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A New Prayer for Tough Times

How to stay focused on the Lord when trouble hits

A new way to pray
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We’ve decided that everyone goes through them. Every family.

Tough times.

Last night, Lonny and I shared dinner with a group of friends. There was laughter. Joy. The sweetness of swapping stories. But there was deep heart-talk, too. And each of us around the table has our own form of fight.

Photo of a hymnalFollowing Jesus doesn’t mean we’re immune.

“What do you make of it all?” I ask my husband after we’re home, tucked in bed. His hands are warm around mine and whispers fall into this quiet place.

Lonny said the words we’ve shared a hundred times. “Jesus didn’t say there wouldn’t be trouble. But He did say He wouldn’t leave.”

I fell asleep with that sweet truth on my heart.

This morning, when I wake, for my quiet time reading, I study a passage about Paul and Silas. They had been seized, dragged to the marketplace, taken before magistrates, and were accused and beaten. Then they were thrown in jail.

Prison.

They were in the dark depths. An inner chamber. Feet in stocks. Maybe it was stone cold. Surely it was dark and dank. There was no physical comfort. And what did they do?

They sang.

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. (Acts 16:25, NIV)

This stirs my soul. The beauty and strength of it settles on my heart. They were stuck. Confined. Tied down. And they sang praises.

Paul and Silas sang.

Maybe this hits me in a tender place because I can understand, to a degree, the feeling of confinement. Not a physical shackle. But I can understand being shackled to a struggle, a situation, a place of difficulty I wouldn’t choose to be.

And as I sit this morning, while I wait for the chains of this struggle to break and fall free, I understand that there’s a new way for me to pray.

Lord, while I’m here, allow me to sing.

I think about songs of praise ringing out from a cell. Praise pressing through darkness. Songs of praise lifted from bodies that were bound but from hearts that knew freedom and hope and grace.

Oh, Lord, let me sing, too.

Maybe that’s the key to surviving circumstances we’re temporarily bound in. Maybe that’s the way to be sustained. Maybe that’s the way to stay close to the Lord and keep focused–by not placing our attention on the chains but placing our affection on the One who will set us free.

Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once the prison door flew open, and everybody’s chains came loose. (Acts 16:26, NIV)

What a precious thing.

Struggle is something common to us all. If we’re not currently in a struggle, we can remember having been. Or we will be one day. It’s just life in this world. But I think of our family circumstance. The things our friends are working through, too…and I want to lift a new prayer:

Lord, let us learn to sing.

Let us sing praises.

Until the gates break open.                              

Until the chains fall off.

Until, in your mercy and grace, we are set free.

Amen.

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