Desperate times call for desperate prayers. Haven't you found that to be true? I think now more than ever, people of faith are realizing this premise, that desperate times truly do call for desperate prayers. And it would seem that often times the harder the circumstance is that we find ourselves in, the louder our prayers become.
It was a year ago today that my husband went in for surgery to remove colon cancer. For me personally this was the hardest season of my life. It was the pinnacle of desperate times for me. We all have our story, our apex of rough seasons. I know each one of us have had our share of desperate times. Pain and sorrow eludes no one. But it's not often that we find ourselves all experiencing a season of desperation together, simultaneously. Though we all are experiencing on a personal level our own collateral damage as a result of this crazy season we find ourselves in, we are all in this one together. Together...doesn't that have a nice ring to it? Having each other, my goodness what a blessing. There is power in numbers. There is comfort in togetherness, in unity. Notice how God gives us each other and how the enemy comes in and tries to divide us? To destroy us, one against the other? Truly we are living in unprecedented times.
When I think of desperate times and crying out to the Lord, I think of David. I think the psalmist David is an amazing example, maybe the best ever, of a person crying out to God. David was a man of prayer and worship and he continually cries out to the Lord in the book of Psalms. He faced many many troubles. His life was filled with desperate times. Although He was anointed by God to be the chosen king, he spent years running from Saul who stood in his way. Saul was a maniac, crazed by jealousy and he continually pursued David. But time and time again God allowed David to be rescued and to escape. When God appoints a person for a job nobody is going to take them out till the job is done. David had fears of course, but again and again he cried out to the Lord.
In 2 Samuel 22:7 David says, "but in my distress I cried out to the Lord, yes, I cried to my God for help. He heard me from His sanctuary; my cry reached His ears."
So, like the psalmist David, are we crying out to Him in our distress? If not, what is keeping us from doing so? From election distress to world distress to perhaps personal and family distress, there is much right now that should cause us to cry out to the Lord. But why don't we more often? Here are just a few things that I think can keep us from doing so:
1. Pride and self sufficiency- we think we can handle it on our own and maybe even prefer to do so.
2. Unworthiness - we don't feel worthy to ask God for help
3. Doubt that He cares - we wonder if He even cares about our troubles.
4. Control over the situation - we want to control the situation and don't want to give it over to Him.
Crying out to God requires us to come to Him with open hands and open hearts saying, "Lord not my will but Yours be done." This can be so hard to do. For me this has been the hardest. When my husband was diagnosed with cancer I found myself in a gut wrenchingly desperate circumstance. I'm a fixer, a protector, and at times a fierce warrior : ), but in this situation what could I possibly do? How could I possibly fix this? So much was out of my control. Pretty much all of it was out of my control. But where else would I go, and what else would I do than cry out to the Creator, Giver and Sustainer of life. My best friend and confidant. As I cried out to Him, He brought me to a place where I had to let go of the outcome that I wanted and I had to submit and trust Him. I had to trust my husband's life and my whole entire heart to Him and you know what, It was scary. That was one of the hardest things I've ever done. But, here's the thing. When you know God personally, when you know who He is, you trust Him. Though it might be hard to let go, you trust Him because you know that He is good, that He loves you, that He is sovereign over all things, that He is for you and you hold on to His promises like, "ALL things work together for good for those who love God and are called according to His purposes." Romans 8:28 This is the key to a successful Christian walk that perseveres through the fiery trials of life. We need to know God on a personal level. Not just know about Him, but know Him intimately, know Him personally. And you know what's so amazing? You can never reach the end of Him. His depth goes and goes and we can go as deep as we want with God and never stop pursing that. We'll never reach the end. I remember back in the day when I was a waitress, I would notice on occasion couples that would come in, older couples, that would order their food, sit and eat, and literally never utter a word to each other. I would always think to myself, "How sad. I never want to come to that place where there's just nothing left to say to my loved one." It will never be that with God unless we let it. We can never reach that place where we think to ourselves "yep, nothing new under the sun here. I pretty much know everything there is to know about you. I'm bored." God is anything but boring.
So why if the Bible says He delivered David out of all his troubles do we have all this distress and trouble? To be honest, some of this takes faith that what God says is true, and knowing Him personally helps tremendously in trusting Him. But, scripture does give us some reasons why God might not respond to our cries.
Proverbs 21:13 says, "Whoever shuts their ears to the cries of the poor, will also cry out and not be answered." For those of us who live in California, this can be a difficult one. There are seemingly poor people on just about every corner. I don't think the Bible is speaking of people who are choosing a debased life. But, we need to be sensitive to the poor and eager and willing to listen and help when and where we can. This is the heart of God for sure. According to this verse in Proverbs, if we shut our ears to the needs of the poor then God will not answer our cries.
