4/04/2007

A Prayer in Times of Frustration

You may have noticed in my last post that Riley asked how we (meaning our church, Third Avenue) can be doing outreach in our local community. Well, Riley is my deacon, and therefore in authority over me! I would not want to face his wrath, so my next post will seek to answer his question. I have already been meditating on the topic and outlining my thoughts, but they are not quite complete.

However, before that is finished, I wanted to share something else I wrote. This was written for a good friend in the midst of a time of significant frustration, and it caused me to reflect on my own tendencies when everything seems to go badly. Maybe it will speak to you, maybe it will not. It was valuable for me, though. Till next time!

A Prayer in Times of Frustration


I’ve had a lot of opportunity to think about times of frustration and struggle; they happen to me all the time. I suspect it has a lot to do with getting into tight spots because of my own weaknesses. Still, I know how hard they can be. Do you ever get that feeling like your stomach is being sucked out and you’re afraid that the world will see how weak you are? Yeah, me too.

Problems seem to come from everywhere. Not only is that homework assignment late, but that friend is hurting and in need of counsel. Not only is the bank account low, but I overslept and missed an important class this morning. Not only am I having a fight with my wife, but I hurt my shoulder and it is slowing my ability to work. It seems like the scales are about to tip and I am about to be humiliated by the mess I have made of a perfectly decent life. I wish I were dead, or that I were living in a simpler world, or that something would happen to free me.

I wish there were quick solutions, but there really are not. So when you face those times, these are my prayers for you.

I pray for you situationally: Each stage of life has its own frustrations. God will bring you through the problems of this context and life situation. I pray that you will learn how to deal with its unique challenges and issues in a way that honors him in thought and deed.

I pray for you practically: Each of us has weaknesses that cause practical problems. I often become overwhelmed by workload, and need to prioritize my work and finish it in bits and pieces. Whatever your weaknesses, I pray that God will help you recognize them and come up with solutions to help you overcome them efficiently.

I pray for you physically: Health often has a lot to do with our approach to life. Not enough sleep, sickness, injuries, and other physical issues can frustrate us and make everything seem a little bit worse. For me, headaches and lack of sleep are common problems. My prayer is that God will give you comfort, allow you to learn to work through those things, and bring healing.

I pray for you mentally: Deadlines and frustrations cause all kinds of mental struggle. We are filled with anxiety as we survey seemingly insurmountable problems. We grow tired as we try to process too much information in too short a time, and often we simply check out and let things slide. I have had many times when there was so much on my mind that the only thing I could think to do was take a nap and take the hit to my grades or relationships, because I did not want to spend the time and focus needed to work through them. My prayer is that you will be able to pray and have patience in those situations, fulfilling your duties and trusting God for the strength to get through. Also, I pray that you will have a godly perspective, knowing what things matter and what things do not.

I pray for you emotionally: When lots of bad things are happening, emotions run wild. We feel like failures, we even hate ourselves. We compare ourselves to others and find ourselves wanting. We can go from extreme anger to extreme lethargy in a matter of moments, neither of which is healthy. We are afraid or embarrassed to talk to God. My prayer for you is that you would learn to see yourself as God sees you. With a godly perspective comes calm, for He is in control. As Christians we should be filled with joy and gratefulness for Christ’s work on the cross, and love and wonder for the God who saves. By focusing on these things, I pray that you will be able to work through and overcome times of emotional hurt and frustration.

Finally, I pray for you spiritually: Many times the root of our hurt and frustration and anger and worry is that we are either missing God or running from God. By this I mean that in my life, my problems begin when I am struggling with a particular sin. It eats away at me, hurting my view of myself and making me too embarrassed to talk to God. It cultivates a sense of inadequacy, and affects other areas of my life.

Even if I am not in sin, many times I am not nourishing myself spiritually. When I fail to pray, or read and meditate on God’s word, or worship, or spend time with God’s people, I quickly tire out. I lose motivation to live faithfully with the life God gave me, and I stop fulfilling my responsibilities. The problem here is not just a failure of my usually-iron will, and the solution is not to just, “gut it out.” Instead, I need to see my problem as spiritual, and use repentance and prayer and listening to the Word to return to a place of being nourished by God. My prayer for you is that you will see this need in yourself when it arises, and that you will have the wisdom to defeat it by leaning on God through repentance, change, and recommitment to obedience.

I pray these things for you because they are problems for me; I pray them because hard times are common to us all. May we together encourage and pray for each other, learning to love and honor God more and more as we seek to speak his gospel, advance his kingdom, and glorify him by living faithfully in this world.

2 comments:

Samantha said...

Hey Ben,

Those are really wise words. I have one more advice to add. When I get completely get overwhelmed at work, I have learned to take a deep breath and say a little prayer like this, "Jesus, help me to get through this day." Then I think about the end of the day and know that it will be over no matter what happens and that keeps me at peace. Some problems are bigger than others. Maybe if we keep the perspective that Jesus is coming or we are going home to him someday, we can have the same inner peace. Somethings just don't matter at the end of it all.

Anonymous said...

My friend just emailed me and asked for advice on how to overcome frustrations.. i googled about prayer for frustrations and saw this page in your blog.
THANK YOU VERY MUCH from my friend and myself.
MAY GOD BLESS YOU AND YOUR FAMILY.
You never know that a lost soul in this universe may find hope and inspiration from your words. Truly you are and instrument by God to touch other's lives.