Right after my mom and Carl were killed I had a real hard time thinking or focusing on just about anything. The shock of it numbed my brain and even simple things were hard. Each day I felt like I was being picked up and carried through the day…every day. For months I felt like that. Months. It was like living in the fog.
I have to admit, those first several months, I had a real difficult time reading my Bible, (except for Psalms) and I especially had a hard time praying. Praying required forming thoughts and my brain just wasn’t doing a very good job of that. I had a hard time cooking supper, let alone trying to pray.
A few months after my mom died, I was reading a book written by Bro. Andrew called And God Changed His Mind – Because His people dared to ask. Its the best book I’ve ever read on prayer. So simple, yet so inspiring. (Bro. Andrew is also the author of the book God’s Smuggler, which you might be more familiar with).
Two things he said particularly helped me, as I was struggling with my prayer life.
“…It’s also wise to understand, when we are under this kind of attack and in emotional or physical pain, that we usually cannot pray effectively for ourselves. Effective prayer, as I have said, requires focus, and focus is the first thing that goes when we are in pain. Most of the time we can think of nothing but our own suffering, and that’s perfectly normal. When this happens, we must count on other Christians to pray for us. The first thing I do in such a situation is to call my favourite prayer partners and ask them to take up my cause. It gives me great comfort to imagine how this must frustrate the enemy!”
Thankfully we had friends that were praying. Many friends. Everywhere. And friends that were asking their friends to pray. What a blessing! Months later, a family we know was visiting our church and they said they heard about my mom’s death through an evangelist friend of ours that was asking folks to pray for our family. I have no doubt in my mind that it was the prayers of others that got me through those first dark months. I’m glad they didn’t quit!
The other thing that Bro. Andrew said, that helped me with MY praying was…
A good friend of mine…was imprisoned for three years in a horrible prison. He was so tortured and shattered mentally by his captors that finally he could not think anymore. He told me that when his mind at last grew so paralyzed that he could not even pray coherent prayers, he said to God, “Lord, if I can somehow stand up in the center of my cell, will You accept that as an act of worship?” Each day thereafter until he was released [he] managed to pull himself to his feet in the center of his cell silent and yielded before God. That was his prayer and his worship. If [he] could find a way to pray even when he couldn’t think, I believe it’s safe to say that prayer is possible in any situation.
I knew I was not suffering in any way like this dear brother was, but I did know I was having a hard time praying “coherent prayers” and after reading this, I felt the Lord was saying it was ok if all I could do was read through my prayer list and call out peoples names to Him…and that’s what I did.
I still have my struggles with praying…so much so I had to write myself a little note and put it on the front page of my prayer notebook. It says,
“God doesn’t tell you to FEEL anything when you pray – just PRAY, Mitzi!!”
You see, more times than I care to count, the devil discourages me from praying. He gives me many, many excuses not to pray, and here are a few…
I’m distracted and I feel guilty about it…
I’m just not “getting into it” – not feeling’ it…
I feel rushed because I have an appointment soon…
On and on it goes…
I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
Not only does Satan try to discourage us from praying, he literally fights against us praying! A LOT!!! And I really mean A LOT!! Amazing what we think we need to do – like, right now!! – when we kneel to pray. Do you get those little whispers in your ear, of all the things you need to get done?
“For cryin’ out loud!! You don’t have time to pray, Girl!!!”
I think one of the first things we need to do to fight against it is to recognize it! Something I try to do when I go to pray, is take a piece of paper and pen with me, so when something “urgent” comes to my mind, I can write it down to remind me to do it after I’m done praying. And you know what’s really “amazing”?? More times than not, that “urgent” matter doesn’t seem so urgent and a lot of times it ends up not even getting done! Hmmm…
Now the devil will try a more sneaky tactic…I know, cause he tries it with me too often. As I’m praying for folks, I’ll stop and think, “Oh! I wonder if they’ve posted anything new on their health problem that I’m praying about” and I’ll grab my phone and look it up, and too often get distracted with other things and never finish praying.
Speaking of phones…having your cell phone nearby when you’re praying is not a good idea. Trust me.
Here’s something else I’ve read recently and I wrote it out on a 3×5 card and clipped it to the outside of my prayer notebook –
A prayer life must be fought for; everything will militate against it. The world with its pressures and speed will give us no time; the flesh with its appetites and weaknesses will rob us of concentration; Satan will concentrate his subtle powers to contend every inch of the prayer route. The tide of battle turns in the closet; this is where real warfare is accomplished. It is there Satan is served with an authoritative notice to quit. (From another awesome book – a biography of Duncan Campbell, written by Andrew Woolsey) The devils tactics really haven’t changed. Duncan Campbell lived in the early 1900’s and Satan was trying to keep them from praying then with some of the same reasons we hear from him today. Recognize it…and pray anyway.
Even in the fog…God wants to hear from you. Pray!