want to know?” he asked. “Because I need to be reminded.  I don’t know if I believe in prayer anymore,” I told him.  AWWWKWARD.

I did some digging on my own and found a wonderful article full of scripture that brought some sense to the subject. Please take some time to read this if you also are struggling with the same question.  CLICK HERE 

God reminded me about some beautiful reasons why I should pray, regardless if I am asking him a request.  The following notes were written in my journal on the same day:

Purpose of Prayer 

  • God asks us to pray and praying follows his commands
  • It pleases him and it’s a privilege to pray
  • Brings us in communion with God and a closeness with him
  • Prayer is a conversation, not a power play or a magic trick to see if we say it enough times that it will happen
  • It’s a chance to share our heart and learn about God’s heart
  • If I start to look at God more as my loving and caring Father and Friend, I will want to spend time with him in conversation (prayer) expressing my heart; instead of reciting a ritual of words in hopes to manipulate him to get what I want.sunrise-12

Here’s What I Believe

  • I do believe he can change things.
  • God has every detail of our lives planned from beginning to end.
  • He wants us to desire HIM and HIS WILL (to love him, follow him, and love others)
  • When we pray, we get a chance to hear HIS heart and be a part of what he has already planned.
  • If we stay close enough to him (through prayer) our hearts will line up with his heart and we will desire his will.  We then begin to want the things he wants for us and what he has already planned.  sunrise-14

What Does God Desire?

  • Love him
  • Accept Jesus
  • Be transformed to be like Jesus
  • Lead others to Christ
  • Love Mercy
  • Seek Justice
  • Walk Humbly
  • Serve and give to others
  • Think more highly of others than ourselves

God’s will and desire isn’t to give us a long life on earth where we are so happy and comfortable that we don’t desire Heaven as our home.

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Finally, a breakthrough occurred.  Am I healed from all doubt? No, but I’m ready to move  forward.  I’ve decided to give this prayer thing another shot, but this time it’s about simply talking to my Father instead of eloquently speaking things into existence in the name of Jesus.  You have to start back somewhere, and at least I’m starting.

If you are on Facebook, maybe you follow my page Paige Ewing Blog.  I posted a question last night and received some amazing feedback that I am certain someone else needs to read today.

Here is an honest post: Have you ever been discouraged…truly let down…in your prayer life? Did you ever pray for something that you were certain the Lord would answer in your favor, but he didn’t? How did you get past the roadblock of discouragement to a place where you could pray honestly again and really HOPE that God would hear you?  Asking for a friend…Let me hear your answers!

The responses encouraged me tremendously:

“You know the verse in the song “Ten Thousand Reasons” that says (to the Lord) “You’re heart is kind.”? I really couldn’t sing that verse for over a year… maybe even longer. I’d prayed for a young friend to be healed of cancer, but within three weeks of his diagnosis, he was already gone. It was fast and it was heart breaking. Gut wrenching. Soul shattering. I will be honest and say I felt like I wasn’t sure I could trust God’s sovereignty anymore… like, I knew He was sovereign, but I was more fearful in that rather than comforted by that. I feel like time helped (as cliche as that is). I also believe honestly praying and confessing my unbelief and praying that He would restore my belief ultimately is what got me to feel His goodness again. ❤️ This life has beautiful moments, but it is also so so hard. I’m thankful we worship a God who understands our pain and struggles. I hope this helps.”

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“By acknowledging that He is all knowing, all powerful, and sovereign. His ways are better than my ways. Isaiah 55:8-9

And by beginning to pray for His Will in my life, not mine. We have desired a child for years. Prayed for a child. I am at a place where I’m at peace with the Lords plans in my life. I want to pray that I align myself with Him. That my thoughts, desires, and motives become more like his.

And sharing my story helps. I started my own “blog” to talk about my struggles and to talk about how the Lord has worked in my life. Talking about Him keeps me focused on Him.”

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“I’ve absolutely been there. In the darkest days, James Chapter 1 became my daily prayer. I wear a bracelet with “Consider it pure joy” on my wrist every day as a consistent reminder. It required a shift in my thinking that definitely didn’t happen over night, but I love that God promises us that when our faith is tested, endurance grows.”