Malachi 2:13,14, "..you cover the Lord's altar with tears, weeping and groaning because He pays no attention to your offerings and doesn't accept them with pleasure. You cry out, "why doesn't the Lord accept my worship?' I'll tell you why! Because the Lord witnessed the vows you and your wife made when you were young. But you have been unfaithful to her, though she remained your faithful partner, the wife of your marriage vows." Many people are weeping, crying and complaining about their circumstances but are not interested for their heart to change. They want God's gifts and blessings but they turn away from Him. They want the gifts but they don't want the Giver. That makes my heart hurt for God. How sad to be the giver of every good thing and yet be rejected by so many so often. Lord help me to never be that. It isn't about our sin or our actions so much as it is about our heart, our willingness to turn it all over to Him. Honestly, it's the wisest, best thing any of us can ever do.
Hosea 7:14 says, "They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts. Instead they sit on their couches and wail. They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for new wine, and they turn away from me."
Although they cried out to God, their hearts and what came out of their mouths did not match up. They were hypocrites. They pretended to worship God but in actuality, they were carnally minded, self-seeking and were only out for themselves. Kind of makes me think of our nation today. Specifically Christians in America and actually myself. Are we praying and seeking God so we can keep our creature comforts and keep life comfy for ourselves? Are we sitting on our couches watching the news waling and asking God to do something so we don't have to be uncomfortable? Are we truly seeking God on the matters of the nation and the world with sincere hearts, wanting His will to be done above all else? That doesn't mean we don't ask Him for what we need and even what we want. He is a giver of good gifts and He knows what we need. But, at the core of it all, where are our hearts at? Are we as Christians coming at this carnally minded? Is this God's wake up call to the Church? These are all questions that I am asking myself.
God does not always deliver us on our timetable or in the way we had hoped. Ever notice how there are lots of occasions when you pray and cry out and it doesn't seem like God is doing anything? At least in the immediate timeframe. Maybe because God wants us to keep crying out. If we were to pray just once and poof all is fixed that would be great. But maybe God is wanting us to keep crying out for as long as it takes - to be persistent and persevering in prayer when it's hard, when it takes faith, when it looks like He's not doing anything.
In Exodus 2:24 it says, "God heard their groaning and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob." The Israelites cried out to God from Egypt in their slavery and it says that God heard them. But God didn't deliver the Israelites right away. They couldn't possibly know what He was going to do. During that time of crying and waiting, for all they knew God wasn't listening. They didn't have the whole story like we do. They didn't have the book of Exodus. They were living it.
Just because God doesn't answer and deliver right away doesn't mean He doesn't hear. Things got a lot worse before they got better for the Israelites. Their bondage became more intense until finally they were set free from Egypt. But then soon after God sent them into the desert for 40 years. He kept them in this state of needing God. They were continually brought to a place where they knew they needed God and cried out to Him. They were under pressure and needed to keep crying out to the Lord all the days of their lives.
When we find ourselves in troubling seasons we become more conscious of our need for Him. The more conscious we are of our need for Him the more we will cry out. Our Father in Heaven is not like an unjust judge. He longs to answer us. He is hearing, but He wants us to keep coming and to keep crying out to Him day and night for however long it takes.
Habakkuk 1:2 says, "How long, Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you "Violence!", but you do not save." So, was God hearing? Absolutely, yes! Could Habakkuk tell that God was hearing? No, so he cried out. God had a plan, He heard and was answering Habakkuk's prayers, just not in the way that he was hoping. Habakkuk had to come to the place of being willing and ready for God to do things His way.
You know who understands this more than anyone? Jesus. He prayed to the Father, He cried out in the Garden, He cried out on the cross. From a human perspective, it would've seemed that God the Father did not hear the cries of His son Jesus. That He didn't care. That He didn't save Him.
But, we all know that God did hear, He did save His son. Not in the way that I'm sure many were hoping. But, God had a grand plan in it all and aren't we grateful that He didn't answer in the way I'm sure the disciples must've wished for? He is the Grand Weaver. His plans and purposes are perfect and they are working out for our good.
These are trying days. They are desperate days for sure. But, God has allowed us to be here in this season, at this specific time. So I have to ask myself, "what would He have us to do?" As His ambassador, what is He wanting from me right now? As we read scripture and we look to our Bible Heroes for wisdom and guidance, we see that they cried out to the Lord continually. They actively sought the Lord. They pursued Him. And they trusted Him. They kept the faith. They committed themselves to Him and to His service. They were about their Father's business.
No matter what circumstance we find ourselves in today. Whether it be fear of - the upcoming election, social upheaval, Covid, finances, family issues, illness, loneliness, or just the unknown future itself, God is on the throne friends and when we cry out to Him with hands and hearts wide open, He is faithful in hearing us. He has allowed us to be in this season to remind us of our need for Him. We are not alone. We have Him and we have each other.
Cheers to you friends! Keep the faith, shine your light, and be encouraged. If God is for us who can be against us?
Lots of love,
Lisa Gresham is married to her husband Marty, and is currently in her 12th year homeschooling their youngest daughter Bailey. She is a grandma, and is currently working with the Youth at her Church. She is a retired High School Teacher and Coach, is an avid Writer and has her Bachelor of Science Degree in Human Development. You will frequently find her on the beaches of Orange County in Southern California, her favorite dwelling place.