The Word Among Us

Prayer Resources

Prayers to Help Us in Times of Distress

By: Wayne Simsic

Prayers to Help Us in Times of Distress by Wayne Simsic

Times of grief overwhelm us. These meditations will help you feel the loving presence of God in those moments.

The Pain of Grief

Opening Prayer

Merciful God, I am confused, lonely, and sad. I do not feel like talking with people. Emotions drain my strength, leaving me numb and hopeless. Tears well up at unexpected times. What am I to do, O God? I have no control. Give me the strength to bear these bitter tears.

Psalm

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God. . . .
My tears have been my food
day and night,
while people say to me continually,
“Where is your God?” . . .
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my help and my God. —Psalm 42:1, 3, 5-6

Reflection

Grief rushes in, abates for a time, then rushes in again. The immense pain takes away words. We receive news that a friend has died, that we have a chronic illness, that we have lost our job, or that we have sustained some other loss. Dreadful images storm our imagination. Yet we cannot dismiss the pain. Any attempt to do so only intensifies the anguish. We carry the weight of grief from month to month, until we are finally willing to let go. None of this is controlled. Feelings of denial, anger, and the harsh reality of pain rule our life. Jesus wept during his prayer at Gethsemane and said to his followers, “My soul is sorrowful to the point of death” (adapted from Matthew 26:38). In our suffering, we repeat the same words and try to find in them not weakness but transformation.

Hymn

I am the one familiar with misery
under the rod of God’s anger;
I am the one God has forced to walk
in darkness, and without any light.
God holds up a hand against me alone,
again and again, all day long. —Adapted from Lamentations 3:1-3

Closing Prayer

Give me the strength, merciful God, to pass through my pain, and let it transform my soul. Teach me to express my grief honestly, to cry, and to weather the onslaught of emotions while trusting in you.

Hear My Prayer

Opening Prayer

In this time of desperate need, when all resources have failed, hear my prayer, gracious God. Give comfort to my failing spirit.

Psalm

Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you.
Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call.
For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
My heart is stricken and withered like grass;
I am too wasted to eat my bread. —Psalm 102:1-4

Reflection

We storm heaven with the cries of our heart. It is difficult to say prayers, but we let our hearts speak up with raw feeling; bewilderment, sadness, or rage. Often we consider our prayers to be unheard, unanswered, only to find small, brief, signs of hope, laser-like rays of light slicing through the darkness, giving us courage to face another day.

Hymn

“Ask, and it will be given you;
search, and you will find;
knock, and the door will be opened for you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and everyone who searches finds,
and for everyone who knocks,
the door will be opened.” —Luke 11:9-10

Closing Prayer

God of mystery, teach me to open my heart to you like the psalmist who persisted in his prayer, confident that the Lord would come to his aid. “Incline your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. . . . You are my God; be gracious to me, O Lord, for to you do I cry all day long” (Psalm 86:1, 2-3).

These prayers are selections from Praying Through Our Losses by Wayne Simsic (The Word Among Us Press, 2007. Available at Amazon.com and your local bookstores.

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