This post is written by Amy Brooks, author at Prayer, Wine, Chocolate, and founder of Catholics Online.
There are some moments in our lives where we feel grateful to God and truly believe He loves us.
There are many other moments though.
Moments or lengths of time when we wonder if we really believe in God or our faith. When we wonder if anyone can hear us pray.
There are times we question if it is worth it to pray.
The truth is, our faith is often tested.
It’s tested when we face chronic illness;
it’s tested when we experience loss;
It can be tested when we are experiencing heartache; when we have more worries than usual or when we are struggling with something specific or life in general.
Sometimes, we just feel “eh” and those times are often referred to as “dry times of prayer.”
Perhaps we can find comfort that even a woman as holy as Mother Teresa, now Saint Teresa of Calcutta, felt at times empty of faith. Letters written by her to her spiritual director reveal that she had often wondered if God was “in the dark hiding from her.” For example, here is an excerpt of one of her letters:
1. In regards to those “dry times of prayer’…
Rose Sweet, a Catholic Speaker, states:
What consoles me in dry times of prayer? Remembering as a “bride of Christ” that my relationship with him has a real spousal dimension. There are times in marriage that you just don’t even want to talk with your spouse, let alone listen to anything he/she wants to say. It doesn’t mean there is no love or firm commitment; it’s just a temporary struggle….and normally with my own fears and ego! Knowing (not necessarily feeling) how loved I am helps me rebuke “spiritual performance” and the shame that often comes with it so I simply say, “I can’t pray, but I want to. I love you and I know you love me. Please help me get over whatever is blocking me. Amen.” Then I move on. Do the laundry. Eat lunch. Maybe some days I can’t even say those words so I just sit and breathe him in.
Rose Sweet is a recovering “Victim of the Sexual Revolution”, Rose has been inspiring people for over twenty-five years to to heal from difficult or broken relationships–and to find the happiness the desire–by “putting their religion into their relationships.” Read more about Rose at rosesweet.com
2. To those suffering with illness
It’s easy to fall into despair with a chronic illness, and suffering is naturally part of it. Unfortunately for me, the struggles I’ve experienced have caused me to fall into sin. As I was discussing this during confession, my priest brought up the idea of offering that suffering up for someone. Offering a bad diabetes day up doesn’t make me feel better physically, but it gives it meaning, namely that my hurt could be helping someone.
Are you also “stumbling toward sainthood”? Check out Kate’s blog and stumble together! Stumbling Toward Sainthood
3. If you have a child suffering with an illness…
perhaps reading the testimony of Taryn Oesch discuss her battle at the age of 13 would help:
Taryn was diagnosed with a chronic illness at 13, and she feels that a version of St. Therese’ Story of a Soul helped her to cope with her new, permanent, cross to bare:
I can remember sitting in the car on a drive to a band competition (I couldn’t ride in the bus that year because of my pain) and thinking, “what I am feeling right now, I’m offering up to God.” It was comforting to know that at least something productive could come out of my own pain – something bigger than myself and something small, that I could give without even doing anything other than accepting pain and praying. “Love lives only by sacrifice,” she wrote, “and the more we would surrender ourselves to Love, the more we must surrender ourselves to suffering.”
As the author of this article, I have some experience with an ill child, but not like others. I can only imagine the pain some parents feel. For those in agony over a child suffering, I think A Beautiful Camouflage.com has an article that may provide a reminder that Jesus too, knew agony – and his mother saw and felt it too.
4. Are you grieving a tremendous loss?
Perhaps knowing someone has been in your shoes would help . . .
If you are grieving the loss of a miscarriage, read My Ten Children I’ve Never Met
When I think of tremendous loss, my mind and heart always go to a woman named Mina Carroll. She lost her faithful, adorable, talented 8 year old daughter to cancer. Mina started the movement and the organization named Storm the Heavens – the name came from her family asking everyone they met – and many they never met – to pray. I asked Mina – “how do you pray when you just do not feel like it?” She answered:
How to pray when we don’t feel like it- that is a great question and definitely something I can relate to. I don’t always want to pray and to be totally honest, praying has been a struggle for me in recent weeks. My relationship with God is, in many ways, is just like the relationship I had with my parents/grandparents growing up. I don’t always want to but, when you love someone you do things you don’t feel like because it’s not always about you. That’s what love is. It is impossible for our relationship with God to reach its full potential until we accept that he is in fact our father and should be treated accordingly.
