Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – January 26, 2015
To Feel, or Not To Feel? In Prayer.
It’s just Jesus and me, on the mountaintop! Together, praying and meditating, walking, and sitting in silence together. I feel so close to the Lord, it’s just amazing!
Well . . . not always. Even, not often. But, yes, sometimes.
It’s true, I don’t feel the awesome, mighty, yet intimate presence of God quite all the time. I would be lying if I said that I did. It’s only been recently—and I mean less than two hundred years—that feelings in prayer have been trusted. In selected writings of the Pietists and in the First and Second Great Awakenings of the Church (in certain parts of the world), scattered people reported deep feelings in prayer and in the relationship with God. But not many.
As Rev. Howell tells his readers, Martin Luther warned that deep feeling in prayer might well be a trap, that the devil might be seducing us into something not of God.  This was a common statement or concern, for many centuries. On my part, I am heartily glad that feelings are not suspected to be temptations or traps any longer!
Looking at the whole subject of feelings from the other side, however, I can understand how being too dependent on feelings and intuition can get me into trouble. Too much emphasis on feelings can cloud logic and common sense. And, when feelings go too far into states of mind that are negative or harmful in any way (like chronic depression, severe anxiety, and the like), that’s when other believers in God can be helpful.
Isolation, deprivation or fasting, except for brief and measured periods of time, is not positive. What comes to mind is an acronym used in the addiction, substance abuse, and recovery fields: H-A-L-T. Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired. Any one of these states can be a concern. And two at once? An even bigger concern. These states can also trigger or heighten negative emotion, exacerbating a bad feeling (or situation) into something much worse. Suggestion: if and when you feel this way? Seek out mature believers, ministers, or others you can trust, and open up to them. And, if this negative feeling continues? Please, seek out professional help, even call 911.
So, yes, having deep feeling in prayer and in our relationship with God can be great! But, as Rev. Howell so perceptively said, “Jesus did not come so we could feel different, Jesus came so we could be different.”  Amen! Help me—help us—to stick close to You, God, no matter how we feel. No matter what our situation is. Amen, and amen!
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Why not visit my sister blog, “the best of” A Year of Being Kind.
 James C. Howell, The Beautiful Work of Learning to Pray, (Nashville, TN, Abingdon Press: 2003), 82.
 Ibid, 83.