03/26/16 Prayers of Anguish

READING: 1 Samuel 1-3

Have you ever been so broken before God that all you could do was grieve in prayer? So exhausted by difficulties in life that your heart was in pieces before the Father? That’s where Hannah found herself in the first part of the book of 1 Samuel. 

She was married, but childless — a desperate state for a woman in the ancient world. Listen to the words that describe her emotions as she prayed to God for a child: “deep anguish” (1 Sam 1:10), “weeping bitterly” (1 Sam 1:10), “misery” (1 Sam 1:11), “deeply troubled” (1 Sam 1:15), “pouring out my soul” (1 Sam 1:15), “great anguish and grief” (1 Sam 1:16). The Lord heard Hannah’s prayer and granted her children, but her pain was nonetheless real prior to her becoming a mother. 

As I read these words, I think first about couples that have not been able to have children. We cannot know the struggle they often face as they long to have offspring but also want to trust the Lord’s will in the meantime. Even with the great emphasis on adoption today, I know couples that have still battled through their infertility with an anguish seemingly similar to Hannah’s. It is right for us to remember these couples in prayer and walk alongside them as needed. 

But then I think about something else — about those things in life that ought to bring me to deep anguish. I think, for example, about my own sin. Do I weep bitterly over my wrong, or have I grown comfortable with my disobedience? 

And then I think about the lostness of my loved ones, the billions who do not know Jesus, the deaths of many non-believers today, the abuse of children, the sexual exploitation of teens around the world, the hunger pangs of much of the world, the pain and confusion of children whose parents have divorced, the moral failure of a pastor, the death of a local church. I could go on and on as I think about the kind of misery that sin has brought into the world. I can only wonder how many opportunities for ministry I miss because I’m not “deeply troubled” enough.

Deeply anguished people pray differently. They pour out their soul to God. That’s the way I want to pray.  

ACTION STEPS: Consider these steps:

  • If  you know childless couples, pray for them today.  
  • Ask God to bring you to anguish over your sin. 
  • Think about other issues that ought to bring you to tears. Choose one, and pray today.  

PRAYER: “Lord, I give You my heart today. Break it. Mold it. Change it.”