Tag Archives: anguish

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Saturday, February 16, 2019

rain on window, tree

Prayer: Tears and Anguish

Father Gallagher did not shy away from presenting strong, deep emotions in this book. In the very first chapter, the very first personal story he brings to us relate some of these gut-wrenching emotions.

We hear more from K., a woman who suffered from a stroke some years ago. She had entered into a regular practice of Ignatian prayer and meditation. While on a retreat, she felt drawn to the passion and death of Jesus. She sat with that image, in that space, for hours. She was filled with compassion and terror as she tried to comfort Jesus in His passion. “She desires ‘to tell Him I was there for Him and that I would not leave Him alone.’ K. draws close to Jesus as she prays.” [1]

Her retreat director gently pointed out perhaps God was bringing together the experience of Jesus during His passion and death and her own, as she had experienced years before in her stroke and the long-term recovery from it.

K. then relates her return to prayer, and “scenes of my hospital stay after my stroke so many years before alternated with scenes of Jesus’ passion and death….I cried inconsolably for hours—seventeen years’ worth of tears. God was truly embracing me tightly and saying, ‘Do not be afraid even of this. I am holding you tightly and nothing can hurt you.’” [2]

How intense is this? In this time of prayer, K. allowed God to touch her deeply, in such a significant hurting place. Ever since her stroke, she had placed a certain internal part of herself at a distance from God. For years, even though she had a regular practice of prayer and meditation, K. had erected an internal barrier for protection.

I am so struck by this. What internal barriers have I erected? What messages of God do I ignore? Or, drown out? I can do this in so many ways. Work, relationships, activities, even busy-ness. Any or all of these can be distractions or excuses for allowing God into my life. Forgive me, dear Lord. Help me to desire You, to listen for Your voice and read Your Word. Thank You for loving me, and for drawing me close to You—even when I hold myself at a distance and erect barriers between You and me. Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear my heartfelt prayers.

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[1] Meditation and Contemplation: An Ignatian Guide to Praying with Scripture, Timothy M. Gallagher, OVM (United States of America: Crossroad Publishing, 2008), 20.

[2] Ibid, 21.

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Sunday, March 8, 2015

pray pray pray

Third Sunday in Lent – Excuse Me, Fr. Nouwen. I Am Praying For Myself.

I love Fr. Nouwen’s writings. Really, I do. I read something from Fr. Nouwen’s book A Cry of the Heart in the devotional book I have. Yet, my thoughts kept going back to one of the scripture readings for today.

Yes, Fr. Nouwen wanted to alert his readers to prayer. Being led to pray to God, and even taught to pray by God. Yes, dear God. Teach me to pray.

A very good brief reading, but my mind kept wandering away. Wandering toward Psalm 42.

I connected with verses 3 and 4a. “My tears have been my food day and night, while people say to me all day long, ‘Where is your God?’  These things I remember as I pour out my soul.”

Suddenly, vividly, as I read these verses I remembered several times in my life when I was so very sad. So disappointed. Submerged in anguish. Including, one fairly recent time when I was in the ocean depths of despair. Lord, where were You? It’s so dark. I felt all alone. Almost . . . worse than all alone. Such despair and hopelessness.

I knew, intellectually, that You were with me. True, I could not feel it. Not for some time. I still am not sure quite how, but I got through that horrid time of depression and dire despair.

A key feature to continuing through the Slough of Despond? One day at a time. One hour at a time. Even, ten minutes at a time. If I can just make it through the next little while, then I’ll be okay. I hope I can. I think I can. I pray I can.

I guess Fr. Nouwen was right after all. Teach me to pray, dear Lord. Reach out to me. Teach me to pray.

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Check out #40acts; doing Lent generously at www.40acts.org.uk )

Why not visit my sister blogs, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er .