Most nights I have a gift for falling asleep before my head rests on my pillow. Sometimes, though, I wake up around two or three in the morning. For a while, I lulled myself to sleep by reading a chapter of a book called Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky. It’s fascinating, but only in small doses. Googling for a better solution, I read this type of insomnia is often caused by stress or anxiety. So I started thinking of nighttime wakefulness as a call to prayer. Night after night I prayed the same worries, often with sighs and tears. Like Jesus’s friends in the Garden of Gethsemane, after praying briefly in the dark, I slept. One night, though, I woke up, my soul’s ears hearing the echo of Jesus’s questions, “…If your son asks for bread, will you give him a stone? Or if your son asks for a fish will you give him a snake instead? If you…know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” Ka-pow! I realized instead of praying in faith, I had been praying in worry. I had not remembered that God has always provided for me like a generous and loving father; I did not need to beg and beg. The subjects of my insomniac prayers began to change. Instead of worrying, I thanked God. Instead of weeping, I praised him for his generous goodness. Instead of fearing, I began to hope.
Not long after this, my sister and her husband offered these words of advice. They said, “You need to wait for answers to long term prayers with rejoicing and hope.” Another friend added, “When there are difficulties, we need to look to God expectantly.” Listening to the radio while driving, this line in a song stood out, “Like a bride waiting for her groom…” I thought of the pre-marital couples my husband and I had been mentoring. Whenever a couple’s wedding day came, the bride waited for her groom with joy and hope, longing, expecting to begin a wonderful life together. I want to learn to wait for God’s answers to long term prayers that way.
I have heard about a lady named Hannah, who did just that. She had struggled long term with infertility, longing for a baby so viscerally that a priest watching her pray thought she was drunk. After he confronted her, Hannah explained she was pouring out her soul before God. The priest advised her to go in peace, and she did. Here’s the proof: she ate; her face was no longer sad; she worshiped; and she went home.
Application: Dear friend, here’s how we can pray: we can pour out our anxieties and worries, sometimes with sighs and tears. But, my weary friend, we can wait with glad assurance, experiencing soul rest even before resolution comes, believing our reliable God will do what is best.
What have you learned about transforming prayers of anxiety into prayers of faith? How can I pray for you?
Salt: A World History by Mark Kurlansky