All Prayed Out

Willow Creek | August 31, 2021

Guest speaker Hosanna Wong spoke during our Alive Without Breathing series with a message on continuing to pray, even when it feels like your prayers hit the ceiling. What a challenge. When it feels like nothing is changing—or maybe even getting worse—it can be so hard to hit our knees and talk to God in prayer. But the Bible teaches us to “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

If we look at our lives, most of us can find instances where God answered our prayers: we got that job, a family member was healed, or a relationship was restored, but most of us can also find instances where God didn’t answer our prayers: that challenging child didn’t come home, the addiction continued, or the bills continued to pile up. When our prayers aren’t answered, we can feel “all prayed out.” We might ask ourselves, “Why should I continue to pray? It’s been years. How will one more prayer make a difference?” 

In those moments, pray on. We don’t know why God answers some prayers in one way and some in another, but He always answers our prayers—we are always heard

During the Alive without Breathing series, we looked at the Lord’s Prayer, and in that prayer, Jesus instructs us to say, “Your kingdom come, and Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). When it comes to prayer, that line is one of the hardest to say. We want relationships restored, addictions overcome, and healing and stability and freedom, but God’s plan is so much more significant and grander than ours. May His will be done; we are told to trust Him. 

There’s a bad joke about this man who was stranded in the middle of the ocean and he prayed for God to save him. A boat came by to pick up the man, but the man said, “Leave me. I believe in God, and God will save me.” The boat left, and the man eventually drowned. In Heaven, He asked God, “How come you didn’t save me?” God answered him by saying, “What do you mean? I sent you a boat.”

God answers us, but when we expect one thing, we might get another; we may not always like His response. Instead of a resolution, there might be divorce. Instead of a job, there might be unemployment. Instead of healing, there might be death. So what if we changed our question from, “God, why don’t you answer me?” to, “God, what are you trying to say to me?” 

Sometimes God’s answers and provision comes in the form of practical help—not just spiritual help. You might find a counselor or start taking a new medication. An addiction might lead you into a support group or rehabilitation program. Be open to the many ways God might answer your prayers.

We know God answers us because we are His children and He loves us, and because He loves us, we can trust in His plan for us. It might not always be to our liking, but let’s trust Him out of love. Let’s trust He has a plan for us and that He won’t abandon us in the middle of life’s harshest trials. Let’s listen to Him, take His hand, and see what He has to show.

And no matter what, let’s not be discouraged. Our God is love, He hears us, and we can trust Him. We can tell Him anything. We can tell Him we’re hurting, disappointed, and scared. It’s okay to tell God those things. But let’s make sure we also tell Him we trust His plan for us and that we want His will to be done.

If you need prayer or pastoral support, reach out to a response pastor! We also have a list of mental health resources available for you to check out as you grow.