Prayer Thought: Get Comfortable with Uncomfortable Prayer
“When my heart is cold and I cannot pray as I should I scourge myself with the thought of the impiety and ingratitude of my enemies…so that my heart swells with the righteous indignation and hatred and I can say with my warmth and vehemence: ‘Holy be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done!’ And the hotter I grow the more ardent do my prayers become.”
This evening I’m sitting on my comfortable couch, in my comfortable sweatsuit, sitting in my spot on my comfortable couch, with a VERY comfortable blanket on my legs, as I type on my nice, comfortable laptop, in my warm and comfortable house. I look all around me and beside me at creature comforts and the myriad of blessings the Lord, by His grace, has given me and my family.
Don’t get me wrong, I still deal with a number of things in this life that are NOT in any way comfortable. My ongoing health is an issue and causes great discomfort at times. My own personal sin is assuredly not lost on me, that can make my heart and actions uncomfortable. How I deal with people can be uncomfortable at times. Speaking truth when I have opportunity even though I know I’ll be the least popular or liked person in the room doesn’t bring me comfort.
I can still remember the first time I heard an older brother in Christ talk about a couple of Psalms that had the psalmist praying, pleading with the Lord to “strike all his enemies on the jaw; break the teeth of the wicked (Ps. 3:7).” Or in another Psalm (song/prayer) the psalmist prays, ”Let death take my enemies by surprise; let them go down alive to the realm of the dead, for evil finds lodging among them (Ps. 55:15).” I distinctly remember him asking if any of us have ever prayed for our enemies to be struck down, destroyed, annihilated from the earth.
I sat there dumbfounded by what I was hearing. I grew up in a place where kindness, even if you didn’t like a person, was expected between BOTH parties. A real focus on respecting authority and my elders and teachers was ingrained in me…and my friends…from a very early age. And now I’m hearing something from the most amazing, most transformational, heart penetrating book I had grown to love deeply saying that prayers to the Father were being lifted high to Him to smite the enemies of the oppressed. Not just spiritual enemies either. We’re talking REAL people hear folks.
I can honestly tell you that I have struggled deeply at times with that tension. More often than not, I steer away from those uncomfortable prayer methods. Afterall, aren’t we supposed to love people as Christ loved/loves them?
However, recently, as more information continues to funnel in daily about the Russia/Ukrainian war my spirit has been very disquieted. As I have prayed throughout the past number of days, my heart hurts, my mind is unable to fathom the immensity of it all. I am afraid for those we love and care about in Ukraine and also in Russia. I’ve found myself more times than not with tears in my eyes KNOWING that this is NOT how it was supposed to be. We were supposed to be living in a shalomic world walking step by step with the Lord of Hosts unencumbered and unstained by the ravages of sin. But, due to the Fall of Man, here we are. And this war is affecting so many human lives and families. What’s more, it’s affecting my prayer life.
For the first time in a long, long time I have prayed deeply against people. I’ve prayed against Putin, prayed against Russian armed forces so they fail, prayed that enemies who are complicit would fall. These are very difficult things to pray! On one hand, they are enemies in need of being eradicated from Ukrainian territory. But on the other hand, they are still people in desperate need of the Gospel…especially during an active war. What do we do in situations and times such as these?
We must trust in the sovereign hand of the Almighty God who was, and is, and is to come. He is the One we proclaim. He is the One we look to for guidance, understanding, wisdom, how and what to pray.
Prayer Action: The Most Difficult/Uncomfortable Prayer You May Ever Have to Pray
What might be the most challenging, difficult, uncomfortable thing you have ever prayed? How did it go? What happened? Did it have to do with radical forgiveness or repentance? Or was it even more difficult due to praying against something or someone?
What is one situation in your life right now that you recognize to be incredibly uncomfortable to pray about? Pray that prayer this week! Write down what the Lord is teaching you about uncomfortable prayer/praying.
Clayton J. Elliott, Kontaktmission USA
Director of Pastoral Ministries and Prayer