God’s knowledge and wisdom goes beyond anything we could ever even begin to comprehend. It’s easy to get frustrated and even angry when it seems he just doesn’t realize exactly how much I need this or want that…. this makes it so easy to turn away from prayer. But just like when we were kids, our relationship with our parents was an almost constant power struggle and not until we accept that we do not know best, do we begin to have a real meaningful relationship with those who love us most. I guess it comes down to trust… we have to trust that our parents (and God) know more and want more for us. It is our pride and lack of trust that hurts us most. I often say that “Pride has been killing us since Adam and Eve.”
Support Mina through her daughter’s legacy at Storm the Heavens
5. Are you facing struggle after struggle after struggle?
Those times when you wonder, why, if God loves you, why would he allow this pain, suffering to happen – and not retreat. You don’t want to be Job, but you feel like him. Here is a post about struggle . . . When the Struggle is Really Real
6. There are times that we feel like we need to do more than pray – as if prayer is not enough.
everydayroses.blog wrote about how she had often not attended prayer breakfasts because she thought they were not going to persuade pro-choicers to think differently. She felt strongly that logical conversation and scientific evidence would be a much more efficient use of her time. But one day, she went to a prayer breakfast and came to this conclusion:from the
In the face of such despair and death, hope and prayer are the best weapons we have. So prayer breakfasts, and pro-life rosary groups, and other faith-based initiatives are important. In fact, I’d say they’re essential . . .
7. Perhaps you are in a stage of life that you feel you just don’t have the time to pray.
If this is you, check out these posts:
And if you feel as though all you have in you is the energy to pray a short, quick prayer, choose one of these 11 Quick, But Powerful, Prayers.
8. When you have moments of doubt and feelings of being unfaithful…
Julia Miller, founder and owner of Fresh Rosary, gives a beautiful testimony about how she faces those crosses.
I go through waves of feeling unfaithful. Feelings aren’t facts, and the Lord knows that I’ve hidden his word in my heart, that I might not sin against him (Psalm 119:11), but there are times when discouragement loiters at my door. Recently I missed an important conference call with a group that was interested in featuring my product on their website. In my eagerness to say yes to the opportunity, I agreed to a timeframe that I knew would be difficult. While my prospective partners waited by the phone, I was running around town buying flowers for an event, because I’d failed to check my calendar!
Sometimes the best I can do is to slowly exhale, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…”
In disappointment, in discouragement, in darkness even, an “Oh, Lord!” is a groan to me, and a prayer to him. He knows my heart. He knows more about what I need than I do. He knows how to squeeze success out of utter failure. So my feeble prayers reach the Throne of Grace not because I’m good, but because God is good. And I learn that it doesn’t matter if I feel faithful, because He is faithful.
Julia Miller, Fresh Rosary
9. When suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts…
When I was in a deep depression, even having days were thoughts of suicide entered my mind, I started writing letters to God in a “journal” (aka a blank notebook).
I think writing out my thoughts helped me for many reasons. One, I was writing to God, and what I wrote I had to really think about before I let it exist on that page. I remember the moments I thought about suicide, my mind quickly heard that Our Lord did not want that – but my response was, that doesn’t change the fact that I want to die.
I remember writing in my journal that I hoped I would die in my sleep. I remember telling God that I wanted my work on earth to be done. The sorrow I carried with me had been way to heavy and I felt that total loss of hope.
Other nights I could write more about why I was sad and what I thought would make the sadness disappear. I think being able to see my thoughts from a different perspective helped me see them as a listener. Perhaps I thought of how I would respond to a loved one if they has said those words.
Ultimately, prayer journaling did not cure my depression – an anti-depressant did that. But that journal kept my prayer life living in a way. That is one reason why I share so much of that journey on my blog, Prayer, Wine, Chocolate.
This video by Ascension Presents on Finding God in Darkness is also a great resource on this topic.
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