Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Monday, November 12, 2018
Prayer and Frustration…
If I truly believe in prayer, and in a God who answers prayer, that whole premise can be frustrating. I realize that many people have a “vending-machine” idea of a God who grants wishes. For some, like a huge cosmic Genie, except we are not limited to one three wishes.
Why do I believe in prayer, anyway? It doesn’t work. People still get sick, and have horrible diseases, and devastating accidents. Just look at a pediatric ICU ward. (Dear Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers for those suffering, in and out of hospitals and care centers.) Or, stroke unit, or burn unit, or homeless shelter. Or an inner-city police station. Or refugee camp. Or disaster relief center. The list goes on and on.
As Father Nouwen says, “We realize that our world need to change and that no change will ever happen without action, but we often feel lost when it comes to the question of ‘how?’”  Actually, two pertinent questions come to mind: “How?” and “How long, O Lord?”
Such desperate frustration does get people up in arms, or confuses them, or causes them to protest, or—in defiance or a wish for oblivion—do nothing, or flee to the bottle or to drugs. Yes, so many are forced to live out their lives in poverty, or pain, or homelessness, or in some other deeply hurting place of body, mind and spirit.
Dear Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner. In frustration and agony and surrender, these words come to mind. These words let God know that I realize my dependence on God’s love and mercy and forgiveness. Yes, life is often frustrating! And, yes! God has promised to be with me, every step of the way.
Sure, as Nouwen said, there are ideals of freedom and justice, yet they “are trampled underfoot in everyday practice.”  Gracious God, I seek peace, calm, and Your presence. Show me Your love, mercy and forgiveness. Help me to have renewed faith in You, who wants a relationship with me above all else. Even above giving me a soft, easy life, even above any personal frustration I feel on a regular basis. Lord, Your highest goal is to have a relationship with me That’s it. Help me—help us to focus on that aspiration, on that goal. To be loved and known by You, not to get stuff, or money, or power, or prestige. Help me to focus on the things that You want me to. So help me, God.
Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.
 With Open Hands: Bring Prayer into Your Life, Henri J. M. Nouwen (United States of America: Ave Maria Press, 2005), 100.
 Ibid, 101.