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“I don’t have any verses or wise answers, but with every round of bad news lately, I’ve literally thrown my hands up and yelled “WHY”?!?! I quickly feel guilt as I’m reminded of all the many many blessings we’ve been given!! I then ask “WHY NOT ME”?!?! I then found myself humbled, counting all my blessings and feeling guilty for even questioning his plan!!”

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“I have to remind myself of what God has already done in my life. That He keeps His promises. That He is Good and He is Love. It sometimes helps my heart catch up to my head.”

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Being honest and transparent, unafraid to share your doubts and fears, will allow you to step into the light and see the truth.  It’s always there, but darkness and storms will cloud your view of the SON.  Reach out to trusted sources and reach up to God for wisdom and understanding. He never fails and his timing is perfect.  Sometimes the heart needs to be reminded of what the head has known all along.

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10 thoughts on “When Prayer Seems Pointless

  1. This spoke multitudes to my heart. I lost both of my parents in a car accident. On that Sunday, which happened to be the first Sunday we had not attended church in a very long time, I got a call that shook my world to its core. Our family was divided in half and the two people I loved and respected and honored the most were gone. I found it very hard to return to Gods house and gave him the silent treatment (as you worded it so appropriately). I also held anger towards everyone for moving along and carrying on normal activities when I was struggling to breathe. How could He let this happen? We were good people, a strong family, believers in Him and His son…. what went wrong. I still struggle with the why, but have found my way back to prayer and back to His house to find the reason. I may never know. But I will look for every opportunity and listen to every whisper He gives to help someone who is grieving in this way. Maybe that is my purpose now? Thank you for your words. You are not alone. Grief never ends, it just ebs and flows into our everyday lives. We have to take those feelings to God and he is the only one who can comfort such pain. God Bless You Paige

    1. Oh Christy, my heart just broke all over again for you. A child’s worst nightmare no matter how old you are. I can only imagine the questions and anger that you experienced. Thank you for sharing your story and I will certainly pray you find a deeper peace each time you approach his throne!

  2. It was interesting to me what you said you felt after the loss pf your father. I felt exactly the same way. After my father died and I was going through the initial shock and all the sudden I noticed all the people going around in the hospital. The televison was on in the waiting room and it was on a news broadcast talking about somthing going on in the world. It was then that I realized that the whole world was continuing on as if nothing had changed. I had just lost the most important person in the world and it seemed like it had absolutly no effect on anything else. At first I felt very angry. And then the anger turned to sadness.

    Maybe prayer is not a time to ask for things but a time to be silent and listen. I always say “If God is where you are looking, he will speak to you”.

    Good luck and take care!

    1. I greatly appreciate the time you took to share your story. My heart goes out to you over the loss of your dad. And yes, the world just keeps turning when ours completely stops. But I am seeing how my pace is picking up a little bit more and I’m finding some joy again. Thank you for your quote about looking to God and hearing him speak. I love that truth. ❤️

      1. You are welcome! I am glad to hear that things are looking up for you. They say God works in mysterious ways, maybe even a Buddhist passing on a message from him! 🙂 Good luck!

  3. Paige,

    I lost my dad from Glennville as well. I did not see him for about 15 years and decided to Google him and found out he had died. So I tracked his sister Joy down and she told me what had happened. Their was two people that knew I was his son and neglected to try and find me when he was in the hospital. I cant tell you how many times I blamed God for at least not giving me a chance to say I Love You and Goodbye. I repeatedly asked him WHY! It has been over a year and it still bothers me. The pain doesnt go away we just learn how to deal with it.

    To me prayer isnt about asking for things to me its about leaning on God. May sound bad to say but its kind of like a stress relief somewhere I can go and tell all my problems without anyone else knowing. Maybe when we ask God for things its like when we were kids asking our parents we hoped things would go our way but there was always that chance they would say no. I think if its in his plan then our prayer was answered if not then it wasnt answered and im sure God deviates from his plan as he sees fit. Either way there is a sense of comfort in hope.

    Maybe it was in Gods plan for you to doubt prayer just so it would in the end draw you and others closer to him through your article.

    Great article! Keep the Faith
    Bryan

    1. Bryan, it means so much that you would take the time to read my post and even more, share your story. I am truly sorry for your loss and that you never had the chance to say goodbye to your father the way you would have wanted to. I found a lot of peace in listening to you talk about what prayer is means to you. You are SO right. God is a place to lean on, our Mighty Fortress, and a source of comfort. Thank you so much for that reminder ❤️

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