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  • Scott Watkins

What To Pray When We're Not Ok



Christians have reason to feel perpetual hope and overflowing joy. God promises us eternal life in his glory, never ending peace, happiness and abundance.


Yet, how often do we struggle to feel joy? I do all too frequently. Mainly because I experience suffering and disappointment. I know it is temporary, but it still hurts; sometimes, it hurts a lot.


Feeling this way triggers guilt and more joylessness. I know God has blessed me beyond comprehension. Shouldn’t that be enough to sustain me through worldly suffering?


It’s important to know how to pray during these times. If I can’t pray, I can’t receive the help God wants to give me. But how does one approach God when they have no right to complain? When he has already given them so much?


Horatio Spafford was a husband, father and successful businessman living in Chicago during the late 19th century. Delayed by business, he sent his family ahead of him to begin a family trip in Europe. Their ship sank after colliding with another vessel killing his four daughters; only his wife survived. On his way to join his wife a few days later, as his ship passed near the site of the accident, Spafford wrote the lyrics to the famous hymn ‘It Is Well With My Soul’.


I find those six words to be as powerful for what they say as for what they don’t. Those words acknowledge the important truth that the soul is blessed and provided for. Yet, they are silent about the body because the body is not well. The body is suffering.


This phrase captures that uniquely Christian place between the ‘here, but not yet fully here’ of God’s kingdom. God’s kingdom has come, and we have entered in. Yet, we are still waiting to see it fully realized. In the future, God will wipe away every tear from every eye. But for now, we suffer.


And God doesn’t expect us to act like everything is ok when it’s not. God knows we hurt and welcomes us to come and receive grace to endure. He knows sometimes when we come to him, our most honest confession is, ‘it is well with my soul’.