Prayer in the Darkness

Is there a situation in your life that you have been praying for; that elusive job, earning for a child, that distant marriage dream, praying to buy a house? You have done everything everyone said, novenas, mass, confession, retreat and you are left wondering what more should be done, trying to find answer to the elusive question. Will the Lord answer my cry? There are times when prayer flows naturally and God seems so close. But on many other occasions prayer seems like a monologue. God feels distant and doesn’t seem to hear.

What do we experience in these situations?

Lonely: We feel isolated and alone with the pain. We feel we are the only people going through this kind of difficult situation.

Abandoned: God seems to have left us or seems indifferent to what is happening. The Psalmist exclaimed “Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself?” (Psalms 10:1).  Again he cries out, “How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalms 13:1).

Overwhelmed: We feel Overwhelmed by Crisis. Nothing makes any sense. We feel like victims, discouraged and helpless. We echo the words of Jesus in Gethsemane: “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death” (Matthew 26:38).

Where do we turn to in such a situation? Where can we get our comfort and the energy to keep praying in this darkness? Well you are not alone in this darkness.

The scripture is filled with stories like ours. Job prayed in the dark. David prayed in the dark. Esther fasted and prayed in the dark. Daniel prayed in the dark. Jonah prayed in the dark, quite literally! The Apostle Paul prayed in the dark about his “thorn in the flesh.” Jesus prayed in the dark on the cross crying, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He felt alone and abandoned, yet He kept on praying.

When Jesus prayed in the Gethsemane He did not ask the disciples to pray for Him but wait with him while he prayed. Maybe that is what the Lord wants us to do in our situation. Wait patiently while He prays for us.

Maybe this is what Paul talks about in  Romans 8:26 when he says, “The Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.” When words fail us and we feel alone and abandoned, we might do best to just sit and open ourselves up to the company of the Spirit praying within, penetrating, speaking, and holding us in our darkness. Thus we can find God in the dark.

God is omnipresent but in our experience at times he has been close to us and at times very distant. David had the same experience. In Psalms 139:7- 8 he prayed, “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths you are there.” But the same man also cried, “How long will you hide your face from me?” (Psalms 13:1).

We can grow in the Dark

God takes even the darkest moments of life and redeems them for a good purpose. Nature tells us that darkness produces growth.

The most significant events of Jesus’ life took place in darkness: His birth, His arrest, His death, His resurrection. Our own darkness may be an opportunity to move into a deeper dimension of the spiritual life. We learn what it means to trust when nothing makes sense and faith is the only thing left to which we cling.

When there is nothing left to hold on to, trust in the Lord with everything you have. Know that you are not alone. When words fail you, sit and allow Jesus speak you. Know that God shares with us the darkest moments. Trust and hold on because the dark is God’s chosen place to help us grow.

Kathaline Nunes